What does Whole Food Plant-Based mean?

bowls of vegetables and beans

What is Whole Food Plant-Based?

Plant-based eating consists of eating foods that are derived from plants.  This includes a variety of fruits and vegetables, whole grains like brown rice and quinoa, legumes like chickpeas and lentils, and much more.  Eating whole food plant-based takes this one step further and removes foods that are highly processed and/or contain added oils and sugars, as those would not be considered whole foods.  Eating whole food plant-based has been shown to be beneficial to our health.  One of the most outstanding findings, and the reason that we teach about the whole foods plant-based lifestyle at CMI, is because of its ability to prevent and even reverse heart disease.

Is Plant-Based the same as Vegan?

There are so many terms used to describe different dietary choices.  Those who eat vegetarian will eat plant-based foods as well as eggs and dairy but avoid meat, fish, and poultry.  Those who eat vegan don't eat any food that has come from an animal.  Some also don't use personal care or clothing products that were made from an animal or were tested on animals for ethical reasons.  Someone who eats plant-based may not necessarily remove all animal protein from their diet, but will focus on having the majority of their meals be centered around plants.  What's important is to not get so caught up on the terms, or categorizing yourself into one versus the other.  I always tell patients to focus on what's on their plate -- look at filling it up with as many whole plant foods as possible.  

How Can I Start Today?

Changing your eating habits can be an immediate change!  Learning the skills to make healthy decisions is important to seeing results and feeling a difference, but we all have to start somewhere.  I've listed out some simple things you can implement to jumpstart your heart health today:

  1. Start picking one meal a day where you eat fully plant-based.  For breakfast you can have a bowl of oatmeal with apples and cinnamon, or for a snack grab some veggies dipped in hummus.  Both are some of my plant-based favorites!
  2. Join the 'Meatless Mondays' trend!  Meatless Mondays became a catchphrase for people who chose that particular day a week to not eat meat.  Maybe for dinner Cook up some whole grain pasta, heat up a nice marinara sauce, and add everything together for a pasta primavera dinner- a beautifully plant-based and nutritious. The kids can even participate in the meal prep by chopping up some fresh vegetables.  Want some extra protein?  Add in a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas!
  3. Grab a plant-based cook book from the store or online and challenge yourself to trying one new recipe a week.  Some of my favorites are the Whole Foods Cookbook, Forks Over Knives Cookbook, and The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook.

Where Can I Learn More?

At CMI we have some great stuff going on that you can take advantage of to learn more about the plant-based lifestyle.  Check out our events page to see what classes we have coming up, some are even free!  You can also read more about the different wellness programs that can set you up on the fast-track to better health.

Author
Jennifer Kurucz Jennifer joined the CMI team after leaving corporate america to follow her passion in helping others achieve their health and wellness goals. Two years ago she started eating plant-based after dealing with some health issues of her own. She felt a difference after just one week of changing her eating habits. Her energy levels increased, her endurance at the gym improved, and the issues she was dealing with eventually subsided. The more she continued, the better she felt. That all sparked her interest in learning the science behind this powerful way of eating. Jennifer earned her certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition through the partnership with the Center for Nutrition Studies and Cornell University and her certificate in Nutrition and Healthy Living from Cornell University.

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