Lifestyle Medicine: Healthy Eating

What America Eats

The saying “you are what you eat” is really true. Everything we eat either helps or hurts our health and well-being. The Standard American Diet [SAD] is dominated by highly processed foods containing large amounts of sugar, fat and salt plus meat and dairy. This diet, eaten day in and day out, leads to total body inflammation, obesity, and most of the chronic diseases Americans face including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. The science is clear that our diet is the number one cause of premature death and disability in the US. So what is a healthier way to eat?

Dietary Spectrum of whole food plant-based eating plan

View the Dietary Spectrum PDF


Whole Food Plant Predominant Diet

A whole food mostly plant-based diet it the optimum diet for health, wellness and longevity. Whole food means food close to its natural state that has had nothing bad added and nothing good taken away. Plant predominant means 85-90% of calories from plants. This is more than salad.

Foods to eat in abundance:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables [including potatoes]
  • Mushrooms
  • Whole grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Herbs and spices
  • Water
a mulitude of healthy foods

Foods to limit/avoid:

  • Sugary drinks [soda, juice]
  • Processed meat [lunchmeat, sausage]
  • Processed snacks  [crackers, chips]
  • Cakes, pastries, sweets.
  • Dairy
  • Red meat
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
a group of unhealthy food items


GW Lifestyle Medicine Shop

Whole Food Plant-Based Choices

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To see what a whole food plant-based diet looks like at the grocery store, go to the GW Lifestyle Medicine Shop –powered by Instacart. Use this site to plan  your next shopping list or order now online. All the products featured are part of a healthy whole food plant predominant diet!

GW Lifestyle Medicine Shop


Healthy Eating Resources

Explore our curated list of resources to support a healthy lifestyle.

Jump to: Downloadable Handouts | Websites | Videos | Podcasts | Scholarly Articles | Books | Cook Books | Plant-Based Cooking Lessons | Apps

Downloadable Handouts

Plant-Based Plate

A nutrition prescription for treating and reversing chronic disease. Tips to get you started on a whole food plant-based diet

Plant based plate article preview

FAQ: Plant-Based Diets

What is a plant-based diet and who should consider it?

plant-based diet article preview

Nutrition Myths

3 common myths about protein, carbohydrates and calcium in a plant-based diet.

nutrition myths article preview
Building A Healthy Vegetarian Diet: Myths and Facts
[Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics]
building a healthy vegetarian diet myths and facts article preview
Building Muscle on a Vegetarian Diet
[Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics]
building muscle on a vegetarian diet article preview


A complete introduction to a plant-based eating plan.

adopt a whole food plant based diet article preview

Food as Medicine Jumpstart 

This guide will help you plan delicious and nutritious meals, build confidence in the kitchen, and discover foods you truly enjoy.

food as medicine jumpstart article preview

African-American Vegan Starter Guide

Downloadable starter guide with recipes and other resources to help you transition to plant-based eating!

african american vegan starter guide

Whole Food Plant-Based Meal Plan

Easy, healthy and low-cost meals for every day of the week. Approximately $30-$50 per person, per week.

whole food plant-based article preview

DC Community Food Resources
[DC Greens]

Information on free food distribution by Ward.

DC community food resources article preview


Forks Over Knives

One stop for recipes and articles about a healthy whole food plant-based diet.

forks over knives website preview

T. COLIN CAMPBELL Center for Nutrition Studies

Collection of evidence-based articles on nutrition and health.

T. COLIN CAMPBELL Center for Nutrition Studies website preview

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Independent, science-based advice about how to eat a healthy diet. Resources about what to eat, what not to eat, what to avoid, and how to improve.

Center for Science in the Public Interest website preview

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine [PCRM]

Resources for everything you’ll need to get started on a path to good health including a 21-Day Vegan Kickstart.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine [PCRM] website preview


Find vegan restaurants nearby.

happycow website preview


Find out what the latest science is saying about your favorite foods to help you make the healthiest choices for you and your family. Watch free videos on more than 2,000 health and nutrition topics with new videos and articles uploaded every day.

