CookingLight diet CookingLight diet

It's easier and quicker than you might think. Our high-fiber, plant-based meal plan, will give your gut bacteria a boost, and it's affordable, too at around just $52 per person.

Ann Taylor Pittman
May 03, 2018

A few years ago, a study published in the journal Nature found that eating a high-fiber, plants-only diet positively shifted people’s microbiome makeup in just 24 hours, compared with eating a meat- and cheese-heavy diet—suggesting the former might be a better way of eating for gut health. (Conversely, the animal-based diet rapidly shifted the microbiome in a way that implies it could trigger inflammatory bowel disease.)

Interestingly, one group of gut bacteria—the genus Prevotella—that represents microbiome diversity (which you want) did not change on the short-term plants-only diet, suggesting that to see the full benefits, you will need to make a commitment to a high-fiber diet for the long haul.

But to help you quickly reboot your gut flora, we offer this easy-to-follow three-day plan. It’s an all-plants (aka vegan) diet based on whole foods, zero added sugars, and lots of fiber to feed the good bugs in your belly. Each day provides around 47g of fiber. That’s 88% more fiber than the current daily recommendation for women, so if your usual diet is lacking in fiber, you might want to start slow here to prevent—ahem—ill side effects.

RELATED: This New Probiotic Food Might Surprise You

We give you a shopping list and some get-ahead recipes to make the plan easier to stick with. It’s affordable (about $52 for one person), and servings are generous—so you’ll stay satisfied over the three days. Use the plan to jump-start your commitment to better gut health or as a guide to long-term changes. Either way, your gut will thank you.

Don't let these foods destroy your gut.

Plan Ahead

We kept our meal plan fast, easy, and affordable. Here's what you need to get your gut in gear—all for $52.15. (Cost includes three days of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two daily snacks for one person.) Download our 3-Day Gut Health Makeover Shopping List.

Make Ahead

You’ll use these two recipes over the course of the one-person meal plan. Each one makes several portions that are spread out over three days.

Make Ahead: Smoky Roasted Chickpeas

Jennifer Causey

These crunchy chickpeas will serve you well over the three-day meal plan as both a snack and a crunchy, protein- and fiber-rich topping for salads. For the crunchiest texture, cook them until they’re just shy of burning. They’ll stay crisp in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Make Ahead: Simply Seasoned Bulgur

Jennifer Causey

Make a batch of whole grains ahead of time to enjoy in various forms throughout the three days—as part of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For a gluten-free option, you can use the same amounts and cook times to make a batch of quinoa. Per serving, the quinoa version will contain 124 calories, 4g fat, 4g protein, and 2g fiber.

Day 1 Menu

Breakfast: Strawberry Bulgur Bowl

Jennifer Causey

While you might not think of turning bulgur into porridge, it’s a delicious whole-grain breakfast with a texture similar to instant oatmeal. Mashed dates naturally sweeten and enrich almond milk for a creamy, satisfying, no-added-sugar bowl. You can make the porridge ahead of time and simply reheat before serving; then add the berries and nuts.

A.M. Snack

5 oz. frozen edamame pods, steamed and tossed with 1/8 tsp. kosher salt (155 calories, 7g fiber)

Lunch: Tabbouleh with Avocado

Jennifer Causey

Crunchy, lemony, fresh, and filling—this hearty tabbouleh makes a fine lunch. If you’re packing it up to go, store the chickpeas separately so they’ll keep their crunch. Save the other avocado half; you’ll use it in the next day’s lunch. Keep the pit in the avocado half, and wrap it tightly with plastic wrap to limit browning.

RELATED: How to Shop the Grocery Store for Gut Health

P.M. Snack

3 dates and 12 unsalted roasted almonds (152 calories, 4g fiber)

Dinner: Pasta with Green Peas and Almond Gremolata

Jennifer Causey

We chose chickpea pasta here for its mild flavor and higher fiber content (when compared with whole-wheat pasta). The gremolata topping truly makes the dish; it’s herby, crunchy, fragrant, and citrusy. Serve the pasta immediately for the best texture and taste.

TOTAL CALORIES: 1,583
TOTAL FIBER: 48g

Day 2 Menu

Breakfast: Raspberry-Date Smoothie

Jennifer Causey

You’ll often find silken tofu in shelf-stable packages on the Asian foods aisle. We call for Mori-Nu brand because one package will provide exactly what you need for this three-day meal plan. The squeeze pack of almond butter is convenient and contains only what you need for this recipe. But if you have almond butter in your fridge or pantry, just use 2 tablespoons.

A.M. Snack

1/2 cup Smoky Roasted Chickpeas (229 calories, 6g fiber)

Lunch: Green Pea Fritters with Avocado Puree

Jennifer Causey

P.M. Snack

1 medium apple (95 calories, 4g fiber)

Dinner: Summery Lentil Soup

Jennifer Causey

This veggie-packed soup serves double duty: Eat for dinner tonight, and save the rest for breakfast the next day. For a little heat, add a pinch of crushed red pepper.

TOTAL CALORIES: 1,597
TOTAL FIBER: 46g

Day 3 Menu

Breakfast: Veggie Bowl with Tofu Scramble

Jennifer Causey

Last night’s soup powers this morning’s breakfast; just cook off most of the liquid to give the soup a porridge-like texture. The seasoned, sautéed tofu is pretty much a dead ringer for scrambled eggs, especially if you opt to add golden turmeric.

A.M. Snack

1 medium apple (95 calories, 4g fiber)

Lunch: Kale Salad with Spiced Chickpeas and Berries

Jennifer Causey

To make this salad ahead of time, pour the dressing into the bottom of a portable container, and arrange the kale and the toppings (except for the chickpeas) on top without mixing. When you’re ready to eat, stir together the salad components to coat with dressing. Bring chickpeas in a separate container so they’ll stay crunchy, and toss them in at the last minute.

P.M. Snack

1 cup strawberries and 12 unsalted roasted almonds (138 calories, 5g fiber)

Dinner: Edamame, Okra, and Green Pea Korma

Jennifer Causey

If you have Madras curry powder, use it for slightly more heat and richer flavor; standard curry powder will also be great.

TOTAL CALORIES: 1,585
TOTAL FIBER: 46g