Feel Better When You Eat From The Earth
If I could make a single dietary recommendation to people looking to improve their health, it would be to move to a plant-based diet.
Eating plants has been the best change I’ve made in my diet — plants have made me healthier, stronger, more energetic — and have increased my life expectancy. Of course, the diet is simple, but moving away from the standard Aussie diet to a plant-based one isn’t always so simple for most people.
Changing your diet can be difficult, but in this blog, I’ll share a bit about how to change, talk a bit about why, and what you might eat.
What’s a Plant-Based Diet?
The simple answer, of course, is that you eat plants. You eliminate animals and (eventually) animal products like dairy and eggs.
The less simple answer is there is an abundance of plant foods that most people never eat, and eating a plant-based diet means you might widen the variety of foods you eat. For example, some of my favourite foods include: Buckwheat as a porridge in the morning, or in place of rice in a salad or savoury dish, Quinoa, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and basically any vegetable I come across.
Why Should You Change?
Changing to a plant based diet will help you lose weight and reduce your BMI, improve your heart health, stay healthier as you age, improve blood pressure, reverse diabetes, or any other health related issue.
How to Change
I recommend that if you want to make the change, start small and change slowly. A good plan is to make the change in stages:
Slowly cut out meat. You might try starting with ‘Meatless Mondays’ and then, over time, expanding to other days of the week. Another common idea is to start by cutting out red meat, and then poultry, then seafood, in gradual stages over a few months. There is no rush — do it at the pace that feels right for you. Another important point is that, as you eliminate meat replace with starches and legumes, they will give you all the nutrition you need. Try new foods and explore different products as you make these changes.
Eliminate eggs. After you cut out red meat and poultry, you’ll be pescatarian (seafood). When you eliminate seafood, you’re vegetarian! If you’re eating eggs and dairy, that’s called a “lacto-ovo” vegetarian. You can then eliminate eggs.
Cut out dairy. This tends to be harder for most people. Not because of milk but because of cheese. I hear a lot of people say, “I can’t give up my cheese!” — and I empathise, as this was a sticking point for me too. Try focusing on the things you can eat, rather than the things you can’t.
What to Eat
So, what do you eat when you’re on a plant-based diet that focuses on whole foods? Lots!
A few categories of foods to include regularly:
Beans and other protein. This means the regular kinds of beans, like lentils, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, etc. But it can also mean soybeans, tofu and tempeh.
Nuts and seeds. My favourites include raw almonds and walnuts, along with ground flaxseeds and chia seeds, and hemp seed protein powder. Almond milk is also good. And quinoa — it’s like a grain, but really a seed, and full of nutrition.
Good fats. Not all fats aren’t bad for you — you should just avoid processed fats and oils. Plants with high amounts of good fats include avocados, nuts and seeds. However, all plant foods contain some sort of fat in them even lettuce and celery. Minute amounts but even so, they do contain some. So you will be getting all the fats you need.
Greens. This is one of the most important and nutritious group of all. Dark, leafy green veggies are awesome, and full of calcium, iron and a ton of vitamins. They also have very few calories, meaning they pack a ton of nutrition in a small caloric package.
Other fruits and veggies. Get a variety — I love berries of all kinds, figs, apples, citrus fruits, peaches, mangoes, bananas, pears, bell peppers, garlic, beets, celery, cauliflower … I could go on all day! Make sure your plate looks like a rainbow, with many different colours.
Good starches. Starches are king, in a plant based regime. They offer loads of good nutrients and fill you up. Sweet potatoes, white and red potatoes, squash, brown rice, sprouted whole wheat, steel-cut oats, among others.
OK, so… are you feeling overwhelmed by all of this? How do you put it together? It’s not that hard once you get used to it. If you’d like help to get started, contact me today.