Tips and Tricks to Tackle a Vegetarian Diet

Heading into the end of the year is a time that people like to re-focus on their health. They start looking into plant-based diets (vegetarian or vegan), cleanses, or even consider tackling the Whole 30.

 

Shifting from a meat-based diet to a plant-based one is an admirable challenge, but it is a challenge none the less. Here are some tips and tricks that may help you in this undertaking.

 

The two main issues that I see almost every time a life-long meat eater attempts to go vegetarian are: (1) their mentality and (2) their approach to food.
First up – Don’t think of this as an exercise in deprivation. If you keep saying “I can’t live without bacon” or telling yourself/other people that you’re not going to be able to do it, you won’t be able to do it. It’s that simple. So really think about shifting your perspective. You’re not cutting yourself off, you’re opening yourself up to a whole new way of looking at food and nourishing yourself. You’ll find new foods, new recipes, and new meals that you never knew existed, and that’s a wonderful thing. Even if you’re counting down every day to returning to your previous habits, try to give a little attention to what you’re gaining. New knowledge, new foods, new perspective. That in itself is worth celebrating.
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Second – Don’t try to eat exactly the same way that you used to and just cut out the meat. I see that A LOT with people in fitness, they try to cut out meat but don’t actually add anything new to their meals. You’ll be bored and hungry in hours if you’re just eating vegetables and eggs.
The keys to a sustainable plant-based diet are feeling satiated and fully nourishing yourself. Some people eat soy with every meal, others supplement with powders and bars, and some eat entirely whole foods with no processed products. It’s up to you to decide which path to take, but I recommend being mindful and opening yourself up to trying new things, so you can discover what works best for your body.
Bulking up your meals is important. You will starve to death and hate every minute if you eat the same thing for every meal or try to sustain yourself with broccoli three times a day. So, for bulking, I recommend loading up on whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Don’t be boring and basic, ask yourself “what can I add to this?” at each meal. It’ll help keep you full and satisfied.
Not that my diet is perfect, but here’s examples of two days of eating for me. One is during the week when I’m in an office and need easy foods, and one is when I’m at home and can be more creative. Also, one thing to note, is that I workout twice a day, so I have high protein needs.
Week day:
– Lemon water + tea
– Smoothie: mixed berries, spinach, protein powder, cinnamon, ginger, maca powder + chia seeds (add chia at the end, don’t blend the seeds)
– Avocado toast: Udi’s GF bread, avocado, cayenne, sea salt, hemp + sesame seeds
– Giant salad beast: mixed greens, radish, cucumber, kidney beans, cherry tomatoes, roasted beets, quinoa + carrot ginger dressing
– Coconut yogurt + almond butter with cinnamon
– Protein bar (I like lower sugar bars, minimally processed, and usually brown rice or pea protein vs soy protein isolate)
– Roasted sweet potatoes, stir fried zucchini + Summer squash with shallots, garlic + coconut aminos, and a veggie burger with salsa
Lots of big meals. Protein, healthy fat and carbs with every meal. And lots of variety – Raw + cooked vegetables, fruit, beans, grains, seeds, nut butter…
Weekend:
– Scramble: Green onions, garlic + shallots with peppers, zucchini + cherry tomatoes and eggs. Topped with salsa and avocado, and served with fruit salad + Greek yogurt
– Nourish bowl: Quinoa, roasted cauliflower, black beans, sauteed asparagus and greens topped with hummus, hemp seeds, and balsamic
– Snack: Celery, carrots, cucumber with babaganoosh
– Pasta: Zucchini + sweet potato noodles sauteed with tomatoes, vegan sausage, carrots, peppers, onions, garlic, and spices.
Recipes and Links:
While I love recipes and food blogs, I tend to go off script. I use them as a starting point and then do whatever I feel like. I use whatever I have on hand and like to get creative, so most of my “recipes” are different every time I make them. My advice is to read some of these links and find out what appeals to you, then get creative. 🙂
Additional links:
– Alllll the veggie posts
Fun facts:
Even if you eat a very healthy diet, going vegetarian means more fiber. You can get gassy or bloated or experience some GI distress when you’re getting started. Try easing into it slowly, and drink LOTS of water. I drink a full water bottle as soon as I get up, before I even leave my bedroom. I put it on my bedside table when I go to bed and drink it when I wake up. It’s a good way to start flushing your system.
Some other things that may help during your transition or if you’re having stomach issues are pre/probiotics and fermented foods/drinks. Kombucha, sauerkraut, gut shots, and kimchi are all great ways to promote a healthy, happy gut. I also turn to ginger lemon tea whenever I get an upset or angry tummy, calms it right down.
Good luck to those considering a transition towards a plant-based diet and let me know if you have any questions!
Any other tips from my plant-based friends out there?

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