Changing your diet to Whole Food Plant Based, takes a little time and experimentation. You have studied the fundamentals for a healthier life and you have stocked your home with basic ingredients. Now it is time for some easy Whole Food Plant Based meals. It doesn't have to be complicated. Easier is often better! Just make sure you get pay attention to 3 important things: get enough calories, experiment and take it easy on yourself.
Composing easy meals
To create balanced WFPB meals, each meal should consist of a combination of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Composing a meal is easy if you take the following into account: fill your plate with 50% whole grains, legumes or starchy vegetables and complement with leafy greens and a variation of colored vegetables. Use nuts, seeds and dried fruits sparingly, and only as garnish. Add flavor to your dishes with herbs and homemade (fruit)dressings.
A fine example of a WFPB breakfast could be: oats (heated or soaked overnight in water or unsweetened soy milk) with fresh fruits, seeds and chia seeds/linseed. Add cinnamon to taste.
For a savory breakfast, prepare a tofu scramble with tomatoes and baked beans or a whole grain sandwich with avocado and or hummus.
For lunch, you can serve up a salad or soup with whole grain bread and homemade hummus, avocado and tomato. Try to make your own soups: this is really quite easy. This way you know all the ingredients and you can limit the added salt. To make your own soup, lightly fry an onion and some garlic, add vegetables (for instance broccoli or courgettes/zucchini), water and 1 vegan stock cube per 1 liter. Boil until the vegetables are tender, blend them (or not) et voilà. Add some peas or beans for a fuller soup and a potato for a creamy soup.
As a base for your dinner, choose from (sweet) potatoes, wholegrain rice or pasta and add a mix of steamed vegetables, with or without tomato sauce. Oven grilled vegetables (do not use oil) are also delicious. Add spices such as garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano. You can experiment a little with lemon juice and fresh herbs. Add some grilled tofu or tempeh, which can choose to marinate in a low-sodium soy sauce.
I recommend adding around 1,000 calories of legumes, whole grains, and starchy vegetables to [your] everyday routine. These starchy foods keep you full and satisfied.
- Dr. Graig McDougall.1
A healthy adult with an average level of exercise, requires approximately 2000 calories (kcal) a day to obtain the necessary amount of energy. Animal products generally contain protein and fats with high amounts of calories. If you omit these foods from your diet and do not replace them with whole nutrient-dense foods, you might not get the required intake of calories. This can lead you to feel weak. It is therefore important to consume enough nutrient-dense calories. For the first few weeks of your transition to a WFPB diet I recommend you use an app like cronometer to register how many calories you are consuming, so you can get a feeling for the required quantities and their nutrients.
Foods to avoid
Fast Food: french fries, store bought plant-based meats, deep fried foods;
Added sugars and candy: sugar, sodas, juices, pastries, cookies, sweets, sweet tea, sugary grains;
Processed grains: white rice, white pasta, white bread, bagels;
Packaged and ready-made meals: potato chips, crackers, breakfast cereals, frozen meals;
Processed vegan-friendly food: plant-based meats, plant-based cold-cuts, cheeses, butter/margarine;
Artificial sweeteners: Stevia, glucose, Sucralose, Xilitol.
Eating a WFPB diet means you will most likely experience a much larger variety of vegetables and fruits than ever before. Personally, I have never had so much variation in my food since switching to a WFPB diet. Feel free to experiment with different variations that appeal to you. There are numerous handy online sources that offer vegan recipes. Make sure these recipes are also suitable for a WFPB diet, or just make them suitable by omitting or replacing the oil and added sugars.
It may take a while before you get used to certain flavors and combinations. Don't expect to immediately like everything that you taste. Just try it again after a few weeks to see if your taste has adjusted. You will be amazed how naturally sweet certain vegetables and fruits are, now that your taste buds are no longer distracted by artificial ingredients!
Change doesn't happen overnight
Every behavior change requires effort and determination. Changing your eating habits is not an easy thing to do. Give it some time and accept that it will be a growth- and learning process. Decide for yourself what works for you: some people choose to make the transition at once while others prefer to take smaller steps.
If you have never experimented with vegetables before and if you are stuck in your habits, transitions to a WFPB diet can seem like a big step. However, in the end, it will surely mean an enrichment in your life and a considerable improvement of your health.
In addition to healthy nutrition try to exercise 30-60 minutes per day (walking, gardening, jogging, sports, etc) and make sure you get enough sleep, rest, relaxation, recreation, fresh air, clean water. Don’t forget to breath and enjoy life!
Tips for a healthier life
- Start your meals with a salad, soup and/or fruit;
- Avoid liquid calories;
- Build your meals around beans, whole grains and vegetables. These should form the basics;
- Choose healthy unrefined fats such as olives, nuts, nut paste, seeds and avocados. Do not use oil for frying, but use water instead. Vegetables can also be grilled in the oven;
- Start the day with whole grains. Eat a breakfast containing oats, quinoa, buckwheat or barley. Add nuts, seeds and fresh fruits;
- Try to eat leafy greens on a daily basis, such as kale or spinach. Steam, grill or stir fry them to maintain taste and nutrients;
- Build a meal around a salad. Fill a bowl with lettuce or spinach and add vegetables, beans, grilled tofu, seeds and fruit. Make it something that is appealing and colorful;
- Eat fruits as a snack or desert;
- Drink plenty of water: drink at least 1.5 liter of liquid per day. Drink even more in warmer climates;
- When shopping check out the package labeling and only buy items with a maximum of 3 ingredients;
- Find your own WFPB recipes that give you inspiration;
- Join (online) WFPB groups for tips and assistance.
For more information on a WFPB diet, health and disease control I highly recommend the following books:
- How not to die? - Dr. M. Greger
- The China Study - Colin T. Campbell & Thomas Campbell
- The China Study Solution. The Simple Way to Lose Weight and Reverse Illness, Using Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet - Thomas Campbell
- Proteinaholic - Dr. Garth Davis
- Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Dr. C. Esselstyn Jr.
- The Starch Solution - Dr. McDougall