First and foremost, I like to re-review what a plant based diet is and is not. For my readers that like a clear-cut answer, you may not love what I’m about to tell you.
A plant based diet does not need to be strictly vegan, vegetarian, or even pescatarian.
What a plant-based diet is, is a personalized diet that is focused primarily on plants.
So for my meat eaters out there, your diet can still be very much plant based, even if you include meat sources in your meals from time to time.
The whole point of any personal diet is to include foods that make you feel good, provide accessible sources of nutrients and that support your energy needs.
If you are interested in transitioning to an entirely plant based diet (vegan or vegetarian) or want to include more plant based foods into your meals, there are a few traps I see many people fall into that can easily be avoided to make sure you are receiving the maximum benefit of adding more plant foods into your diet.
3 Mistakes to Avoid When Transitioning to a Plant Based Diet:
1. Buying too many packaged foods labeled “plant-based” or “vegan".
Shopping on the inside aisles at the grocery store grabbing any item with a label that uses words or phrases like “plant-based”, “vegetarian”, “vegan” or even “organic” unfortunately, is not a very effective way to incorporate more nutrient dense foods into your diet. Just because a packaged food is formed with vegan ingredients, does not mean it’s healthy. Think about a bag of Cheetos or M&Ms, both of these are technically vegetarian. This goes for less obvious items like veggie straws and organic fruity gummy bears as well.
Instead go for fresh, whole foods. Load up on your favorite fruits and veggies and if you’re going to add a packaged item to your grocery cart, look for products that contain less than 5 ingredients. One of my new favorite pantry staples is edamame pasta (only one ingredient in the whole box, edamame!)
2. Eating plant-based “meat alternatives” on the regular.
Most of the plant-based meat alternatives you find at the grocery store contain many highly processed ingredients. Most of our body’s don’t react well (mostly digestively) to these types of foods.
If you are looking for meat replacements, a better alternative would be making your own veggie burgers, or using nuts to supplement a dish.
*Recipe Tip: Adding roughly ground sunflower seeds to a marinara sauce creates a “meat-like” texture. Give it a try!!
3. Not eating balanced meals.
Plants are great, but they are not all created equal. If you are transitioning to a plant based diet, you want to make sure you are putting together balanced meals that will allow your body to function at its optimal level. You want to limit any meals that are heavy on only one macronutrient (carbs, fats, protein, etc.)
To refer back to how to create a balanced plate, check out my previous post, Creating a Balanced Plate for Consistent Weight Loss.
At the end of the day, think about what you want from transitioning to a plant based diet. It might be weight loss, increased energy or feeling better about your food choices. Maybe it’s a combo of all 3!
Whatever your intention, take a moment to think about it and acknowledge it. If you are just doing something because you think you should it will be hard to stick with it and obtain all the amazing benefits that come along with feeding your body the nutrients it needs!
If you are still unsure how to go about transitioning to a diet with a greater focus on plant foods or have a goal you have been working on and need additional support, Schedule an Intro Call to learn if one of my program offerings is a good fit for you.
With the right support and guidance you can be on your way to life long happiness with your health!