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When you make heart-smart eating choices, such as transitioning to a plant-based approach to eating, you’ll feel so much better so quickly that you’ll be naturally motivated to continue. When this is combined with an integrated lifestyle approach such as Ornish Lifestyle Medicine, the positive effects have an even greater impact.

In the Ornish Alumni groups, potlucks and dinner parties are common ways to share meals together and stay connected.

Switching to a plant-based approach to eating can initially feel challenging if you are accustomed to packaged and fast food, or always having meat at the center of your plate. Most participants report, however, that the transition is surprisingly easy once they begin to experience how amazing they feel and how delicious and easy this way of eating can be.

Here are some tips and resources on how to maintain a plant-based approach after completing the program.

The Importance of Staying Together

This lifestyle will be more enjoyable, meaningful and effective in a community of like-minded people. The Ornish-certified locations offer alumni monthly meeting space, support and robust online resources. The growing network of Ornish Alumni communities allows participants to continue to thrive in this healthy lifestyle. In the Ornish Alumni groups, potlucks and dinner parties are common ways to share meals together and stay connected. Because of this continued connection, 87.9% of participants continue to get together regularly to support each other. During these gatherings, participants continue to reinforce the tools that they were taught.

If It’s Affordable, It’s Sustainable

There are a bounty of resources that support practical and cost-effective ways that truly make following a whole-food, plant-based approach manageable and sustainable. Our Ornish Living post, A Week of Heart-Healthy Meals For Under $6 a Day, teaches you cost-savings tips and offers a whole week of planned menus with super simple recipes, shopping lists and grocery bill. Tools like this provide everything you need to get started and keep you on track with a heart-healthy, nourishing lifestyle with ease and support.

Heart-Healthy Snacking

Explore A Quick Guide to Heart-Healthy Snacking for many helpful tips, such as ways to plan ahead with nutrient-rich, balanced snacks that will support healthy eating throughout the day. Whether you are striving to manage your weight, blood sugars, triglycerides or energy, it’s important to have a good understand of the snacks that will best get you through the day.

Key Heart-Healthy Substitutes for Cooking and Baking

There are many great resources for all your baking and cooking needs such as Healthy Holiday Baking: The Scoop on Flours, which offers an excellent guide to a variety of whole grain flours and delicious recipes, such as our Apple Spice Muffins. (See Sample Menu)

Another excellent resource in making the transition to  a sustainable low-fat, whole-food, plant-based lifestyle is knowing those simple ingredients swaps that offer you the ability to transform most any recipe into a heart-healthy dish. Cooking Without Oils, for example, explains the techniques that you need to cook without added fats. They include steaming, caramelizing, sautéing and roasting. Tips to transform your salad dressing can be found in Transform Your Salad Dressing, which describes how to make thick and rich oil-free salad dressings, sauces, and dips. Not All Sweeteners Are Created Equal offers a comparison of sugars and alternative sweeteners so you know the healthiest ways to add some heart-healthy sweetness into your life.

Not in the Ornish Program? You’re Not Alone

You don’t have to be a part of the nine-week Ornish Lifestyle Medicine or a part of its alumni community to make lasting lifestyle changes and improve your health. Most of our tools and resources are available for free to the general public. A wonderful way to connect with others is to subscribe to Ornish LivingThis is a supportive community of people who are interested and committed to leading a healthy lifestyle. Another great opportunity is to start your own potluck dinner club in your community. As Gandhi once said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

How can you bring healthy nutrition home and begin building your own healthy community?



Contributed by

Carra Richling
Registered Dietitian

Eat well, be well!

Better Health Begins With You...

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