If you’re following the Wahls Protocol, you may be wondering if the 9 cups of vegetables recommended should be measured raw or cooked.
Here’s the short answer: The 9 cups are measured raw, but you can cook them after measuring if you prefer. (When measuring leafy greens make sure they’re tightly packed.)
For international readers who don’t use cups as a form of measurement, don’t worry. You can use your dinner plate as a guide for your Wahls Protocol vegetables. Simply cover your plate with vegetables to get the equivalent of 3 cups of veggies. Alternatively, divide your plate into quarters and allocate a spot for each of the following categories: high-quality protein, sulfur-rich, deep-colored, and leafy greens.
A Word of Caution About Wahls Protocol Vegetables
I fully understand the desire to follow the protocol to a “T.” I wanted that too, especially in the beginning when I was putting all the effort in and desperately wanted to get results.
However, we have to remember that at the end of the day, the main goal of the Wahls Protocol is to incorporate more – quantity and variety – vegetables into your diet.
There’s no way to give an exact quantity of food that will work for every person. The reality is everyone has slightly different nutritional needs.
Someone who has a fast metabolism and/or leads an active lifestyle will need more than someone who is petite, has a slower metabolism and/or leads a more sedentary lifestyle.
Don’t get too caught up in precise measurements. Dr. Wahls herself says you’re missing the point if you do. Dr. Wahls created the protocol based on the 9 cups because that’s what worked for her healing – as a six-foot tall woman. That’s the amount she needed to heal her body and stay full.
It’s up to you to determine if that’s the right amount for you.
Just like the 3 little bears – for some 9 cups will be too much, for others it will be not enough, and others still it will be just the right amount.
Focus on making the majority of what you eat in a day to be vegetables and get a balance between the three categories – leafy greens, sulfur rich and deeply colored vegetables.
So, if you’re petite and simply too stuffed consuming 9 cups, you can reduce it to 6 cups; just make sure you’re getting equal ratios across the three categories – 2 cups leafy greens, 2 cups color, and 2 cups sulfur.
Examples of Wahls Protocol Veggies Recommendations
What types of veggies should you include in each category?
Here are some examples:
- Leafy greens: spinach, kale, arugula, bok choy, watercress, swiss chard, collard greens
- Sulfur-rich: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, garlic, onions, and leeks.
- Deep-colored: carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, berries, cherries, and leafy greens like kale and spinach.
Here are some ideas to incorporate these veggies into your meals and snacks:
- Add leafy greens like spinach or kale to your morning smoothie.
- Create a stir fry with broccoli, bell peppers, bok choy and chicken seasoned with ginger and soy-free coconut aminos.
- Roast a mix of sulfur-rich veggies like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and serve them as a side dish.
- Grill chicken or fish and serve it alongside a deep-colored salad with beets, carrots, and berries.
- Sauté some garlic and onions with your favorite protein and serve it over a bed of leafy greens.
At the end of the day, this has to be sustainable for you.
Focus on progress over perfection.
You can do this and, yes, it is worth it.
Tips for measuring your veggies
First, the 9 cups are measured raw and then you can do whatever you want with it afterwards. You can leave it raw or you can cook it, but it’s measured in its raw state.
Leafy greens should be tightly packed.
Now for our international friends that don’t use cups as their form of measurement.
Here’s an easy guide for you.
If you cover your dinner plate in veggies, that is equivalent to 3 cups of veggies.
Or you could divide your plate into quarters having a spot for each of the following categories.
- High quality protein
- Sulfur rich
- Deep colored
- Leafy greens
All of this said, while the 9 cups are the cornerstone of the Wahls Protocol vegetable recommendation, that measurement was selected not just for the nutritional content but also to help keep you full.
Now it would be impossible to have a precise measurement of food for every person – every body type.
Dr. Wahls has stated that is someone is more petite and is simply too stuffed consuming 9 cups, you can reduce it to 6 cups. You still need equal ratios across the three categories.
For example, the individual would then have 2 cups leafy greens 2 cups color and 2 cups sulfur.
This is appropriate based on an individual’s size and appetite.
However, this doesn’t apply if you’re filling up on other foods and that’s why you don’t have the appetite for veggies.
For example, you can’t have gluten free bread and pasta and then say you’re too full to eat the veggies.
You may need to gradually work up to the 9 cups but do your best to always prioritize the 9 cups at every meal or snack.
I’ll leave you with this reminder as well, it may seem like a chore or even punishment to have to eat 9 cups of veggies, but the beauty of it is, you will experience a level of health that you likely didn’t even realize was possible.
Symptoms begin to fade and if you’re like me and many other Wahls Warriors, you find yourself feeling better now than even before your autoimmune diagnosis.
So, I challenge you today, how can you fit one more serving of veggies into your day?
Have questions about the Wahls Protocol vegetable recommendations? Comment below or check out my nutrition services and programs for more guidance!