Power Up With Plant-Based Foods

What is a plant-based diet and why should you care?  I enjoy throwing around words like tofu, edamame and lentils.  It’s sure to evoke a response from people in the group, usually in the form of a scowled face.  Negative reactions to topics like vegetarianism and plant-based foods are understandable.  There’s a stereotype, often incorrect, that adopting a plant-based diet means giving up all meat and instead eating a diet consisting of lettuce with a side of seeds, and perhaps more lettuce.  This couldn’t be further from the truth.

A plant-based diet is one that focuses on plants.  It’s exciting, colorful, tasty and with lots of texture.  It does not necessarily mean that someone adopting a more plant-based diet abstains from meat all together.  As one woman protested, “I’m not giving up my red meat!” HA! Fair enough and thank you for proving the point.  You can adopt a more plant-based diet and still have red meat.  The difference is that your diet is plant-centric, seasoned with meat.  There are different types of plant-based diets ranging from Vegan (no animal products), to a more flexible approach such as the Flexitarian diet.  For our purposes, we discussed the Flexitarian diet approach which seeks to incorporate more plant-based foods into your existing diet.  So instead of subtracting or cutting out, we focused on foods to add—a concept known as crowding out.

Benefits associated with plant-based diets are too many to mention, but here are the most notable:

  • Lower body weight, weight loss
  • Eat more, weigh less (plant-based diets are typically lower in calories)
  • Decrease risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other chronic diseases
  • Reversal of atherosclerosis
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Healthy gut microbiome
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduce risk of cancer
  • Better brain health
  • Increased intake of important nutrients and fiber
  • Cost-saving

If you would like to learn more about the benefits associated with plant-based eating, visit http://www.nutritionfacts.org which is a website dedicated to providing evidence-based nutrition advice. Adopting a more plant-based diet is exciting and fun, but can undoubtedly be intimidating to some. Below are some practical and simple suggestions.  I’d encourage you to start gradually and build your culinary skills as you go.

 

 

 

Breakfast

  • Vegetable omelet with black beans and salsa
  • Plain or Greek yogurt with berries and almond slivers
  • Steel Cut Oats with ground Flaxseed and walnuts
  • Tofu scramble with black beans, onion, spices and red peppers
  • Breakfast smoothie with almond butter, frozen fruit and soymilk

Lunch

  • Gingery Maple Glazed Tempeh on a salad of mixed greens with cashews
  • Black Bean, vegetable and cheese burrito
  • Chickpea, spinach and feta salad
  • Beef & Lentil Taco’s

Dinner

  • 3 Bean Chili
  • Tofu Curry
  • Tempeh Stir Fry
  • Edamame Pasta with meatless crumbles and marinara sauce

If you’re looking for an even lower commitment, start with a “Meatless Monday,” or pick one meal and replace the meat with a plant-based protein such as beans, seasoned tofu or marinated tempeh.  Gradually adopting a more plant-centric diet will produce dramatic health improvements.  Try it for yourself and see if you don’t feel better!

Motivation

Motivation in just 3 words: Just Do It! –Nike

Just do it. That’s really all there is to IT, and if you really want IT, you’ll do IT; If not, you’ll find an excuse (paraphrased quote from Jim Rohn). There’s nothing magical about behavior change, EXCEPT, what happens when you don’t just do it? Well, then perhaps it’s time to dig deep and assess your “why.”

Motivation for weight loss usually starts out high. But then a rough patch hits. Perhaps it’s a job change or a health condition, but it’s enough to bump you off course and you struggle to get back on track. This happens to nearly everyone. That’s why it’s important to be clear about your reasons—the “why” behind your efforts. Goals must be flexible and instead of setting unrealistic goals, sometimes I recommend setting a wellness vision for yourself. Think of your wellness vision as the beacon in the ocean.  You may have some storms that push you off course, but you know where you’re going and you’ll get there no matter what.

Motivation must be deeply personal. There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to your nutrition and exercise. We’re all so different in terms of our biology, genetics, lifestyle and preferences and so it stands to reason that our motivating factors would be different. You can’t do the diet that your friend Sally is doing and expect the same results. Find your own flame.  What makes you tic? Weight loss is a mental challenge more than anything.  What are the unique motivating factors that keep you pressing on? Generic reasons such as “better health,” or “to lose weight” are generally not enough to keep you going. Think of your motivation as a fire. If you don’t tend to it and add more material, it will eventually flicker out.

Build momentum. The hardest part of any new behavior is getting started. Don’t aim for perfection, but instead aim to get it done.  How many times have you finished a workout and thought, “wow, I really regret that I made myself exercise.” No way! You feel incredible after you exercise and you wonder why you just don’t do it everyday.  Just get started and chances are high that you won’t want to stop. Avoid the trap of all or nothing thinking and remember that anything is better than nothing. The interesting thing about motivation is that it usually occurs after you’ve started taking action on the new behavior, and not before. Only after your morning yoga can you be grateful for the effects of the practice. It may not have sounded like a good idea while in the comfort of your warm bed, but the rewards of the exercise are what you’re after.

Put decisions on auto-pilot by creating habits and rituals. So many people make the mistake of believing that if they only had more willpower then they would commit to healthier lifestyle habits, however, this kind of thinking is a trap. Willpower is a limited resource. Think of willpower as a teeny-tiny muscle and the more you use it in a day, the more fatigued it becomes. This is partly why so many people struggle with overeating later in the day. Successful people understand the limitations of their willpower and instead of the constant struggle, they have created habits and rituals that take the decision making out of the equation. They keep their home environment free from junk food. They pack their gym bag the night before. They schedule the yoga class as a recurring appointment.  A clean diet and daily exercise occurs only by building the habits.  If you leave it to chance day to day, it likely won’t happen.

Focus on the rewards.  Being healthy and whole, inside and out, does not just simply happen.  Good health requires an investment of time and energy, but hopefully you find that the payoff is worth it. Simply put, the benefits of weight loss must outweigh the cost involved. The author Steven Pressfield says it best: “At some point the pain of not doing it becomes greater than the pain of doing it.” In other words, when you get sick and tired of being sick and tired, then you will commit to doing something different.  Growth and change is painful, but staying stuck in poor health is painful.  Will you choose the temporary discomfort of change in order to achieve great health, or will you choose the pain of staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong?

Motivation is a necessary component of weight loss, but motivation alone will not lead to lasting changes.  In order to successfully navigate the lifestyle change, motivation must be coupled with support and the right tools.  Stay tuned in 2017 because we have some excellent educational opportunities with our lifestyle classes, grocery tours and cooking classes.  Happy New Year!