Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) Guidelines

By Jane Birch 

ANNOUNCEMENT: Don’t miss the new video, “Discovering the Word of Wisdom: A Short Film.”

What is a Whole Food, Plant-based Diet?

“Whole foods” are foods made with whole plants—plants as they look when they are harvested: the whole apple, squash, bean, or grain, relatively unprocessed and unrefined. Whole foods contain all of the natural nutrients of plants. Some processing is inevitable and some even helpful, but extended processing/refining robs plant foods of their nutrients.

“Plant-based” means foods that come from plants, rather than animals. There are three main sources of animal foods: meat, dairy, and eggs. A plant-based diet largely avoids these three foods and relies exclusively, or almost exclusively, on whole plant foods.

Guidelines for an Optimal WFPB Diet

The following guidelines are based on the work of Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn and John McDougall and registered dietician Jeff Novick (but please note this is my interpretation of their work). Even if you do not follow all these guidelines exactly, you may find it very useful to understand them so you can make better choices overall.

For more information on why these guidelines are important and the powerful affect a WFPB diet can have on your health, see the series of articles Jane Birch has written for Meridian Magazine, as well as her book, Discovering the Word of Wisdom. Study also The Dietary Principles of the Word of Wisdom.

See also: WFPB Recipes.

Foods to Eat
Lots of nutrients! Enjoy a nice variety
Grains and other starch foods in whole food form
Starches (complex unrefined carbohydrates) are the foundation of a good diet. They should be the bulk of your calories. Remember,“All grain is ordained… to be the staff of life” (D&C 89:14). Eat WHOLE grains, the more unprocessed the better. For boxed/packaged grain foods, the first ingredient on the label should usually be the word whole, as in “whole wheat” (100% stone-ground wheat is not whole wheat unless the word “whole” appears). The following are also whole grains: brown or wild rice, oats, wheat berries, rolled wheat, and quinoa. (If body weight is an issue, limit flours, even those made from whole grains.) Other starches include roots (potatoes, yams, parsnips, etc.), winter squashes, beans, lentils, and peas. See a good list of starches here: Starch Staples 

Vegetables are packed with lots of nutrition and very few calories. For maximum weight loss, make vegetables one-third to one-half of your meal.
Whole fruits
Whole fruits are far superior to processed fruits (e.g. applesauce, juices, smoothies, and/or dried fruits).
Legumes (beans, peas, and lentils)
Legumes are nutritious and so versatile. There are just a couple to limit: soybeans are higher in fat than other legumes; eat more sparingly. Peanuts are legumes that are very high in fat; if you eat them, use very sparingly, with no oil or sugar added.
Herbs & Spices
These add variety and flavor. See this useful chart.


Foods to Avoid
The bad far outweighs any good
No meat, no poultry, no fish
Meat contains lots of saturated fat and cholesterol. It has too much protein (which can damage the liver and kidneys and increase the rate of cancer growth). Meat has few nutrients, no carbs, and no fiber. There is nothing in meat you can’t get from a better source. Substitutes: mushrooms, beans, squash, grains, tofu, eggplant
No dairy of any kind, not even skim milk or nonfat yogurt
The human body has no need for dairy (not even ice cream!). Dairy has the same problems as meat. While the non-fat versions don’t contain the harmful fats, they contain an even higher concentration of animal proteins. Whole plant foods contain more than enough calcium. Substitutes: Non-dairy milks from soy, rice, oats, almond, hemp, coconut
No eggs, not even egg whites or Egg Beaters
Eggs have the same problems as meat and dairy. Substitutes: “How to Replace Eggs”
No oil (not even extra virgin olive, coconut, or canola oil)
The human body does need fat, but we need very little for excellent health. Every plant naturally contains fat (where does the vegetable oil come from, after all?). Since plants contain the right amount of fats for our bodies, adding extra fat in the form of free oils just goes straight to our hips and bellies. Cooking spray labeled as zero calories and fat-free is 100% fat! (the FDA allows companies to round down to zero.) Non-stick cookware, parchment paper and silicone mats can be used effectively in place of cooking spray. Sauté with water instead. Substitutes: “Reducing Fat in Your Diet and Cooking Without Oil.”
No modern soy “products”
Vegan soy products you find at the store are high in fat (40% +) and many are highly processed. “Fake foods” made from soy (soy burgers, soy turkey, etc.) are made from soy isolates, which are not healthy and should be avoided. Stick with traditional soy foods and avoid the fake soy products altogether. Substitutes: traditional soy foods like tofu, soy milk, tempeh, miso, edamame


