The very notion of ‘plant based’ may sound intimidating to many people, but it is important to know that a plant based diet is not a deprivation diet. If anything, it is a nutrient dense way of eating where you can eat when you are hungry and eat until you are full.
The trick is to eat the right foods and get the most out of their healthful benefits.
Here is what you need to know about how to succeed on a plant-based diet:
- Foods to eat
A plant based diet focuses on whole foods that are unrefined or minimally refined plants. It is a diet that includes, vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. You can take your generous pick from foods in these categories such as leafy greens and starchy vegetables.
To complete your meals, go for whole grains options such as wheat, oats, and brown rice or pack some protein power by choosing from all types of lentils and legumes. All spices are allowed so use these to add flavor and aroma to your meals.
If weight loss is also on your agenda, then choose whole cooked grains and pasta instead of bread or crackers.
- Foods to avoid
The diet excludes or at least reduces meat consumption, including poultry and seafood, eggs and dairy products along with heavily refined foods such as bleached flour and refined sugar. Any sources of added fats such as liquid oils, coconut oil butter or margarine should also be avoided.
Foods that come with a lot of sugar such as candies, cookies, cakes and pastries are also forbidden.
- The ‘eat sparingly’ category
While it is fairly easy to understand what to include and what to exclude on the diet, there are certain plant based options that need to be considered with caution.
Foods like nuts, avocados, coconut and seeds should be eaten sparingly due to their high fat content. When you are trying to lose weight, reduce your consumption of these until you are at a healthier weight.
Plain water is your best friend, but if you want to add some flavor, then go for decaffeinated teas and coffee. Drinks like sodas, fruit juice sports and energy drinks and blended teas and coffees are off limits.
- Make the change in stages
If going cold turkey is not for you, then take small steps instead. Slowly cut out the meat one by one starting with red meat first, followed by poultry and then fish and seafood. However, don’t replace these with carbs but with plant proteins instead.
Gradually eliminate eggs and then dairy.
- While eating out
There are many restaurants and eateries that offer vegan options to choose from. But one thing that may present a problem is the use of oil and processed ingredients.
You can look for dishes that are prepared by steaming, baking or grilling to minimize the oil content while avoiding others that are labelled crispy, fried, creamy or decadent.
To customize your order even further, leave out the trimmings such as cheese and sauces and opting for brown bread or rice instead of their more common white counterparts.
- Snack right
Snacking is an area where most dieters go off track. With most snack options being processed foods, it can be hard to find the right snack. But the plant based diet eliminates that problem as you can snack well on most fruits. If you get bored, try whipping up a vegan smoothie using almond milk instead of yogurt paired with your favorite fruits and nuts. Add in some hemp protein to complete the effect.