So you want to start eating healthier. That’s great! Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet will have so many great impacts on your life. Starting with a decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancers.
Eating a plant-based diet is also a great start if you want to lose weight, become more energized, and help the environment. But what exactly is a plant-based diet and where do you begin? Well, let me answer your questions!
What is a plant-based diet?
A plant based diet is, well, a diet based mostly on fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. But don’t get it confused with other diets like vegetarian and vegan. With a plant based diet, you can still eat animal products such as fish, meat, dairy, eggs, but the meat from the animal is considered more of a condiment than the main meal.
Another thing that stands out about a whole foods, plant based diet is the “diet” part. Even though it is considered a diet, it’s actually a lifestyle choice. You create your own menu and there’s enough freedom to still eat meat and sweets. You aren’t restricted with this “diet” like you are with others.
What can you eat on a plant-based diet?
Whole foods: anything that is minimally processed or not processed at all such as foods without labels and foods with very little ingredients on their nutrition labels. These are considered foods that are unrefined and found in its whole form or modified
Plant based: plant based food are any foods that are not processed and are naturally found in the environment such as vegetables, herbs, fruits, legumes, and some whole grains.
Organic animal foods: buying organic, lean meats and animal products is the best way to go. The saying “you are what you eat” isn’t exaggerating here. Eating an animal product, even dairy, you risk ingesting all the antibiotics and hormones that are injected in the animals, instead, opt for grass-fed, organic animal products. They are a little more expensive, but way better for your health!
How do I start eating plant based?
1. Start with making most of your plate full of vegetables
By making majority of your plate vegetables, you’ll be getting vitamins, nutrients, carbs, proteins, and so much more, so no need for those multivitamins! I also love the fact that you don’t have to worry about counting calories or macros when eating plant based. Since there’s very little calories in plant foods, you can eat as much as you want and not have to worry about going over a suggested amount, however, whole plant foods especially those high in protein and fibre do fill you up faster and make you feel satiated so you won’t need to eat as much!
2. Make most of your meals based around plants
Aim for 90% plant based foods and 10% meat during the week for your meals. Eating mostly plants for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks will aid in weight loss, and keep you full and satisfied so you don’t have to deal with cravings or hunger a couple hours after eating.
3. Season with fresh or dried herbs (but avoid seasonings with salt)
Herbs are the absolute best way to season any food, there is a flavor for everyone! My favorite herbs are mint, cilantro, parsley, and basil, but there’s so many more. Try seasoning a lean chicken breast with thyme and lavender, or add chives to your next Asian dish. There’s a massive selection of herbs you can try, so start experimenting!
4. Make it a gradual change
Making an immediate change and starting a plant-based diet will cause a few digestive problems so I would start slow, especially with foods high in fiber. Try to start with one meal full of plants for the first week, then transition to two meals the next, and all three meals the week after that. Starting slow will avoid bloating and gas, which no one wants (especially not at work).
5. Experiment with new foods
Experiment with new foods and recipes to figure out what works for you and what you like, then you can make more recipes based off the foods you enjoy and know how to cook. Have fun with it, but try to buy foods in season to keep the costs low!
How do you know if a whole foods diet is right for you?
You never know until your try! But in all honesty, this diet suits anyone because you can make it your own, and that’s the best type of diet. Although this is considered a “plant-based diet” it’s not actually a diet, it is a lifestyle choice that you put your own spin on. So give it a try, and let us know how it goes!
This article was written by Amy Arno, a certified holistic nutritionist, and owner of the blog A Dog and a Life. She is specialized in helping men and women get on a path to eating healthy, losing weight, and living a life they love. Check out her website for more tips on how to start living a healthier life at adogandalife.com or on Instagram @adogandalife