Foods to Limit
May have some benefits but also some disadvantages
The quantity is more important than the type. Limit the amount of sugar you consume to 5% or less of total calories. Maple syrup, agave, and honey are still sugar. Fruit juice and dried fruits are also very high in concentrated sugar.
Highly refined, processed foods
In general, the more a food is processed, the less nutritious it is. It is best to eliminate processed foods. If you do use them, be careful what you buy and use it sparingly (as in condiments). See the guide to reading labels later on this same page.
You can safely eliminate salt from most recipes and add it only at the table. Salting the surface of your food, which comes in direct contact with your taste buds, will enhance the taste while contributing far less sodium to your diet.
Limit for maximum weight loss
Consuming too much can impede weight loss
Foods listed above under “Foods to Limit”
If you are concerned about weight loss, then you should use these foods even more sparingly, if at all.
Flour products
Dry flour products, even those made from whole grains (whole grain bread, tortillas, pita, bagels, etc.) are more calorically dense than whole grains cooked in water or as pasta. (To gain weight, eat more of these products.)
Nuts, nut butters, seeds, and seed butters
There is a reason nuts have hard shells. Yes, they have nutrients and fiber, but they also have lots of fat (75–92%) and therefore calories. People with heart disease should eliminate nuts completely. Others would do better to use them sparingly (no more than about an ounce per day). Note that walnuts may be a better choice than most nuts because of their omega 3 to omega 6 ratio.
High-fat plant foods
High-fat plant foods include avocados (75% fat); coconuts (80% fat); and olives (80% fat). Don’t overeat these. If you have heart disease, eliminate them. Like nuts, they have lots of nutrients but also lots of fat. Other plants have the same nutrients without all the fat. If weight or addiction is an issue, just eliminate them.
Dried fruits
Again, these are far more calorically dense than whole fruits and contain a lot of sugar. Whole fruits are better for you. Better to use these sparingly.
Juices and Smoothies
Turning whole fruits and vegetables into juices and smoothies makes it much easier to quickly consume many more calories; for weight loss, it is much better to chew these foods. Smoothies filled with vegetables are better than ones filled with fruit because vegetables are much lower in sugar and calories.
See also:

Use to gain weight

There is no need to eat animal foods or junk foods to gain weight! To gain weight, you need to consume more calories, and calories from wholesome plants work just as effectively as animal and junk food calories. Be sure to make whole grains “the staff of life,” or the bulk of your calories.

  • Load up on good wholesome grains, starchy vegetables, and beans.

In addition, you can use the plant foods that are high in calorie density to easily add additional calories, if needed:

  • Avocados, olives, coconuts, and soy
  • Dried fruits
  • Bread and products made from whole grain flour (make sure they are whole grain and still low in sugar/fat/additives)
  • Nuts & seeds

Supplements to Consider

If you consume no animal products or foods fortified with Vitamin B12, plan to take a Vitamin B12 supplement (you cannot overdose on this vitamin). 500 mcg/day is more than enough (you can take a week’s worth at one time if you prefer).

If you don’t get enough sunshine (most of us don’t) you might consider taking a Vitamin D supplement.

Some people take 1–2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day (store in the refrigerator) to increase omega-3 fats.

A WFPB diet will provide all other vitamins and minerals. If you take additional supplements, you may not just be wasting money, you may be getting too much of a certain nutrient, which is not always a healthy thing to do. Nutrients are packaged ideally only in whole plant foods.

What About Organic, Non-GMO, and Local?

A great many factors influence the amount of nutrients in a particular plant food, as well as how well your body absorbs the nutrients. The main point to remember is that whole plant foods are so full of nutrients that you don’t need to worry about squeezing every last nutrient out of the plant and into your body! If some of the plant foods you eat are somewhat deficient in nutrients, it doesn’t matter—unless your entire diet is poor.

