By now you’ve surely heard the term “plant-based.” But do you really know what it means?
It’s actually much less complicated than you might think. Eating a plant-based diet simply means that you focus on eating plenty of plant foods each day.
Does that mean that someone who isn’t strictly vegetarian or vegan can’t say they eat a “plant-based” diet? Absolutely not.
However you choose to eat — no animal products at all (vegan), some eggs and dairy (vegetarian), some fish (pescatarian), or a little bit of everything (flexitarian or omnivore) — everyone can benefit from adding as many plant-based foods to their diets as possible.
Plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes are loaded with body-beautifying nutrients, including:
- vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that the body uses to function optimally
- fiber, which promotes healthy bowel function and regular elimination
- chlorophyll in green leafy vegetables, which helps to heal and detox the body
Here are a few ways to add in more plants, regardless of how you choose to eat:
HAVE AT LEAST ONE LEAFY GREEN SALAD EVERY DAY.
Start your lunch or dinner off with even just a small, leafy green salad. Include all the raw veggies you’d like, and dress it with a simple olive oil and lemon juice or apple cider vinegar dressing. Then, move on to the rest of your meal. All the powerful plant enzymes in that one raw salad will tremendously benefit your body’s ability to digest the other foods you eat.
EAT RAW OR COOKED VEGETABLES WITH TWO OF YOUR THREE MEALS EVERY DAY.
Again, it’s all about plant enzymes here. Raw veggies retain more of their natural plant enzymes, but cooked vegges still contain fiber and other nutrients. Even if you don’t make a lot of other changes to your diet, filling up your plate with more raw and/or cooked veggies will make such a difference. Chances are you’ll start to feel that difference pretty quickly.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF FRUIT.
Fruit contains loads of antioxidants and fiber. Some are higher sugar than others, so if you’re watching your sugar intake, familiarize yourself with those that are naturally lower in sugar. If you have digestive symptoms and have been told you shouldn’t eat fruit try it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and wait about an hour before eating anything else.
INCORPORATE GREEN JUICE INTO YOUR DIET.
Even if you can’t drink one daily, going for a mid-morning or afternoon green vegetable juice just a few times a week will benefit your cells. Green juice is hydrating because all those veggies contain water, and your cells will benefit from the hydration as well as from the flood of nutrients. Look for one that’s freshly made either at home or at a juice bar, or choose one from the health food store that’s just green veggies like kale, spinach, celery, cucumber and lemon or lime juice.
TRY A WEEKLY MEAT-FREE NIGHT.
You can lighten your meat load by working in just one night a week with a vegetarian meal. Choose beans or eggs in place of meat, or make a big salad loaded with veggies (raw and cooked), roasted sweet potatoes and avocado.
START TO CONSIDER YOUR MEAT PORTION AS A SIDE DISH, AND THE VEGGIES ON YOUR PLATE AS THE MAIN DISH.
No one will argue that the more veggies you can incorporate into your diet, the better. But there is some debate in the heath world as to how much animal protein is “enough” for one person. Only you can know what feels best for your body. Start your meal with a green salad and/or cooked veggies, and then check in and see how much animal protein your body really wants or needs after you eat your vegetables. You might be surprised that you don’t really want or need as much as you thought you did.