Updated: Jun 23
I recently graduated from the Cornell plant-based certification course. In this course, they talk about not counting calories or macronutrients. As long as you're adhering to a whole foods plant-based diet, there's really no need to get into the stats of grams of protein, carbohydrates, fat etc. Those nutrients exist in all plants anyway so if you eat a variety of whole plant foods including veggies, fruit, beans, nuts and legumes, your body gets what it needs without having to track. It seems mother nature rigged it that way for us. This is a nice bonus of adopting this lifestyle! How often have you tried a new diet and had to count, weigh and measure? Who can stick to that?
Although, as a general rule, I don't like to measure and count, I did come up with my own easy way of simply making sure I was getting enough fruits and veggies in the day (specifically veggies - I seem to have no problem with nature's candy - fruit). I call it my 2, 3, 4 rule. Here's how it works. For breakfast, I strive for 2 fruits and/or veggies. Examples - my trusty bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and bananas. Or tofu scramble with spinach and peppers. Or it could be a baked potato and orange. You can see where I'm going with this. In every one of those examples, the 2 plant quota was met.
For lunch, I strive for 3 (or more) plant foods which is easily accomplished. Examples - a hearty leafy green salad with radishes, cucumber, diced apple and broccoli sprouts. Or a veggie sandwich with hummus, lettuce, sliced tomatoes and mushrooms. A bowl of vegetable soup alongside rice or a baked potato easily meets the quota. Also a homemade veggie burger usually fits the bill especially if you add some coleslaw or veggie toppings.
For dinner, I strive for 4 (or more). These days, I'm keeping my meals pretty simple. A cob of corn, mashed potatoes with plant-based mushroom gravy, roasted brussel sprouts and watermelon is quick and easy and I can check off my 4 plant quota. Or it might be a stuffed pepper with wild rice, mushrooms and onions alongside some steamed broccoli. Lentil shepherds pie with peas carrots and corn is another good one. Or it might be something more labour-intensive like a zucchini noodle lasagna where I can pack in a whole array of vegetables. Pizza nights easily qualify too. Add some oil-free pesto or tomato sauce loaded with veggies like tomatoes, onions, peppers, mushrooms and fresh basil and you're made in the shade.
Of course, this rule doesn't even include those daily snacks (and I like my snacks!). Typical snacks for me are any type of fruit, sugar snap peas with hummus, a banana or celery with almond butter spread. Easy peezy. And there's always healthy desserts, our favourite household one being "nice" cream which is just frozen fruit of choice (often strawberries, raspberries or mango) with a frozen banana and almond milk in the vitamix.
This isn't something I write down in a journal. I just like to keep a mental note so when I reflect on my day I can feel good about it. It's nothing more than a means to ensure I'm staying on track. I find that it all depends on how my day begins. If I'm running behind or feeling kind of lazy, I will sometimes skip that healthy smoothie, bowl of porridge or sautéed spinach and eat something that's less than optimal. This can sometimes lead to a degradation of lunch and dinner meals that day. However, I will say that even if you have a meal you know is not meeting the rule or just isn't that healthy, you can always get back on track with the next meal. Maybe you didn't get a single fruit or veggie in for breakfast. That's ok. Add more to your lunch salad or to your dinner plate. You can re-adjust without the need for counting calories.
2,3,4, your way through your day!