Food Principles

HEALTHY CHOICES

How to be optimally nourished & balanced on every level

Making the right decisions when you’re about to create a meal is an important aspect of your overall health. We have collected both the most healthy and unhealthy foods in clearly arranged lists to make your life a lot easier and better. Eating a plant-based, whole food diet doesn’t have to be complicated if you want to just stick to the basics.

Be aware that the foods to eat listed below are a huge selection of your different choices – eat a nice variety of what you like best and experiment. There’s no need to make extravagant meals out of them, it’s actually a very simple and native diet. Let’s take a look!

FOODS TO EAT

Fill up on healthy staples first whenever you're hungry

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FRUITS

Bananas, oranges, kiwi, apples, berries, figs, mangoes, pears, persimmons, papayas, peaches, lemons, cherries, melons, plums, apricots etc.

Dried fruit like apricots, dates, apples, figs, raisins, cranberries, prunes, goji

Apple sauce and other fruit purees

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VEGETABLES

Leafy green vegetables including kale, lettuce, collard greens, spinach

Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts

Carrots, bell peppers, leek, celery, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, fennel, asparagus, mushrooms, avocados

Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips, beets, turnips

Squashes like butternut, acorn, pumpkin

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WHOLE GRAINS

Oats, barley, brown rice, white rice, rye, bulgur, quinoa, couscous, amaranth, corn, millet, buckwheat

Products made of these whole grains like bread, oil-free crackers, tortilla, wraps, or pasta

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LEGUMES

Lentils, peas, chickpeas, edamame

Beans including kidney, mung, pinto, limas, soy etc.

USE SPARINGLY

Add on top of your staples when you feel like it

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FAT

Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia, hazelnut, pecans, chestnuts, pine, coconut etc.

Seeds like flax, sunflower, sesame, chia etc.

Tahini, nut butter like almond butter, cashew butter etc.

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PROTEIN

Plant-based milk made from soy, rice, almonds, hazelnut, hemp

Kefir, yogurt or cream made of the ingredients above

Tofu plain, smoked, or spiced but no fake meats, sausages or tofurky

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CARBS

Refined flour products like pasta, bread, soba rice noodles

Cornflakes, sugar-free cold cereal,

Refined flours (rice, rye, wheat, oat, corn, buckwheat, barley)

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CONDIMENTS & SPICES

Natural sweeteners such as date syrup or molasses, cane sugar, acorn/maple syrup, date paste, stevia leaves, agave nectar

Soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, miso, hot sauce, sea salt, vegetable broth, ketchup, sriracha, curry paste, tomato paste, nutritional yeast

Spices like garlic, onion, fresh herbs (basil, parsley, rosemary, oregano, mint etc), scallions, chili, cardamom, curry, ginger, mustard, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, vanilla, garam masala, nutmeg, turmeric etc.

FOODS TO AVOID

Be sure to stay away from these ingredients at all times

Hydration


Drinking enough water should be a given, no matter what diet someone eats. Depending on the temperature and how much activity you’re getting, try to drink at least 1.5 – 2 liters of water a day. Other possible beverages which you can add to your water are tea, coffee (if you don’t feel any side effects), and fruit or vegetable juices (homemade is best).

Look out for good quality and don’t get concentrates or anything with added sugar! Also, don’t load up your tea or coffee with cream and sugar, opt for some stevia with soy milk instead or drink it plain. Another idea is to make some fruit-infused water by putting some slices of citrus fruit or berries along with fresh herbs like mint into a bottle of water and then drink it. Alcohol won’t do you any favors as well, so stay away from it as much as possible.

GENERAL FOOD GUIDELINES


Think of food as ‘high’ or ‘low’ nutrient dense & strive for maximum nutrition

Eat as many whole foods as you want, add some minimally processed foods in here and there

Listen to your hunger and never starve yourself – eat until you’re satisfied but not stuffed

Don’t neglect hydration, drink mainly pure water as well as fruit/vegetable juice when you feel like it (around 2-3 liters a day)

Don’t be afraid of carbs or whole fats, there is no need to count macronutrients when eating a whole food, plant-based diet

As long as you meet your caloric needs, you cannot get protein deficient even on purely plant foods

Both raw and cooked foods have different benefits so feel free to consume them in the ratio that suits you best

Try to prepare as much food as you can at home and use only very little salt or sugar. Skip the oil.

Don’t get too extreme and try to be very ‘pure’ by eating only green leafy vegetables, since it’s unsustainable and unbalanced

Learn how to easily apply these principles in our free course

14 Comments
  1. Maren Says

    Love this list – and super excited to have found this website! All articles and posts are so informative, easy to understand and well researched!
    Thank you again!!

    • Alena Says

      Hi Maren,
      what a super lovely comment! Thank you so much for letting us know how much you like it here. We really do put a lot of our hearts and time into it, simply because we believe it’s such an important and live-changing message that needs to be spread. Where did you find us?
      Thanks again for making my morning, let me know if you’d like to have a specific topic covered or if we can help you in any way.
      Warmly,
      Alena
      PS: Awesome Instagram!!

  2. Mark Says

    Coconut milk is very high in fat, including saturated fat. Not a good recommendation for a healthy diet.

    • Alena Says

      Hey Mark,
      thanks for your input. We do want to promote a really healthful and whole food diet. In order to make it more appealing and convenient, it’s totally okay to use some slightly refined foods sparingly. One of the plant-based milk substitutes we’ve put in this category was coconut milk because one can make delicious vegetable dishes with them. Of course we wouldn’t suggest loading up on this high-fat food every day but having it once a week can be a part of a healthy whole food plant based diet. As long as one does not suffer from serious heart problems, this can be a “sometimes” food that makes this way of eating very delicious to people who are used to fatty and meaty dishes.
      Hope this helps!

