A whole food plant-based diet is a long-proven approach to eating well. Basically, it means eating mostly food that’s in its natural whole state or that has been minimally processed with no additives or preservatives. It predominately consists of plants, but it can also include some meat, whole dairy, and eggs to suit your own preferences and requirements. This way of eating is about choosing real food over highly processed concoctions created by the food industry.
The key to successfully adopting a whole food plant-based diet is to approach it as a gradual evolution, rather than a quick revolution.
It does mean you’ll need to get more involved in what you eat, as you rely less and less on ready-made convenience food in favour of cooking and preparing food yourself. This way you have control of the ingredients in your meals.
7 Tips to Switch to Whole Food Plant-Based Diet
This approach to eating entails adding more legumes to your diet. At first, you may find them to be harder to digest. So, start slowly with small portions of legumes, eating them primarily with vegetables, rather than grains, to help your digestive system during the change. If you prefer eating legumes with grains, stick to one type of whole grain or carbohydrate in the meal while you’re in the transition phase. For example, have beans with brown rice and vegetables, but not with bread or sweet potatoes added to the meal too.
Add moderate amounts of nuts and seeds to your diet, which will make you feel satisfied. They are packed with healthy protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals. If you’re used to snacking between meals, try a small handful of raw unsalted nuts that are satiating.
Introduce yourself and your household to one new vegetable per week. Pick something that’s in season or looks good at the grocery store or farmers’ market, then find a recipe that features this vegetable.
Try one or two meatless nights per week to introduce your palate to more plant-based proteins, such as legumes and whole grains. Meat requires a lot of energy for us to digest, so it’s good to give your digestive system a break every once in awhile. An added benefit is that legumes cost a lot less than meat, which keeps things budget-friendly.
If you are going to eat meat, treat meat as a flavouring as opposed to the main ingredient and purchase the best quality meat you can afford from farmers’ markets or small family farms. This is a way to show your respect and appreciation for the creature that gave its life. Avoid meat that’s been processed in any way.
Get your family onboard. Making this change can be a challenge for the entire family; therefore, ease into it by involving everyone in the decision-making process. Talk to your family about the changes you’d like to make and explain why they’re important to you. Get their input and work toward a compromise that satisfies all. Then create a strategy for successful implementation. Some useful tactics in this case include:
Weekly meal planning so everyone is aware of what’s coming up, and it’s also a way for the whole family to participate in picking recipes.
Choosing foods and recipes that are relatively familiar to your family at first.
Sticking to simple recipes to start that’ll allow you, and whoever else cooks in your household, to develop a sense of mastery and enjoyment of whole food plant-based meals.
Encouraging your child(ren)’s involvement in food preparation, whether by picking produce from the garden, grocery shopping, preparing, cooking, or meal planning. This will foster a greater eagerness to eat the food they’ve helped to prepare.
Remembering to be patient and gently persistent. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Most importantly, don’t buy into the belief that you’re depriving yourself in any way, instead know that you’re nourishing your body and taking part in a delicious celebration of real food. And if you falter by eating some junk food, it’s OK. Just keep moving forward with no guilt to hold you back. Every day provides a new opportunity to eat better.
Dupont, Caroline Marie. The New Enlightened Eating. Summertown, TN: Books Alive, 2012. 4-32. Print.
"Plant-based Diet: Nuts, Seeds, and Legumes Can Help Get You There." Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School, Nov. 2014. Web. 26 Feb. 2017. <http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/plant-based-diet-nuts-seeds-and-legumes-can-help-get-you-there>.