Transitioning to Plant-Based | Here's what you need to know.
With the increasing awareness surrounding the negative impacts of excessive consumption of animal products, such as the increased risk of chronic diseases & environmental impacts of agriculture, people are consuming animal products far more consciously than ever before. Yay! Much like everything in life there are pro's & con's to swinging towards a plant-based lifestyle. Yes the positives are far more powerful than the negatives, however there are just a few factors to consider to ensure you get the very best out of it & continue thriving for many years. Your health is super important, after all, that's likely the main reason you're going plant-based in the first place right?
I simply want to help you do it the right way. You really can do anything well, you just need to be prepared & understand how to make the most of it. Here are the main mistakes people make & my tips to help you get the most out of your new amazing lifestyle.
Note: by plant-based I'm not exclusively talking about veganism, plant-based is more about eating predominantly plant food (in my opinion) with some animal products if you wish or need, its about eating more foods from the earth rather than things that live on it. Its a diet about abundance, colour, seasonal produce & variety.
1. Not eating enough!
This is probably the most common. Once animal products, which tend to be fairly energy & nutrient dense, especially in the name of protein, iron, zinc & vitamin B12, are minimised in the diet we need to ensure they are sufficiently replaced. In order to consume an adequate amount consistently, much more plant food needs to be added in to compensate. One of the fantastic benefits about adding more plant based foods into the diet is the increase in dietary fibre, which has a number of excellent benefits, as we know fibre is essential for the digestive tract & growth of good bacteria in the gut (learn more about fibre here). We now know that a healthy gut microbiomes has influence over not just our digestive health but the production & metabolism of hormones, synthesis of neurotransmitters (mood, sleep, arousal, appetite), immune function, metabolism & weight management, as well as production of essential nutrients. Just to name a few.
Add vegetables & add them in the abundance, the sky is the limit. Seriously!
2. Not knowing your base line from the beginning
Whenever you are looking at changing &/or minimising certain food groups from your diet it really important you know your nutrient status before you begin. This helps you pin point any potential weak spots & highlight a nutrient(s) you may really need to be mindful of.....iron & b12 i'm looking at you. Quite often people feel rather fabulous & 'lighter', if you will, for the first year or so after going plant based but it's after about this point things can go a little weird. They begin to plateau & symptoms such as fatigue, lethargy & becoming sick frequently, start to appear generally as a result of nutrient stores being depleted slowly overtime. Imagine if you began this journey almost nutrient deficient, you won't feel rather fabulous for very long I'm affriad. Who wants a speed bump so early on their trip. Not me!
It's really great to check in with a Naturopath or Nutritionist prior to this transition to check that your nutrient stores of Iron, Vitamin B12 & Zinc are at healthy levels. If they aren't at optimum levels, perhaps a slower transition with the addition of supplementation is a good way to ease into it. This is also fantastic way to ensure you are eating enough of everything.
3. just eating vegetables
Vegetables are absolutely DELICIOUS & an essential component of healthy living but we need more than JUST vegetables. Don't get me wrong there are definitely plenty of hearty (& filling) vegetables but we need to be both physically & nutritionally satisfied after eating. Yes, vegetables definitely contain some protein (not quiet enough) but vegetables tend not to contain enough healthy fats & healthy fats we so desperately need. Make sure you are including other fabulous plant-based goodies such as legumes, beans, nuts & seeds, avocado, good quality oils (i.e. olive, macadamia, pumpkin seed, flax) tofu, tempeh, you catch my drift. Just eat it all & lots of it!
4. eating the exact. same. thing. every. day!
Variety is the key to remaining healthy on a plant-based diet. I know it can be hard, you've found the things you love to eat & you wanna eat them all the time. But it's super important that you change it up. Eat a variety of different foods to get a bunch of different nutrients in. Trust me your cells will love you.
Download my FREE fact sheet on which nutrients you need & where to find them. Enjoy