Plant Based Diet for Beginners – How to Start a Plant Based Diet
Are you wanting to start a plant based diet but have no clue what to do or what to eat? If you need to find out how to start a plant based diet without a huge learning curve, keep reading.
When my wife and I first started our plant based diet we were both very confused. It made me anxious just thinking of eating because I had no idea what was good for me, or what tasted good or what was unhealthy. I want to help you figure all of this out so that you can concentrate on your health and happiness, not on sifting through tons of information.
Plant Based Diet for Beginners – How to Start a Plant Based Diet
If you plant on eating nothing but raw or cooked vegetables then you probably don’t need to do much else, but if you are like me and like snacks and other foods that are tasty then it can get confusing. Below are some really simple steps to get started so that your transition into a plant based diet is a little bit easier.
What to Eat?
Have you seen all of the vegetables our planet makes? There are purple things and green things with spikes and things that stink and all sorts of other things that are confusing as hell. If you are anything like me and you know nothing about many of these foods, then just forget about them for now. Focus on a few standard (non weird) vegetables for now and add more when you get comfortable.
I don’t know how to prepare bok choy, but I can steam some broccoli and add some Himalayan salt and pepper to it for a really easy meal anytime. The key is to find something that you like and learn to prepare it in a few different ways. It’s overwhelming trying to do this with 20 new foods in a week, so go easy on yourself and take it slow at first. I promise that once you start seeing some plant based eating benefits you will be excited to learn more and find new foods.
Fruits are the same as vegetables for me. I try the exotic ones and I usually end up being more confused. If you like papaya then go for it, but if you don’t like your fruit to smell like a foot and taste like bubble gum, then stick to the standards. In our house we always have the following fruits.
If I want a piece of fruit I always have these 2 choices, and I usually want to add some peanut butter to either of them if I want something a bit more exciting. Bananas are great to add to any type of smoothie and if you are someone who wants to try juicing you have to have some apples handy. Some other fruits that I like to keep when they are in season (cheap) are grapes, pears and oranges.
You can eat ANY fruit you want though, these are just the ones I like and I always have a stockpile of them.
Have you heard that nuts are “fattening” and you shouldn’t eat them? That is the worst information ever thought up, so do yourself a favor and start eating more nuts now. Just like vegetables and fruits there are a lot of nuts and seeds that you can eat on a plant based lifestyle, but not all of them will taste good to you. Some nuts/seeds that we always have in the house for snacking are:
Cashews (raw, unsalted)
Almonds (raw, unsalted)
Pumpkin seeds (raw)
Sunflower seeds (raw)
What is Raw Food?
When my wife and I first got on this plant based way of eating our food, we started seeing the word “raw” everywhere and were really confused. It’s ok though, because it doesn’t mean eating a gross slab of raw chicken obviously. Raw can mean literally raw, like in the case of a piece of fruit or eating celery right from the fridge.
For right now, all you really need to know is that “raw” when it comes to certain foods means heated up to, but never above 117 degrees F or 48 degrees C. You are definitely going to see a lot of the word “raw” but keep an open mind, because a lot of raw foods are really delicious and you may be missing some if you assume they are going to be uncooked and therefore unhealthy.
I am a snacker. I have to eat some chips or some kind of easy snack sometimes because I don’t always have a lot of time, and I don’t like screwing around with my food and having to prepare it when I don’t have to. There are chips made from quinoa/corn and flax and all sorts of other ingredients that you may have never heard of. Some of them taste a little bit like bird seed and some are really delicious.
The best way to go about finding a healthy snack if you are like me and need easy food is to try them and see. I guarantee you that if you find a chip or snack food that is not your favorite, you will find one soon after. I remember not having a single snack type food that I could/would eat and it was frustrating. Now I eat my quinoa based corn chips with organic salsa about 5 days a week for a snack and I love them.
Do you love foods that are high in fat? I already know the answer, because as a human we love fatty foods. There are fatty foods that are healthy and foods that are not so healthy though. But what is important to understand is that unhealthy doesn’t mean “fattening”! It is a myth, and one that hasn’t helped our society one bit that eating fat makes you fat.
So what is a healthy fat. If it is plant based, there is a good chance that fat is healthy and if it comes from a fast food restaurant or factory there is a good chance it isn’t. Foods like coconut oil, avocados, and olive oil are all what I consider to be healthy fats that I include in my diet, in as much quantity as I want. Worrying about eating guacamole because it has too many calories is not something you ever need to do on a whole foods diet, so I am setting you free from that now!
The best thing about fats is that they are very filling. I love raw cashews, but eating a pound of them would be pretty tough since they are really filling. Usually a few handfuls is enough for me and I can go on about my day, and all without worrying about weight gain.
Is Sugar OK on a Plant Based Diet?
Sugar is natural, so it must be OK on a plant based diet, right? I am very passionate about weight loss. I was once pretty fat, and because of this I tried a lot of ways to lose weight. But what I finally learned after losing 70 pounds is that eliminating sugar is the absolute quickest way to lose weight and improve your health. The American Heart Association and the World Health Organization both recommend about 25 grams of sugar per day for women and about 30 grams for men.
What you are going to notice as you read your labels is that sugar is in everything. I just opened a jar of organic salsa that some friends sent us, and when I ate it I noticed it was very sweet and not spicy like I like it. When I looked at the label I see that there is sugar added, and from the taste of it, they added a lot. For me, I don’t want sugar in all of my food so this means I won’t be eating that salsa anymore.
If you eat somewhere around the recommended daily dosage for sugar you will still be just fine and you will still get plenty of sugar if you have a sweet tooth. One other thing to remember is that as your body gets used to eating less sugar, naturally sweet foods taste much sweeter and you will want less.
Everything here is just a guideline. You can eat any vegetable, fruit, nut or seed that you want if it makes you happy. A plant based diet doesn’t have to be boring or confusing or difficult. I know it can be all of those things when you are starting out, but that will change fast once you get into it a little bit.
What do you think? Have you been on a plant based diet for a while and are having trouble? What do you think would help you get better results? Leave a question below and let’s start figuring out how to get you more excited about eating these foods!