Plant Based Eating Tips
Plant based eating has come into the forefront of nutrition over the last few years. Eating more plants has a ton of benefits from vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients to plant based fats, fiber and more. We encounter many people who want to include more plants in their diet for a number of reasons — whether it be health reasons, moral reasons or to try a different eating style. It seems many of the guests that come to our wellness retreat or for private coaching are interested in adding more plants to their daily nutrition.
There are different levels to plant based eating. Some plant based eaters still eat some meat but they just eat much less than average and fill in with plants. Others avoid meat all together but include things like fish, eggs and dairy. Some avoid fish and only eat eggs and dairy or one or the other and then the final grouping does not eat any animal products at all. No matter your reason or how deep you’ll go with this type of nutrition regimen, we’ve got some tips and considerations to make sure you’re getting the most balanced plant based diet possible.
7 Easy Tips To Incorporate
Certain Nutrients Are Hard To Get Without Animal Products - If you’re avoiding or minimizing animal products, it can be more difficult to get adequate amounts of certain dietary components. The items below may need supplementation without animal products in your diet.
Vitamin B 12 - Because Vitamin B 12 is only found in some animal products (fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk), it would be important to supplement. Whether you take a B supplement (B complex for example) or a multivitamin that includes B 12, you’ll want to make sure you add it into your supplement line up if you’re not eating animal products at all.
Calcium - While calcium is found in leafy green vegetables, calcium set tofu, fortified non dairy beverages, legumes and nuts, some compounds in plant based diets may hinder its absorption. If you’re not consuming calcium rich plant based sources regularly, you may need to supplement.
Omega 3 Fats - Most of us associate omega 3s with fish (cold water fish like salmon, halibut and sardines) or taking a fish oil supplement like krill, for example. What if those aren’t options for you? You can still get Omega 3s, although they may be harder to absorb, from sources like flax, hemp, walnuts and seaweed to name a few.
Iron - Although iron is found in plant based foods, it’s something to keep an eye on. If your diet isn’t diverse enough, an Iron deficiency could develop. Your doctor likely tests your iron levels every few years (and if not, ask to be tested).
Listen To Your Body, Eat When Hungry - That sounds pretty cliche, right? It’s true though. Sometimes people have an adjustment period when switching over to a plant based diet. You may feel more or less hungry in the beginning. Just like with any other nutrition style, you can overeat on a plant based diet (nuts, seeds, processed plant based snacks, desserts and meat substitutes) so it’s important to adhere to the normal principles you would follow with healthy eating regularly. Eating until you’re satisfied — not stuffed is the way to go.
Include A Protein With Each Meal - Try to include some type of protein (plant based or animal depending on your level of eating) at each meal. Because protein is important for so many things including muscle gain, performance and even weight loss, it’s not something that should be skipped or overlooked. Plant based protein sources like beans, nuts, seeds, plant based protein powders, lentils and organic tofu are all good sources of protein.
Get Colorful - As with any healthy eating regimen (plant based or otherwise), make sure to include colorful fruits and vegetables. Benefit from the wide variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants included in these foods. Plus, vegetables and fruits are alkaline once digested and absorbed in the body which helps to counteract the acidity of things like legumes, grains, nuts and seeds. Balancing your acid/base load can help preserve uscle mass and promote good bone health.
Eat Mostly Whole Foods - Again, something addressed with most healthy eating plans. The processed food industry has taken over plant based eating. There seems to be a cookie, cracker and substitute for just about everything. It’s important to stick to mainly whole foods. I’m assuming you’re switching over to a plant based style so that you can be healthier. Sticking to unprocessed foods will help you do just that.
Plan Ahead - Being prepared is half the battle. It’s easy to talk about adopting a plant based diet all day long, but if you don’t have the veggies cleaned and ready to eat, the fruit purchased and the whole grains or lentils cooked and spiced up, you might be likely to reach for unhealthy options. With plant based eating, it might take a little more time to plan to make sure you get in a good amount of protein, healthy fats and carbs. Try planning out meals for the week or a few days at a time to ensure success.
Get Creative - Just because you’re eating mostly plants doesn’t mean it has to be boring. As with any nutritional plan, variety is important. It may take a little time to find recipes and inspiration for plant based meals that you love. Don’t stress. You’ll find the right grouping of foods that provide all of the essential nutrients that you need.
To Sum It Up Plant Based Eating
Take a look at your nutritional plan. Supplement where necessary, listen to your body and give yourself time to adjust to any nutritional changes you’ve made. Keep your food balanced, diverse and creative — and most of all stick to foods you actually like to eat as well. Planning ahead will make snacks and meals much easier so don’t forget to stock up on all of your healthy favorites.
We hope you found this blog post helpful! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them in the comment section below.
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