If you've decided to consider plant-based eating and are wondering how to start, you've come to the right place! Transitioning to a plant-based diet can be difficult at times, because our bodies and brains become accustomed and even addicted to eating more "pleasurable" foods, especially processed foods. In this article, we aim to teach you how to wean yourself off of processed foods, meats, and how to start moving towards a more plant-based diet.
Step 1: Mindset!
This is a process that may be hard for some. If you are ready to commit to a healthy change for both you and the environment, you have to get your mind right first. Be ready to fight any initial resistance you face from your body not wanting change.
One major key to successfully implementing change is understanding your "Why." You must be conscious of the effects of the dietary choices you make, and understand how everything you eat ultimately impacts your health and well-being.
Studies have shown that mood is elevated significantly after 8 servings of fruits and vegetables. Research found that going from eating no fruits and vegetables to at least 8 portions of fruits and vegetables boosted happiness the same as someone going from being unemployed to employed. This is why people who continuously eat healthy say it becomes easier with time. Eventually you will have more energy, be in a better mood, and crave healthy foods because it is what is natural to our bodies. Another study showed that by changing the way you perceive food, you can change your own cravings. For example, participants who were told to view certain craved foods as if the item had just been sneezed on, were able to train their mind to no longer desire the food they initially craved. This goes to show how important your mindset is in changing your diet.
It will usually take time for you to begin noticing big changes in overall mood and cravings because you will be focused on the things you are mentally addicted to. Remember, the first two to three weeks are usually the hardest, so keep pushing everyday!
Step 2: Planning/Meal Prepping
The best way to handle cravings is to have your meals ready. Hunger can be the greatest weakness and easiest influencer to reverting to unhealthy ways.
Step 3: Avoid the Aisles
While at the grocery store, focus on the produce section. When transitioning to a healthy plant-based diet, you will notice that you will do the majority of your shopping buying fresh colorful foods, that are all in the same area. Load up on whole foods (fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts). All of your macronutrients can be found in these whole foods, so you will notice that your cravings will start to diminish once your body is being nourished. Remember, this is a process and will not happen overnight. Be consistent and it will get easier as time goes on.
Step 4: Protein!
When transitioning to plant-based, the biggest initial question we often hear first is "Where will I get my protein if it isn't from meat?" This is a common misconception that protein only comes from meat. Consider that fact that all animals are composed of the things they eat, and humans eat primarily herbivores. This alone goes to show that protein initially comes from the earth. Our DNA is about 99% the same as our closest living relative the Chimpanzee, who is a plant-based animal. Chimps have a diet that consists of only 3% meat and 97% plants, and build muscle naturally. Have you ever heard of someone getting sick after eating too many vegetables? Most likely, the answer is no. In fact, a well balanced plant based diet has even been shown to prevent and cure diseases. I am by no means a nutritionist, but I think it's safe to say that most people would be healthier if they transition to a primarily plant based diet.
Step 5: Learn what works for you
Each person is different and when making a major change in diet you are actually changing your life (for the better!) You will have to really be mindful of your body and mental state and listen to what your body tells you. Certain foods may give you more energy than others or simply taste better. If you are struggling with the change, we recommend tracking your habits and holding yourself accountable. Check out our workout programs which include consultations and meal plan examples and recipes that help transition you to a more plant based lifestyle.