The diet I follow is based upon McDougall principles, but with a few additional twists. The rules for a McDougall diet are listed on the McDougall website http://www.drmcdougall.com/free.html and displayed below.
- A diet of plant foods, including whole grains and whole grain products (such as pasta, tortillas, and whole-grain bread), a wide assortment of vegetables, and fruit
- Plenty of spices and usually small amounts of sugar and salt to enhance the flavor of food
- Exercise as simple as a daily walk
- The exclusion of animal foods, including red meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs, and fish – all of which provide toxic levels of fat, cholesterol, protein and, very often, infectious agents and harmful chemicals
- The exclusion of ALL oils, including olive oil, safflower oil and corn oil. Oils, which are nothing more than liquid fat, increase body fat stores (obesity), depress immune function, and contribute to most common chronic diseases
In addition to these McDougall principles, I try to avoid processed foods to the greatest degree possible. I will read every label to check the ingredients. The following are cause for rejection:
- Any animal products. Most tomato soups contain milk. I believe that cow’s milk is the perfect food – if you are a baby cow.
- Any product with more than a few ingredients, not counting herbs and spices. This is especially true for chemicals that I cannot pronounce.
- Any trans-fats, hydrogenated oils, artificial sweeteners, or high fructose corn syrup.
Bread is normally a vegan product. Whole grain bread should be robust and flavorful with no need to add any margarine or jam. I will always assume that other pastries and baked goods will be made from butter and/or eggs, so I will always avoid them unless I have made them myself or can check the labels.
Along with vegan principles, I take whole foods very seriously. The whole foods concept means that:
- Pistachios and almonds are better than potato chips
- Oatmeal is better than any sugary, overly processed cereals (Oatmeal with applesauce will make you forget about sugar and cream)
- Tomato juice is better than any soda
- Avocados are better than energy bars
- Carrot sticks wrapped in cilantro are better French fries
- Vanilla flavored Soy milk is a wonderful substitute for cow’s milk, and is exceptional in cooking and baking, giving everything a rich, creamy taste you can live with
- Fresh peaches in season are better than any desert you can imagine
When thirsty we need to learn to drink water, not sugary sodas or coffee. Instead of a soda, try carbonated water with a squeeze of lemon. Instead of coffee try an herbal tea. After I squeeze a lemon I will brew the remaining rind and pulp for a refreshing “tea.”
As you can probably tell, I really enjoy my plant based whole foods diet. I am eating better now than I ever have. And I do not just mean from a health standpoint, but from a gustatory standpoint as well. I am fortunate enough to live in California’s beautiful wine country. In my garden you will find fresh herbs such as mint, basil, oregano, rosemary, chives, thyme, cilantro, sage, and much more.
A typical lunch would be a tortilla spread with homemade humus (garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice and chipotle pepper), topped with shredded vegetables (lettuce, tomato, zucchini, bell peppers and onions) rolled up into a wrap. This lunch would also include some tomato juice and an apple.
A typical dinner would be a mixture of eggplant, Portobello mushrooms and onions in a tofu sauce. Peel and cube the eggplant. Chop the mushrooms and onions. Blend silken tofu in the food processor until it has a creamy consistency. Add ground flax seed and turmeric to the tofu. Flax can be used as a replacement for both oil and eggs in cooking and baking. It is also an excellent source of omega-3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. Mix all ingredients in a container. Add soy sauce. Bake or microwave until cooked. When cooked sprinkle with edible yeast. Edible yeast provides a “cheesy” taste and texture.
A plant based whole foods diet is no sacrifice at all.