8 Practical Tips to Get Started with Plant Focused Eating
What is Plant-Focused Eating?
Plant-focused eating is one of the top nutrition and food trends for 2023 and this food trend is here to stay. You may decide you want to eat less meat for a variety of reasons; for your health, ethical, religious, cultural, or environmental reasons. It does not mean you have to eliminate all animal foods, rather you choose proportionately more foods from plant sources. Foods included are not only fruits and vegetables, but also nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans.
Benefits of Eating Less Meat
There are many benefits to eating more plant foods. The research is mixed showing one specific diet to follow for cancer prevention. However, it might reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Plant foods are naturally high in fiber. Foods high fiber foods have been shown to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer risk. Fiber containing foods can help you achieve a healthy weight because they are naturally low in calories and help you feel satisfied longer.
Plant foods also contain chemical compounds called phytochemicals that protect the body from damage by interrupting processes in the body that can encourage cancer production. In addition, phytochemicals decrease inflammation. Ongoing inflammation in the body has been shown to increase cancer risk.
Eating less meat reduces your food budget too!
Examples of plant-focused eating patterns:
Mediterranean diet: this eating pattern is not overly restrictive and easy to follow. It emphasizes whole foods, olive oil, seafood, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. Red meat and added sugar are limited, while eggs, poultry, and dairy are recommended in moderation. Although the diet name suggests foods from the Mediterranean region it can be adapted to plant foods common to other cuisines or cultures.
Mayo Clinic diet: a long-term weight management program created by a team of weight-loss experts at Mayo Clinic to include healthy foods and increase physical activity through sustainable changes.
DASH diet: includes a variety of foods that can lower both blood pressure and low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol levels in the blood.
Flexitarian diet: describes someone who eats mostly plant-based foods, but occasionally eats meat, poultry, and fish.
Vegetarian diets: there are many types of vegetarian diets that include or exclude certain foods. Some that exclude most, or all animal products, may require more planning to ensure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs.
How to Get Started with Plant-Focused Eating
Making any kind of change can be hard. Begin slowly and try a few of these tips to get started.
- Examine your meals. Does each meal include either fruit or vegetables? Include ones you are most familiar with. You can branch out and try new fruit or vegetables prepared in a unique way.
- Bring your lunch from home. If you don’t normally bring your lunch to work, start by packing lunch 1-2 times per week. Be sure to include fruits and veggies!
- Half your plate. Fill half your plate with vegetables with your dinner meal.
- Make convenience your friend. Use frozen, pre-chopped, packaged vegetables, or salad mixes to save time on chopping and prepping at snack and mealtimes.
- Think about meat differently. You can still include meat in dishes but reduce the total amount and include beans as a plant source of protein.
- Cook a vegetarian meal once per week. It can be intimidating if you have never made a meatless meal. Plan a meatless version of one of your favorite recipes, lasagna, soup, or pasta. Check out this website for meatless meal options: Mayo Clinic Meatless recipes.
- Think creatively at breakfast. Breakfast does not have to be plain old cereal anymore. Try whole grain muffins, overnight oatmeal, or a smoothie. Breakfast recipes - Mayo Clinic
- Get creative with the typical salad. Salads can include so much more than just lettuce. It can include whole grain pasta or grains, fruit, nuts, and lesser amounts of no added sugar dried fruit.
Choosing to eat more plant-focused foods has many benefits. Whatever plant-focused eating pattern you choose be sure it is one that is easy to follow and includes a variety of whole foods.
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Really!- 'Yuk' to the "Mediterranean diet"?! : Just because it includes the word diet, doesn't make it a sad and yucky thing! No need to deny yourself Any pleasures. Just be Moderate- maybe Extramoderate with meat-and use excellent quality ingredients when you can get them: Dietary guidelines all sound yucky and limiting, but Italian and Spanish is some of the best the world has to offer- so look up some recipes online. Barbeques of cut up peppers, onions and eggplant on skewers are beautiful and add flavor to everything, as well as an amazing scent in the air. Mushrooms cooked up slowly in a tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron pan, with a small squeeze of garlic, ditto.
Add to rice, add to scrambled egg…
Grated Reggiano Parmesan may cost almost as much as gold , chunk for chunk- but even a small amount grated and sprinkled on just about Anything makes it delicious( and calciumrich).
Beans are amazingly satisfying, if you buy them dry, and soak them in a bowl of water in your fridge overnight ( pour in enough water to cover the beans plus a couple of inches over). Then cook them in a pot stovetop for an hour or two the next day. Look up veggie chili recipes, look up white bean soup, etc.. Cold ( but cooked) white beans in good olive oil are Delicious and filling, and wonderful on rosemary crackers you can buy.
Nuts are another amazingly satisfying food. If you put them in your tiarer pan for a few minutes, it releases their flavour and makes them hold their crunch, if you add them to salads or to rice. (I recently have been low energy and nauseous due to cancer treatments, so eat Amy's frozen rice macaroni and cheese from the supermarket, microwaved- but add a huge handful of toasted walnuts, which makes an amazing five minute preptime meal. The other standby is Amy's Mac and Chili bowl- veggie- but I microwave frozen spinach and mix half a packet of that in, which is a delicious mess.Not what every doctor would order- and any /every "foodie" out there would be sure to say"Yuk"-but at least I'm Eating!- and it's quite nutritious, meat-free, and takes six minutes to prepare! Lets me get to sleep which is major).
Anyway point is, you will not be denying yourself, but finding new riches, if you just look for a few simple additions to your more familiar "diet", that suit your own taste buds. And it will begin to satisfy you surprisingly, as meat does, over time.
This is one of those things, like many other aspects of life, where you are free to do your thing and thankfully I am free to do mine.
Thank you dear friend. We are on this journey together. You mentioned “low energy”. I read others saying that bone broth increases the energy level. Recommend you try out. Last, lots of hugs to you and I certainly will try some of your recipes!
Hi- I ve heard of bone broth- and it sounds strength building and soothing. I guess we went off-road here, on a plant-based diet dialogue! (Sorry people). But I appreciate the attentive advice- and plan to follow up on it. Thanks.