I've been following a plant-based lifestyle for so long now I can't remember when I started. It is just how I live. For three to four days a week, I eat vegetarian or vegan and do not eat meat. Usually it depends on my schedule how many days I do this. I went plant-based because I was reading about how adding more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to your diet while limiting meat consumption was better for your overall health.
Who doesn't want to proactively do something to manage your health? After all, when we lose our health, we become limited in what we can do and how often we can do it. Simple activities such as walking upstairs, cooking or doing the laundry may become difficult taking away our freedom.
One reason it was easy for me to become plant-based is I didn't jump into the lifestyle full on! I started slowly. To make any meaningful change in life, starting slowly is the only way to get accustomed to a new routine. This is why New Year's resolutions usually fail. People make a commitment to themselves that is unreasonable and unrealistic so they can't stick to the new routine.
I started with 1 day per week, eating only vegetarian meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Once I got used to it, I slowly increased to 3 to 4 days a week. The time for increasing the amount of days per week will depend on your own health goals. I think within 6 months I was eating plant-based 3 to 4 days a week. I typically do it during the week and not on the weekends. I find it is easier to manage what I eat during the week. This allows me to be flexible on the weekend just in case we go out to dinner or go to a friends house for a party.
There are health benefits from following a plant-based lifestyle. After doing this for a year, I went for my annual physical. Guess what? My cholesterol had dropped by 20 points! It wasn't even high! I was shocked to see results like that. I didn't even think about the health effects of being plant-based. I simply knew eating meat all the time is not that good for our bodies.
Additional health benefits I have experienced is more energy and I can maintain my weight easily. The days that I do eat meat or fish, I usually only eat it at dinnertime. I find now that I have been plant-based for awhile, eating plant-based lunches makes me feel better throughout the day. I feel lighter and ready to deal with the rest of the workday.
Being plant-based is easy if you stock up on key staples for the pantry and the freezer.
#1 WHOLE GRAINS
Grains such as quinoa, barley, brown rice, farro, oatmeal and bulgur add bulk to plant-based meals. Depending on the grain, it can be ready in 15 to 45 minutes. With plant-based eating becoming more popular there are some fast solutions that cut down cooking time when you just don't have a lot. Seeds of Change is one of my favorites. Healthy, organic grains that are ready in 1 to 3 minutes. I use them often for quick lunches or dinners. When I have time to meal-prep, I will cook up a batch of grains so I can simply reheat them for lunch or dinner.
#2 CANNED BEANS AND VEGETABLES
Eating canned beans and vegetables supports a healthy plant-based lifestyle. One quick tip when eating canned beans is to wash them thoroughly to help reduce the amount of sodium they contain. When we need some sodium in our lives, most of us have too much. Canned beans can be tossed in salads, soups or heated up with a whole grains. Canned vegetables are also quick to the table and work well when time is precious.
#3 FROZEN FOODS
I rely heavily on frozen veggie burgers for a quick and delicious plant-based meal. They are lifesavers. They usually only take about 10 to 15 minutes to cook. Pair them with a salad or rice and sauteed veggies. Frozen vegetables are also great to always have on hand. Frozen veggies are usually chopped already and work really well in veggie stir-fry's.
Frozen fruits work well for breakfast. Smoothies, tossing fruit in overnight oatmeal or defrost and mix into plain yogurt, frozen fruit gives you vitamins and healthy fiber. Plus, they are great to always have on hand when making muffins, pancakes or waffles for breakfast.
#4 PROTEIN AND SNACK BARS
I like to have snacks throughout the day. Plant-based protein and snack bars keep me on track. One note is to make sure to look for products that do not have whey protein. Whey protein can be viewed as an allergen by the body. Look instead for products that contain pea protein. Some of my favorites are Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed bars, Clif Whole Lotta Organic Protein bars and RX Bars.
If you stock your pantry and freezer with the products listed above, going plant-based a couple days a week will be easy. In fact, you may even be able to convince others in your household to try it. My husband is a meat and potatoes man. He has been eating one vegetarian dinner once a week. I never thought he would do it, but he does! You just never know.
I hope this post inspires you to try being plant-based a couple of times a week. Your health will improve, you'll be more energetic and will maintain your weight easily. If you decide to try going plant-based, let me know how it is working for you in the comment box below.
Are you suffering from gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain? Do you wish you could go out without always having to know where the bathroom is? Moving to a plant-based lifestyle is just one strategy that can help relieve these embarrassing symptoms.
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