This applies to individuals of all ages, including young families.
Have you been wanting to lead a healthier lifestyle, but don't know where to start? Why not start by transitioning to a plant based diet? This is where my passions are: helping you transition into a plant-based, non-toxic lifestyle. As easy as it is to eat plant-based, it can be intimidating and overwhelming at first, especially when allowing misinformation about nutrition to scare you;
"Will I be getting enough protein? ... But I need meat/dairy/eggs for nutrition! Fruit has a lot of sugar!"
Don't let these fears hinder you. Rest assured, a plant-based diet that is rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, herbs/spices, and legumes will meet all of your macronutrient needs; protein, fat, and carbs!
Point being, if you don't know where to start, here are some of my suggestions for transitioning from Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) to a plant-based diet:
Do not fear it, eat it! Incorporate fruit into your daily diet. It's important we "break-the-fast" with hydration, which makes fruit the best breakfast food! If fruit alone for breakfast does not suite you, try incorporating fruit into your breakfast, such as warm rolled oats, with fresh berries and bananas. Or choose fruits as your snacks between meals-apples, bananas, grapes, etc...! However, for optimal digestion, try to only eat fruit WITH fruit.
They're a great way to get fruits, veggies, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids ("protein")! Bananas are a great base for smoothies, but you can literally add anything you want. A tasty, simple smoothie to start with is bananas, frozen mixed berries, & spinach. The spinach (or any green of your choice) is great, especially if you're sensitive to fruits in the beginning of your dietary changes. The greens will help you digest. I don't consume protein powders anymore, personally, but they are a great transitional item for you to utilize. Just try to find trusted, vegan, organic brands like Sun Warrior Tribe, Garden of Life, Vega, etc... 👍🏻 Smoothies are quick, and GREAT breakfast and /or lunch options, and especially fun for kids! (PSST... Mom's, you can hide a bunch of greens in a smoothie for kids. They'll never know by the taste, as long as you add fruits like frozen berries, bananas, or even nut butters!) They also aid in digestion since all the fiber and nutrients are still there, but are already broken down, making it easier for us to digest.
SET ATTAINABLE GOALS:
If you want to go vegan overnight, great! However, changing overnight is not for everyone. Set attainable goals by trying to cut out one animal product at a time, once a week, until eventually eating all plant-based foods! For instance, week 1 = NO milk! Replace milk with tasty alternatives such as coconut, almond, cashew, or hemp milk. Make sure to read labels to see if milk is in the ingredients list. (Warning: milk and eggs are in A LOT of food products. Beware)!
START SLOW (OR FAST):
Start with what you feel comfortable - if you feel anxious about cutting cheese and eggs out of your life, then try cutting out everything else until you feel you can slowly eliminate cheese & eggs.
Minimize your animal product consumption throughout your day. Perhaps eliminate milk from morning coffee, opt to not have bacon with your eggs, make sure there's more vegetables on your dinner plate than meat, order a pizza with no cheese, don't add chicken to your lunch salad. Make sure the majority of your meals are plant-based. All these steps count!
Check your local supermarket for vegan "animal" product alternatives! Whole Foods, and Target have a great selection. There are so many vegan products now that it makes transitioning to plant-based diet so much easier. Eating vegan meats daily, long-term, is not ideal, but it's great for transitioning into a healthier lifestyle, replacing meals that involve meats/eggs/dairy, or for fun weekly dinners! Remember, it's a process.
ELIMINATE FAST FOOD CHAINS:
Needless to say, eliminate fast foods! Most fast food chains are not only filled with chemicals and hydrogenated fats/oils, but they actually contact animal products. (And also contribute to the harsh and inhumane conditions of factory farming/animal abuse). Even McDonalds fries are fried in a meat-based oil, along with whatever other list of chemicals they bathe them in. This may be difficult for busy workers, or families in the beginning. Trust me, when I was in Ultrasound school, I ate McDonalds nightly after my clinical. yuck. If this option is too difficult, try to at least start with grocery shopping, meaning focus on what you bring INTO your home so you have healthy options to start your day / come home to.
EAT WHAT YOU LIKE:
Buy foods you know you'll enjoy. If you hate kale, don't eat it! Go for another green. Apples are gross? Pick a different fruit! The more we incorporate healthier foods into our daily routine, the more our tastebuds will acquire a taste for those healthier foods. Don't be discouraged at first if you're not head over heels for a meal. I remember I despised eating salads (ha!) yet now, I literally cannot wait to eat my salad every evening. When you fill your body with nutrients, you will crave nutrients. Trust me.
The beauty of eating plant-based foods is the quality of what you're eating overrides the quantity. You're not consuming all the fats, proteins, oils, cholesterol, and litany of other things that are in animal based products. Eat the amount your heart desires.
Click here for a list of delicious, animal product alternatives. You can also click the animal product alternatives section under the RESOURCES tab.
The point of this is to feel alive, not deprived. These options are only the few of many, and I tried to make them as realistic as possible for you. Make this fun for you, not stressful. If you have a family, make an activity out of it. Consume foods affordable to your house hold. Following the Daily Dozen and Clean Fifteen can help with budgeting. The point is not to take away. Getting kids involved can help; take them to the store (or online shopping) and find healthy snack alternatives. For every unhealthy snack out there, there is typically a vegan, organic, and/or non-GMO version. "Natural" in the advertising doesn't always mean natural, so make sure to READ LABELS. Remember, buy foods you enjoy.
A portion of our worries, I believe, stem from the thought of not getting "complete" proteins without consuming animal products. However, combining incomplete proteins (plant foods) creates a complete protein. Therefore, if your diet is rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, you're getting all the protein (more importantly, the essential amino acids) your body requires. Fill your day with more plant-based foods, add in more smoothies, and greens and beans, and the less your body will "need" the animal proteins - physically and mentally. Ideally, eliminating animal products all together is the goal here, but by just consuming MORE plant foods while eliminating animal products, the transition will be easier!
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