  3. françois Says

    Hi,

    I am very interested in your website, and have already been eating kind of like the way you promote for a few months now.
    But i have two questions;
    – why do you think we should avoid olive oil (if virgin, cold pressed)? It looks like super fat, which can benefit the brain?
    – same question, but with coffee? I love my coffeeeee, best in town, for sure ;) but i think its just that i love it.

    thanks for your beautiful work

    • Alena Says

      Hi François,
      thank you so much for your beautiful words! It means so much to us that our work is appreciated. Now on to your questions:
      1. Oil is a highly refined product, just like white sugar. The original food as been stripped off all the other nutrients, except for one macro nutrient (fat / carbs). Going for the source, like olives, is a way better idea. We do encourage people to eat olives, nuts, avocados etc… all of which contain truly healthy fats. When you make oil out of any food, the Omega 3 to 6 ratio changes, and not to our favor. Eating a high fat meal also slows down our blood circulation and can hurt the arteries. We do need fat for our brain – but honestly, there’s fat in every whole plant-based food. Oil is always a mixture of unsaturated and satured fat (the latter of which you want to avoid!). You don’t really taste oil on your tongue (it can have a slight olive flavor, but not the same as if you’d eat the olive itself) but we cannot taste fat. By simply cutting the oil, we can reduce the risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and alzheimers.
      2. There is a lot of contradicting research on coffee and to be sure, we didn’t want to suggest it to people since it can wreck up your hormones and appetite. Living without any stimulants like alcohol or caffeine would be optimal (and is often times necessary if you want to heal your body) but everyone can choose to have some coffee or a glass of wine if that makes them very happy of course :) Both of them are not as bad as animal products at all. So make it a priority to cut out all of the other things first and then see if you want to move on to coffee. If you don’t have any negative effects and can spend days not drinking any without feeling physically or mentally worse, then no problem!
      Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any further question! I highly recomment you check out nutritionfacts.org for studies on oil, coffee, and more.
      All the best,
      Alena

  4. I loved this post, thanks for sharing such a well organized list. I didn’t know that olive oil and similar products were so bad to our body. Why almond butter is considered good? Is peanut butter included in the “good” food or the “bad”? And how can we do it at home? Thank you. <3

    • Alena Says

      Hi Nicia,
      thanks for your beautiful comment! We always wanted to have such an overview ourselves, so we decided to create one :)
      The main principle behind this is that we want to eat the food in its whole, or least processed, form. If we extract the oil from an olive or coconut, we take away so many beneficial parts like water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, carbs, and protein. Oil is essentiall 100% fat, just like sugar is 100% carbs. It’s a lot better to get the whole package! The difference between oil and let’s say nut butter is that the nuts are just ground up as a whole food. They have a different structure afterwards, but all of the components are still in this food. Does that make sense? Peanut butter is just as healthy as almond or hazelnut butter :) But look at the label to make sure they didn’t put palm oil and sugar in it. You can make nut butter at home in a food processor or high speed blender like a blendtec (https://nutriciously.com/blendtec-total-blender-review/).
      Hope this helps!
      Warmly,
      Alena

  5. Jacquie Says

    By the way, I forgot to mention that your website is very impressive. You give away a lot of very useful information breaking down a confusing topic into easy to understand explanations.

    • Alena Says

      Wow thanks so much Jacquie! That just made my morning :) We’re trying our best to make this as easy and actionable as possible – because it took us a couple of years to really wrap our head around all of this information on healthy plant-based eating and implementing it into our lives. Let us know if you’d like us to cover anything specific!

  6. Jacquie Says

    Sorry for the dumb question about oil consumption. I just received your 9 Steps to Weight Loss and it’s right in there. Thanks

    • Alena Says

      Nah, it’s all good! Barely anyone knows or even believes that oils could be less than optimal. Feel free to eat whole fats like nuts, seeds and avocados and you should be all good!

  7. Holly Says

    Just found your website and I truly love it. I, like many have always heard carbs is what triggers weight gain so therefor I am still so nervous about consuming potatoes, corn, rice and all the different carbs. I have done my reading and I see that these are good carbs but it’s just that Atkins brain washing..haha. We eat a lot of watermelon..I hear that’s full of sugar, but I guess this would be ok in moderation? Thanks for a great link to follow

    • Alena Says

      Hey Holly,
      thanks so much for the comment! I had been afraid of carbs (especially starches) for the longest time as well, though I have never been on the Atkins team. It’s just what you hear everywhere.
      The funny thing is that most big health associations suggest the following: eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes…. and eat less saturated fat, cholesterol, added sugar. We 100% agree with that because it perfectly describes what a whole food plant-based diet is all about! This way of eating is known to prevent, treat and sometimes even reverse 14 of our 15 leading killers in the west! Here is an amazing presentation on this topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0IhZ-R1O8g
      Carbs don’t make us fat, excess calories (and some other factors) do. Dietary fat is much easier converted into body fat than carbs are. If rice and potatoes were so fattening, how come the people eating a traditional south American or Asian diet are so slim? They base their diet on starches with some fruit, veg and minimal amounts of animal products.
      Whole plant-based foods are very beneficial – yes, even fruit. The studies that supposedly show that fruit is bad for you used isolated fructose (fruit sugar) in high doses. But that’s not how it works, fruit comes with lots of water, fiber, antioxidants and vitamins – all of which are really good for us.
      Never restrict and of the foods mentioned above on the page :)
      Hope this helps!
      All my best,
      Alena

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