Have you been considering trying out a plant-based diet but have no idea how to start or what to eat? If confusion is stopping you then keep reading to find out some useful tips on how you can make a transition to plant-based eating a little bit easier.
Find Plant Based Snacks
I think a life without some kind of snack food is a life that isn’t any fun to live. Let’s be real here. We all love snacking on something quick and crunchy sometimes but most of what’s available for snack foods is terribly unhealthy.
The good news is there are some options for you that are going to give you the nutrition you need without a bunch of added chemicals and garbage in your food that doesn’t serve your body or your health any positive benefit. A good example for healthy chips are the ones that are made from seaweeds and flax seeds.
Try new vegetables
Do you currently only like a few vegetables and have no idea how you are going to incorporate more of them into your diet? If you normally don’t eat a lot of vegetables, it may seem like you really don’t have many choices as far as variety. But a trip to your local health food grocery store will show you that the possibilities are endless when it comes to choices and colors of vegetables.
With the right mindset and the willingness to try new things, you will be able to find endless ways to prepare these new vegetables so that you never get bored. What started with me as a hatred for all things, eggplant has turned into a weekly dinner of eggplant parmesan that I really love, and it is really simple to make.
Recipe for eggplant parmasean with quinoa pasta
1 jar pasta sauce (no, or little sugar added)
1 cup quinoa pasta
Cut up eggplant how you like it. If you love the texture thicker pieces are perfect, and if you are not such a fan of the texture smaller chunks are perfect. Add eggplant and sauce into oven safe container and bake at 400F for about 45 minutes, or until eggplant is cooked to your desire.
10 minutes before eggplant is finished cooking, prepare quinoa pasta according to directions on the container. Quinoa pasta does not need to cook long, so make sure you test to make sure it is not becoming squishy.
When pasta and eggplant are finished, serve with nutritional yeast on top or real cheese if you like.
Find a sweet treat
The human brain is wired to love sweet foods, and for good reasons. A sweet tasting treat that is also healthy for you can really keep you motivated to continue eating in a more healthful manner for sure. This idea that all sweet things have to be avoided simply is not true as long as those sweets are still kept to a minimum.
Early on in my transformation to a plant-based eater, I found a “shake” at a local juice bar. A simple almond milkshake one day has turned into a sweet treat that I now have about 25 days a month or more. The best part about this shake is that it is very easy to make and it is delicious. While there is some sugar in the shake (from fruit) I still consider it a much better alternative to any other dessert food that I have ever seen in any store.
Get back to foods you have been avoiding
In an effort to lose weight and gain health, many people assume that high-fat foods are not allowed. I don’t know about you but I don’t want to live in a world where this is true! But once you look at the food you eat as a way to feed your trillions of cells and not as a way to measure fat grams, you will see there are a lot more foods you can safely eat.
Foods like avocados, raw cashews and almonds and all natural peanut butter are great foods that you may have been avoiding, and it is not necessary. The trick is to make sure you are getting products that are natural and void of added chemicals that are not going to feed your body on a cellular level.
When looking for foods like peanut butter you want to make sure you read the label. A jar of peanut butter or any nut butter (almond butter, cashew butter etc.) should list the ingredients as nuts, salt and nothing else. Most of the brands that are available today have a lot of added sugar and fillers that really do not serve your body any purpose, so they are best avoided.
The other great thing about these foods is that they are very filling. Many people stay away from these fatty foods because there is this idea that eating these types of foods will lead to weight gain. What many people do not realize is that eating a whole avocado is really filling because of those healthy fats in them, which makes overeating much more difficult.
Watch the sugar (read every label)
Sugar is everywhere. It is in the peanut butter and the ketchup and the fat free yogurt. Too much sugar in your diet is believed to cause inflammation, which can then lead to some of the most serious diseases affecting our society today.
When reading your food labels, it is important to look at the ingredient list and the amount of sugar in grams on the label. If you are simply looking for the word “sugar” you may not always see it. At this time, there are at least 56 names for the sugar that is added to your food and as far as your pancreas is concerned, are all the same.
When making any type of lifestyle change that you plan to keep for the long term, it is important to always find more information so that you can make the best decisions. Someone is simply telling you to eat this and avoid that may work on a short-term basis, but I think the most effective change will come from self-education.
One really easy and entertaining way to do this is to watch some of the many films that are available online that can help give you a wider foundation for your plant based eating. If you have access to Netflix or a similar streaming service, you should be able to find quite a few films that explore the topics of plant-based eating, nutrition and health.
To get you started, I have a short list of a few of my favorites below. These films are documentary style and in addition to being filled with useful information, they are also quite entertaining, which really makes learning a lot easier I found.
Have a health goal, not a weight goal
Many people begin a healthier lifestyle regimen with a goal to lose a certain amount of weight or to be able to fit into a wedding dress or swimsuit for their summer vacation. While these reasons are great and motivating, but you may want to aim for a goal that will deliver a bit more.
Weight loss does not mean better health necessarily by itself, so it is important to look for other goals you may want to reach. When I started eating a plant based diet I had a triglyceride level of over 500 in addition to being 70 pounds overweight. After losing the weight and continuing to eat more plant based foods, I managed to lower my triglycerides to 154 which was a huge health improvement.
Starting a plant based diet does not have to be scary, confusing or difficult. As with anything in life that is beneficial, it will require some changes to the way you may be used to, but the payoff can be better than anything else you may have previously tried. Whether your goal is to lose weight, eat fewer animal products or gain better overall health, a plant-based diet may be just what you have been looking for.
Wally Brown is the founder of The Weight Loss Lie. He found that better health doesn’t need to be difficult or confusing. Where he helps people understand plant-based nutrition, while providing simple ways to eat healthier without frustration and supporting sustainable health and lifestyle goals for optimal results.