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Getting started on a plant based diet – not a diet but a lifestyle

I must let you know that before getting started on a plant based diet, I was very fond of meat of all kinds, cheese, yogurt and olive oils as well. There would be no more Friday nights in front of the fire indulging in some of the finest cheeses that we are blessed with here in Tasmania. I felt more strongly about missing out on the cheese than meats, but I was very impressed with the improvement in my back pain after the preparation to the diet, that I was going to stay strong.

 

I had also decided to cut out sugars and fats as in oil, although I do use a limited amount of sea salt in my seasoning. Another thing I need to mention is that I feel this way of eating is more of a lifestyle than a diet, and instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, focus on all the delicious things you can eat. This will help you to overcome any lasting cravings and be able to stay on track.

Preparing for the switch in diet

Prior to the switch in diet I was working in a restaurant we owned as the chef, so my pantry has always been stocked to the brim with anything and everything. We sold the restaurant earlier in the year due to my issues with back and foot pain. I have always enjoyed being able to cook up a storm with little notice, or at a whim if I craved something special. In preparation I felt I had to do a complete overhaul of my pantry, it was in need of a tidy anyway, and I didn’t need temptations along the way. I would recommend you do the same and get rid of the following:

  • Sugars
  • White flours
  • Tinned foods apart from legumes and tomatoes
  • Snack foods
  • Soft drinks
  • Sauces and condiments
  • Oils of any kind

You can then focus on having some of the following on hand as staples as they will be your go to pantry items:

  • Brown rice
  • Beans and lentils
  • Tomato passata and crushed or diced tomatoes
  • Spices that you enjoy
  • Popcorn
  • Plant based milk if you like

I then also made sure my fridge was emptied of all junk and any diary or animal products and gave it a good clean. The next step was to do a shop and I normally try to shop once a week only. Make sure you are not hungry when you shop and limited shops per week limit temptations as well. I filled the fridge with healthy fruits, vegetables and also bought some nuts to have on hand. In my mind I had already started to conjure up recipes to try, and my aim is to put together a recipe book in coming months so stay tuned.

Organise yourself

I found that by writing a menu plan for the week ahead helped me greatly, and when I went shopping I had a list to go by. In the past I would aimlessly walk up and down aisles and stuff the trolley full of unnecessary items. I would keep a diary initially of what I ate and drank through the day and even though this can be a bit tedious initially you will soon get used to it. It really helps being able to look back at where you are eating simply out of boredom rather than hunger.

We live in a society where everything is at our fingertips not the least food. As such I believe we have become more and more overweight and sedentary in our lives. When I was fasting it allowed me to really think about why we eat, how we eat and how much we eat. As man can survive for very long periods at a time without food it goes to show you that the average person or anyone overweight is certainly overindulging, myself included!

So when preparing set some limits on how much you can eat, using a smaller plate or bowl helps with this. Organise yourself so that you always have something healthy to eat on hand should you be tempted. I normally keep sliced celery and carrot sticks in the fridge with a bit hummus and always have fresh fruit on hand.

Make note of your weight at the start and try to keep weigh ins to once a week. I found it fluctuates so much through the week and day, and in my case I was more interested in the resolution of chronic pain than the weight loss. If you are looking to shed some kilos however, I feel writing the start and goal weight in your diary is great. Why not write an affirmation in there on a daily basis as well, it will certainly help propel you towards your goal faster.

 

Make time to exercise

Along with the changes to your diet make sure to make time for some exercise as well, to what level will depend on your fitness level of course. I started with gentle walking as I had such back ache but as it improved I would add other routines to my schedule especially in order to improve my core strength. Keep it simple and do something that you feel you will be able to stick with. I have found that there is little point in joining a gym if you aren’t going to stick with it. Instead, improve with walking, cycling, swimming or dancing. Whatever takes your fancy, but move you should in some way and try to stick to a minimum of 30 mins per day. You can gradually increase on this as you get fitter and feel that you are more motivated. The more weight you lose the more motivated you will become.

Skin and hair health

When you are done cleaning your your kitchen cupboards make some time to also look at what is in your bathroom. It is amazing how many chemicals are in your toiletries that we use on a daily basis. So if you intend to make this a lifestyle change like myself, give your toiletry bag a good overhaul as well. There are many good chemical free products out there and I will be sharing my reviews on the site in coming months.

One day at a time

Last but not the least try not to be too impatient. Whatever results you are aiming for may take some time and if like me, you have been a carnivore for a long time, it may take a little while to notice the changes. Go easy, stay hydrated and stay active for the best benefits.

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