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How my Mom Lost 55 Pounds On a Low Fat Vegan Diet

It’s often difficult to convince our loved ones to make changes that we know they desperately need to make to improve their health.

It’s even more difficult to see someone you love experience health problems in spite of knowing all of the right information and even accepting its validity!

I became a vegetarian at the age of 18 because of my mom, who at the time took an interest in healthier eating.

At the time, she was accumulating all sorts of great vegetarian and vegan recipe books and really tried to change her diet.

This is how I started my interest in vegetarianism. Soon after, I became a raw foodist! And over the years, I’ve never stopped my interest in healthy eating and natural health.

Even though my mom had me as an example and knew all of this information about healthy eating, she kept gaining weight every year!

Her weight kept going up and up to the point where she became obese.

I kept pushing her to make changes — and she even knew what changes to make — but a few things were holding her back:

* She always used food as gratification and therefore delayed changing her diet. “Oh, I have a vacation next week so I can’t really do it now, but right after I come back from the vacation I’ll get started!”

* She became confused about what to eat. Even though she started with the best intentions, conflicting dietary advice eventually got to her. She didn’t eat terribly bad, but the few mistakes she made were enough to tip the balance scale in the wrong direction!

* She felt powerless. Even though I kept trying to help her, she told me, “You know what Frederic, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t change me. This is my problem… I know you’re trying hard. It’s not your fault, it’s mine.”

Over the years, I kept trying to help her.

One time, she even agreed to go 100% raw for a month. This had mostly positive results but she couldn’t stick to it.

She kept telling me that I did “everything I could” to try to help her and really the ball was in her camp now to change.

But deep inside, I felt like I hadn’t done everything I could. I didn’t give up.

When my dad died last year, it was a big shock to my mom. How could someone so young pass away so suddenly?

It was a wake up call. Here’s my mom in 2010.

Shortly after, she visited me in Vancouver and spent a week there. During that time, I told her:

This week, you’re going to eat like us! I want to show you how easy it can be to eat healthy. And when you go back home to Montreal, I’ll put you on a program that will really make a difference.

Initially, she was reluctant. “I’m on vacation!” she complained.

But because she liked the food, it wasn’t so much of a struggle.

Between that and a few intense conversations, I managed to convince her to try a new approach.

When she got back home in September, she was on the program.

Every week, she would call me and tell me how much weight she lost! 10 pounds, 12, 15, 20… the weight just kept falling off effortlessly.

When I saw her in June, she was a transformed woman!

* She lost 55 pounds
* She went from a pre-diabetic condition to totally normal blood sugar
* All of her other markers (like cholesterol, etc.) are healthy now
* Instead of being tired walking long distances or hills, she now walks every day and has more energy than ever before

When you say that you can “totally transform your life,” it may sound a little cliché.

But lose 55 pounds, and I guarantee you that you’ll transform your life. Nothing will ever be the same. You’re not the same person anymore!

How Did My Mom Lose 55 pounds?

In the past, I tried to get her to eat more raw foods, try smoothies, and even go raw at times. But it didn’t work.

I realized:

The raw food diet is great for a lot of people, but totally unrealistic for many.

So I gave my plan a simple plan that worked. In essence, here’s what she did.

Forbidden Foods

I gave her a list of foods to “avoid.” this included:

Dairy products (including yogurt, milk, cheese, etc.)
Anything made with flour (except pasta)
Nuts, seeds, nut butters
Avocados, coconuts, olives
Refined sugars

Foods to Eat

Then I gave her a list of foods to eat in unlimited quantities.

Vegetables, Salads
Beans, Legumes
Whole Grains

And that’s it! Of course, more went into this, but this is the basic program.

My Mom’s Diet

My mom learned a few tricks of her own to make it work. One was to eat a late dinner, that way she would avoid late-night snacks. Her diet looks something like this:

Oatmeal with a ton of fruit
Salad or nothing.
Dinner (around 7 or 8 p.m.)
A big starch+vegetable dinner, such as low fat vegan chili, morroccan couscous, and other recipes from the Low Fat Vegan Chef.
After Dinner: After dinner, she generally has another big bowl of oatmeal with fruit, or just fruit, or sometimes low-fat cereal with almond milk

The Learning Curve

At first, it was a learning curve for her. She had to learn how to avoid the fat in most recipes. For example, she discovered how to make hummus without the usual tahini, and made it taste pretty good.

She eventually learned to create recipes of her own.

My Mom’s Tips

My mom, who speaks only French, wanted to share a few tips for success with you.

1) Keep it simple. Make a big batch of something and eat it throughout the week. Variety is often the enemy of success when it comes to weight loss. Find something you like and eat a lot of it.

2) Eat the same thing for breakfast, every day.

3) Always have in the fridge a big fruit salad.

3) Always have in a fridge cut vegetables and green salads.

4) You can use spinach leaves instead of “rice” as to eat under a recipe like vegan chili.

5) Don’t be afraid to eat a lot. You’ll lose weight anyway following this program.

6) Always put more vegetables than the recipe calls for!


I knew my mom wouldn’t follow this diet 100%, and she didn’t. But she succeeded anyway. The difference was that when she “cheated,” it was truly when she had no choice in some social situations, and she made the best choice she could in the moment. Food was no longer about “reward.” If she wanted to have something forbidden, she waited for a time when she could truly enjoy it.

The Keys to Success

One key to success to my mom’s weight loss program was its simplicity. I just gave her a list of foods to eat and a list of foods to avoid.

I told her to walk more often, but did not bother her with exercise guidelines.

One key was the absolute avoidance of fat. She had enough essential fatty acids stored up for a lifetime, so I did not have her supplement with unnecessary essential “oils.”

Fat is an impediment to weight loss, much more so than sugar. Fat is concentrated calories that add almost nothing to your feeling of fullness, and can just as easily be skipped in most recipes. One tablespoon of white sugar is only 50 calories, compared to 120 in a tablespoon of any oil!

When someone needs to lose a lot of weight, they don’t need to consume any concentrated calories. That’s why I eliminated all nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, durian, and any other fatty food.

When she reaches her ideal weight (she still has 15 pounds to lose), then she may be allowed to have some fatty foods on occasion.

Unless you’re active and at your ideal weight, eating more fat is NOT the answer. Cutting it out completely may just be what you need.

From Obese to Healthy Weight in less than 8 months

I was shocked to discover that my mom went from being “obese” to only slightly overweight according to BMI guidelines in just eight months! In fact, she only has 6 pounds to lose at this point to be considered at a “normal weight” according to the BMI guidelines.

A healthy weight is one of the many rewards of a healthy lifestyle.

Raw food is one path to health, but it’s not the only path. Whatever you do, choose low fat plant foods. Optimize the amount of raw foods to your liking. Many people thrive on a 100% raw food diet, but it is unrealistic to expect everybody to be able to follow such a program. Others are happy with 80% raw, while many can do extremely well on even less raw food.

The key is to follow a low-fat, vegan diet free of refined and processed foods.

In this article I gave you a quick overview of my mom’s program for losing weight. Would you be interested in finding out everything else that went into it?

As part of my Raw Vegan Mastery Program, I’ll be releasing a video called “How to Lose Weight on a Plant Based Diet” — This video will teach you not only exactly what you need to know, but will also show you practical recipes to get started. If you’re a member of Raw Vegan Mastery, you’ll get access. If you’re not yet a member, click the ad below to find out more. 

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.