Optimal Mental & Physical Wellness, & Longevity Through a Plant-Based Lifestyle

By Teresa Starr

September 21, 2019

Nutrition for Optimal Health, Vegan, WFPB, Whole Foods Plant-Based Nutrition

If you had a brand new Ferrari, what kind of fuel would you put into the gas tank? Premium? Of course! If you want to take utmost care of your prized car, you're for sure going so give it only the best. What about your most valuable vehicle - your mind and body? Your body is your vehicle through life! Unlike a car, you can't buy a new one when it wears out. That's why we need to be sure to give it the premium fuel it deserves! With so many different diets out there, it's hard to know which one is best for optimal mental and physical health. Optimal Mental & Physical Wellness, & Longevity Through a Plant-Based LifestyleIf you had a brand new Ferrari, what kind of fuel would you put into the gas tank? Premium? Of course! If you want to take utmost care of your prized car, you're for sure going so give it only the best. What about your most valuable vehicle - your mind and body? Your body is your vehicle through life! Unlike a car, you can't buy a new one when it wears out. That's why we need to be sure to give it the premium fuel it deserves! With so many different diets out there, it's hard to know which one is best for optimal mental and physical health.

According to Dr. Neil Nedley, M.D. (founder of the Nedley Depression and Anxiety Recovery Program, and author of Depression the Way Out), "There's only one perspective randomized control trial that showed significant benefit in overcoming depression, just by changing the diet. What was that diet? It was a plant based diet."

Dr. Nedley is not the only physician to recommend a plant-based diet. There is a growing body of physicians and a growing body of scientific evidence that recommends that a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, beans, fruits, and nuts, with the elimination of meat and other high-fat animal products is the optimal eating plan to reduce cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and thereby reduce heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. The Physicians Health Committee for Responsible Medicine is a group of over 12,000 doctors who back up this recommendation. https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition

Cholesterol is not the only harmful substance found in meat. Arachidonic acid (found in meat) is shown to impair optimal functioning of the prefrtal lobe. This is the area of the brain that controls reasoning, judgment, and foresight.

Dr. Nedley gives the following counsel, "AVOIDING Cholesterol and Arachadonic Acid in your diet promotes optimal brain health. Start by eliminating meat, cheese, eggs, and milk. If you can’t do it all at once, start by eliminating meat first, then cheese, then eggs, and finally milk, while replacing these foods with healthy foods recommended in this section. Lowering your saturated fat intake will also help you to lower your blood cholesterol significantly." (Depression and Anxiety Recovery Workbook p. 60).

So, here's my question to you: "Are you ready for a transformational journey that will greatly improve your mental and physical health, and increase your wellbeing and happiness?" If so, take Dr. Nedley’s advice and consider trying the Whole Food, Plant-based (WFPB) way of eating. It’s not a diet, it’s a LIFESTYLE!

I adopted this lifestyle 25 years ago, due to some serious health challenges that threatened my life in a pretty dramatic way. It hasn’t always been easy but to this day, I am beyond grateful to have found this way of eating.

Want to give it a try? You can choose to dip your toe in the water by cutting out one thing at a time, or you can dive in and follow Dr. Nedley’s full recommendation (for optimal improvement of health). Do what works for you, but remember that the greatest transformation will come to those who jump in and implement the changes fully. You can choose to make the changes slowly or you can go all out. The choice is yours.

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few pointers and meal-plans to help you find success on this new and exciting adventure!!! WHY is it exciting? Because a healthier, happier you is waiting just around the corner!

Don’t let the idea of cooking and eating WFPB overwhelm you. It’s not as complicated as some people might think. With a growth mindset, you can decide to take it on as an adventure with the final outcome (and transformation) of improved mental and physical health and increased happiness and wellbeing. It’s even a pathway to achieve your optimal weight and fitness.

