What does a “Plant Based Diet” mean? How did I get here?

My Cheerful Healthy PLANT BASED life?? Yep.

Have you ever thought about going “plant based”? And what does that even mean?

TO BE CLEAR: I am in no way here to try and make everyone become a vegetarian.  I am not trying to “change” you and make you eat like I do.  What I do focus on with my clients is helping them to break the dieting cycle and learn how to eat HEALTHIER than they currently are.  For most that means more label reading, less processed foods, and more fruits and vegetables.  AND, if they so desire, higher quality lean proteins and dairy.

Plant based means I’m not really a vegan….or a vegetarian.  But do land somewhere in between.

VEGAN – well, it goes without saying, vegans don’t eat meat of any kind.  What you may not have known is that vegans put the life of animals above everything and also do not consume: dairy, eggs, honey or butter.  They also don’t wear leather, fur or silk of any kind (ACK!).  Being a Vegan is about more than what you eat, and I completely respect my vegan friends, but love my leather boots….. this is currently NOT me :).

If I HAD to label it I’d say I eat a “plant based diet”.  Which just means I choose fruits, vegetables and whole grains first.

I do eat eggs occasionally and even fish once in a while.  I do stay away from dairy but to be honest, I find it hard to completely avoid.  Is it possible? Sure…and although I’m not a purist, I do the best I can to avoid.  That being said  my number one rule is I do believe in knowing what I eat (and I do strictly stay away from meat.)

How did I get here? Well, as you may have heard me mention, in recent years I have learned to question pretty much everything I’ve been taught about nutrition and food. There is so much contradictory information out there…..eat more meat, eat less meat, you need more protein…what is too much? Dairy is good, dairy is bad.  Lean meats are okay, but fats are good for our brain. Eat bacon (?!?!).  WHAT?? Are you as confused as I was?  Truly you can find any article about any of these subjects and I’m sure I can find you another research based article to dispute it.

BUT, what is the one common denominator in EVERYTHING you read about health and nutrition?

EAT MORE VEGETABLES.

FACT: A whole food, plant-based diet has been scientifically proven to prevent, and even reverse, a litany of food and lifestyle-born illnesses, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

FACT:  You do not have to be perfect at this to see the health benefits.

So when I first began to question what I was eating, and why I struggled so much to maintain my weight…. I started there.  I began doing my best to just eat more plants and fruits.  I started small, just incorporating MORE.  Then, as I read more about whole grains I decided to include more of those.  Before I knew it, my energy was way UP and I was feeling dramatically better than I had in years.  Next thing I know I’m eating a baked potato with vegetarian chili (full of brown rice and beans) for dinner…something I NEVER would have considered a few years ago.  Eating a “lean & green” type meal – low starch veggies & protein, can be good for weight loss, but by eating more whole grains, more fruits & veggies and less (or no) meat….you cut calories, CHOLESTEROL, and bad fats right away.  Most people lose weight when transitioning to a plant based lifestyle, while feeling more satisfied.

CARBOHYDRATES.  They have become “bad” recently while “low-carb” has turned into a lifestyle for so many.  I’m not saying it doesn’t work.  What I am saying is, if you have struggled with the “low-carb” way of eating….maybe that is because it’s not for you.

Many people think I eat salads all day but that’s not at all true! A great description:

While leafy vegetables are an important part of the whole-food, plant-based diet, they are a very poor calorie, i.e., energy, source to be sustainable. We would need to eat almost 16 pounds of cooked kale to get 2,000 calories of food! We certainly don’t eat this way, and we wouldn’t blame you for thinking it sounds crazy—we think so, too! In fact, it is virtually impossible to get enough calories from leafy vegetables alone to form a sustainable diet. Perhaps the most common reason for failure in this lifestyle is that people actually try to live on leafy vegetables alone. If you try to live on these vegetables, you become deficient in calories. Not eating enough calories leads you to feel hungry, which over time may result in decreased energy, feelings of deprivation, cravings, and even binges. These issues are not caused by switching to a plant-based diet—rather, they are all related to not eating enough. Click here to read the whole article. 

You may be a perfect candidate for a plant based diet if:

  • You are someone who is never fully satisfied when eating a “lean & green” (protein/low starch veggies) type meal.
  • Crave pastas, potatoes and bread.
  • Not that interested in meat generally.  Eat it because you think you need the protein (that was me).
  • Enjoy a wide variety of vegetables.
  • Haven’t had success losing weight in the past and don’t understand how others stick to a “low-carb” plan.
  • Have high cholesterol.
  • Typically works best for people with a Type A, B, or AB blood type (many Type O are carnivores who crave meat).  This is merely a predictor, not a hard fact as I know many Type O vegetarians.
  • EVERYONE will have health benefits eating this way.

There is so much that can be learned about this lifestyle and trust me, I’m not perfect.  What I will say is that it’s easy to turn to processed, easy foods, when going plant based….and that is NOT what I advocate.  I still believe in “clean” eating so read your labels.  Stay away from “meat like products” and eat what your body craves.  Junk food vegetarians struggle to get adequate nutrition from processed foods.

If your body craves meat….it’s okay.  Then we can focus on QUALITY of the meat products you eat while still adding in more fruits and veggies for health.  If eating beef….grass fed.  If eating butter use REAL butter.  These are the things I go over with my clients to help them figure out what eating style suits them.

If interested in exploring a plant based diet a bit more I absolutely recommend doing my 26-day vegan detox….it was life changing for me and a huge eye-opener in helping me transition into a more plant-based lifestyle for long term.  If you feel strongly you need the protein we can detox with a Whole 30 program, or even a strong 30 days of clean eating.  Either way, I can support you as you get rid of the processed foods and sugars and focus on eating more real foods.

You can read more about my 30 day intensive here.

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