What is a whole food, primarily plant based diet?

What is a whole food, primarily plant based diet?

If you’re anything like me, when I used to hear “whole foods, primarily plant based diet”, I really just heard vegan. I thought in order to follow what is being proven (in some studies!) to be one of the healthiest “diets” we can eat, it meant I had to give up my steaks, chicken tenders, cheese and gasp….. my ice cream. Take anything but my ice cream – that stays.


As it turns out, I was totally wrong.

First, let’s cover what it means for a food to be considered whole.

Simply defined, it is a food that has been processed or refined as little as possible and is free from additives or other artificial substances. In the words of Dr. Greger, a whole food has “nothing bad added, nothing good taken away”. The word “whole” and “unprocessed” can be used interchangeably, for the most part.

Some stupid easy swaps are:

  • eating an apple instead of apple sauce
  • choosing lean meat instead of sausage patties or links
  • buying potatoes instead of potato chips

Seems easy enough, right? That’s because… it is!

Choosing the food product in its original (whole) state means eliminating the excess fat, sugar and salt that is usually added to the boxed, processed options. Sounds like a win/win to me!

Now that we’ve covered what whole (unprocessed) foods actually are, let’s move to the portion that strikes fear in so many people: what primarily plant based nutrition actually is.

Eating a primarily plant based diet means around 90% of our calories comes from fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds. That other 10%? It can come from whatever your heart desires.

Say for example, I eat 2,000 calories a day. That means 200 of my daily calories can come from animal based or processed products. That means I can have:

  • ice cream (notice how that was first on my list?)
  • a couple chicken nuggets
  • slice of pizza
  • a half a bagel with cream cheese
  • a serving of doritos

While I don’t recommend that every day, I’m illustrating this could mean literally anything that floats your processed food boats.

I started my lifestyle change with going plant based. No sugar, no processed foods, no nothing. I went on a week long juice fast (which was awesome but I don’t recommend it to everyone), and continued to eat that way for the majority of my first year. Since then, and the 3 years I’ve had my Instagram account, I’ve used keto and low carb as my main way to lose weight. I completely lost sight of why I decided to change my lifestyle, which is for health, and only focused on the weight loss itself. It lead to 2 solid years of constant yo-yo dieting – a cycle so vicious it’s lead me to never want to go low carb again.

And you know what? I will never have to.

My understanding of food and how our bodies use it are different. The relationship I have with myself is different. Everything, in general, is different.

If you are not ready to take the full plunge into a whole food, primarily plant based diet – don’t fret. Your body will thank you for trading a single processed snack or meal per day for their healthier counterpart.

Contact me today for guidance on how to take your first step towards a healthier you.


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