1. Eat enough carbohydrates
The number one mistake that people make when they start this lifestyle is that they focus their diet just on vegetables. Of course, vegetables are great for your body and you can have them in abundance, but keep in mind that they are really low in calories and will not fully satisfy your appetite. It is of vital importance that you add a lot of healthy sources of carbohydrates in your diet. I would recommend eating as much fresh, ripe fruit as possible during the day and, if needed, add whole vegan starches such as whole rice, pastas, quinoa, sweet potatoes to your cooked meals. By eating this way, you will easily reach your balance and never feel deprived.
2. Eat enough calories
Plant-based foods are less calorie dense than animal products since they are generally lower in fat. That is the main reason why most people feel unsatisfied or tired when they initially transition to this diet. A whole, fresh and natural plant-based diet is typically high in nutrients and water but low in calories. That’s why eating a low-calorie amount of food can lead to binges on fat or, worse, junk food. So be aware of that and adjust your portions according to your hunger. Don’t deprive yourself. You may find it helpful in the beginning to use websites like “cronometer” to track your caloric intake during the day. I know it may sound counter-intuitive, but the idea here is to eat enough so as to not deprive yourself as you become acclimated to your new plant-based diet. This step is an option just for beginners, and when you are used to your portions (generally it takes a few days or weeks), you will not need it anymore.
3. Keep your pantry and fridge stocked with healthy foods
Get rid of all junk food and stock up your kitchen with as many healthy vegan foods as you can. By doing this, you will be far less tempted by junk food, and it will be much easier to eat healthily. Always shop for fresh foods in abundance so you have a variety of satisfying options at home. Also, buy some healthy vegan treats that you can easily grab for a snack. For instance, some of my favorite treats include fresh or dried fruits (dried mangos are heavenly), veggies chips, puffed rice, dates, coconuts rolls and nuts.
4. Move your body
There is no question how crucial exercise is for maintaining optimal health. When you move your body and raise your heart rate, you ease the process of eliminating toxins from the body. Furthermore, exercising will bring you vitality and a fitter body! Here, it is not about suddenly becoming an athlete. I would say that at least 20 minutes of exercise daily is a good start. Remember that it is not about working out as long as possible but about consistency. Choose a rhythm which allows you to stay consistent.
5. Get enough sleep
A lack of sleep is one of the greatest contributing factors to obesity and many diseases. In order to stay healthy in the long run, your body needs to rest so it can function properly and maintain optimum hormonal functions. When you start to eat a healthy plant-based diet, your body will begin purging itself of all the past toxins it has absorbed. This cleansing process requires a lot of energy. Getting enough sleep will definitely bring you more energy and help you to control your emotions better.
6. Reduce processed foods as much as possible
I can’t emphasize enough how eating whole, fresh and natural foods is the basis for a healthy diet. However, many people get caught in the trap of processed foods when transitioning to this diet and this doesn’t serve their health. Processed foods actually impede the process of detoxification (from animal products stored in your body) and, if consumed in large quantities, make your body acidic, a primary cause of disease. Remember that the goal isn’t just to eat vegan, but to eat healthy!
7. Be patient with yourself
Keep in mind that healing is a long process and that you have to be gentle with yourself. After many years of eating unhealthy foods, you have dramatically damaged your body…and it needs time to heal. Contrary to drugs, which just mask your pain without curing the disease, true healing requires time so don’t give up if you don’t see an immediate result. Just keep going, trust your body, and you will get there before you know it!
8. Find a support network
Eating vegan isn’t that common in our society, so beginners often find it difficult to do it when isolated. It’s crucial to be connected with people who share similar interests with you so you can receive plenty of encouragement and support! I know that it isn’t always easy to find vegan or vegetarian people in our surroundings but there are many other ways to connect with these communities. In my case, for instance, I have used tools such as social media, books, and support groups– these all help greatly. Feel free to contact me here with any questions. I will do my best to answer any and all questions you have and point you in the right direction for further support.
9. Educate yourself
After many years of eating animal products, you have entrenched habits and beliefs– even if you are now convinced that you should make a change. In order to succeed with this lifestyle, you should first “learn to unlearn”! It is really important for you to remember why you have chosen this path since this will really help you in moments of temptation. Increasing your knowledge will help you to gain confidence so you can enjoy this lifestyle without fear or hesitation. There are many possible ways to educate yourself: readings, documentaries, YouTube videos, TED talks and much more. Choose whatever works for you and do it, especially at the beginning. Being knowledgeable about your change in lifestyle will also help you face the resistance around you. In fact, those close to you will be surprised by your changes and will try to understand. Sometimes, though, their reactions may be frustrating. If you are confident– thanks to your knowledge– you will be in a “sharing mode” instead of a “defense mode” and this will help you to stay strong and even inspire people around you.
The main goal of this website is to help people in this way so stay tuned and you will learn a lot. You could also click here to see the sources that I recommend.
10. Focus on «what you gain »
When you decide to eat an “animal-free” diet, you may have the feeling of being deprived of many foods. But this is just at first, before discovering the wide variety of meals that plants actually offer. Instead of thinking this way, you should focus on all the benefits that you gain by eating a plant-based foods. Visualize yourself healthy, glowing, energized, fit and much more. Remember that this period of “feeling deprived” is totally normal and will pass quickly when you find your comfort in your new lifestyle.
Furthermore, setbacks when implementing this lifestyle usually stem from trying to predict every single step, which can overwhelm any of us. Let’s do it day by day without putting any pressure on ourselves. Let’s just enjoy the pleasure of discovering new tasty foods and seeing our bodies healing every day.
Let’s shine, glow and breathe healthy with plants =)