The most important factor in your diet is whether you are consuming whole plant foods or crowding them out with animal/junk foods. In my experience, too many people pay far too much attention to whether their food is organic, fresh from the farm, not cooked or lightly cooked, compared with whether it is a whole plant food versus an animal food or processed food. The current epidemic of obesity and chronic disease is not caused by people consuming nonorganic vegetables! It is far better to eat overcooked, nonorganic, canned vegetables than to eat organic, grass-fed beef from so-called “happy” cows.

That said, organic foods have some advantages over nonorganic foods (though there are many other factors to consider: soil, freshness, seed quality, local conditions, cooking method, time in storage, etc.). Local produce is likely fresher than produce from South America. Lightly cooking food preserves some nutrients that will diminish if you boil the vegetables to death. But my advice is to not worry so much about these factors. Instead, concentrate on the most important factors: eating whole plant foods. If you have to worry you are losing nutrients because of the quality of the whole plant foods you buy or how you cook them, it probably means you are eating too many animal or processed foods and not enough whole plant foods. Once you have the basics down, if you have the time and money and interest to get extra fresh plant foods, go for it! If you don’t, you’ll be just fine.

Plant Juices and Smoothies

I enjoy juices and smoothies as much as the next person, but I’m not crazy about them as staple sources of nutrition. Yes, these are easy ways to quickly consume a lot of plants, but are they the best way to consume food? Most of us don’t need efficient ways to consume more calories. Humans did not evolve with fancy juicers and blenders. We are meant to chew our foods, with our mouths; it is supposed to take time. When high-powered machines process plants into tiny bits, it increases the surface area of these foods, which then interact with our bodies differently (increasing the insulin response, for example).

Probably the worst thing about juices and smoothies is that people use them as “insurance,” thinking they’ll deliver all the nutrients they need so they don’t need to worry so much about what they eat the rest of the day. Wrong. If you are eating right, you don’t need the supposed extra nutrients from pulverizing plants. If you are not eating right, that is the place to focus your attention.

Guide to Reading Food Labels—Based on the work of Jeff Novick, RD

Shop mainly in the produce section. When buying packaged foods, check for the following on the labels:

Check the label for the total number of calories and then check out many calories are from fat. Choose only those foods where no more than 20% of the calories are from fat (or about no more than 2.5 grams of fat per 100 calories.

Avoid all saturated fats, hydrogenated fats, and tropical oils, including lard, butter, coconut, cocoa butter, palm oils, shortening, or margarine. Polyunsaturated fats (like safflower, soybean, corn, and sesame) and monounsaturated fats (such as olive and canola) are less harmful. If they are included, make sure the percentage of calories from fat is still 20% or less.
Hidden fats: monoglycerides, diglycerides, triglycerides, lecithin, partially hydrogenated oils, myristic acid, suet.

The less sugar, the better (none in the first three ingredients). Limit consumption of all concentrated caloric sweeteners to no more than 5% of calories in a day. At 5% of calories, which sugar you use will matter little to most anyone.

Jeff Novick says, “Watch out for sugars and other caloric sweeteners that don’t say ‘sugar’ but in fact are, such as corn syrup, rice and maple syrup, molasses, honey, malted barley, barley malt, or any term that ends in ‘ol,’ such as sorbitol or maltitol, or ‘ose,’ such as dextrose or fructose. Try to limit all these added, refined, concentrated sugars to no more than 5 percent of total calories (essentially, no more than 2 tablespoons daily for most folks). Don’t be concerned about naturally occurring sugars . . . however, on the Nutrition Facts label, added sugars and naturally occurring sugars are all lumped together as ‘sugar.’ Your best bet: Look at the ingredient list. Try to avoid foods with added, refined caloric sweeteners in the first three to five ingredients. Because ingredients are listed in descending order of weight, the lower down the label you find added sugars, the better.”

