Food & Recipes

Whole Foods CEO Reveals What He Eats To Stay At The Same Weight He Was At 18

His diet is actually pretty straightforward.

We’ve all seen the newest and supposedly greatest fad diets, and while some people claim they work, The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says they only set us up for failure. When those fancy diets fail—and they will for most of us—it might be time to try something simpler: vegetables.

It’s pretty hard to go wrong with fruits and veggies, but if they’re not a staple in your diet, don’t beat yourself up. John Mackey, the CEO and founder of Whole Foods, didn’t even discover his love of all things vegetable until his 20s. In fact, he grew up eating the all-too-common American diet of burgers and fries.

Now, Mackey has revealed his secret to finding a love for vegetables and staying healthy in his new book, “The Whole Foods Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity.” His food-consciousness journey to a plant-based lifestyle began when he moved into a vegetarian co-op.

“I was a very picky eater. I never ate vegetables, but within a pretty short period of time I became a vegetarian,” he told NBC News. “I had a whole new group of friends, I learned how to cook and I began to read books about healthy eating and natural and organic food.”

vegetables photo
Getty Images | Christopher Furlong

After gradually gaining weight and then discovering the book “The China Study,” Mackey decided to ditch all processed foods and eat a vegan diet. He now weighs the same as he did when he was 18 years old.

“It had a revolutionary impact on me because [the author of “The China Study”] makes a very strong case, not only against animal foods, but against eating a lot of processed foods,” Mackey said of the book. “When I stopped eating all those processed foods and combined that with a plant based diet, my health was just amazing.”

whole foods photo
Getty Images | Scott Olson

Mackey warns against cutting out meat and processed food all at once, saying it’s better to move through the transition at a gradual pace. You need to re-educate your taste buds, which can mean exposing yourself to a new food 10 times before you develop a taste for it.

“When you combine the things our body naturally craves—whole starch foods (sweet potatoes, brown rice, beans, etc.) with fruits and vegetables—you can eat all you want and you’ll lose weight,” Mackey said.

Mackey admits his diet isn’t perfect, but it’s the overall diet pattern that matters—not a cookie once in a while.

“If you occasionally make a mistake, or you occasionally indulge yourself, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It’s about the overall pattern: when you have the next meal, or the next snack, just do better.”

To hear more from Mackey about healthy eating, check out the video below:

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