The research in nutrition has been finding, again and again, that a diet that is high in plant-based foods (fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains), rather than the Standard American Diet (ironically, the acronym for which is SAD), reduces the risk of the most deadly and disabling illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, to name just a few — as well as mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
There are lots of good reasons to transition towards a more plant-based diet, and this interesting article by Mara Karpel, The Small Steps Needed To Making Life-Saving Changes To Your Diet aims to help you make the changes to a new healthier eating habits. Do read the whole article, but here for convenience is my take on the key points.
- Eat mindfully — keep a food diary, or take photos of everything before you eat it. Check the labels and avoid foods that have a long list of ingredients, or that are high in added sugar, refined carbs (e.g glucose-fructose syrup) and hydrogenated oils which contain trans-fatty acids.
- Eat more whole foods – such as whole grains, rather than refined flour.
- Increase your intake of plant-based foods and include many different coloured vegetables, as well as beans, nuts and seeds.
- Eliminate soft drinks and replace them with water.
- Gradually decrease sweets, such as cakes and cookies.
- Reduce your intake of dairy products. Use full fat, rather than any that are reduced fat. Choose stronger flavoured cheese that you need less of. The combination of sugar and fat can be a trigger for increased appetite and cravings, so beware of ice cream!
- Decrease meat consumption by eating smaller portions of it and trying to have some meals throughout the week that don’t include any meat or animal proteins. Expand your repertoire of vegetarian and vegan dishes by finding inspiring recipes.
- Mix with like minded people – there may be people in your life who will not be supportive of your new choices. “Keep calm and truck on.” Stick to non-food-related activities with those friends and connect with others who are on the same path.
- Don’t feel guilty if you go off track. Every day is a chance to start over again. Reward yourself for successes and be kind to yourself when you run into obstacles. Just making the effort is a sign of courage.
- Be excited about your new healthy life-style and about how great you’ll feel by taking such good care of yourself, rather than feeling fearful about making bad choices. Create a positive emotional connection to your lifestyle change. The rewards of more vibrant health, energy, and mood, will surely keep you moving along this path with even greater enthusiasm and ease.