Try to not go over a 1:1 ratio of sodium mg to calories. That is, the amount of sodium in milligrams should be no more than the number of calories. If calories are 100, sodium should be no more than about 100 mg. Condiments can have more, if they are used sparingly.
Whole Foods
Buy less-processed foods, containing just a few ingredients which should be recognizable (not chemical-sounding names). One of Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules” is, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
Breads & Pastas
The first word should be whole (i.e., whole [name of grain] or stone-ground whole [name of grain]). These are also whole grains: brown rice, oats, oatmeal (including old-fashioned oatmeal), and wheat berries. Instant oatmeal is a whole grain but is more processed so is not as nutritious. The simplest bread contains flour, water, yeast, and salt, though other ingredients may be added.
Hidden animals foods
Ideally, eat whole non-processed foods, as they will not contain hidden animal byproducts. You may not choose to eliminate every bit of animal byproducts from your diet, but learn what they are, so you know what you are consuming.
Hidden dairy: caramel color or flavoring (sometimes derived from dairy), casein, caseinate, ghee, hydrolysates, lactalbumin, lactose, lactate, nougat, whey
Hidden egg: albumin, globulin, livetin, lysozyme, mayonnaise, meringue, ovalbumin (and anything beginning with ovo), silici albuminate, Simplesse, vitellin
Other animal foods: gelatin, rennet, carmine, isinglass, pepsin

Read the labels, especially THE INGREDIENTS!!!

Ignore all the “health” claims stated anywhere on the packaging. They are almost always misleading.

Additional Resources by Jeff Novick, RD

Jeff Novick is a master teacher and has created many useful resources. Here are two on food labels:
“Understanding Food Labels”
“Identifying Hidden Sources of Salt/Sodium, Oil/Fat & Sugars/Sweeteners”

See also Jeff ’s excellent DVDs on shopping for food:
Should I Eat That? How to Choose the Healthiest Foods
Fast Food Vol 3: Shopping School

Additional DVDs: www.jeffnovick.com/RD/DVDs.html

More WFPB Food Resources

Last updated: August 27, 2017


  1. I am LDS and also on a WFPB lifestyle. My wife and I started in March…we were amazed how much it was in line with the Word of Wisdom. That reaffirmed that we were heading in the right direction.

    Not that confirmation is needed but it is amazing to me how science is confirming the Doctrine within the Word of Wisdom 150 years later.

  2. This is interesting, I am LDS and I’ve limited my own intake of animal-based products, but what about Doctrine and Covenants 49:18-19?

    “18 And whoso forbiddeth to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God;

    19 For, behold, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which cometh of the earth, is ordained for the use of man for food and for raiment, and that he might have in abundance.”

  3. Our meals seem to center around meat at church activities. Whatever happened to meat in times of famine and winter? And it makes Him happy (he is pleased) when we don’t eat meat, so, with all He has done for me, this is one way I can please Him. Consider it done.

    • Thanks, Nancy! I know there may be areas of my life where what I do is not fully pleasing to the Lord. I’m grateful that I can do this one small thing that I feel confident is pleasing to Him. It is such a small thing, but it has brought me great joy and so many rich blessings! So glad there are others that feel the same!

  4. Good stuff! Why is it that so many are touting olive oil and coconut oil and saturated fat as healthful and essential???
    M. R. in facebook says that Jeff Novick and the NO OIL doctors have it all wrong. I’m going with no oil.. or WFPB, very low SOS and doing better.
    My Mom couldn’t handle it when I stopped eating meat. She would say: “The Bible says…..” but could never give me any convincing verses on it.

  5. Interestingly, I followed the WFPB diet for several months, which was incredibly taxing on my wife and children. I was engaged in weight training and cardiovascular exercise at least 9 hours a week, and followed the WoW with regards to tobacco, alcohol, and coffee/tea. However, I was losing muscle mass and the “spare tire” around my waist was going nowhere. Despite my best efforts, I was still around 16-18% body fat as a male.

    So I switched to the paleo lifestyle and had more energy, slept better, gained muscle mass, and lost weight including 1.5 inches from my waist and became leaner and stronger.

    I am not convinced that the WFPB diet is necessarily the best way to go. In fact, the consumption of grains and starches as the basis of the diet is what has contributed to my obesity more than any other factor.

    I have read the China Study and understand the science. However, the diet did not bear out any “fruit” when put into practice.

    • Hi Justin! Thanks for sharing your experience. As you have discovered, there are diets some people label “whole food, plant-based” that are not necessarily healthy diets. I hope you’ll consider giving the guidelines on this page a try as I am confident you’ll have a much different experience. I recognize that the Paleo diet (depending on how the person interprets it) can be better than the Standard American Diet, but it is my belief that the Lord’s counsel shows us a more excellent way.

