Get Vegucated ! 7 Ways to a Successful Plant-based Diet

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A vegetarian diet is not limiting. Reducing or eliminating animal products means opening up an exciting world of variety in vegetables and grains, beans and pulses, nuts, seeds and fruits that can now take center stage on your plate. Becoming a vegetarian can support your health, meet nutritional needs, and achieve lifestyle goals including: weight loss, reduced blood cholesterol, increase energy levels, boost fertility, improve skin quality, and contribute to a glowing pregnancy.

There are many types of vegetarian diets and the only way to know what really works for you is to try it out! Most people would benefit tremendously from adjusting to a more plant-based diet of whole foods. Being vegetarian is about celebrating the abundant vibrant foods that nature offers us, embracing them for their vitamins and phytochemicals that contribute to our well-being.

 5 Vegetarian Types:

Raw Vegan– a person who eats only plant based foods that haven’t been cooked or heated over 118 degrees.

Vegan– a vegetarian that eats only plant based foods and does not consume any animal products

Lacto vegetarian– a vegetarian that consumes milk or milk products, but not eggs

Lacto-ovo vegetarian– a vegetarian that consumes milk, milk products, eggs,

Flexitarian– a person who consumes a mostly plant based diet with occasional amounts of meat, poultry, fish

7 Steps to a Successful Vegetarian Diet

Make a Commitment- Just say “I commit to eating a plant-based diet to support the well-being of my body and soul”. Making any drastic shifts in our lives requires a lot of support and a huge commitment to stay on track. It helps to set an intention or a goal, for instance “I will decrease my intake of meat to once a week” in an effort to reduce cholesterol” or I will reduce my dairy intake to boost my fertility.”

Self Experiment- Try things out for yourself. If you are experimenting, try all the vegetarian types on for size. See what happens if you consume more greens, or eat more fruit. Only you will know what works. How do you measure what works or doesn’t? Based it on how you feel after eating. Ask yourself are you energized or are you feeling sluggish? Take notes and keep a food diary during your transition process.

Practice Meat-less Mondays- Meatless Mondays is an international initiative from John Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health that encourages people to cut down their consumption of meats and saturated fat to improve their health and the health of the planet. Consuming plant-based proteins will maintain lean muscle and provide you with adequate energy.

Eat Your Greens- Our ancient ancestors could eat up to 6 pounds of leaves per day! They would forage and gather leaves and eat them while on the go. Can you imagine eating a grocery bag full of greens daily? Few of us even eat the minimum USDA requirement of 3 cups of leafy greens per week. Dark green leafy vegetables are, calorie for calorie, the most concentrated source of nutrition of any food. They are a rich source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium) and vitamins, including vitamins K, C, E, and many of the B vitamins. They also provide a variety of phytonutrients including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, which protect our cells from damage. Dark green leaves even contain small amounts of Omega 3 fats. They help to regulate blood sugar and break down fats, and cleanse the blood. Start packing in the greens at every meal, eat more salad and even cooked greens like kale, collards, chard, and mustards.

Cut Dairy- Lots of people avoid dairy because of lactose intolerance, the saturated fat, cholesterol, and the hormones in the milk. Dairy consumption is also linked to type 1 Diabetes. A frequent question most vegetarians are asked is: where do you get your calcium? Milk only contains traces of calcium if cows are grass-fed. Nowadays cows are pent up in factory farms with no space to graze on grass and they are fed grain instead. Milk is a product that is designed for the consumption of a baby calf, so that it grow from about 65 pounds at birth to about 500 lbs within a year’s time. Breast milk is the optimal form of nutrition for a newborn human baby. Once you have been weaned from the breast, you should not be drinking cow’s milk. Calcium loss is prevented through a healthy diet and lifestyle- exercising to build bone density, getting adequate sunlight to absorb vitamin D, eating fruits and veggies, decreasing caffeine intake, decreasing sodium intake. Get your calcium form green leafy veggies.

Eat Ancestral foods- When eating a vegetarian diet, and any health supportive diet for that matter, it is important to incorporate foods that our ancestors ate. Ancient grains like quinoa, kamut, millet, brown rice etc. Greens, fruits, nuts, beans, seeds, high quality oils, these have all been around for a very long time. Explore flavors from your cultural background and connect with healthy foods that your ancestors ate.

Read everything- Labels, literature, recipes, everything. Learn all you can about what’s happening with our food from the issues of factory farming, to genetically modified foods, from food access, to local foodstuffs. Read and make your own informed choices about what to eat and where to source your food from.

Are you ready to adjust your diet? What changes will you make? How vegucated are you?

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