People ask me how my health is thriving on a plant-based diet for ten years.
So I want to share some of my top Plant Based Tips. These tips are for you whether you are;
- An omnivore (eating meat and plants) wanting to include more plant-based meals.
- Transitioning to a plant-based diet.
- Already vegan or vegetarian and want to ensure you are eating all the correct nutrients.
What is a Whole Food Plant-Based diet?
A whole food plant-based diet is based on a majority of whole plant foods- whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits. This diet is generally done for health reasons, which is why processed food isn't included in this way of eating.
Vegan vs Whole food plant-based?
Don’t presume that they are the same thing, as they are not!
Veganism is the practice of minimizing harm to all animals by abstaining from animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey, gelatin, lanolin, wool, fur, silk, suede, and leather.
A whole food plant-based diet is about the food.
What are the dietary differences?
A vegan diet can technically be a diet of Oreo cookies, chips and processed fried foods (although a lot don't!), whereas people who eat a whole food plant-based choose not to eat these.
Vegan diets aren’t specifically for eating healthy plant based meals, which means there are unhealthy vegans and vegetarians, similarly as there are very unhealthy omnivores.
So if you are a vegan, I urge you to follow a whole food vegan diet.
So now, lets get to these tips...
Six Tips for Eating a More Plant-Based Diet
1. Find your motivation- ask yourself why?
Why are you adopting a healthier lifestyle? What goals do you plan on achieving? Reminding yourself of this will help you stay on track. Educating yourself on the benefits of making the switch will help motivate you as well.
For me, my main goal 10 years ago was to improve my digestive system, reduce inflammation and heal chronic health issues. Once I found my initial ‘why’, it helped keep me motivated and stay on track.
2. Find your own pace.
Some people can wake up and make drastic lifestyle or dietary changes, but for others it can take a few weeks or months to make changes. These changes should NOT be fueled by guilt, shame or extensive pressure.
It is better to make small consistent changes that are manageable and enjoyable! Consistency is key and perfection isn’t the goal – progress is. Progress means you’re being aware and making whole food choices as much as you can. So find a pace that suits you as this is your journey.
For me, when I initially started eating more plant-based foods, I was a typical teenager at 17 and didn’t like vegetables, nuts or most fruit. I had also never tried beans or lentils.
My dietary changes started with education. At the beginning, I had to learn how to cook plant-based meals and then change my taste buds to actually enjoy the taste of wholefoods! It was a gradual process. Learning to cook healthily took practice, but I improved!
If you are at the very beginning of making changes;
- Try some meat-free meals each week, include alternatives such as eggs, lentils, beans and tofu.
- Replace some of the meat with legumes, for example only add half the amount of beef and top up with chickpeas.
- Eat a variety of colours of fresh vegetables and fruits and buy fresh produce in season. Canned and frozen vegetables are nutritious too, choose options low in salt and sugar.
3. Remember your Macronutrients
A balanced diet includes enough of each macronutrient- carbohydrates, protein and fat. It is important to eat enough of each to fuel yourself and keep satiated.
For me, my dinner plate normally consists of : 2 portions (handfuls) of vegetables, 1 portion of root vegetables/grains, 1 portion of protein and 1 teaspoon of fat.
Some people believe that eating a plant-based diet is about eating a giant salad with 10 different vegetables, but it is not. Balanced meals are important that will keep you full for 4 hours and help you reach your macro and micro nutrients.
Here are some of the benefits of each macronutrient;
- Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are great for energy, promoting good bowel health and reducing the risk of constipation. Not eating enough means that you’re likely to feel lethargic as you’re not operating on the most readily available (glycolytic) pathway.
- Protein: Protein is great for preserving muscle, building and repairing tissue, boosting metabolism and feeling satiated after a meal. Remember hair and nails are mostly made of protein!
- Fat: Fat is a great energy reserve, keeps joints supple and balances hormones. Remember the human brain is nearly 60 percent fat! Certain fats provide the essential Omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3s are very important to help mood, memory and many brain health issues. It is also important to protect your brain as you age as numerous studies support that seniors with higher levels of omega-3s, specifically DHA, have a significantly lower risk of developing dementia or Alzheimer’s.
If you are concerned about your macro or micro nutrients, please contact me to book in for a Nutrition consultation as full nutrient analysis is available.
4. Stock up on Wholefoods.
‘By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’ - Benjamin Franklin
This is a quote I repeat to many of my clients; whether they are trying to lose weight, gain muscle, heal their digestive issues, or really make any dietary changes.
What you keep in your kitchen, is what you will most likely end up eating. It is much easier to decide to whip up a healthy meal when the ingredients are already stocked up.
My top 10 cupboard essentials are;
- Red Lentils
- Peanut butter
- Coconut oil
- Green lentils
- Red kidney beans
- Black beans.
Flavours matter! Whipping up a healthier meal is easy when you know it’s still going to be full of flavour.
Here are my top 3 cupboard essentials for flavour:
- Bragg Liquid Aminos (natural soy sauce alternative.)
- Nutritional Yeast
- Apple cider vinegar
Herbs and spices are delicious with powerful health benefits.
Here are my top 10 herbs and spices:
- Pink Salt (Himalayan salt)
- Black Pepper
- Curry powder
- Turmeric powder
- Cayenne pepper
- Cumin powder/seeds
- Mixed herbs powder
- Ginger Powder
5. Stock up regularly on fresh fruit and vegetables
Staying organised and buying fresh fruit and vegetables regularly is key. As said, what you keep in your kitchen, is what you will most likely end up eating.
For me, this works great because I hate seeing fruit and vegetables go to waste. I’ve often felt like not cooking but chose to make a quick soup because I didn’t want them to spoil. It works great because I always enjoy that warm bowl of soup afterwards!
Remember to stock up on berries such as raspberries and blueberries as they are full of phytonutrients and antioxidants. However, they can sometimes spoil quickly so I often freeze some berries and add a handful at the end of cooking my porridge.
6. Meal prep is key.
Batch cooking meals is great if time is limited. This is something I do when my schedule is really busy and I don't have the time to cook each meal.
Here are some ideas for batch cooking meals;
- Prepare overnight oats with the berries already chopped and add 1 tsp flax seed. I normally prepare 2-3 days and keep it refrigerated.
- Steam a large portion of vegetables and some starchy vegetables and divide them into meal sized containers with a source of protein.
- Prepare a big batch of a curry dish like dhal (made from red lentils, which is a great source of plant-based protein) and divide it into meal sized containers. Download my free recipe below.
- Large pot of soup and freezing portion sized meals.
We can’t always prepare meals from scratch, but at least some of the above can be frozen into meal size containers for when you need them!
Download Free Dhal Curry Recipe!
Dhal is one of my favourite batch meals to make and you can download the recipe here:
I hope you enjoyed some of the tips that helped me on my plant-based journey!
Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to book a nutrition consultation.
Is there any other topics you would like me to cover? If so, please put your questions below!