I admit that changing my diet from animal protein focused to a whole food, plant-based lifestyle has been challenging, and every single day I overcome obstacles and negative thoughts.
I have discovered a few tricks to keep me focused on this journey and, admittedly, become very forgiving to myself. With all the health benefits that come with a plant-based diet,- mental clarity, lower cholesterol, diabetes 2, and cancer risks, increased energy– adopting this lifestyle change can become very overwhelming and the ‘judgement’ can start taking a toll on your fortitude.
The challenges that I have faced are small compared to what they could be if I were still eating an animal protein based diet, but they are significant enough to talk about. As some of these obstacles could discourage some people from trying this lifestyle change. So, I have discovered a few things/ideas that have helped me stay on track.
I have been to a few events and even hosted a few dinners since ‘the switch’. I hate being a burden or seeming like my lifestyle should dictate those around me, so I plan ahead as much as I possibly can.
I meal prep breakfast and lunch weekly, so I don’t head to work without options.
Eat before an event
Bring a side-dish or 2 to a dinner that everyone can eat from, including myself
A few recipe books have come in handy this past year that have helped the ‘boring’ become a lot more interesting.
I have had animal protein in my diet since I can remember. Sometimes texture and the smell are too much for me to say ‘no’ to. Dr. M. Gregor pushes in his book, How Not to Die,
the 80/20 rule- 80 % of your diet should be plant-based, with 20% of your weekly or monthly diet can consist of animal products – This 80/20 rule keeps me from blowing it all together, helps me forgive myself for the little self control that I tend to have sometimes.
Add in Vegetables– When I get home, a frozen pizza might just be the ideal dinner plan. If I just add in extra vegetables to the pizza, eat a salad for my Main course- then the guilt doesn’t set in. The other night, we had a vegetable frozen pizza, and I added artichoke hearts, spinach, and extra bell peppers while it warmed in the oven. I ate one slice with a LARGE spring salad (from my veggie garden) It was a perfectly, quick meal.
3. Remember your WHY.
Why did you make this lifestyle change?
I became plant-based because I did not feel good. Then, as I read more about it, the diet became a reason to live a longer more QUALITY lifestyle. When I start to get ‘bored’ or weary, I remember my WHY. This helps me stay on track.
4. My Kids
I have two young boys, and I get a lot of questions and comments about my lifestyle change and how it affects my children/husband. (everyone’s concern for my children’s well being is appreciated) BUT, In my mind, I am thinking that the ‘normal’ western diet affects children more than a plant-based diet- but that is why it is the ‘norm’- the western world has grown up believing and hearing how good MILK is for your bones, how important chicken breast is in your diet, and how vital eggs are for a protein boost in the morning. so, I keep my thoughts to myself because I don’t want to be ‘one of those VEGANS’
My children will take a little bit longer to transition than I did, but I have already seen the affects my diet has made on them. I try to keep the 80/20 rule the focus of our meals with the boys, and I encourage fruits/vegetables for seconds and snacks.
Sugar intake has always been of high importance in my family (whole-food sugar options trump FAKE sugar, no juice, and CANDY is a very special treat)- as this was my first real lifestyle change, so the boys know that candy, cookies, and cupcakes are always special and not very frequent. This does not mean that they are deprived of these choices- I can make some killer baked treats (of course, with a few healthy adjustments).
5. The “full-factor’
For a while there, I just needed that sense of fullness that I got when I was eating animal protein. So, to compensate for that – I was CARB LOADING. I was falling into the same pitfalls that many plant-based eaters do that run out of time, eat in a hurry, and don’t plan ahead. I needed to manage this, so I started using the Myfitnesspal app. This app has helped me keep track of my calories, macronutrients, and water intake. It took me about 2 weeks of consistent use to get back on track, understand what foods mattered and come back to portion control.