      The best Paleo diets and the best whole food, plant-based diets both recommend eating whole foods and lots of vegetables. But the Paleo diet recommends a generous amount of meat and little to no grains. The best whole food, plant-based diets recommend little to no meat and the bulk of calories from grains. Note what the Lord says on this topic:

      1. On meat: “Flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air, I, the Lord, have ordained for the use of man with thanksgiving; nevertheless they are to be used sparingly; And it is pleasing unto me that they should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or famine.” (D&C 89:12–13

      2. On grains: “All grain is ordained for the use of man . . . to be the staff of life . . . All grain is good for the food of man.” (D&C 89:14, 16)

      I am confident about the WFPB approach to a Word of Wisdom diet both because it matches the counsel given by the Lord and also because, when followed correctly, it inevitably bears good fruit. I am confident you can have the same experience if you’d like to give a healthy WFPB diet a try! I’m happy to provide resources that can be helpful to you.

      • Jane,

        With regards to meat, you are neglecting D&C 49:18 which states, “And whoso forbiddeth (IE biddeth to abstain) to abstain from meats, that man should not eat the same, is not ordained of God.”

        Further v. 19 states, “…the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, …is ordained for the use of man for food…”

        Granted the word “sparingly” is used; however, the footnote for this verse refers you to the TG for temperance.

        By the way, verse 15 of D&C 89 with reference to verse 14 states, “And these (meaning grains) hath God made for the use of man only in times of famine and excess hunger.”

        My take is that our diet should be founded on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and possibly legumes. Then, sparingly our diet should include meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and grains. I am sure you disagree, but that is my personal interpretation of the scriptures you referenced.

        Thank you.

        • Thanks for sharing, Justin! Please understand that I do not believe that you (or anyone else) are required to abstain from meat. The Lord ordained meat for our use, but He asks us to use it “sparingly” (D&C 89:12). I think you are wise to point this out. Clearly the advice of all the Paleo experts is not consistent with this counsel.

          What is “sparingly”? The Lord tells us in vs. 13 that He is pleased when we save meat for times of need (winter, cold, and famine). He does not forbid us from using it (nor do I), but He tells us this is pleasing to Him.

          It would be internally inconsistent (and grammatically incorrect) for “these” in vs. 15 to refer to grains, as the Lord tells us that He ordained grains to be the “staff of life” (for more on what this means, see The Staff of Life). Does it not make much more sense that “these” refers to “the beasts of the field, and the fowls of heaven, and all wild animals”? These are to be used “in times of famine and excess of hunger,” which reinforces the message in vs. 13. (See also: What does “these” refer to in D&C 89:15?)

          Thanks for bringing up D&C 49. I love this section! If you are interested, I invite you to read what I’ve written here: What does it mean to “command to abstain from meats”?

          You are obviously a seeker of truth, Justin, and I appreciate your study of the scriptures and hope you’ll continue. I agree with you that if our diets included only a sparing amount of “meat, poultry, fish, dairy,” that would be much better than the Standard American Diet, where these foods are not used sparingly.

          The Lord ordained grains to be the staff of life, and certainly that is the role they have played historically. Unfortunately, as animal foods displace grains in wealthier countries, the result in increasing disease. We have a real treasure in the Word of Wisdom!

    • I believe there are 2 ways we can live wfpb which is high carb and low fat and lower but adequate protein or paleo which is low carb and high fat high protein. The later should only happen in nature when no grains are available. If you mix the 2 together you can have problems. Paleo long term can have problems because it wasn’t meant to be long term but temporarily sustaining until grains are available. If you consume too much fat and protein on wfpb you won’t get the same results. Eating a lot of nuts and seeds will pose problems. They should be eaten in moderation. To fill up on wfpb you need to eat enough to feel satisfied and may need more grains and legumes and such to do so. It also takes a while for body to adjust to this and may not feel so good at times in the beginning as you figure out how to get what you need and your body changes. From what I have been learning recently it is very important to limit fat on this way of eating. Also all grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, basically everything that has a shelf life must be pre soaked and some things need acidic medium such as apple cider vinegar before cooking or consuming. This is very important! Foods like this are more shelf stable because they contain things like phytates and anti nutrients which allow longer storage. If you don’t soak and prepare properly they are difficult to digest and cause problems. I hope this helps:)

      • Thanks, Katie. You may mean two ways to live a Word of Wisdom diet, one with animal foods (in times of need) and one without. Some people do better with pre-soaking, as you recommend, but it is also helpful to realize that the vast majority of people do just fine eating/digesting all types of plant foods with no pre-soaking! I like to mention this just so people realize it doesn’t need to be complicated. Of course, if anyone feels better about pre-soaking, there is no harm in that!

