In life, I am actually hesitant to share with other people my dietary and lifestyle choices. For some really strange reason, people get really offended if you tell them that you do not eat some of their favorite foods. I’ve always thought that what I eat doesn’t make you sh*t, but I digress. Most of the time, when I do disclose that I am a plant- based vegan, it is in an attempt to educate and explain to others my choice. I can say that by far, the most popular questions I hear about my diet are always related to how I made my transition and how I maintain my lifestyle.
I have come up with my top 5 tips to transitioning and maintaining a plant based diet. Comment below if something I share resonates with you! Without further ado….
#1: Do your research
This cannot be overstated. It is much harder to stay committed to things that you do not fully understand. This means learning your body, and being prepared for the various physical and non-physical changes that will occur. Seek various and diverse perspective and experiences from others already on this journey. Learn from the experiences and mistakes of others. Research as much as you can in advance-you will not feel like reading about the benefits of kale in the middle of meat cravings! I promise. Look into food alternatives as well as replacements. You are not recreating the wheel here, just customizing it, so don’t make things harder for yourself.
#2: Try an Elimination Diet
An elimination diet is the process of taking away identified foods from your diet. If you aren’t doing your transition cold-turkey, then this is likely the route you would take to start slowly phasing out foods. This is normally the part of the process that gets tough. There are 2 popular techniques to plant-based/vegan elimination dieting. The first way is used to gradually decrease your servings of something until you have completely eliminated it. For example, if you normally eat meat everyday, you could start by cutting that down to only 1 serving a day, then 1 serving every other days, then 1 serving 2x/week, then 1x/week, then none. The second techniques is a tad more intrusive, by eliminating 1 specific food at a time. You would start by making a list of the foods you want to eliminate and then 1 by 1 cutting them out of your diet. From experience, I would also recommend find healthy replacements for each of the foods you are eliminating. After you identify a food, stop eating it. Let’s start there. Again, get rid of that food! then, replace that food with a healthy alternative for it. You would keep doing this for each food on your list until you have eliminated everything. If you need some ideas of things to cook, check out my recent eats pages. Or if you’re interested in a personalized meal plan or personal grocery shopping contact me or visit the products page for more information. Some people find it easier to focus on cutting out 1 food at a time, while others prefer tackling a lot at once. Remember that this is about making a sustainable change that can be incorporated into your life. Go with whatever technique you know you will be consistent with and be prepared for the difficulties you may face.
Tip #3: Cleanse/detox your body
When you change your diet, your body goes through a serious detox process. Not only is your body breaking down and expelling toxins from what you used to eat, you are likely also going through food cravings and withdrawal from the modified and processed foods you mostly used to eat.
In my opinion and experience, a key part of the cleansing process was fasting! If your body, specifically your gut is busy eating and breaking down new food, it cannot fully process and absorb nutrients from the things you ate before. If we know the complete digestion cycle takes about a day…but we eat on average at least 3x/day…you can do the math. I would recommend raw juice cleanses and intermittent fasting for this step; they help you get your necessary nutrients without burdening your digestive system. During my transition, I did a 5 day raw juice cleanse that definitely made my transition much smoother. I found that this was what I needed to really get rid of my negative food cravings, or really food addiction. Before I did the fast, I would still find myself craving meat despite having eliminated it from my diet. However, after the cleanse, I was craving tomatoes! That was pretty revolutionary for me lol.
Tip#4: Build a community
Major lifestyle changes are especially difficult when you’re facing them alone. It is imperative to have a support system of like minded individuals! Surrounding yourself with people that support, validate, motivate, relate and encourage you will increase your motivation and ultimate success. If you do not personally know anyone, seek out and create your network. Of course you have me! I would also recommend you find others that may be active on your preferred social media platform. I know on Facebook, I find so many vegan events in my area. On twitter and Instagram, I have been able to connect with numerous other people that are plant based or vegan-especially chefs and other health professionals. It’s been great to see their journeys and very helpful learning from them.
Tip #5: Follow Through With Your Goals
Listen, the follow through is more important than shooting the shot. In life, nothing flourishes without following through Your health and wellness is solely your responsible; so you have to ensure that you will be successful. It is time to “burn the boats!” Make it so that your only option is to success. You can do this by throwing away all of the bad foods and stock up on healthy options. I would say the biggest contribution to how I stopped eating things like chicken or ice cream is I simply stopped buying it. If you cut out your access to something, your use or consumption of is also decreases. That sounds simple enough, right? It is. Don’t allow yourself to overthink this or doubt yourself into believing you “could never be vegan”! You can do this. You were made for this.