08 Aug, 2018

Whole food, plant-based diets for health & wellbeing


With so many fad lifestyle programs and diets filling our social media feeds, finding a practical approach that is healthy, nourishing and improves vitality can be challenging.

The key to a happy and healthy life isn’t complicated, according to plant-based nutritionist and wellness coach, Sally Douglas who advocates an holistic approach to improving wellbeing and says that feeling good comes down to how well we feed our bodies and minds.

Consuming whole foods, taking care of our mental health, stress management, looking after our hormones and reducing toxins in the home all play a part in creating a healthy, happy life, according to Sally.

After growing up in a health-conscious household where she was sent off to school with fresh fruits and vegetables, Sally went vegetarian in preparation for a month-long stay in a Nepalese monastery when she was in her twenties and never looked back.

That experience introduced Sally to the wonders of plant-based eating and an offered an opportunity to taste vegetables in new ways, delicately spiced and full of flavour. It was here she became excited about food and went on to study nutrition and plant-based eating before obtaining a raw food certification during an extended stay in Bali. By embracing a vegan diet three years ago and teaching courses through her business Fed For Wellness, Sally has seen first-hand the benefits of clean, plant-based eating.

What is a whole food plant-based diet?

whole food, plant-based eating involves consuming plants in their whole, natural state. Whole foods include vegetables, fruits, fresh herbs, nuts, legumes and minimally processed grains like brown rice, millet, quinoa and oats.

Animal products including meat, dairy and eggs as well as processed or packaged foods are avoided. For Sally, an important aspect of whole food plant-based eating is consuming foods that are in season, locally grown, and with fewer chemicals, such as those found at local farmers’ markets.

While a 100% plant-based diet may not be for everyone, many people are choosing to incorporate meat-free meals into their diets. Embracing meat-free Mondays or trying several meatless meals a week is a great place to start, says Sally.

“It’s less about putting a label on how we eat and more about reframing how we look at food. Traditionally we have seen vegetables as a side, or an accompaniment to meat but vegetables can be the main part of the dish.”

“I recommend starting by identifying what you like to eat and making some simple swaps. If you like steak, you don’t need to start eating lentils - perhaps exchange that piece of meat for a big slab of grilled eggplant or cauliflower steak roasted with herbs and spices,” Sally said.

(For inspiration, Google whole food plant-based recipes or check out Pinterest - you’ll find thousands of recipe ideas online.)

What are the benefits of plant-based eating?

Growing evidence suggests that eating a plant-based diet could reduce our risk of developing a range of health-related conditions. Speaking to the ABC in 2017, dietitian Sue Radd said “research consistently shows that adopting a naturally, minimally processed, plant-based diet is best because it can simultaneously impact multiple pathways to disease.”

Well-known nutritionist, Rosemary Stanton also recognises that eating a plant-based diet is good for both us and the planet, saying a “well-planned plant-based diet turns out to be associated with a lower incidence of heart disease, bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity.”

Working with clients from around the world, Sally has seen the benefits of plant-based diets with her clients and has noted some of the following improvements:

  • Less bloating
  • Reduced brain fog
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Reduction of chronic diseases such as stroke and heart disease
  • Improved management of type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure
  • Lessening of chronic pain
  • Sustainable weight loss

The good news is emerging research shows that people not ready to go fully plant-based can obtain some of the benefits of a plant-based diet while still including small amounts of lean meat.

6 satisfying plant-based snacks

To help you start the journey towards whole food plant-based eating, Sally has shared some delicious snacks that are remarkably easy to prepare and will help power you through the day.

  1. Vegetable sticks (cucumber, carrot, celery) with guacamole, home-made hommous, tahini or any dip you love
  2. Natural or roasted nuts
  3. A healthy, home-made muesli bar slice (use dates instead of sugar to sweeten)
  4. An apple or banana sliced and dipped in almond butter
  5. Dates: open, remove pit and fill with almond butter
  6. For a more filling snack try some hemp protein bliss balls

What we put on our plates is a direct reflection of how we view and look after ourselves, says Sally, and while she advocates a whole food, plant-based lifestyle, making choices that enhance our overall wellbeing are key to a happy, healthy life.

“We need to fall in love with food again and see it as something to nourish, energise and give us health instead of something that simply eases our hunger.”

Fed For Wellness offers workshops throughout south-east Queensland, a workplace wellness program and a coaching program to support people to put their health on the agenda by adopting a plant-based lifestyle. Sally also runs monthly plant-based cooking workshops at her kitchen in Moffat Beach near Caloundra. Check her website for upcoming dates.


- Fed For Wellness- Fed For Wellness Facebook page- Deliciously Ella - Plant-based Dietitian

Have you achieved positive results with a whole food plant-based diet? We would love to hear your experiences below.

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