  6. Now what do I do? I have guten intolerance? And find my body has an unfavorable reaction to lack of protein, as in cheese, meat, eggs. I also have trouble digesting beans. Now what? I have stood by WOW as in abstinence of caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol. Help me figure out what to do now that I cannot tolerate whole grains with gluten.
    Thank you,
    Mitzi Crawford
    LDS Bethania Ward,
    Winston-Salem, NC

    • Mitzi: You ask great questions, and I have very good news for you. It is very easy to follow a whole food, plant-based diet without using any beans or whole grains with gluten, and there is plenty of protein in plants.

      About gluten: there are lots of grains without gluten, including buckwheat, corn, millet, oats (sometimes contaminated with gluten), quinoa, rice, sorghumm, teff, and wild rice. I encourage you to try more of these. There are also many other starchy vegetables that you can use in place of grains. See: Starch Staples.

      As for protein, I encourage you to research the benefit of using protein from plants instead of from animals. I think you’ll learn why the Lord encourages us to use plants instead of animals. It really is much better for our bodies, and we can get PLENTY of protein, all that we need and more, from plants. I’ve gather some resources you can read here: Protein

      Many people who are not used to eating beans do have a hard time at first. You might try using just very small amounts and gradually increasing the amount over time. Or, you can do without beans altogether. It is not necessary to eat any beans or any other particular plant foods. There are so many options to choose from that you can easily avoid whatever does not agree with you.

      I encourage you to do all the research you can, using the resources on this website and on the WFPB Resources page. A Word of Wisdom diet is very different than what most people eat, but the dramatic improvements in your health can make it all very worth it! Let me know if you have any more questions.

    • Soaking beans overnight with a tablespoon or two of raw apple cider vinegar will help make them more digestible and reduce gas.
      Try gluten-free grains instead of wheat. I’ve read that some people who can’t have wheat do well with it after a long ferment (ie traditional sourdough–see gnowfglins.com for instructions) or sprouting.

  7. In order to better advise those who haven’t done the research, please consider revising your stance on nuts. Others may find “converting” or adapting to a WFPB diet easier if it is more inclusive than exclusive. But the main reason should be that there are dozens of studies (academically sound) that show their powerful healthful benefits PLUS the fact that they DO NOT cause weight gain in human beings.

    I recently lost 20+ pounds eating WFPB with nuts/peanuts every single day of the way and am now maintaining my lowest adult body weight ever (I’m 48). Here is a link showing a host of videos by Michael Greger speaking to these studies and those conclusions. http://nutritionfacts.org/?s=nuts

    Seriously, don’t avoid nuts in fear of their caloric and fat content. It’s just not that simple. AND they are tasty!



    • Thanks, Wade, I love your passionate defense of nuts! I agree nuts are tasty! I actually enjoy some nuts almost every single day, and I don’t think anyone (except those with some chronic conditions) need to totally avoid them. But the topic is much more complicated than it appears at first. Anyone who is eating nuts and keeping slim and enjoying good health need not worry, but for others, nuts can (but not necessarily will) be a problem for several reasons:

      • A healthy diet is low-fat, and it is possible to eat so many nuts that you are eating a high-fat diet.

      • For some people, nuts can be addictive and hard to limit. There are people who are failing to thrive on a whole food, plant-based diet simply because they are eating too many nuts.

      • I think one primary purpose of the Word of Wisdom is to help us avoid addictions of all kinds. Nuts are a better addiction than coffee or sugar, but it is better to have no addictions. Again, this only applied to some people.

