5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Going Plant-Based
We’ve got a strange approach to food in this culture. It seems like there are all these rules in place about the way we need to eat, the ingredients we need to use, and the food groups we should cut out or eat exclusively. We’re told to starve our bodies (also called “dieting”), exercise until we drop, binge-eat during the holidays, then make hollow resolutions at the beginning of the year… it’s so unnatural and crazy-making! Who made all these dumb rules and why do most people in our culture keep abiding by them at the expense of our health and sanity? We’re sick of it!
Switching to a healthy, whole food plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do for your health. This way of eating consists of the most basic and readily available foods on the planet; it’s actually the simplest way you could eat! However, food and diet have become overly complicated by the food and diet industries in Western culture. Therefore, switching to a plant-based diet that goes against the grain (pun intended) of the traditional Western diet can seem a bit tricky when you’re just getting started.
It definitely requires a shift in mindset but once you get it, you’ve got it for life. While it is a different way to think about food, it doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are the 5 things we wish we knew before going plant-based:
#1 - Meals Don’t Need To Have Courses
An appetizer, entree, and dessert. A protein, a grain, and a vegetable assembled in separate, self-contained areas of your plate. Don’t let them touch!
Yeah, that’s not how we eat. Most of our meals are cooked together in 1 pot and incorporate all the main food groups we eat which include:
- Non-starchy vegetables
- Whole unprocessed starches (potatoes, rice, grains, etc)
- Whole plant fats (nuts, seeds, avocados)
- Fresh or Frozen Fruits
It’s often easier and more time-saving to simply combine all the main whole-food groups into one dish and enjoy it when your body tells you it’s time to fuel up. You don’t need a set cultural tradition to tell you how to eat. You don’t need 3 meals and 2 snacks or any other rules around what, when, and where to eat. Just listen to your body and give it the right fuel, which is whole plant foods, and you’ll be fine.
#2 - You Don’t Need To Count Calories
We’re told that weight loss comes from creating a calorie deficit in your diet and the best way to achieve this is to control your portions by measuring and tracking every morsel so you don’t go over your calorie budget and thwart your efforts. Oh, and you need to exercise. A lot. Like, until you drop. Then (and only then) will you earn the right to eat a semi-decent portion of food.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, if you’re eating lots of highly processed, calorie-dense (but nutrient-deficient) foods, you may need to weigh, measure, and track it all in a weight loss app. If you’ve got a lot of weight to lose, simply making the switch to a whole food plant-based diet that’s free of added processed ingredients (such as salt, oil, and sugar) is going to create that calorie deficit automatically. You don’t have to focus on the calories, just focus on the right foods, eat as much as you need to feel satiated, and you’ll reach a natural, healthy weight. If you want to track your food just to feel more informed about the macro and micro-nutrients you’re consuming, go for it! But it isn’t necessary for weight loss or maintenance.
#3 - Fancy Meals Are Time-Consuming
Convenice food is a booming industry and the industry knows that the promise of saving time and effort in the kitchen, even at the expense of good nutrition, is too appealing to resist for many people. Before going plant-based, we could walk down the frozen aisle and grab a pre-made lasagna, toss it in the oven, and walk away until the timer went off. Now, if we want lasagna, we have to make our own healthy versions of the sauce, cheese, and “meat” or veggie fillings. It’s definitely more of a chore and it can take a longer time to prepare dishes that remind us of our old favorites from scratch.
The way we combat this is by saving those sorts of meals for special occasions. If we’re having company over or if we want a special meal on the weekend, we’ll put in the extra effort. Most days of the week, however, we keep our meals very simple. We have a few go-to meals that are fast, easy, tasty, and nutritious which comprise the majority of our weekly meals. We’re constantly sharing our favorite tips, tricks, and recipes on our YouTube channel and on our Well Your Weekend Cooking Show, which we put on twice a month for our paid membership community.
When we do want a more involved meal, we try to find shortcuts when and where we can. One shortcut is our lineup of Well Your World products, which we created to help you simplify your healthy diet. All of our products are made with whole plant foods and are free of added salt, oil, and sugar. Visit our store to see what we have to help you keep it simply, healthy, and delicious.
#4 - Replicate Flavors Simply
You can find really fast ways to get those same flavors you crave out of a fancier meal in a really simple way. We make a lot of “Nourish Bowls”, which is our healthy whole food version of a Buddha Bowl. Rather than fumbling around trying to roll a bunch of ingredients up in an unhealthy, oil-filled tortilla, we’ll simply put all of our favorite burrito fillings together and make a Burrito Bowl. We do the same thing with sushi because we can never seem to roll everything up in a pretty package like they do at restaurants. A Sushi Bowl is so much faster (and less frustrating) to make; just throw some rice, veggies, a touch of tamari, some shredded nori, and a little wasabi into a bowl and chow down! This keeps us from missing our old favorites without having to spend hours in the kitchen.
#5 - Find Ways To Cut Corners
Figure out what’s going to work best for you and your personality. You may be someone who prefers to spend a few hours each Sunday prepping all of your meals for the week. Perhaps you’d rather make your meals on the fly, based on whatever you’re in the mood for that day. There’s a way to work it regardless of your preferences. The point is to have a plan in place, which includes having a stocked pantry and freezer full of the foods you use to make your favorite go-to meals. You can download a copy of our Freezer & Pantry Essentials Checklist to help you make your trips to the grocery store more efficient.
You can also try different 30-day “clean eating” challenges to explore different flavors and discover what you like best. Having a minimal plan like this will reduce your time, energy, and thought costs, which will yield dividends in your peace of mind and ability to easily adhere to your health-promoting diet.
Have you already made the plant-based switch? What do you wish you knew beforehand? Tag us on our community Instagram @wyw_community and let us know!
Until Next Time, Xoxo Reebs