Start by making changes to the first meal of your day, breakfast. Substitute sugary breakfast cereals with a bowl of whole oats. If you use milk, try replacing it with a plant-based milk alternative like almond, soy, hemp or oat milk. Instead of sugar, use stevia or date sugar as a sweetener. Top your bowl with fresh fruit and nuts or seeds.
Ready to move on to lunch and dinner? The easiest way to add more veggies is to have a green leafy salad (preferable baby kale, chard, spinach, arugula or romaine lettuce) at every meal. Add all your favorite raw vegetables, plus olives, pepperoncini or banana peppers. Make your own salad dressing by using extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar or lemon, dry or fresh herbs, salt and pepper to taste. Add a protein, it doesn’t have to be animal protein. You can have beans, lentils, peas, tofu or tempeh and a serving of quinoa or brown rice on the side.
Snacks are the easiest. You can have:
- fresh fruit and nuts
- avocado or nut butter on whole wheat toast
- air-popped popcorn (spray some extra virgin olive oil and add salt and spices to taste)
- hummus and veggie sticks or crackers
- dried fruit
- dark chocolate-covered almonds (watch portions)
All of these options are very satisfying, filling and contain lots of fiber.
Find New Recipes
It helps to find simple recipes to add variety in your weekly menu. But you can also overhaul the dishes you love with healthier ingredients. For example, on taco night you can replace beef with black beans topped with fresh cilantro, chopped onions and salsa for an authentic Mexican dish. When making burgers, substituting the beef patty for a vegetable one. There are a lot of brands out there for you to try. Always check the label and make sure that you choose one made with recognizable ingredients.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Start slow. Our taste buds have been highjacked by the abundance of hyper palatable foods in our diets which cause us to crave more sugary, processed foods. It can take several days to adapt to eating real, wholesome food.
Be patient. This is something that you will have to work on. The process is not linear but the more you adhere to these guidelines, the closer you will be to achieving your weight loss and health goals. Be mindful of excess sugar, salt and fat. Make it your goal to try 2 new plant-centered recipes and incorporate them into your weekly meal plan. Let’s crowd the plate with healthy, fresh foods.