      • Nuts have some nutrients, of course, but they are in no way essential to a health diet. While they are not more nutritious than other plant foods, they are substantially more calorically dense, and yes, people on a whole food, plant-based diet can actually gain weight on nuts. Scientific studies on nuts in the context of a Standard American Diet is quite different than studies done on nuts the context of a whole food, plant-based diet. I love Dr. Greger, but the nut studies he highlights are done in the context of a SAD diet and like most research are very reductionistic. It is more complex this this.

      For you, Wade, nuts may not be any type of problem. More power to you. But for some people, they are a problem (there is lots of documented evidence for this). I’m trying to help a wide variety of people, and I don’t know who will have problems with nuts and who will not.

      Most (almost all) of the whole food, plant-based experts recommend limiting nuts. These are the experts with decades of experience studying the research and helping people on this diet. While we don’t have all the answers, I give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to some recommendations. Others can put their faith in nut studies funded by the nut companies, but I’d rather be safe than sorry.

      For an excellent video on this topic, I recommend Jeff Novick’s DVD “Nuts and Health.” I have a copy anyone can borrow if you live near Provo.

      Here are also a few other resources that may be of interest: Nuts on a WFPB Diet

    • Hi Brenda:

      Thanks, I’ve done a lot of research into GMO. I think it is great to avoid it, but I also do not believe it is the main cause of illness in our society. My focus is simply on the main problems: animal foods and processed foods, including oils. I believe people who avoid animal foods and processed foods are going to be much healthier than those who eat all non-GMO animal foods and processed foods. It is like someone trying to convince us that non-GMO alcohol is a much healthier thing to consume. Maybe . . . but some facts are more important than other facts. For people who eat a WFPB diet, it is great to also avoid GMO foods, though currently there is no research that proves a health benefit to most people.

      This is not just my opinion, this is the informed consensus among the current WFPB experts, people who have decades of research and experience.

      Bottom-line for me: There is certainly no harm in avoiding GMO foods; it may even be critical for some people, but let’s make sure we are focussing on the main health culprits first!

      • I respectfully disagree with you. The GMO expert quoted in the article I referenced happens to be my father and he has an illustrious career as a brilliant scientist with decades of scientific research which shows the deleterious consequences to humans and animals alike from eating GMO crops. Public awareness of this should be paramount above all other diet and nutritional concerns — weight loss is of small import compared to the effects of our GMO food supply.

  8. I came across this website on Facebook and thought I would take a look because I’ve heard of a lot of athletes changing to a similar diet. My question is does your diet exclude everything that the Word of Wisdom does not mention, and only include everything that it does specifically say is “ordained for the use of man?” If this is true what is your reasoning for interpreting Section 89 this way? My interpretation is that since it only says to eat meat sparingly or only in times of winter, famine, or cold, that other animal products are not off limits (Although I think it’s kind of ironic that humans are the only living thing on the earth that still drinks milk after being weaned from our mothers).

  9. I have studied the WOW and different diets for many years now. I feel meat has a place in the diet. I do believe that it should be eaten “sparingly or only in times of winter, famine”, but I have come to understand for myself that “famine” can mean not only a time of drought or less food on the planet, but a time of “nutritional famine” in one’s body. For example, growing children and pregnant women need more nourishment and protein is a great source for many vitamins and rich nutrients. Quite frankly most of society is laking a nutrient rich diet and suffering a famine of sorts.

    I agree that plants should take center stage in our diets and overall everything we eat should be as close to the way God made it. Whole grains – sprouted or fermented, raw milk, farm fresh eggs, etc. I have found Weston A. Price diet to be very helpful for me in abiding to the WOW and consuming a nutrient rich diet.

    And of course the protein one consume’s should also be created the way God intended – grass-fed and humanly raised.

    Just wanted to share my 2 cents.

    • Thanks, Anne! It is interesting the Lord allows us to interpret the Word of Wisdom as we choose and to live with the consequences of our interpretation and actions. I personally have found the Weston A. Price diet to not only be lacking in science but also to contradict the Word of Wisdom, but that is just my interpretation. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts!

