Confession time: On my list of things I don’t like to do, reading “diet” books has to be somewhere near the top. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of great books out there, but a lot of books on healthy eating spend all of their time making vague and outrageous claims not supported by any solid facts, attacking other similar healthy eating plans as inferior, or trying to sell you on products and supplements rather than lasting lifestyle changes. Some books are hard to read because they are too scientific and academic, making them unapproachable and sometimes confusing (at least for my tiny brain). When I picked up The Whole Foods Diet by John Mackey, Alona Pulde, and Matthew Lederman, those concerns were thrown out the window within the first couple of pages.

The book is broken into three distinct and useful sections. It is clear and easy to read, and offers an excellent balance of stories and testimonials from real people as well as scientific evidence. The book even includes an actionable plan to have you on a whole foods diet in less than a month (unless that month is a February, in which case it will have you on a whole foods diet in exactly a month).

Part I explores the science in a way that even I could understand (and trust me, that’s saying something). In this section, the book breaks down some other diets, analyzing the pros and cons, and comparing them to the benefits of a whole food diet. Included in these chapters are popular diets like the low carb diet and the Paleo diet. The authors don’t slam these other diets, but provide clear evidence that can help you make the best, most informed choices for your health. When I decided to start on a plant-based, whole foods diet, I did a lot of research and reading. A lot of that research was great and helpful, a lot was garbage, and wading through it all was not always easy. This puts science and information in one spot for easy digestion (so to speak).

Part II is a very practical guide to starting out on a whole foods diet. This part of the book breaks down some of the best tips for shopping, eating out, and how to get the most out of your meals. This section of the book dives into the often confusing language of labels and explores which supplements you will and won’t need (and how you can get most of the nutrients discussed from real food). There is a lot of conflicting information out there, your friends and family will suddenly become experts on protein and dietary requirements, and arming yourself with facts will make the transition a lot easier. Learning to eat out on a whole foods diet proved challenging for me, and it even totally changed the way I thought about eating out, but the tips in this book will make that a little less difficult.

Part III is a 28-day plan that will help get you started on a whole food plan. This section makes the whole process super easy, with stellar information, an easy to follow meal plan, and simple, delicious recipes (I personally loved the whole meal bowls, and don’t worry, there are desserts). The 28-day plan could not be simpler. It is clearly laid out in a simple calendar, with preparation recommendations to make the process as painless as possible. The plan is flexible and allows for adjustments and variations to suit your particular dietary needs. All of the recipes for the plan are included in the book.   

At its core, The Whole Foods Diet has a very simple message; eat more real, whole foods, increase your fruits and veggies, and avoid processed foods. One of the things I struggled with in my early days of eating a plant-based, whole foods diet was the idea of processed food. It can be easy to pick out the boxed foods full of chemicals, but pretty much everything you eat, unless you’ve just plucked it from the ground, has been processed in some way, even the fruits and veggies, so what amount of processing is ok? The book defines whole foods (not processed) in a very simple way, food that hasn’t had anything bad added and nothing beneficial removed. While they recommend eating a fully plant-based, whole food diet, this plan allows for some meat (up to 10%) in your diet. While I’m sure this may not sit well with some, I think this conceit makes a whole foods diet more approachable for many. When I began my plant-based journey I had no intention of remaining fully plant-based beyond an initial two month period. If I had known in the beginning that my foray into the plant-based world would be going on four years now, I’m not sure I would have started; it would have seemed too daunting. Ultimately, more people eating more plants is a positive thing, whether they have fully given up meat or not.

One thing that The Whole Foods Diet spends some time exploring is the benefits that these dietary changes can have on your overall health. While I can’t speak to the personal experiences listed in the book, I can speak to the way that a whole foods diet has changed my health. As someone who was carrying a decent amount of extra weight, my dietary changes quickly dropped the pounds and improved my overall health. Blood pressure and cholesterol both dropped to normal levels, and I just felt better, but that was just the beginning. I have Crohn’s disease, an autoimmune disease in the inflammatory bowel disease family. A transition to a plant-based diet, in conjunction with my medications, has helped me to keep my disease under control and keeps my body running like a well-oiled machine.

I’m someone who has been eating a whole foods diet for a little while now, and I have done a fair amount of reading on the subject, but there was tons of information that I had never seen before, and complicated ideas presented in ways that made them very easy to understand. Whether you’re just toying with the idea of a whole foods diet, or you’ve been doing it for years, grab a copy of The Whole Foods Diet and start (or continue) making a positive difference in your life. Click HERE to pick up your copy on Amazon. (that is our affiliate link and if you purchase by using the link, Amazon will throw us some loose commission change without affecting your price at all. Thank you!) 

Gary Beckman