We constantly hear about the newest and best diet for weight loss, disease prevention and psychological well-being. Knowing what to eat can be overwhelming. One day, we are told eggs are healthy, then researchers inform us that they are not. The same for meat, soy, oils, fruit, coffee, and wine. As a Health Psychologist, I am continually searching for diets that are nutritious, decrease the risk of disease, assist in weight loss, and improve overall health. Out of all the diets I have researched, a Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet is the best diet.
A Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet is based on consuming plant-based foods with no meat, fish, or dairy. Additionally, foods are most nutritious when they are not processed. For instance, we should eat corn from the husk rather than corn chips or olives rather than olive oil. The closer you can eat to the plant growing in its original state, the better.
What the Research Says
Numerous research studies have found that a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet decreases risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and some mental health disorders. Epidemiological and nutritional studies have found that this type of eating is the most nutritious for our brains and bodies.
How Do I Make the Switch?
Switching to a Whole Foods, Plant-Based Diet may be overwhelming and frustrating at first. You may worry that you will be severely limited in what you can eat or how your family will accept this kind of eating. This diet is easy to implement if you are willing to learn more about the diet and experiment with new foods and flavors. Air fryers, such as the Cosori Air Fryer, and vegetable peelers and dicers are nifty gadgets that improve food texture and taste. Plus, children enjoy different ways to cut up vegetables using slicers.
Most importantly, you must learn about what and how to eat. I recommend reading about plant-based eating. Additionally, the documentary, Forks Over Knives, provides an insightful look into why many healthcare practitioners recommend this diet. If you need help with recipes, there are numerous websites that offer creative and tasty meals.
As for finding foods, supermarkets devoted to healthy eating, such as Whole Foods, offer a variety of food options. If you prefer food delivered right to your door, Thrive Market and Whole Foods offer a lot of plant-based diet items. Some food subscription services provide pre-made or semi-prepared meals so that you don’t have to think about buying food or finding recipes.
What Should I Be Eating?
Whole foods refer to natural foods that are minimally processed. They are foods that are in the purest form. Plant-based means food that was grown from plants and does not contain any animal parts. These are the main components of a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet:
- Fruits (e.g. bananas, strawberries, mangos, watermelon, lemons, blueberries)
- Vegetables (e.g. lettuces, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, onions, peppers, beets, avocados)
- Grains (e.g. quinoa, brown rice, farro, bulgar wheat, oats, whole wheat)
- Legumes (e.g. kidney beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, soybeans)
Should you decide to change your eating habits, I recommend that you consult your healthcare provider. Not surprisingly, eating a healthy diet can improve any medical conditions that you may have. This has implications for medications that you are taking. Hopefully, you will find that you need to rely on medications much less.
You are ultimately making a psychological and behavior change eating this way. We often don’t realize the importance of incorporating behavioral tools to help adhere to a new way of eating. If you are seeking to lose weight and/or improve your health, then you may want to consider engaging in counseling. Working with a Health Psychologist, you will develop the necessary skills to make the best food choices and to adhere to your health goals. Additionally, if you are struggling with emotional eating or food addiction, therapy can help to address these issues. Seeking support through these lifestyle changes is important so that you have the best chance of succeeding and improving your health. To schedule an initial consultation with me for either in-person or online counseling, please call my Chandler office at (480) 448-6755.