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Whole-food Plant-based Diet

So what is a whole-foods plant based diet? Here are some key points:

  1. Eat this: Home Cooked Meals. Cook most of your meals and treats at home using healthy ingredients discussed in this article.
    • Instead of: Boxed foods, fast food, dining out, bakery.  The ingredients used in these categories will likely use less healthy oils (plant oils, canola oil, peanut oils etc.) and more refined white foods (bread, pasta, bakery items), more sugar and salt. All of these items are less than ideal. When eating these items, choose the best options available.
  2. Eat this: Healthy Fats - olive oil, coconut oil, flax seed oil,  nuts & seeds (walnuts, chia, hemp, pumpkin etc. etc.), avocado, Omega-3 enriched eggs (in moderation), butter (in moderation)
    • Instead of: hydrogenated oils, plant oils (soybean, sunflower, safflower), canola oil, peanut oil, dairy fat, meat and poultry fat. Note: moderation of dairy fat such as in butter and yogurt, meat and poultry and eggs is likely fine.
  3. Eat this: Whole grains – quinoa, oatmeal (steel cut, groats etc. instead of instant or fast cooking oats), brown or wild rice, barley, teff. Bread and pasta will be brown and coarser in texture. Whole grains will take longer to cook – if your rice takes a minute to cook, it’s been refined!
    • Instead of: white rice, white bread, white pasta, white flour. This means avoiding most of the grains at restaurants and bakery items (brownies, cookies, pies etc.) – these are typically all made from white and refined flowers.
  4. Eat this: Meat and poultry - in moderate amounts only. 1-2 servings per day (1 serving is about the size of the palm of your hand). If possible buy organic or grass-fed. If you include more animal proteins/fats in your diet be extra good about eating more vegetables (5 servings/day) and fruit (2-3 servings/day) for balance.  Consuming some organ meats can also be health beneficial.
    • Instead of a high meat diet: Diets too high in animal fats and proteins ARE associated with increased risks of several diseases. 
  5. Eat this: Non-meat protein sources
    • Beans and legumes - a great protein, fiber and nutrient source. Try replacing 1 meal per day with beans/legumes instead of meat or poultry. If this is too much, try starting with 2-4 vegetarian meals per week.
    • Fish- 2-3 servings/week is ideal. Wild salmon, cod, haddock, halibut, mackerel, sardines, tuna, trout, flounder.
    • Instead of: too much protein from meat and poultry.
  6. Eat this: Sweeteners - maple syrup, honey, a little stevia, fruit. Whenever possible, sweeten things yourself with these ingredients and use less of them. Get used to things tasting less sweet. Reserve consuming sugar as a special treat – for example ice cream 1-2x/week or a dessert from a bakery 1-2x/week.           
    • Instead of: sugar (all – white, raw, organic, coconut etc.) and agave. Maple syrup and honey have lower glycemic indexes and more nutrients and minerals. Agave is not a healthy sweetener— it is far too high in fructose.
  7. Eat this: fruit
    • Instead of desserts, ice cream and other bakery items.


Here are some healthy alternatives for common foods we eat:

  1. Instead of Potato chips
    • Eat: black bean chips (ex. Beanitos brand), lentil chips, kale chips or baked peas.
  2. Instead of ice cream
    • Eat: home-made coconut milk ice cream. Make in a blender by combining coconut milk with a fruit of your choice (berries, mango, banana) or a 100% cacao powder.  Can add some maple syrup or honey to sweeten the cacao powder. Click here for recipe. 
    • If eating packaged ice cream choose products with the fewest  ingredients (milk, cream, sugar, egg yolk) or try a frozen yogurt/kefir or sorbet.
  3. Instead of wheat pasta
    • Eat: zucchini noodles or have a small serving of whole wheat pasta (1/4 cup) and fill the plate with more vegetables.
  4. Instead of pizza
    • Eat:  homemade pizza with whole wheat or sprouted wheat dough, organic cheese, and top with a bunch of vegetables.  
    • Or click here for a grain free cauliflower crust recipe. 
  5. Instead of cookies
    • Eat: trail mix with dark chocolate chips or click here for a healthy cookie recipe. 
  6. Instead of kid’s fruit snacks
    • Eat: the whole fruit! Applesauce (with nothing else but apples, water and citric acid).  Or buy fruit snacks that are made from fruit and fruit juice with no added sugar such as Plum Kids fruit snacks or Fruit Rope by Cliff. 
  7. Instead of boxed granola bars
    • Eat: Trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, coconut, dark chocolate chips), nuts or nut butter with fruit, or make your own. 
  8. Instead of white bread
    • Eat: sprouted wheat bread, sourdough bread, or other whole grain bread that is dark in color with added seeds.
  9. Instead of butter or canola oil
    • Eat: coconut oil or olive oil.
  10. Instead of regular canned foods, broths, soups, tomato etc.
    • Eat: products with NO added salt. Added sea salt is better. Choose the product with the lowest amount of sodium. 

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