Practice Makes Easier:

The good news is, the more you cook the WFPB way, the easier it becomes. It may take some time to get used to but all good things are worth the effort. Over time, your taste buds will actually change, and you will find that natural foods taste sweeter and better while rich fatty/sugary foods become less and less

Plan for Success:

Most people only have a 2-week menu that they default to (rotating their favorite 14 meals over and over again with only minimal variation). It’s the same way when you eat a plant-based diet. Start simple by selecting 14 meals you like and rotate them. Over time you can add in new recipes and increase your recipe repertoire. There are two ways to do this: First, you can select your favorite recipes and convert them to a WFPB recipe (this will help you feel comfortable as these are the foods you are used to). Directions on how to substitute plant-based foods will be given below. Second, you can check out WFPB recipes and add those into your plan (recipe resources will be given below). We recommend you do a combination of your old family favorites (modified) and adding in new WFPB recipes. Doing both of those will help you build up a 2-week menu plan and eventually increase it to a 4-week menu plan. You can check out my 16 quick and easy favorite lunch and dinner ideas below.

As you’re collecting recipes, remember to keep a growth mindset. Always keep your end goal in mind and think of it as a WFPB recipe treasure hunt as you look for recipes that will become your new family favorites. Keep an open mind, be
willing to experiment, explore the possibilities, and try new things.

Converting your recipes to WFPB – Instead of using meat, I use brown rice and beans (this gives you both protein and the chewy texture). I leave out the cheese and sour cream. I often use fat-free humus as a topping instead of sour cream or in the place of mayonaise. In the past, I have used a very small amount of almond cheese, however, it is still high in fat, so I have now cut this out as well.

Focus on what you CAN eat – not what you’re CHOOSING NOT to eat. Here’s a list of amazing foodincluded in the WFPB diet: https://p.widencdn.net/n0ayrz/18155-NTR-Power-Plate-Booklet-RGB

Shopping the WFPB way: https://p.widencdn.net/sm0knq/Power-Plate-Shopping-List

Substitutions: https://p.widencdn.net/pwtqtq/Substitution-Chart-Update


Breakfast ideas:

(I try to incorporate oatmeal into every breakfast meal, if possible. Please check out this article on the science and benefits of oatmeal. (see article on oatmeal)

Oatmeal. I use organic old-fashioned rolled oats or steel cut oats) with almond milk, nuts, and variations of fruit – depending on what I’m in the mood for and what I have on hand (strawberries, blueberries, mango, bananas, peaches, apples, raisins) and sometimes cinnamon. In order to get your omega 3’s, be sure to top it off with a tablespoon or two of organic flax seed (ground up into flax seed meal).

Green smoothies. Greens (kale, spinach), almond milk, 1 tablespoon ground flax seed, pea protein, ¼ c. rolled oats, and 1 cup of frozen fruits (here’s where you can really get creative as you try different combinations of fruit). Frozen bananas and mangos always give it an extra creamy texture while lemon adds a nice little zing to it. Mixed berries are especially good as anti-oxidants. You can change it up every day.

Pancakes or muffins are also very tasty. Be sure to use the following substitutions:

  • Almond milk in place of cow’s milk
  • Whole wheat, spelt, rolled oats (blended into a flour), or rice flour instead of white flour
  • Flax-seed egg substitute instead of chicken eggs. Here’s the recipe for 1 “flax-seed egg”: 1 tablespoon of ground flax-seed (measure after grinding), 3 tablespoons of water. Stir well, and allow the mixture to set for about 10 minutes. At this point, the result should be a sticky egg-like substitute, with a gelatinous, stretchy texture.
  • Applesauce instead of oil (or use a mixture of ¾ applesauce and ¼ oil)

Whole grain toast (spread with honey, applesauce or nut butter) and a fruit salad on
the side.

Lunch and Dinner Ideas:

(The sky is the limit. Convert old recipes or hunt out new ones. I often like to use yesterday’s dinner for tomorrow’s lunch, just to save time.)

