You are probably reading this because you are making the decision to begin the journey to improve or regain your health!
We are here to support you and hopefully offer you some easy tips on how to make your transition or complete immersion into the Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle a little easier.
Initially, it can be a little overwhelming. However, once you get your feet wet and start down this path, we are sure you will begin to feel like a pro in no time at all.
First things first, Monkey or I are not Whole Food Plant Based experts and we certainly do not want to come across as having all the answers. What we would like to do is share what we have learned. We hope that we can learn from each other and enjoy this journey together. We also hope that you share your tips and wisdom with us too.
The Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle has a beautiful community of amazing people. Let’s do this together!
Hi, Robin Here!
I was raised on the typical Western (American) diet as were many Americans. I raised my children the same way. The foods that we have been eating all our lives have become our favorite comfort foods. We love them, and sometimes feel like we need them.
These foods taste great to us because our flavor palates are conditioned to enjoy them (either culturally or chemically) and we often crave them even though consciously or subconsciously we know that most of them are bad for us.
When I was pregnant with both of my kids, I craved chocolate, cupcakes, soda, potato chips, fast food, and an assorted list of junk food. I really didn’t think about it that much. I just wanted to eat the foods that I enjoyed. I have been paying for those poor food decisions ever since.
Changing food habits
Some find the transition to Whole Food Plant Based way of eating easy, some find it difficult, and some just give up and go back to their old food habits. The key is to stick with it, no matter what. Chances are pretty good that the reason you are here is because of health concerns or a strong desire to improve your health and your family’s health.
You just need to keep reminding yourself that you are possibly working against years of poor food choices, food habits, and chemical conditioning. Tell yourself that failure is not an option as you want to live a full and vibrant life. You want to make wiser food choices and feel better. You want to live!
My head was buried in the sand
I was in denial of my food choices for nearly 55 years. My health started to slowly deteriorate when I was in my mid-thirties. It was a slow steady decline, and I was becoming dependent on prescriptions to solve my problems (ex. Acid reflux medication, high blood pressure medication, hypothyroid, rosacea medication, etc.).
I really didn’t think much about all the medications I was on since it was a sign of the times. It wasn’t until I ended up in the ER over and over again that I realized that I needed to do something, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here to see my granddaughter grow up. That realization is what I call my “wake-up” call.
What was your “wake-up” call?
Ten Tips to Successfully Start a Whole Food Plant Based Diet
We have been thinking about all the things that have helped us through our Whole Food Plant Based journey to keep us going and committed. We would love to share the list of helpful tips and tricks that helped us along the way, and we hope that they help you too!
Tip #1: Commitment
Making the commitment to go Whole Food Plant Based is the first step, and since you are here reading this, chances are you have already made that commitment.
Tip #2: Understanding Why
Understanding why you made this decision is the key to staying motivated.
Is your body failing you? Are you dependent on prescription medications? Has your immune system stopped being effective? Do you feel tired and run down? OR have you recognized the beauty of eating a nutrient rich diet of whole food plants, vegetables and fruits? Did you watch a documentary that rocked your world and you want to improve your health?
Whatever the reason that brought you to a Whole Food Plant Based diet, you need to firmly remember that decision and reaffirm it every single day. Why is it important to reaffirm it every day? Because there are going to be days when you just want to throw in the towel and eat something unhealthy. Remember doing so is a slippery slope and it becomes even harder to get back on track.
Tip #3: Change is Okay
Know that this WFPB commitment is going to cause you to reorganize your life. Being Whole Food Plant Based means that you are going to spend more time in the kitchen cooking.
I don’t know where you live, but there are no Whole Food Plant Based compliant restaurants near me, or possibly even in my entire state! You will need a basic understanding of how to cook and how to make food that has no oil, no processed (to minimally processed) ingredients, no refined sugar, etc.
This can sometimes be challenging and intimidating. We are here for you, and we hope our recipes can help you along this journey. Please explore our Resources page to find out more on these subjects.
Tip #4: Food prepping!
Food prepping makes life easier. Set aside an hour or two every week for veggie prepping. It helps to have large quantities of veggies cut up ready to be consumed or ready to go for meals.
Also, consider preparing a few meals in advance and stocking the refrigerator or freezer will keep you on track. This will help reduce stress. We always try to have quick options prepared in advance so we don’t get “hangry”. Getting “hangry” leads to poor food choices.
It is our mission to have the frig stocked with cut-up veggies, hummus, salads, and soups. This is probably the hardest part of the Whole Food Plant Based diet because it takes time.
Consider finding a local Whole Food Plant Based friend and taking one day a week (or a month) and food prep together. Monkey and I food prep together and it really cuts down the time as we both lead very busy lives.
