So you're thinking about having a plant based diet? Or maybe you're just trying to implement a few positive and healthy eating habits...whatever your reason, you've already completed step one by realizing that changes need to be made. I wish I could write you a fool proof step by step process that tells you "If you do this...your transition will be smooth" but can I just be frank? Every person is different so the transitioning for each person WILL BE different. There is no fool proof step by step process that you can do and it will make everything easy. It will get trying. It will get overly-burdensome. It will get emotional. There may even be times that you fall off. Furthermore, there may be times you want to give up. I'll be further frank in saying that this IS probably one of the most life impacting decisions one can possibly make (This comment will make more sense to you later.) While I realize I can't tell you EXACTLY how to transition, I can share how I transitioned into a plant-based lifestyle and hopefully that will help you navigate you to a healthier you.
Eating Style. I had to sit down and figure out my eating style. I quickly learned that I didn't "eat" as much as I thought. I learned that I needed to do something to fill in those gaps for the time frames I wasn't actually eating. By not eating a lot, I realize my metabolism was in jeopardy and needed a rejuvenation. So here's what I did...Instead of trying to completely change who I was. I simply learned to accept who I was. Then I implemented positive changes into my lifestyle. By doing this, it really made the transitioning easier. It also didn't become overly-cumbersome or like a "chore" to make these positive transitions, because I was simply going with what was already my style. I started out by drinking homemade smoothies and juices for breakfast. I've never been a "breakfast" person. I typically started my day out with water or tea. This needed to change. I also learned that I snacked a lot, and admittedly, my snacks were not always an apple or an orange. So I knew something had to be done about that too.
Healthy Snacks, Desserts, Etc. While I don't eat a lot. I am a "grazer" meaning: I can snack a little bit all day. So I quickly learned instead of grabbing candy, cakes, cookies or a bag of chips, that maybe I should make healthier choices and try dried fruit, raw trailmixes, raw vegan desserts, crackers and snacks and keep them on hand so that if I felt the urge for a snack or "junk" food, at least it will be all healthy options that was still feeding my body full of essential vitamins and nutrients and not sugars, preservatives and saturated fats.
Healthier Meals. I love "comfort" foods. I grew up eating "real" food...SOUL food. I didn't grow up eating salad as a meal. I grew up having a little salad on the side. So I've never been much for salads. This being the case, what made me think I would start being a salad person now? Upon realizing this, I knew that I needed to learn how to cook healthier. By cooking healthier, it made me want to learn to UN-cook healthier. When I learned how to UN-cook, I realized I could still have pasta, cookies, cakes, icecream and everything else I loved to eat and it didn't have to be loaded with fat, antiobiotics, steroids, disease and/or have all of the nutritional value taken from it. When I learned that I could mimic the taste to be the SAME as the foods I grew up on and quite often better tasting, it just made me want to do it more. I mean why not? I'm getting more nutrients and it actually tastes more flavorful.
Embrace Uniqueness. I have no one in my personal (close) inner circle that eats as I do. To my friends and family, I am "extreme". And here it is to my associates that eat like this...I'm very NON-extreme. *smile* Don't get me wrong, I have the support from friends and family, and the support has grown little by little over time. But aside from quickly realizing I probably needed to change some of my social habits (dining out, etc), I also learned to take something for ME to eat even when I visit friends. When invited to potlucks, I typically take more than one dish. This not only introduces people to my lifestyle, but also help them to realize that I do eat more than salads and apples...Not to mention the food is good. So Yes, you eat "differently"...and there's absolutely nothing wrong with being different. We were all uniquely designed to be different. Embrace your uniqueness.
Open-Minded. You'll quickly learn as you move closer into transitioning into a healthier lifestyle, that there is so much to learn, as I did. I wasn't afraid to experiment in the kitchen. If I tried a dish and it's wasn't quite suited for my taste buds, I would think about how I could improve it and then just did it! I branched out and spent time in different cultures learning a little bit from everyone about things to eat, that I might like. I also spent a lot of time doing a lot of research and reading. Needless to say, this brought me into meeting and befriending new people. This wasn't a bad thing. I mean, I had a new lifestyle, it seemed only befitting that I eventually started to be around a few people that ate like me, since majority of my friends and family do not. Be open to change, new people and trying all sorts of new things. You just never know where it can take you.
I hope these 5 tips have been somewhat helpful to you. I realize this isn't a complete roadmap for success. I also realize I left somethings out. But feel free to fill in the gaps...what things have helped you along the way? What changes have you made that's been so positive that now you want it applied into your life-long health practices? Do share? I'd love to hear from you.
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