Amelia and I have both struggled with weight gain/loss for most of our adult lives. In this video, we’ll share our 7 healthy eating habits that helped us lose more than 50 combined pounds over the past 3 years. And we’ve kept it off.
The Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet
We eat a Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) no-oil vegan diet, which means we eat lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes (beans), nuts and seeds. We don’t eat any animal products (meat, dairy or eggs) and we do our best to avoid added oils.
The WFPB diet was conceived by Dr. T. Colin Campbell back in the early 80’s, but only recently started gaining mainstream attention. That’s mainly because Dr. Campbell is a dry scientist, not a marketer. He didn’t do a very good job of selling it.
Essentially, the WFPB diet is the Mediterranean Diet without the animals and oil. If you’re interested in the science behind this diet, I suggest starting with Proteinaholic by Dr. Garth Davis. It’s a good primer on the diet and how to know which scientific studies to trust (because they’re not all trustworthy).
If you have heart disease, start with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s book, Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease. If you are still convinced keto, paleo and Atkins are healthy, you might want to start with Carbophobia by Dr. Michael Greger.
Here’s the entire list of our recommended reading on our sister website: Best Plant-Based Books for a Longer, More Vibrant Life.
Unlike the fad diets that get all the mainstream media coverage for saying good things about our bad habits, the WFPB diet isn’t being pushed by just one doctor, scientist or journalist at the behest of a giant corporation or industry association.
There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of legitimate doctors and scientists, funded by unbiased sources, who have written books and conducted studies about the WFPB diet. Amelia and I still question everything, but their advice has worked for us and countless other people.
Someday, we think eating this way will be common sense, but Big Food won’t go down without a fight. They’ll continue to fund studies that cast doubt and confuse you into inaction. But even if you don’t go completely WFPB, the following 7 healthy eating habits will still help you take back control from Big Food, lose weight and live a healthier life.
Our 7 Healthy Eating Habits
Here are the 7 healthy eating habits that have helped us lose weight and keep it off.
#1 Pick a Mercado/Grocery Store Day
Routines help you stick with any new habit, including a new way of eating. That’s why our first healthy eating habit is to go to the mercado (or grocery store) on the same day every week.
We go to our mercado every Thursday morning because they have an outdoor organic market on those days. You may need to go on a different day depending on your schedule. We went on Saturday mornings when we lived in Denver.
This consistent routine helps us plan our week’s meals more accurately, and ensures we always have food on hand to cook so we’re less tempted to eat out.
#2 Prep Your Produce
After you get home from the mercado or grocery store, spend the next hour or so prepping your produce. Wash everything and chop up what you can so it’s ready to eat when you want to eat it.
If you don’t budget enough time to prep your produce when you get home, it likely won’t happen. You’ll put things in the fridge with every intention of eating them, but when hunger strikes, you won’t feel like washing anything.
Before we developed this healthy eating habit, we would go out to eat, order in, or make something fast from a box. Then we would end up throwing half of our produce in the trash at the end of the week. It was unhealthy and a massive waste of money.
We use a 10% salt water solution and rinse in freshwater. This has been shown by science to work better than 100% vinegar or any of the chemical vegetable wash products.
#3 Make It Fun!!!
Let’s face it: eating healthy can be a chore. We spend far more time in the kitchen now than we did before we switched to a WFPB diet. And that’s how it’s supposed to be.
We’ve gotten away from our roots and replaced it with social media and convenience foods. If you want to be healthy, it’s time to step back in time when social media happened over the stove and the kitchen table.
After we come home from the mercado, we put some upbeat music on, Amelia dances, and we enjoy the process of eating healthy.
#4 Eat a Filling & Healthy Breakfast
Eating a filling and healthy breakfast can help you lose weight because it keeps you from snacking throughout the morning. It also helps you eat fewer calories at lunch and the key to weight loss is consuming fewer calories than you burn throughout the day.
Our favorite breakfast and the one we eat almost every day is very simple, but also filling and delicious. Amelia got the idea for our Raw Rolled Oats Breakfast from her Plant-Based Nutrition Certification Program.