Stocking your pantry and discovering a new way of cooking are typically the most challenging areas when first starting. Please check out these blog posts on our site for more information and help:
- Tips on How to Stock your Pantry for the Whole Food Plant Based Diet
- Tips on Cookware for the Whole Food Plant Based Diet
- Five Things That are Always in our Refrigerator
Tip #5: Start your WFPB count-down!
This simple, but effective way of counting the days, weeks, months, years that you have been on your Whole Food Plant Based diet; it keeps you committed to your goal of improving your health. Believe it or not, the more days you can put under your belt, the more committed you will be to this lifestyle.
There is a psychology behind commitment counting, trust me on this one. Keep that date in your head and make it your Health Anniversary!
Tip #6: Exercise!
This is a given. We all know the benefits of getting exercise! Before starting any major form of exercise program, check with your physician. The key is to turn off the TV and force yourself to do something, even if it is doing housework, lawn work, or shopping, just keep moving and don’t sit in front of the TV or limit your TV viewing.
It is a known fact that the TV bombards you with food commercials. Food is always in front of you beckoning you to eat unhealthy. One way to reaffirm your WFPB lifestyle is try playing a simple game while watching your favorite TV show. We call it “How many prescription medicine commercials” are being aired while watching TV? Additionally, what are the adverse side effects? Those adverse side effects are real eye openers, aren’t they?
Tip #7: Get quality sleep!
Seriously, most of us do not get enough rest. When your body is tired, it is more vulnerable. I work fulltime and my job can be stressful at times and I have difficulty turning off my brain at night. I use a white noise machine to ensure that my sleep is not disturbed by my husband who is retired and a proverbial night owl.
Tip # 8: Stay Strong
Do you have friends, family or coworkers who are unsupportive or even aggressively critical of your Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle?
It is not a reflection on you. It is a reflection of their own feelings on the following: possibly their own body image, unhealthy eating habits, or feeling their eating habits are being judged by you, either silently or overtly.
It is important to understand that unfortunately there are some negative perceptions out there surrounding Vegetarians, Vegans and Whole Food Plant Based people. Individuals who do not eat WFPB may feel threatened or guilty, either consciously or subconsciously about their decision to consume meat and ultimately feel a need to defend it by destroying your commitment to the WFPB way of eating.
Our society has set up norms for food behaviors. Here an example, when a box of donuts is placed in front of us, we all expect everyone in the room to participate and throw health concerns to the wind and indulge by eating a donut. It makes us feel less guilty about our food decisions and submitting to the pleasure of eating the donut.
However, if one (or two) people in the room, refuse to eat a donut, then everyone who has indulged in the donut immediately feels that their unhealthy decision comes into question. The group may feel compelled to subjugate the nonconforming person by attacking them or their beliefs. It is just human psychology. Chances are that no matter what you say, even supported by science, studies or documented proof, you may never win them over.
My best advice is to find a way out of the situation by excusing yourself to temporarily leave the room or situation (perhaps a bathroom break), or as I have done a few times, when the pressure to conform is overwhelming, take the donut and let it sit on my plate, then later give it away to someone.
The real challenge is going to someone’s home for a dinner party and they are not Whole Food Plant Based. It is like walking through a mine field. Even if the hostess/host is understanding, perhaps others in attendance may not be. Chances are pretty good that someone will question/challenge you.
However, don’t be surprised if your Whole Food Plant Based enthusiasm is shot down. People do not want their personal food choices to be judged or questioned. This comes from years of cultural conditioning. After all, the only place you can get your protein is from animal products, right? LOL
If you want more on how to navigate through tough family and dinner party situations, please see this post on: How To Navigate through Social Challenges.
Tip # 9: Meal Planning
We can’t state enough the importance of meal planning. We love to sit down and take a little time to plan what we want to make that week. Planning meals in advance eliminate stress and reduces inconvenient trips to the store which saves time. It also helps reduce food waste.
Tip # 10: Food Labels
This goes along with Step 9 above, but be prepared to spend some time reading food labels to locate minimally processed foods to eliminate selecting foods that have hidden ingredients. MSG is a good example. MSG can be sneaky. A product may be labeled “No MSG” and that may be true, but did you know that there are other hidden names for MSG? The following are just a few hidden names for MSG:
- Glutamic Acid
- Monosodium Glutamate
- Monopotassium Glutamate
- Calcium Glutamate
- Magnesium Glutamate
- Natrium Glutamate
There is a lot of information on MSG. We found this excellent article on MSG written by John Douillard called Avoid Hidden MSG in the Health Food Aisle, check it out!
We are working on a blog post for reading food labels, stay tuned!
We hope these tips help you as much as they have helped us. Monkey and I are loving our Whole Food Plant Based journey. We love creating delicious recipes and sharing them with you, and looking forward to you joining us in our kitchen adventures!