By now, you’ve likely heard that embracing a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health.
And you might remember from episode 7 of Nourished: How To Ease Into a Plant-Based Diet, that it’s heralded as the diet that helps you:
- Nourish your body
- Achieve optimal health
- Lose weight
- Prevent and reverse chronic disease, such as: heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, high cholesterol, IBS and a variety of autoimmune disorders – to name a few
Knowing how to make the transition from the Standard American Diet to a diet that’s centered on eating whole, natural, non-processed foods – mainly, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices.
Having a few simple steps to begin can make all the difference in the world. So, if you’re looking to improve your diet (and I bet you are!) and ease into a more plant-based way of eating, here are four steps that’ll help you get started.
1// Eat More.
No really…the first step is to eat more…VEGETABLES (there’s always a catch, right? ;-)).
But hear me out. When you’re transitioning towards a more plant-based diet, it’s better to start by adding more nutrient-dense foods (like veggies) into your diet rather than taking foods out. It’s a concept I call “crowding in”.
Our brains prefer the idea of more over less. So this step – is a mindset shift that 1000% eliminates feelings of deprivation, which means you’re more likely to succeed and stick with your veggie-focused diet long-term!
Plus, when you crowd in with healthy, plant-based foods that are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and fiber you’ll automatically fill up faster (less overeating), reduce cravings (less late night snacking) and lose weight naturally (less cursing at your skinny jeans).
How to: Out to dinner? Start with a salad. Toast for breakfast? Slather on the avocado. Eating soup? Stir in some chickpeas and kale. Add more veggies to every meal…whenever, wherever and however you can!
2// Swap It, Don’t Drop It.
This is my favorite step because with just a few healthy plant-based swaps you can keep all of your favorite foods on heavy rotation! That means absolutely no FOMO.
How to: Don’t “drop” burgers and mac n’ cheese from your diet, instead “swap” meat, animal products and processed ingredients (think: ground beef for minced mushrooms and cheese sauce for butternut squash sauce) to make the exact same meal plant-based.
For more plant-based swaps, check out this episode of Nourished: The Essential Plant-based Swaps.
3// Ditch All Rules and Labels.
Lots of people will disagree with me on this one, BUT IMO you don’t have to be 100% vegan to enjoy a plant-based lifestyle. You can dabble.
Forget the all or nothin’ rules and save the labels for tin cans. Maybe you (like me) want to keep your diet primarily plant-based – with the majority of your meals and snacks free of any meat or animal products, but allowing for the occasional slice of veggie cheese pizza!
Maybe you prefer to be 50/50 with your diet – keeping half of your meals plant-based and keepin’ the other half a mix of REAL, non-processed foods (more on that here).
Eating more (whatever more means for you) plant-based meals is better than not, so lean as much (or as little) as you’d like into it.
How to: Know why you want to follow a more plant-based diet – whether its for better health, weight loss, because you love animals – and then decide what approach to eating feels right for YOU.
4// Don’t Go Cold Turkey.
If you are transitioning to a completely plant-based diet, start small. There’s no need to throw in the towel and do a complete overhaul all at once.
It’s perfectly okay (and smart!) to gradually transition (applying steps #1-3 above) as you move towards plants and away from animals.
How to: Start with just one or two meat-free days per week (hello #MeatlessMonday) or tackle one food item at a time – maybe you swap milk for almond milk first and then you cut out pork – once that initial change feels comfortable, you can move on and add from there.
So there you have it, four simple, do-able steps that – if you follow – will make the transition to a plant-based diet so much easier.
And for a full run-down of my favorite plant-based staples, check out this article:
How To Build a Healthy Plant-Based Pantry
This list is a great jumping off point to help you get started.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried to make the shift to a more plant-based diet? How’d it go?
Tell me specifically, what’s worked for you and what hasn’t? Any steps you think need to be added to this list?
Let me know down in the comments below. 😉
Ooh, and one last thing…if you’re wondering what an entire MONTH of delicious plant-based eating looks like, be sure to check out my: Nourish Yourself, 28-day meal plan.
It’s four weeks of over 50 recipes with weekly done-for-you planning, prep strategies, grocery lists and so much more.
Start with one meal at a time, have some fun with it, try new foods and recipes and most of all, enjoy the journey as you take tiny steps to a healthy plant-based diet.