Are you trying to eat more fruits and veggies and less meat? Eating at least one plant based meal per week can help your body become healthier. A report shared by Meatless Monday states that a high meat diet is associated with adverse health outcomes such as cancer, heart disease, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.
During the pandemic, we've learned that individuals who are obese (defined as having a BMI of 30 or higher), coronary heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes are at an increased risk of contracting viruses, such as Covid-19. These illnesses are often the result of following the Standard American Diet, which means eating processed foods, very little fruits and vegetables and not exercising.
The Standard American Diet is the diet we often see portrayed in the media. Commercials for sugary, sweet, off-the-shelf cereals being enjoyed by people of all ages. People in sitcoms and movies eating pastries, fast food and big pieces of meat. While indulgences are and should be part of our lives, eating the Standard American Diet everyday leads to illness and disease.
Medical News Today states that chemically processed foods often only contain refined ingredients and artificial substances, with little nutritional value. They tend to have added chemical flavoring agents, colors, and sweeteners. These ingredients cause havoc in our bodies.
Believe it or not, our bodies fight hard for us to be healthy. They don't want us to be ill or have disease. Every time we eat a processed food, our body has to figure out what to do with the chemicals. As the body fights the chemicals because it can't get nutrients from them, the body gets tired. When the body gets tired after years of fighting chemicals, it can no longer keep us healthy. The body allows illness and disease to set in.
Symptoms are how the body starts to show us we are sick and we need to make changes. Paying attention to the symptoms and making lifestyle changes can reverse the damage we've done. The amazing part is that once we decide to make lifestyle changes, the body can heal quickly.
Here is my story:
I had a very hard time regulating my blood pressure. It was always 130/80, which is not terrible but it was a sign that something was wrong. Heart disease runs in my family. The blood pressure reading was concerning.
I started eating a plant based diet to reduce the amount of meat I was eating. I had been reading a lot that eating meat regularly was just not good for our bodies. I started by not eating animal products 1 day a week.
Within 1 year, my cholesterol levels dropped 10 points (it wasn't even high), my bowel movements were becoming regular and constipation was reducing. My weight stabilized and I no longer had to think about losing weight.
While my blood pressure was not lower, my body was telling me I was on the right track by changing how I was eating.
Ultimately, to lower my blood pressure, I needed more magnesium in my diet. I had to turn to supplements since getting large amounts of magnesium from food was difficult. At the time, I was not eating organic.
Once I started taking magnesium, it only took 1 year to lower my blood pressure and keep it low. I was very happy that I avoided pharmaceuticals. While pharmaceuticals are great for short-term resolution of a health issue, there can be nasty side effects when using them long term.
Plant based lifestyles have so many health benefits. While I needed supplementation to solve my specific health issue, I gained so much energy from eating plant based that I slowly made it the dominate way I eat. I still eat meat but I only eat it about 3 days a week and usually only at dinner.
A key benefit of a plant based lifestyle is a healthy gut. Why is a healthy gut so important? Because a healthy gut keeps our immune system strong and supports a healthy brain. Did you know 70% of our immune system is in our gut? Did you know that our gut has a direct pathway to our brain? What we eat influences if we are anxious, depressed, worried, sad and a whole bunch of other emotions.
As Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." How do you know if your gut is unhealthy? Does any of this sound like you?
👉Diarrhea and/or constipation
👉Bloating and gas
👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing
👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues
👉Headaches and migraines
👉Hives, acne and itchy skin
👉Tired all the time
👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals
If you said yes to just one of the above, your gut is unhealthy. Trying to figure out how to fix it can be hard and confusing. I am here to help!
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist teaching people just like you how to stop suffering so you can get back to living. I offer a FREE 30 minute call where we will talk about your specific symptoms and how the Simply Great Health program can help.
How would eliminating your symptoms improve your life? You could:
✅Be more active with your children
✅Focus on building your career
✅Have more energy
✅Stop running to the bathroom
✅Workout without fear of an accident or farting
✅Restore your confidence
✅Take an active vacation
✅Reclaim your life
Simply Great Health is a customized 5 Step plan that heals your gut and fits your busy lifestyle.
It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
If it is a fit, we can take the next step and get you started on the path to healing.
Following a plant based lifestyle is one way to help reverse damage done to the gut. What exactly is a plant based lifestyle? It is the decision to reduce eating animal products. When you reduce the amount of meat you eat, you automatically start to eat more vegetables and grains.
The beauty about a plant based lifestyle is there are no hard and fast rules. You can choose 1 meal a week or you can choose several meals throughout the week. As you begin to experience the health benefits of eating less meat, you will be motivated to continue a plant based lifestyle.
