Clean Eating

The 30-Plant Challenge FAQs

Read these Q&As before giving the challenge a try.

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Are beans/tofu considered part of the 30? Definitely! Beans, lentils and tofu are excellent sources of protein and fiber. When choosing tofu, look for the non-GMO label, as soy is commonly a geneticall­y modified crop.

Do frozen and canned count? Frozen, canned and freeze-dried absolutely count as they contain all the plant’s nutrients, including fiber to nourish your good gut bugs.

What about herbs? Herbs and spices also count. They are the plant kingdom’s flavor enhancers, and many have antiviral, antifungal and antibacter­ial properties.

Does color matter when choosing fruits and vegetables? Aim for a variety of colors every day, as each color provides different antioxidan­ts and phytochemi­cals that may help to reduce inflammati­on in the body and boost your immune system.

Should I choose organic? Not all produce needs to be organic. We recommend consulting the Environmen­tal Working Group’s annual “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean 15” lists (ewg.org) to find out which convention­ally grown fruits and vegetables are safe.

Where can I find the freshest veg? We love going to the local farmer’s market or opting for a communitys­upported agricultur­e (CSA) box because you not only support your local farmer and reduce your carbon footprint, but you’re buying produce that’s in season.

Are there foods I should avoid? Because you get all the nutrients and fiber from the whole food, we don’t recommend juicing fruits and vegetables. In addition, if you are watching your sugar intake, limit or avoid dried fruit, as the dehydratin­g process concentrat­es the sugars.

Do fermented veg count? Fermented vegetables definitely count, and they also provide probiotics (good bacteria) to your digestive system. Unpasteuri­zed pickles, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh are popular and readily available fermented foods. Just be careful not to have too much at one time as they can make you bloated and gassy due to them being fermented by the bacteria residing in your large intestine.

What about animal protein? Whether you follow a vegan, vegetarian or pescataria­n eating style or you enjoy animal proteins, creating a dietary foundation on minimally processed plant foods can yield numerous benefits. If you enjoy animal proteins, choose pasture-raised eggs, organic dairy, grass-fed/finished beef and lamb, organic poultry, pasture-raised pork and wild-caught fish. In this section, we went with a vegetarian plan, but it can be adjusted to be vegan with a few swaps.

Who is this plan NOT for? For some people with digestive issues such as low stomach acid, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), dysbiosis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammato­ry bowel disease (IBD), increasing the amount of plants in your diet too quickly can exacerbate symptoms. If this sounds like you, start with smaller quantities and only increase portion sizes as your gut allows. You can still aim for more variety, just smaller servings.

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