Pita or Naan Bread (whole wheat Naan Bread sold at Smiths by the bakery) with veggies and fat-free hummus

Pastas with WFPB sauces (marinara sauce for example, and veggies (dairy free, meat free)

Pasta Salads (include lots of veggies, quinoa, nuts, seeds, beans, and chopped green leafy veggies)

Potato Bar (these can be regular white or sweet potatoes) – with beans (a few ideas are great northern beans seasoned with garlic and rosemary, pinto, red, or black beans seasoned with chili and cumin, or garbanzo beans seasoned with
curry, cumin and cinnamon) and other veggies as toppers (such as peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, olives, avocado, etc.)

Naan Bread Pizzas – tomato sauce, olives, zucchini, peppers, pineapple, onions and other veggies. Instead of cow cheese, you can use a small amount of almond cheese or sliced up spinach on top

Naan Bread Navajo Tacos – spread refried beans on naun bread, top with tomatoes, onions, cilantro, peppers, cook in oven until warm (350 for 15 minutes or so). Serve with green salad.

Burritos, Tacos, or Wraps – your choice of a variety of beans, diced (steamed or raw) onions, and peppers, and other veggies, such as diced zucchini, tomatoes, cilantro, avocados, chopped or shredded lettuce, spinach or other green leafy
veggies, a squirt of lime, and your favorite salsa…Think Café Rio minus the cheese, meat, and sour cream (those things cause inflammation and clog arteries so you’re really better without them).

Enchiladas – Using the same ingredients you would use for burritos only use corn tortillas and enchilada sauce on top (microwave for 1 minute and 45 seconds or cook in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes). Then top with your choice of cut spinach shreds, tomatoes, cilantro, olives, and salsa

Taco Salad – I like to make a mixture of beans and rice with tomato sauce, and spices like chili, and cumin, and cilantro to season. We put the bean and rice mixture over baked corn chips and then add on all of the other salad veggies (greens, peppers, onions, tomatoes, fresh cilantro, olives, salsa, lime, etc.).

Salad Bar – Use lots of dark greens (spinach, kale, mustard greens, romaine, etc), add in beets, carrots, olives, beans, diced onions, peppers, rice, zucchini, tomatoes, cilantro, cucumbers, nuts, seeds, etc.

Chili Beans (no meat – however, brown rice as a nice chewy texture) and corn meal muffins (made with a flax seed egg, applesauce instead of oil, and nut milk). Top it off with a big green salad or other veggies.

Veggie burgers – You can find a good black bean and rice burger recipe or another veggie burger recipe. Costco carries black bean burgers. We also like this brand: Dr. Praegers all American veggie burgers. Be careful when using processed veggie burgers that you don’t use one with a high fat content – that defeats the purpose. Use whole wheat buns, & your typical condiments, I like to replace mayo with hummus, and pile high with veggies.

Stir fry veggies on brown rice. “Sauté” your onions, peppers, finely sliced cabbage, and other veggies in water instead of oil. Add in bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, and other nuts and seeds. Use Braggs liquid amino acids or low sodium soy sauce and other oriental spices to taste.

Sandwiches (all kinds of veggies, avocado, hummus, or nut butters)

Veggie broth w/ a variety of mixed veggies, grains, pastas, beans, etc. Serve w/salad & whole grain bread.

Hawaiian Haystacks – Everyone makes their own. Start with brown rice, then top with diced celery, peppers, water chestnuts, sliced almonds, onions, tomatoes, quinoa, mushrooms, top with thickened veggie broth, light soy sauce. Serve with steamed edamame and a side salad.

Simplify by cooking in BATCH:

Since many of these recipes call for the same ingredients, it helps to cook a large batch of some items. You can cook up large batches of Beans, rice, quinoa, and other grains (can do several varieties of each) to last you an entire week. You can look through your menus for the week and cook up enough of these items to last for up to 5 days (must be kept in the fridge once they are cooked). For veggies, I like to chop up extra veggies (for salads and for cooking) and store what I need in the fridge (for up to 3 days – so that they still taste fresh). You can also cook up a couple of batches of pasta and they should keep for up to 3 days in the fridge. Baked or boiled potatoes and sweet potatoes can also be cooked in bulk and then stored in the fridge for up to 5 days. These staples can go in several
different dishes and you’ll cut your daily cooking time in half by having them precooked.