The best example of starting to eat plant based is the Meatless Monday movement. Meatless Monday started back in 2003 and is now active in over 40 countries! This clearly shows that as people experience how good they feel eating plant based and they gain health benefits, they want to continue it. One of the biggest myths about reducing meat is that we will not be able to get enough protein.
This is simply not true! Many vegetables have adequate protein content. Spinach is a great example. Spinach is high in protein content with 5.5 grams per cup. That is slightly more than 1 egg, which has protein content of 5.4 grams. Below is a list of plant based foods with their protein content.
If you think you have to follow recipes only designed for vegetarians in order to eat a plant based meal, think again. One of the easiest ways to begin eating plant based is to take recipes that your family loves, eliminate the meat, add some vegetables and serve it. To learn more on how to eat plant based for beginners, read my blog post on the topic by clicking here.
Think about it, who said stir-fry's must contain meat or fish? Who said lasagna needs ground beef or chicken or pork? Who said burritos need to have meat? Once you get used to simply eliminating meat from recipes, you will eventually want to explore using ingredients that are easy meat substitutions.
Here is a list of meat substitutions:
Using the above ingredients, below are a couple of recipes that are meat based but I include the substitutions I make. You can use the recipes two ways. Try them with my substitutions or make them as is for your meat eating days. A couple of recipes are vegetarian or vegan which makes it easier to try as you start eating plant based.
Ultimate Meat Lasagna from Dinner Then Dessert. Lasagna has to be one of the easiest recipes to eliminate meat and veg it up to maximize nutrition. Buy frozen cauliflower rice, slice fresh mushrooms, zucchini and add frozen chopped spinach.
Instead of browning the meat, all you need is a few minutes to heat the frozen vegetables in some vegetable broth. Add chopped garlic and the spices you normally would to the veggies. Layer the veggies among the noodles and ricotta cheese making a meatless meal that everyone will love. The recipe calls for two pounds of meat. Instead use two pounds of vegetables. Click here for the meat recipe.
Perfect Slow Cooker Pulled Pork from House of Yumm. For this recipe, Jack Fruit is a great substitute for the pork. Jack Fruit is a tropical fruit that is very large and has a texture comparable to meat. You can buy it fresh or in a can.
Jack Fruit has a sweet flavor making it perfect to match with the Texas Dry Rub in this recipe. The bonus is that Jack Fruit does not take long to cook! It should only take about 50 minutes depending on your slow cooker settings and temperature. Just cook it until it is soft. Click here for the pork recipe.
Vegan Roasted Cauliflower Tacos from Peas and Crayons. Cauliflower to the rescue! Use a prepackaged taco spice pouch and simmer frozen cauliflower in it. If cauliflower is in season and reasonably priced, you can us it like the recipe states. Cauliflower is very hearty and takes on the flavor of spices, making it a great taco meat substitute. Click here for the recipe.
Vegan Lentil Loaf from Yummy Mummy. Instead of meatloaf, make a lentil loaf. The key to this dish is to use other vegetables mixed in with the lentils. That gives the lentil loaf a "meaty" dense texture.
The great thing about lentils is when they are done cooking, they are moist. This means you don't need to use an egg for binding. Simply add in the spices you normally use in meat loaf, mix in the other veggies and bread crumbs. Form like a loaf and cook. Click here for the recipe.
Slow Cooker Jambalaya from Spicy Southern Kitchen. Jambalaya is a great dish to make vegetarian. It already has a great base of rice and spices, just omit the sausage and fish for kidney beans. I also add in broccoli florets and spinach to increase the veggie goodness. No one misses the sausage or fish since it is so filling. Click here for the recipe.
The Best Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burger from Skinny Taste. Burgers for dinner or lunch? Why not try a Portobello Mushroom Burger? Top the burger with onions, cheese, tomato, avocado and spinach for a healthy and filling lunch. No one will miss the meat. Click here for the recipe.
Brown Rice Bowl from Love and Lemons. This brown rice bowl is filling and full of flavor. It calls for temphe and provides a marinate for the temphe. If you haven't eaten temphe, it is a firm brick of soy that is mild in flavor making it perfect for marinades. Plus, it doesn't have the texture of traditional tofu. The recipe also calls for kimichi, which is fermented vegetables. But if that is too exotic substitute sauerkraut for the same effect. Click here for the recipe.
I hope you enjoyed learning about how to make plant based meals. As I mentioned, eating plant based is a very flexible lifestyle. It doesn't mean you are a vegetarian or vegan. It simply means that you choose when you will or will not eat animal products.
It can be one day a week, it can be just dinnertime or it can be a couple of days a week. The frequency is up to you. I encourage you to eat at least one meal once a week without any animal products. It will open your eyes to how easy eating plant based can be.
Do you think you will try any of the above? Let me know by leaving me a comment.