The key to being a successful whole food plant based (WFPB) eater is that you have to prepare your own food, as it is difficult to grab great plant based meals on the go. America is a fast food nation and that needs to change. Fast food, and most grab and go food, is void of nutrition, and filled with fat, salt and preservatives. If you eat empty calories, you end up feeling hungry all the time and overeat. Obesity is the result, and you end up having to feed your fat (and your addiction to these highly addictive foods), and it is a vicious cycle. The solution is to eat clean. Eat lots of fruit, veggies (lots of greens), whole grains, beans and legumes, and small amounts nuts and seeds. I don't prepare animal protein of any kind and have been doing that for over 4 years now (as of 2018). 3 of the guys in my family also eat plant based (my older son hates beans, legumes, tofu etc so he eats animal protein when he is out of the house). Also, it is key that you don't add too much oil to your food. Too many studies have shown it to be detrimental to our arteries, and oil is very caloric. I feel like my clock is ticking backwards right now. I hear frequently, "I tried eating vegetarian and I gained weight. " If you don't eat enough servings of fruit and vegetables, and fill up instead on oil laden foods or high calorie nuts, of course this can happen. Hummus is a big culprit, too much of a good thing isn't always a good thing! Fruits and veggies need to be your go-to foods. It is hard at first, then becomes habit and it's much easier. It took me 3 solid months not to crave chicken, turkey, oil, and Reese's peanut butter cups. Now I can even think of eating those things.
What do I consider clean? Whole food means straight from the source, or nothing added to a whole food, or that the food is very minimally processed. Plant-based means from plants. I don't eat anything with preservatives, and I rarely eat something with added sugar or fat, if I haven't made it myself. Honestly, it's hard to eat things that are sweetened now, because I haven't been eating sugar and they taste too sweet. I have always steered clear of artificial sweeteners because I believe they are evil and sneaky and lots of research shows that they make you crave sugar. I am on the fence about stevia and have drinks that have it in them every so often. I originally started eating this way a few of years ago, but would revert back at times to having more sugar (cupcakes were my fave) or more meat and fat (mostly from dark meat chicken…which was my fave meat by far, or added olive oil). It is a little trickier cooking without oil but once I was used to it, I really didn't miss it anymore. Now if something is oily, I don't like it. It tastes bad. When you are eating foods like meat, dairy, those with added sugars, salt, fats and preservatives, and other calorie heavy, processed foods, it is hard to get off of them because they are very addictive. Check this great presentation by Dr Doug Lisle on the biology of food addiction. I think it is important to understand why we do the things we do, and I think it is the first step in changing behaviors. If you like the video, there is a longer version that goes into more detail. Food manufacturers use all of this science and research to make food as addictive as they can. Meat, dairy and oils are naturally addictive because of the calorie density in these foods.
The best part of this diet is that it is by far the best disease proofing you can do for yourself. Animal protein has been shown through countless studies to promote cancer, contribute to heart disease, diabetes, alzheimers and other illnesses like MS. I went full force on this diet the minute I turned 45, but I wish I had done it years earlier when I was feeling so tired every afternoon, and my workouts always felt so hard. It is never too late or too early to get on the path to optimal health. Forget about health for a second and let's talk about vanity… your skin will look so much better and you will be your optimal weight eating this way, so if the "health" argument isn't grabbing you, maybe the "your hair and skin will glow, you will look rested, and feel sexier" argument will convince you to give this a try. A very close friend of mine who is a killer cyclist had been on a yoyo weight trip for the past 13 years that I have known her, and she was over it and asked me for help. Within 2 weeks of eating WFPB she had lost 14 pounds, her skin looked 10 years younger, and her cycling had vastly improved. She is an extreme example in that it happened very quickly, but there is no going back for her and she just keeps aging backwards. Even she can not believe what her body is capable of when fed the right stuff!