  10. There have been and are still societies firmly entrenched in vegetarianism that have existed for thousands of years .I would probably take some time for our western body’s to adapt to a vegy way of life .Imagine the peace our minds could live in knowing we survive without shedding anthers blood .Am getting on well with the whole food diet .Om shanty

  11. So I am pretty new to this whole “WFPB” concept but I have for a long time believed that most saints (myself included) tend to follow the donts of the Word of Wisdom rather than the does. I have made it a personal goal of mine to live a more healthy lifestyle and what better way then one designed by the Lord himself. Now my main question has to do with verse 11 in regards to using every herb and fruit in its season, does this refer to your geographical season? Or could you eat, for example, a banana that came from a place that it was harvested in season but you are living in a place that it wasnt in season? Or are you meant to eat seasonally to a place you were born? I will apologise in advance if my question is irrelevant or just plain idiotic.

    • Hi Matt!

      You ask an excellent question! I do not have a definitive answer to this, but here are my thoughts. It seems obvious that local foods in season eaten soon after harvest are the most nutritious. The larger principle may be that fresh whole foods are preferred over processed packaged foods. Fresh whole foods must be eaten fairly soon or they will go bad: tomatoes, pears, apples, squash, chard, etc. Packaged foods can be ignored for weeks if not months of even years and still be edible. However, I do think it is also wise to can/store fresh foods in season for food storage.

      I’m glad you are considering doing more of the “does” and hope you find great joy in this journey!

      • Hello Jane

        Thank you so much for your fast reply. I thought that would be the case. There are so many different avenues and things to think about with regards to WFPB. I did have another question however if you wouldnt mind. I wanted to understand why fish was included in the foods to avoid? I have enjoyed reading thru the guidelines and seeing all the comparisons with Doctrine and Covenants 89 and I was wondering if/were fish fit into the Word of Wisdom.

  12. I am very interested in your diet, but I am diabetic type 2. Is there somewhere I can find info on how to do this.


    • Hi Anna: White flour is not a whole grain and so not a whole food. Most of the important nutrients have been taken out, so it is mostly empty calories. Some people also find that foods made from white flour to be somewhat addictive. That said, white flour can still be a part of a whole food, plant-based diet. It is better to make it a small part and to try to use whole grains as much as possible. Part of this depends on what your current health is and what your health goals are. I hope this is helpful!

  13. I am confused about the use of processed foods allowed in a WFPB diet. I thought it said to avoid processed foods but people keep saying that eating chips and crackers are okay. Also what about noodles and bread- fine only if they are whole grain?

    • Morgan: You are right. Crackers and chips are generally very processed, even if they are whole grain, but these are not black and white decisions. It depends on your health and your health goals and also on the quality of the crackers or chips. There are some that are made from whole grain, with little to no junk and very low fat. These are quite different from the average cracker or chip. They are all calorie dense, however, so not good if you want to lose weight. Whole grain noodles and bread are fine on this diet (though they are more processed than unprocessed whole grain). They too are also calorie dense, even if they are whole grain, so keep that in mind. I hope I answered your questions. Feel free to contact me directly!

  14. Of note to myself about the word of wisdom is the way life is portrayed in the garden of eden and also visions of the millenium.
    (Garden of eden)
    Genesis chapter 1:
    29 ¶ And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
    30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

    Isaiah chapter 11:
    6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
    7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
    8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.
    9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.

    Isaiah chapter 65:
    25 The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the Lord.
    (Also 2 nephi 30: 12-15)

    Both instances appear on the surface and also through deeper study that plant based is ordained for use in a ‘non-fallen’ state. These studies combined with the word of wisdom point a very clear direction. So it seems (to me) if we want a ‘God-ordained perfect-for-human-bodies’ diet…. it is WFPB.

    Yes, i understand we have fallen bodies, carnal natures, and live in a fallen world. This is why I believe the Lord gives His caveat of use of animals in famine and lean times. But why not strive for perfection. (Matt 5:48) 😉

    My 2 cents

    • Blessings to all; I have just stumbled on this blog – interesting. I am not specifically LDS, but am a believer in Jesus Christ, and as of 2013, after reading the China Study, am a WFPB follower. Our Lord has blessed us with one body to care for to use for ministry, and after struggling with obesity, seizures as a result of worsening food allergies, a WFPB diet is the only way I am able to function fully and effectively as a healthcare provider.
      I have perused the multiple references in Scripture regarding plant/animal use for food, and while our ancestors were given leave to partake of flesh after the fall – I cannot help to connect this status (fallen) to the later inclusion of animal products as permissible.
      Just a thought

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