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What is "Whole Food Plant Based"?

"Plant Based" has become a trending term over the last

few year. So much so that it is not longer considered a

niche. But just because something is labeled "Plant Based"

does that make it a whole food? Not usually no. In fact if a

food has a label and they feel the need to plaster "plant

based" on it, you can almost bet it is NOT Whole Food

Plant Based.


"Whole Food Plant Based" is not just a loose term, it has a

defined explanation and history. You may think it is as

simple as eating only WHOLE PLANTS; but there is more too it than that. 

To understand the term we must go to the source - Dr. T.C.Campbell. 


"Whole Food" = foods that are minimally processed, meaning nothing GOOD taken away and nothing BAD added in. So as an example whole grain bread or pasta is a "WHOLE FOOD" as it retains all the health benefits of the WHOLE GRAIN. Hummus would also be considered a "WHOLE FOOD" if it is simply cooked chickpeas, sesame seeds, lemon and spices blended up. Tofu, 

There is also a smaller category of processed items that are generally only used as ingredient. You would not want to eat them in large quantities or at every meal. Baking Soda, Baking Powder, Commercial Plant Milks, Date Sugar,  

"Plant" = This is the easy part. Is it an edible plant? Perfect, enjoy! Was it once alive? Avoid it.


"Based" = This is where many people like to debate. The true meaning of BASED is 95%-100% of calories. With that in mind, this does not mean you can eat processed foods or animal products Daily. The way of eating being described has less than 5% of calories from small monthly or semi annual celebration meals/foods that may be more processed or incorporate animal products.  

Lets say your body requires 1600 calories a day to function and maintain a healthy weight. This means less than 560 calories per week should come from none-WFPB foods. You'd go over this with a 6" personal cheese only pizza from Dominos or a kids Happy Meal from Mc Donalds. Maybe you are thinking well I just want to cook for myself at home. A 4oz steak, a slice of cheesy garlic bread and salad with a splash of an oil based dressing is also over 560 calories. Even a Beyond Meat Burger from A&W is pushing the limit of 5% of a weeks calories. You can see it is not simple to eat Animal Product or Processed Food Based Meals regularly and stay within the definition of WFPB. 


What you will find many people choosing to eat Whole Food Plant Based doing is either going 100% all in, all the time; Or they are 100% 355 days of the year. On the rare occasion, maybe once a month, when they are in social situations they may indulge in "contaminated" foods. Or they may be actively choosing to go off this way of eating during an annual family tradition that they feel warrants it. Or maybe there is one particular food they still buy, like a processed white bread, that they have occasionally. 


What also happens after time, if the body becomes used to eating healthy foods,  once exposed to animal products and processed foods it is not happy! A few of these experiences usually keeps most people focused on eating WFPB 99%. 

Don't use the word "BASED" as an excuse to continue to eat health destroying foods. The longer you hold onto these foods, or should I say, the longer they hold onto you, the longer it will take to break the literal addictions. 


On the flip side of this - there is no reason to punish yourself for occasionally choosing to eat outside of WFPB. This is a LIFESTYLE choice. Not a diet, or a punishment. It is a path to better health and a long quality life.


In a nut shell, Whole Food Plant Based includes:

Legumes, Greens, Grains, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Seeds, Mushrooms,

Herbs, Berries, in their whole or minimally processed forms. 

Animal Products and Processed Food Like Substances are not considered "Whole Food Plant Based"

Green Vegetables
Varieties of Grain
Healthy assortment of yellow foods
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