How I'm following Dr. McDougall's Maximum Weight Loss Plan

How I’m Following Dr. McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss Plan

You may have seen me say, “I am following the Starch Solution with a focus on Dr. McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss Plan…

during my weight loss phase.”

I know it’s not in big bold letters but for now, I want to reemphasize, “during my weight loss phase.” Why? 

In this moment, I feel so good that I am choosing to eat this way 98% of the time. I love the energy, clear focus and mood stability which all leads to increased productivity and overall happiness in my life. I will; however, have planned times when I choose to eat outside of the general guidelines. Always vegan, of course! 

You may say that sounds restrictive and not for you. I understand that but please understand we are all on a different journey. I am in a place where I am aware of my many struggles and triggers. At 41 years old, I have made peace with this and am ok with limiting my exposure to those triggers.


Let’s back it up real quick.

Should you even be eating according to Dr. McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss plan?

If you are coming from a Standard American Diet, I would suggest starting with eating more whole foods (vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts/seeds, avocado), less or no animal products/by-products and less or no processed food.

If you are already vegan/plant based, start eating primarily Whole Food Plant Based (vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, nuts/seeds, avocado). This way of eating does eliminate oil as well. Dr. McDougall’s, The Starch Solution, is the perfect place to start if you like starches to keep you full like potatoes, rice, pasta, quinoa, corn, winter squashes, millet, buckwheat and couscous because it is a starch focused WFPB way of eating.

If you have already been eating WFPB and are stalled with your weight loss or still have triggers within those foods, you can either eliminate what doesn’t work for you or follow Dr. McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss Plan.


Before I get to where I want to be,

I have so much personally to work on within myself. 

Emotional food dependencies are habits I started creating at around 5 years old. I have taken a lot of time, over the last couple years and specifically in the last year (2020) to peel back the layers in order to heal.

This is not only taking time but a lot of reflection, patience, mistakes, correction and most importantly, grace. If you are in the same boat as me, I ask you to give yourself grace.

Be kind to yourself.

What is approved to eat on a Whole Food Plant Based and Starch Solution diet (lifestyle) that I am choosing to omit to acknowledge my triggers, stalled weight loss and inconsistencies?

For transparency, these are all apart of Dr. McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss 10 point checklist that you can find here.

Examples of my Dr. McDougall's Maximum Weight Loss meals.
Maximum Weight Loss Meals
Enchilada Soup with Rice & Romaine Lettuce (left)
Air Fried Frank’s RedHot Chickpeas, Rice, Yellow Bell Pepper, Romaine & Pineapple (right)
Roasted Broccoli & Steamed Red Potatoes with Tomato Paste & Yellow Mustard (middle)

Added Sugar. When I first started MWL, I allowed for BBQ sauce, Ketchup and Teriyaki Sauce as long as it was oil-free. I really wasn’t taking into account the amount of sugar and salt that is still added into these sauces. These are a wonderful transition condiments but I have since learned that I could enjoy my food and still eliminate them even more. This can take time to do though. I now use tomato paste in place of ketchup. It’s purely tomatoes–no added sugars, oils or salt. Now, I am aware that I’ve mentioned sugar as a point in this and not salt because I still use salt. Not much of it–just a sprinkle across the top of my food or I add a little liquid aminos to my food.

Other flavorings I use aside from my MWL recipes:
– lemon juice / lime juice
– tomato paste
– nutritional yeast
– mustard
– all of the herbs/spices
– hot sauce
liquid aminos*
miso*
– replace maple syrup with pineapple or other fruit
Look for no added oil & sugar:
– salsa
– pasta sauce

*These are higher sodium foods. If you have been recommended to consume low sodium, be aware of these.

Higher Plant Foods. Higher plant foods consist of nuts, seeds, avocados, tofu. I’ll be honest all high fat foods seem to be a trigger for me, especially nuts. I can make a killer cashew cheese sauce or dressing using nuts. While some people can eat these foods in moderation (or in healthy amounts), I cannot. Just writing this is lighting up the cravings part of my brain. Is this an addiction issue? Maybe? I’m still learning my boundaries with these foods and for now, I’m choosing to eliminate them, while I heal and create a foundation for myself.

Higher Calorie-Dense Foods. Higher calorie-dense foods consist of flour products, puffed cereals, air-popped popcorn and dried fruit. Flour products would include bread, bagels, tortillas, muffins, crackers, dry cereals, cookies and cakes. Dr. McDougall approves of oil-free corn tortillas and whole grain pasta because their calorie density is lower than the rest of the processed foods; however, I had them added in for a month and learned that I did not fill up on them the way I do with rice and potatoes–mainly potatoes. I am learning that by eating enough whole plant foods throughout the day (listening to my hunger cues), I am capable of not craving/binging in the late evening. This has taken time for me to undo these late night habits but I am almost on the other side of it to see that I can.

Drinking My Calories. Drinking my calories means I’m choosing to not drink any smoothies or juices, including fruit juices or green juices. For me, I know I can drink a whole lot more calories thru a smoothie or a juice than I can with eating all of the ingredients in their most whole form in one meal. I have done both consistently at various times in my life and I didn’t find the satisfaction or satiation from them.

Can you get in a lot of nutrients really quick? Absolutely! But I’m in weight loss mode and really do not want to calculate calories which is what I would feel like I would need to do since the food is already broken down at the time of consumption. Also keep in mind that our digestive process starts in our mouth. When we chew, we are starting the process of breaking down our food.

Please keep in mind, drinking your calories is also referring to alcohol, “milk” in your coffee or tea, pop, if you still drink it and anything else you may be drinking that contains calories.

Personally, I only drink water, sparkling water, black coffee and tea on occasion.

The one thing on Dr. McDougall’s Maximum Weight Loss 10 point checklist that I choose not to do.

Not for any reason other than it’s one more thing I would have to make or keep prepped in the refrigerator. I have chosen to not start each meal with a soup and/or salad and/or fruit. Some people consistently do this and a lot do not. I do consistently follow the 50% starch/50% non-starch plate. When finished eating, I take note of how I feel. If in 30 minutes, I’m still hungry. I can make myself a mini meal of the same thing I just had–still keeping a 50/50 ratio on the plate.

One last note to keep in mind.

Food is fuel. Not every meal is going to give you a foodgasm. I lean more on the side of preferring delicious flavorful food but also am starting to understand that not every meal will be. Food is fuel and we need to keep reminding ourselves of this until it becomes second nature. In fact, my mind started to shift years ago when I learned that our whole plant foods contain all (except for vitamin B12 and somewhat D) the vitamins and minerals we need. To ensure we are getting them all, think of your food as the rainbow. Each color of food (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) gives you specific vitamins and minerals.

Now, please do not overwhelm yourself with this but keep it in mind when you are creating your dishes. If you notice, a lot of your foods are white/beige/brown, I would say you probably need to think of adding a little color.

Eat the colors of the rainbow! Vitamins & Minerals
Eat the colors of the rainbow!

How I like to look at it is, if I give my body the fuel it needs, I will in return have better health.
-Jen



Comments are closed.