Nutrition Facts Videos - website preview

Forks over Knives Documentary

What if one simple change could save you from chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease? Take a deep dive into the plant-based diet documentary that has influenced millions around the world.

forks over knives documentary - website preview

The Game Changers

Presented by James Cameron, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jackie Chan, Lewis Hamilton, Novak Djokovic and Chris Paul — a revolutionary new film about meat, protein and strength.

game changers website preview


Plantstrong with Rip Esselstyn

We advocate for the scientifically proven benefits of plant-based living and envision a world that universally understands, promotes, and prescribes plants as the solution to empowering your health, enhancing your performance, and restoring the environment.

plantstrong podcast - website preview

The Exam Room with Chuck Carroll

The Exam Room™ is the ultimate vegan podcast from the Physicians Committee. Dr. Neal Barnard, a real-life rock star and authority on plant-based living, motivates and inspires the vegan-curious and those who have been plant-powered for life. Learn the secrets to radically improving your health as show host “The Weight Loss Champion” Chuck Carroll, who lost 265 pounds and kept it off, goes one-on-one with others who have transformed their lives. Then dive into the science of a vegan diet! What can eating just one hamburger do to the body? Is cheese really addictive? Plus, recipes and breaking medical news from the Physicians Committee.

exam room podcast - website preview

The Plant Proof Podcast with Simon Hill

Simon Hill is a Physiotherapist and Nutritionist who is passionate about making nutritional information simple and accessible so that people can make informed decisions about the food they feed themselves and their family.

plant-proof podcast - website preview

Scholarly Articles

Le LT, Sabaté J. Beyond Meatless, the Health Effects of Vegan Diets: Findings from the Adventist Cohorts. Nutrients. 2014; 6(6):2131-2147.

Vegetarian diets confer protection against cardiovascular diseases, cardiometabolic risk factors, some cancers and total mortality. Compared to lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, vegan diets seem to offer additional protection for obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular mortality.

beyond meatless... article preview

Tuso PJ, Ismail MH, Ha BP, Bartolotto C. Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. Perm J. 2013 Spring;17(2):61-6. doi: 10.7812/TPP/12-085. PMID: 23704846; PMCID: PMC3662288.

Update for physicians on plant-based diets.

nutritional update for physicians article preview


The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity
John Mackey, Alona Pulde, MD, and Matthew Lederman, MD

The definitive guide to the optimum diet for health and wellness, from the founder of Whole Foods Market and the doctors of Forks Over Knives.

The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity book

UnDo It: How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can REVERSE Most Chronic Diseases
Dean Ornish, MD and Anne Ornish

A simple, scientifically program proven to often reverse the progression of the most common and costly chronic diseases and even begin reversing aging at a cellular level.

UnDo It: How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can REVERSE Most Chronic Diseases book

The Vegan Starter Kit: Everything You Need to Know About Plant-Based Eating
Neal Barnard, MD

This book gives readers all the tools they need to get started: delicious recipes, answers to frequently asked questions, guidelines on ensuring complete nutrition, quick-reference charts for sources of calcium and protein, tips for modifying recipes, and more.

the vegan starter kit book

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. MD

Based on the groundbreaking results of his 20-year nutritional study—the longest study of its kind ever conducted—this book explains, with irrefutable scientific evidence, how we can end the heart disease epidemic in this country forever by changing what we eat.

prevent and reverse heart disease book

How Not To Die
Michael Greger, MD with Gene Stone

Examines the fifteen top causes of death in America—heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and more—and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches, freeing us to live healthier lives.

how not to die book

How Not To Diet
Michael Greger, MD with Gene Stone

Dr. Greger hones in on the optimal criteria to enable weight loss while considering how these foods actually affect our health and longevity. He lays out the key ingredients of the ideal weight-loss diet—factors such as calorie density, the insulin index, and the impact of foods on our gut microbiome—showing how evidence-based eating is crucial to our success.

how not to diet book

The Blue Zones: Nine Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest
Dan Buettner

Longevity expert Dan Buettner has traveled the world to meet the planet's longest-lived people in unique communities called blue zones, where common elements of lifestyle, diet, and outlook have led to an amazing quantity - and quality - of life.