We used to cook our oats, but now we eat them raw because it’s faster, easier and the resistant starch in the oats makes us feel full longer. And we pile it high with fruit as a natural sweetener.
#5 Eat a Big Salad at Lunch (and Eat It First)
We eat a large salad almost everyday at lunch, and we eat it first.
Shortly after we switched to a plant-based diet, we realized our salad bowls needed an upgrade. Our old salad/soup bowls were too small so we started using serving bowls, instead.
On mercado day, I chop up a bunch of salad toppings and store them in a sealable container in the fridge. I also wash our greens and chop them up, too.
This routine puts the “easy” in our Easy Garden Salad recipe. With everything prepped, it only takes a couple minutes to whip up a giant salad for lunch.
#6 Pick 3 to 5 Favorite Healthy Meals
We don’t always feel like preparing an elaborate meal. Sometimes we don’t feel like cooking at all. That’s why we have 3 to 5 of our favorite, super easy meals ready to go.
Amelia is the stir fry queen. We always have fresh veggies washed and ready to eat, so she chops some up and throws them in a skillet with some veggie broth and seasonings. It takes her less than 15 minutes cooking time to make our oil-free stir frys. We serve them over brown rice or potatoes that we make in our pressure cooker.
Quick and Easy Black Bean Soup is my go-to meal. I make this a LOT when Amelia is back in the states and I’m living the bachelor life here in Ecuador. All you need is a can of black beans, a cup of salsa and some cumin. Stir it all up in a small saucepan and heat it. Then serve it over brown rice or potatoes. If you make the rice or potatoes ahead of time, this meal can be ready in about 5 minutes.
Your tastes may be different than ours, but the key is to have the ingredients on hand and prepped for your favorite quick and easy meals so you’re more likely to eat a healthy meal at home rather than going out or ordering in.
#7 Have Healthy Snacks On-Hand
We actually don’t snack very much now that we’ve lost weight and eat more filling meals, but sometimes we want something to nibble one.
The key to making these “healthy snacks” is to avoid added oils. Nearly every store-bought hummus brand has added oil, as do the chips and pita bread.
Amelia’s dad told me last time we were back in Atlanta, “A little oil isn’t going to kill you.” True. But it’s not a “little oil.” IT’S IN FREAKING EVERYTHING!!!
Oil is a great preservative and flavor enhancer, so Big Food adds it to bread, canned beans, tomato sauce, peanuts, peanut butter, hummus, veggie burgers, artichokes, BBQ sauce, etc. etc. etc.
Start checking the nutrition labels and you’ll soon realize that a big chunk of the calories you’re consuming comes from the unnecessary oil that’s added to nearly all packaged foods.
Oil is a refined fat just like sugar is a refined carb. If you accept that sugar is unhealthy, it’s time to also accept that oil is unhealthy, too.
However, oil is actually worse in terms of weight loss because it’s MUCH higher calorie. One gram of sugar has 4 calories, but one gram of oil has 9 calories. Oil is 100% fat and fat has 2.25 times MORE calories per gram than both carbs and protein.
One tablespoon of olive oil has over 120 calories compared to an entire apple or banana with less than 100 calories. What do you think will fill you up more? A whole banana or 1 tbsp of fatty liquid?
That’s why it’s so absurd that people blame carbs for weight gain and suggest eating more high fat foods. Keto, Atkins and Paleo are encouraging people to pour more gas on the fire. These high calorie fad diets are a recipe for long-term weight gain, heart disease and cancer.
Avoid oil as best you can, and have healthy snacks on-hand.
Bonus: Drink Lots of Water
This isn’t really a healthy eating habit, but it’s something that has helped us quite a bit.
Sometimes after I eat one of our filling meals, especially our Raw Rolled Oats Breakfast, I still feel hungry. I’m not sure why that is, but a big glass of water fills me right up. Sometimes, I’m thirsty, not hungry.
And finally, remember what the Okinawans say before they eat: Hara hachi bu. Pronounced “HA-da HA-chi BOO”, it means, eat until you’re 80% full. If weight loss is your goal, this mindset will help you far more than your mother’s outdated “clean your plate” mantra.
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