How to Start a WFPB Diet
You’ve done the research, watched the inspirational documentaries, and now… it’s time to start eating a WFPB diet! In this article, we discuss some tips to get started and to maintain inspired even when faced with challenges. Are you committed to eating a WFPB diet? If your answer is yes, keep reading!
What is WFPB?
WFPB stands for:
- Whole Food
The term Whole Food Plant Based is frequently abbreviated for convenience. We usually switch between the terms WFPB and Whole Food Plant Based, though both are the same.
5 Tips on How to Start a WFPB Diet
- Find 2 or 3 recipes that you like and make them over and over
- Make sure to include whole grains and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes to keep you full
- Meal prep!
- Build a support network (read on to learn more about getting the right support)
- Introduce new habits through systems, not goals
Starting a WFPB Diet: Systems vs Goals
When people start a new diet, they usually set ambitious goals. Does this sound familiar to you? Goal setting can be useful and sets the tone to get you started. However, we easily get disillusioned when challenged. The positive energy that got us started suddenly turns into negative energy. What if we realize we are not reaching the desired weight loss?
You may feel disillusioned because you
- lost 5 pounds while you wanted to lose 10
- only managed to bring you cholesterol down a few points
- are not feeling the high energy that others do when they start a WFPB diet
Focusing on the negative is not going to get us anywhere. Also, this approach is short-sighted. It’s important to focus on the bigger picture. The benefits of a WFPB diet tend to last as long as you stick with this way of eating.
Creating Mini Habits
Therefore, try not to focus all your attention on your goal. It’s better to focus on setting up some kind of system that allows you to gradually implement a Whole Food Plant Based diet into your life. For example:
- This week I am going to stop eating dairy and experiment with alternatives such as plant-based milks and nutritional yeast
- Next week I am going to increase my daily fruit intake by 1 serving
- The week after I will stop cooking with oil
- The following week I will start adding beans into my meals at least once a day
The above suggestions can also be implemented month-by-month. It depends on what your starting point is, the kind of support you have and the time you have. Also note how each week is alternately focused on adding and eliminating something.
Some people can go all-in and fully transition to a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle from one moment to the next. For the majority of us, that is simply not realistic nor sustainable. The suggestion here is to make minor changes, step by step, over a period of time. These mini-systems will help you gradually create healthy, conscious habits. Interestingly, if you consciously create a new habit for a period of time, after 1 or 2 months you’ll start doing it unconsciously. This is when a new habit becomes a part of you!
For example, suddenly you notice you are dropping your candy cravings. Not just that, they’ve also been replaced with increased fruit intake!
Interestingly, these small changes (systems) will help you reach and sustain goals over a longer period of time!
It’s Not a Diet
When we talk about diets, we tend to think about something temporary. We go on a diet, and then we go off it. Usually, we go off the diet once we reach our goal. For example, when we have done it for a specific duration or when we’ve achieved a certain amount of weight loss. Inevitably, once we go off the diet, old habits are introduced and often the progress made vanishes over a period of time.
The Whole Food Plant Based diet works differently. It’s actually more of a lifestyle. Once people get started on a WFPB way of eating, they often report great benefits within just a matter of days, including:
- Increased energy
- Mental clarity
- Regular bowel movement
- Increased sexual appetite
People tend to realize Wow, this works so well, I might just keep doing it! The benefits of a WFPB diet do not come at the expense of other diets in which severe restriction of food intake is required. The WFPB way is:
Eat all you want (while getting lots of variety) of any whole, unrefined plant-based food.
— Dr Campbell
Are you ready to get started with the WFPB diet and lifestyle?
What are the Main Challenges to Overcome on a WFPB Diet?
Let’s take a look at the most common challenges people report when starting a WFPB diet and lifestyle. The key in overcoming these challenges is that your own experiences and experiments should lead the way. As we’ve discussed, being rigid is often not useful. Slowly adapting to the new foods and gradually increasing your options will often lead to success on the long run. This approach will also allow you to overcome the main challenges and fully live the WFPB lifestyle.
The top challenges to overcome on a WFPB diet are:
- Dining out: A lack of WFPB options in restaurants
- Giving up cheese
- Handling social situations, ie dealing with other people’s comments about your diet
- Meal prepping: It takes a long time to cook
- Avoiding or eliminating oil
- Going on holidays/traveling
- Getting family on-board with the same lifestyle
- Giving up sugar and adding natural sweetness
- Avoiding or missing dairy
- The desire for fast food and avoiding junk food
- Not falling off the wagon / sticking with it
For now, it is good to be aware of these potential challenges. They may or may not appear on your path of transitioning to a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle. What to do if these challenges present themselves? The answer is to be in the right support network to share your experiences and learn from others who’ve gone through the same thing.
Build a Support Network
As you know, the WFPB lifestyle is not very common in our society. If you don’t eat meat, fish, dairy, oil etc, you are considered to be somewhat weird. What most people don’t know is that in large parts of the world people thrive on plant-based diets. Our history is full of references showing that plant foods were a big part of our diet. Nonetheless, you are likely to struggle to find support in your surroundings.
That’s why building a support network is crucial! Luckily, the internet offers us an easy way to connect with people all over the world who also just want to start a WFPB diet. Get inspired and connect with people by:
- Following recipe creators on Instagram
- Joining Facebook groups such as Forks Over Knives
- Finding bloggers who write about the WFPB lifestyle
If you require a more personal approach on how to start a WFPB diet, you can also join one of the GingerKale support & coaching programs. Click here for more info.
About the Author
My name is Darren van Es and I am the founder of GingerKale. I have been living a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle for over 7 years now. In 2018 I became a graduate of Dr. Campbell’s Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate Program. My aim is to provide support to people who want to learn how to transition to a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle.
Book Your Coaching Session
We offer plant-based coaching sessions for those who want to transition to a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle, or to those who have already started but are facing challenges. The coaching sessions are aimed at offering motivational and practical advice such as cooking, shopping, family challenges, going out for dinner, overcoming psychological challenges, changing habits, and more. Note: No medical advice is given in the consults.
When you transition to a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle, all sorts of challenges appear on the path. If you are serious about this, you may need to give up some of your favorite foods and flavors and try to replace them for new ones. You may feel limited at first, but you'll be surprised by the variety of new foods and flavors. To help you get started, we've put together a list of 5 simple food tips.