Plant-Based Living: 5 Tips From a Clinical Nutritionist to Help Kickstart Your Journey to a Plant-Based Lifestyle by Dr. Vikki Petersen
Plant-based diets are all the rage right now, and for good reason. Like many right now, you may be in the early stages of exploring what exactly a plant-based diet is and what to expect. Or, maybe you have started research into how you can get started right away. Whatever stage you are at, my bet is that you may be a little nervous about getting started.
Is this a long, difficult journey? Is eating plants boring? I’m here to say, absolutely not!
A plant-based diet is a diet that primarily revolves around eating non-animal foods and provides a wide array of nutrients, which many experts believe holds the key to good health. Plant-based diets reduce inflammation, the lynchpin of most degenerative diseases killing Americans. If done correctly, a plant-based diet is satisfying, energizing, mentally balancing and a good way to shed extra pounds. Often, individuals are afraid to begin because they assume they will stop enjoying food and they will feel hungry all the time. In fact, cravings will actually go away on a plant-based diet and, with some effort, food is incredibly satisfying.
Here are my top five tips to help get you started on a plant-based diet:
- Start Slow: Begin your plant-based journey with one day each week that you eschew animal-derived products. Meatless Mondays actually evolved from this idea. Make sure that you eat enough and include healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocados and healthy oils so that you are not left feeling “hangry.” Think a whole day is too much? Start with a single meal and go from there.
- Identify Your Favorite Plant-Based Foods: Be sure to identify some plant-based foods that you already enjoy. Include the fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes you have eaten and found enjoyable. Then, add the animal-based dishes that are your favorites to your list, so that you can begin to research plant-based alternatives. As an example, “tuna pasta” was a family favorite that we now make completely plant-based and everyone agrees it is better than the original!
- Plan Ahead: Plan ahead for your meals and educate yourself on what a meal with adequate protein, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates looks like. If you enjoy cooking, this journey is much easier for you. Find online resources for recipes and ideas for substituting plant-based products into your meals. A patient who was convinced he could “never” enjoy coffee again without cream is now in love with a coconut-based creamer. I can also suggest my website where we have hundreds of plant-based recipes and healthy substitutions for animal products..
- Get Help From Outside Sources: If you dislike cooking you need to find restaurants, grocery stores or food services that will assist you. There are reasonably priced food services that provide step-by-step cooking instructions or, better yet, fully prepared meals for every meal and snack of your day. It is a personalized choice you need to make, but you must prepare your food options to make the transition successful.
- Always Aim for High Quality: When you do eat an animal-based product ensure it is of the highest quality. Organic, free-range, grass-fed meats and dairy, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, etc. Eating only the highest quality animal products will provide higher nutritional value, and they will also be less inflammatory because they have not been fed GMO foods, eaten pesticides or been given antibiotics (hopefully). Eating such cleaner animals will align well with the nutrition you are receiving from your plant-based diet and you will enjoy improved health and vitality.
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