To say the least I’ve learned a lot over the last two years in regards to eating plant-based. In this post I am going to give my top ten tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet. These tips will be in no particular order just some simple advice I can give to the next person. Let’s jump right into it.
We all attend gatherings with our friends and family. Sometimes you might be the only one that eats plant-based. If you’re not sure if there will be healthier options for you. Eat before you get there. You don’t have to eat until you are full and just want to lay down. Eat enough food so that it will hold you over, but still leave some room if you eat some finger foods like from a vegetable tray. That way you’re still eating what you need to, and not seeming rude to those hosting the gathering. Most gatherings will have some type of fruit or vegetable trays as options.
If you know you’re going out to eat, but have not been to the restaurant check the menu before you get there. You can use google to find the restaurant and most restaurants now days have the menu on the website. Vegans and vegetarians are a lot more common now and most places offer at least one plant-based meal if not a few. Most places have a veggie burger as an option. If not, majority of all restaurants offer some type of side dish that contains vegetables. I cannot tell you how many times I have just ordered some side dishes for my meal. Definitely check the place out if it is new to you beforehand. That way you don’t get there and have no idea what to order. This will also help if you find out there is absolutely nothing at all you can eat there and you may need to choose another restaurant.
I cannot say it enough plan your vegetarian or vegan meals ahead of time. This will help you in so many ways! It will take the stress out of deciding what to eat. Plan your breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner. Give yourself one maybe two nights week to eat something other than a meal you’ve prepared ahead of time. Doing this is extremely convenient and can free up a lot of your time. If you plan your breakfast in the mornings you can grab and go. While you’re at work if you have snacks for the day you know you will stay on track with transitioning to plant-based eating. If you need some ideas for meals you can make ahead for the week be sure to check out the recipes on the VeFit website.
Don’t always go for the pasta! Some people assume as long as they are not eating meat that what they are eating is “‘healthy”. This is not necessarily true. If you have pasta everyday for lunch and dinner you’re most likely going to have a little weight gain unless you have the speediest metabolism known to man. Pasta is ok in moderation. When you do eat pasta try to go for a healthier pasta when you prepare it yourself. A great option I love is the wheat and spinach pasta. You can also use zucchini or sweet potato noodles. Once its prepared you really cannot taste a major difference. Same thing goes with rice. Just because white rice is rice doesn’t mean you would want to have it everyday for lunch and dinner. Again it is ok with moderation, but when able try a brown rice, or quinoa. Definitely check out the VeFit recipes for more ideas on how to have variety with your meals. It might also be tempting to go straight for the pasta with no meat at restaurants. That’s fine, but it does not have to be your only option every time you eat out or even at home.
When you do go out to dinner or gatherings at friends or families houses expect questions. Not because people want to interrogate you, but sometimes they really are curious. If you are around a lot of people who don’t eat like you they really may not understand how you eat, why you eat the way you do, why you choose to avoid certain foods, or what you eat. Do expect people to try to talk you into why how you choose to “eat” makes no difference. Unfortunately this will happen. You just have to continue to stay true to yourself, your body, and your beliefs. And when answering some of these questions you might actually inspire others to make some changes within their diet.
Some people assume that going vegetarian or vegan means that you just sit around and eat dry flavorless vegetables all day. Absolutely not the case! I always recommend go for the vegetables you like. If you know that you don’t like carrots don’t go to the store and buy 3 bags of carrots. If you know of certain vegetables you don’t like, but need to consume the nutrients of that vegetable. Blend that fruit or vegetable into a smoothie or juice it.
I’m not a big carrot eater nor raw beet eater, but when I make fresh juice I always include those two vegetables because I know its unlikely I will eat a lot of it during the day otherwise. For some great juicing recipes check out the recipe page.
You don’t have to go vegetarian or vegan over night. You can TRANSITION! You can gradually cut out some foods. For example if you eat pork, you can start by not eating pork and still eating chicken and fish. Then you can gradually cut out the chicken, and only eat fish and sea food. Next you can gradually cut out fish and so forth and before you know it you are eating majority plant-based foods. I have seen that doing it this way helps people to get comfortable with what can be such a major life style change for some and helps them to stick with it. I personally pretty much quit cold turkey, but again you don’t have to do that by any means.
At first you may have some uncomfortable symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, a difference in your bowel movements and more. This is normal and okay. This may happen just because your body is not used to eating differently. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables will help to “clean” your system out. When you learn what specific foods do for you that will help to understand why you may be having some certain symptoms. Now if you have a continuous headache that is only worsening over time or any symptoms are only getting worse staying that way you should probably consult with your doctor.
Learn about the benefits certain fruits and vegetables give your body. When you really understand the benefits of blueberries for example you will be more likely to try to fit blueberries into your daily intake so that you can reap the tremendous benefits they provide for you. I use to eat garlic, but now I devour garlic. I now know of the healing and preventative benefits that garlic provides you. I actually will sometimes sit and eat garlic with a fork and nothing else. Never would I have done that in the past, but I want to make sure I get my garlic in everyday now. Be sure to follow VeFit on social media for great tips and information on the foods you should be eating and why.
I know my last tip you have heard before, but I cannot express how important it really is. Make sure you drink plenty of water! At least a gallon a day. Drinking water is one of the best things you can do for so many reasons. Sometimes you can’t begin to focus more on what you’re eating but you still need to focus on what you’re drinking as well. You should be drinking water, and more water! I’m not going to go into all the juicy details of what water does for you, but do understand this. Water helps to detoxify your body and it aids in digestion. Proper digestion makes minerals and nutrients more accessible to the body. You want to make sure your body is getting those minerals and nutrients of all the good foods you have been eating, right? Drinking water can help you do just that.
Supplements, supplements, supplements! My number one recommendation is to take a multi-vitamin. This just helps to cover any nutrients you may not be getting on a constant basis. Next, I recommend taking a B12 supplement. This ensures you get your B12 because it can be somewhat difficult when eating plant based.
So there you have it. My top 10 tips to help you start eating a plant-based diet. If you have any great tips to add or questions be sure to leave them in the comments below. I always say remember your why and it will help keep you on track. When you have those days where it might seem hard or even impossible to change your eating habits remember the reason why you wanted to make the change int he first place and focus on that.