Steam veggies instead of frying them.

Basically, when I’m sautéing onions, peppers, mushrooms, or other veggies, I do it exactly the same way as I used to cook with oil. The only difference is that I put a very small amount of water in the pan, instead of the oil. This is to avoid the harmful trans-fats that come from frying food in oil. You need to stay close and stir frequently (or continuously).

Steam veggies instead of boiling them.

Other veggies should be steamed rather than boiled. Basically, this just means that you don’t cover them fully with water – only have a small amount (an inch or two) in the bottom of the pan. This helps them stay crisper and maintains more of the nutrients in the veggies. Potatoes and corn on the cob are the exception – they need to be covered with water in order to cook evenly throughout.

If you’re still wondering what you can and cannot eat, check out Jane Birch’s
“WFPB guidelines” page to help you get started. Here’s the link: https://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/wfpb-guidelines/

Warning – People may give you a hard time or may even be offended by your new way of eating but it’s only because they are not used to this type of eating or they may be afraid that you are judging them for not eating the way you eat. Assure
them that you are not judging their eating habits, but you are simply doing
this for your own health and well-being.

*Most importantly, have fun with this! Think of it as an exciting adventure that leads to an incredible transformation in your mental and physical health and wellbeing. Research has shown, time, and time again that eating the whole food, plant-based way will lead to increased happiness, health, & longevity! Remember, you only get one body and one mind - Your vehicle through life - so be sure to give it the premium fuel it deserves!

If you still feel like you need some support, please check out these great Whole Food Plant Based Resources (below):


Dr. Neil Nedley, M. D. – Plant based Diet and Mental Health https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HoC89_19Ni0


Forks over knives – the movie trailers:

#1 https://www.forksoverknives.com/the-film/#gs.1ksn29

#2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPJbYAYzP04

Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn -Healthiest Diet in the World – Reversing Heart Disease - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoBqTo9EJjQ

Dr .Gregor’s Daily Dozen does not tell you what not to eat. It tells you what you CAN eat. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dr-gregers-daily-dozen-checklist-2/

Game Changers Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSpglxHTJVM

Forks over Knives Website: https://www.forksoverknives.com/

Forks over Knives Recipes: https://www.forksoverknives.com/recipes/#gs.1zf6g0

Engine 2 Recipes - https://engine2diet.com/blog/tag/whole-food-plant-based-recipes/

T. Colin Campbell Ph.D. https://www.forksoverknives.com/contributors/t-colin-campbell-ph-d/#gs.1ktojr

Why is the Science of Nutrition not taught in Med. School? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmWoWOM16uE

Dr. Ellsworth Wellham – cardiothoracic surgeon – practiced surgery until age 95 - now over 100 years-old - https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=260&v=FX58PyQwrcI

Dr. John McDougall

Dr. Neil Barnard:

Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is a nonprofit organization of over 12,000 physicians. https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition

PCRM offers a FREE WFPB starter kit: https://www.pcrm.org/news/news-releases/vegan-starter-kit-neal-barnard-md-provides-fast-track-health   or – https://kickstart.pcrm.org/

21 Day Vegan Kickstart App – FREE - https://apps.apple.com/us/app/21-day-vegan-kickstart/id1118716942

PCRM Power Plate & Shopping List: https://p.widencdn.net/n0ayrz/18155-NTR-Power-Plate-Booklet-RGB

AND  https://p.widencdn.net/sm0knq/Power-Plate-Shopping-List

WFPB for beginners: https://thethrivingvegan.com/tips-for-vegan-beginners/

Want to know how I came to a Plant-Based Diet and how it literally saved my life? Here’s my story: https://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/wfpb-story-teresa-starr/#more-4776

What will YOUR story be???

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Teresa Starr

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