WHY TRY A PLANT-BASED DIET?
Diets can be awful. I think we can all agree on that.
There’s nothing worse than constantly thinking about your food intake, obsessing over calories, and then beating yourself up when you inevitably slip and pound every donut in Chattanooga. Eventually you get the energy to try again, and around and around we go.
I like to think of food as a friend and ally, not an enemy. Hippocrates said to let food be our medicine, and that guy was definitely on to something. The kind of food we eat is vital. Food is always either helping or hurting us—either supporting or not supporting your body’s systems.
Who cares? You do!
When Food Works Against You
You know that feeling you get mid-afternoon? You’re sitting at your desk or teaching your class or playing with your kids, and suddenly you’re exhausted. Despite the walk you just took around the building, or the gallon of caffeine you just drank, the day is pretty much downhill from there.
If you’ve ever felt that energy crash, or had that bloated after-lunch feeling, then you’ve experienced food working against you.
The right kind of food helps us flush out illness, improve our mood, heal inflammation, boost energy, lose weight, regulate digestion, clear our minds, and sleep better! Pre-packaged and highly processed foods filled with chemicals and laden with sugar clog our system, thicken our blood, cause harmful and even chronic inflammation, cause mood swings, and a host of other uglies.
All this is why I’m on a plant-based diet. It’s also why you should consider trying it.
So what’s the big deal with plants anyway?
Plants are definitely the MVPs of food. First of all, they’re dense with nutrients. Often we get our nutrients all split up—calcium in milk and protein in meat for example. Not so with plant foods.
Take kale for example! This leafy green packs a huge health punch: full of protein, vitamins A and C, sulfur, calcium, and omega-3s. Basically, you get the most nutrient bang for your buck.
A plant-based diet is just the most efficient way to give your body what it craves, a slightly alkaline (~7.4) environment that metabolically disables disease. It’s also been proven to prevent illness and severely lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders.
Stay Real, Form Habits
I’ve been on a plant-based diet for twenty years, and a key to getting out of the yo-yo diet cycle and seeing real, lasting change in your health is realistic expectations. If you expect yourself to never eat an ounce of bread or sugar again for the rest of your life, you’re dreamin’. Be honest with yourself, you may eventually slip up and start the whole diet cycle again.
But if you eat well 80% of the time and allow yourself the occasional indulgence—a glass of wine, a muffin, chocolate chocolate chocolate—then you’re more likely to stay on track and create sustainable habits. (Eating real food most of the time also better equips your body to handle those occasional treats.)
Put simply, the longer you eat real food, the more your body will crave it, the less it will crave “cheat” foods, and the better your body will feel.
Goodbye, Portion Control
Plant foods are not as calorie-dense as processed and high-fat foods. That means when your diet is rich with plant foods, there is no need for portion restriction! Yes, you read that right. No counting. No measuring. Just listening to your body and eating when you’re hungry, and however much you want.
With the nutrient density in plant foods, you’ll easily get higher
amounts of nearly every nutrient than someone on the more typical American diet of processed foods.
Eating more, building up your body, receiving more nutrients, and feeling better. Pretty great, right?
Also remember that eating a plant-based diet is good for the environment. It conserves water, reduces greenhouse gases, and reduces deforestation and desertification caused by animal agriculture. So do your body and your world a favor - go plant-based!
Have you experienced a plant-based diet? We’d love to hear your perspective. Comment below!