The Blue Zones: Nine Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest book



Forks Over Knives The Cookbook
Del Sroufe

300+ brand new recipes. Globally and seasonally inspired dishes from Chef Del. All recipes are vegan, oil-free and virtually all are low-fat.

forks over knives cookbook

The Vegan Instant Pot Cookbook

Nisha Vora

A guide to the Instant Pot multicooker. 90 nutritious (and colorful!) recipes you can make easily with the magic of an instant pot pressure cooker. Includes a comprehensive primer to the machine and all its functions.

vegan instant pot cookbook

The Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook
Anne Crile Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn

The Prevent and Reverse Cookbook proves that while eating no meat, no dairy, no oil, and no nuts may sound intimidating, but it is doable and delectable. As Ann says, eating this way is empowering and “opens up a delicious and colorful array vegetables, legumes, and whole grains brimming with fiber, nutrients and antioxidants, all great nourishment for your heart and your overall health.”

prevent and reverse heart disease cookbook

The Blue Zones Kitchen
Dan Buettner

New York Times best-selling author Dan Buettner has traveled the world and visited tiny kitchens from Ikaria to Okinawa to document the recipes and dietary traditions he learned along the way. Stunning photography from National Geographic photographer David McLain accompanies the stories and recipes passed down from the longest-lived people in the world.

blue zones kitche cook book

Good and Cheap: Eat well on $4 a day!
Leanne Brown

Recipes designed to fit the budgets of people living on SNAP, the US program that used to be called food stamps. If you’re on SNAP, you already know that the benefit formulas are complicated, but the rule of thumb is that you end up with $4 per person, per day to spend on food.

eat well on $4/day good and cheap preview

Plant-Based Cooking Lessons

Culinary Rx

This online instructional cooking and nutrition course, taught by leading chef educators and medical professionals, empowers students through their transition to a more health-supportive diet and lifestyle. Completing the course provides individuals with the tools, resources and culinary confidence to take control of their life through food and cooking.

culindaryrx website preview

GW Culinary Medicine Cooking Classes

All classes will be held LIVE online using Zoom, from our kitchen to yours. Get ready to cook (virtually) with us during each session! The free cooking series is open to the public and geared towards community members. You will learn to cook healthy, delicious recipes and learn basic nutrition concepts such as building a healthy meal, eating on a budget, meal planning, and how to use leftovers. Participants prepare different recipes each week and learn about how to make terrific, delicious food that just happens to be good for you! websit preview


HappyCow - Vegan Food Near You 12+

Find vegan options worldwide!

Available for iPhone and Android

Since 1999, HappyCow has helped users discover healthy, vegetarian and vegan food options at 156,000+ restaurants, cafes, and grocery stores etc. in 180+ countries. With the app, you can do food search effortlessly via filters, connect with the community, and get all the inspirations you need! Read 860,000+ reviews and look at 1,000,000+ photos posted by our awesome community!

happy cow app

Forks Over Knives Vegan Recipe App

400+ Whole food plant-based recipes updated weekly with new dishes. Every recipe includes simple, step-by-step instructions and the option to add notes and mark favorites for easy access. You can also send recipes to a built-in shopping list, where ingredients are automatically sorted by aisle.

forks over knives app

21-Day Vegan Kickstart 4+

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

This must-have recipe app designed by nutrition experts offers the chance to put the healthiest diet to work for you! This evidence-based program has everything you need to get started on a plant-based diet: meal plans, recipes, grocery lists, daily videos, nutrition tips, cooking demonstrations, and more.

21 day vegan app