health, information, plant-based eating, tips

How to Start a Plant Based Diet (from a Holistic Health Coach & mom of 3 that’s done it successfully!)

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With the end of the decade looming large, many are looking to make a big change in 2020. Perhaps you’re one of the millions of people that are ready to make the leap to a predominately whole foods, plant based lifestyle in the coming year. Maybe you’ve heard of the health and environmental benefits, but you’re not sure where to start. Below is a Holistic Health Coach’s guide to making a successful transition to a healthy, sustainable, abundant plant based lifestyle.

1. Know Your Why:

I read a quote over a decade ago that said, “If the WHY is clear, the HOW is easy.” In my experience, getting very clear on your reasons for wanting to do something is the first step in making lasting change. Ask yourself why you want to commit to a plant based lifestyle. Is it your health (or your family’s)? Is it for the animals? The environment? A combination of all 3? Write down your reasons for this lifestyle change on a real piece of paper in your own handwriting and post it on your fridge or pantry. Having your Lifestyle Change Mission Statement visibly posted in your own writing will help you remember what you’re working toward in those moments when it seems too challenging to choose new behaviors.

If your “why” is only surface level (think weight loss, to follow a trend, or to impress a partner) you either might not be ready to make this transition or you might need more education. Take the time to seek out some solid information that will help you find a deeper “why” so that you can move forward with your “how.”

2. Create a Game Plan:

With your “why” clear, it’s time to map out your “how.” Sit down with the members of your household and come up with your Transition Blueprint. Having an idea is good, but having a clearly written out plan of attack is better—it makes your ideas reality. Write all of this out below your Lifestyle Change Mission Statement. How do you want to transition? One meal a week? One meal a day? One entirely plant based day a week? Decide together what your starting steps are and progressively write your plan forward from there.

If your partner or family aren’t on the same page about how quickly you want to transition, make separate game plans. Make sure to include plans for how you want to handle meals out of the house, who is shopping/prepping/cooking/doing dishes, and what your goal date is to be fully plant based. If your housemates are not on board with any changes and you’re doing this solo, they still need to be part of the conversation so that they can understand and respect your plans for change. In this case, you may want to seek out some plant based forums, social media groups, or clubs so that you’re getting the support you need outside of the home.

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3. Build Your Recipe Repertoire:

Time for some Recon work. Write down all of your go-to recipes—can any of them be made healthier? Now take a look at Pinterest and Instagram and build a digital rolodex of recipes that look delicious. Keep in mind your schedule, flavor preferences, and cooking skill level when you pick out new recipes. A busy Tuesday is not the time to try a 25-ingredient vegan souffle while also helping the kids with homework before leaving for soccer practice. Be realistic and start with simple, 30 minute or less type recipes. Don’t forget to look for slow-cooker recipes that you can prep in the morning and have cooking all day while you’re at work!

4. Shop and Prep:

You’ve done all the planning, now it’s time to get cooking! Pick you meals for the week, make your grocery list, and head to the store. Focus on the all important outer perimeter of the store where the produce section and bulk aisle(s) are. You’ll be spending most of your time there! While we live in a day and age where there is a vegan alternative for everything, keep those foods as an occasional treat or not at all. There is little to no health benefit in becoming a “junk food vegan.” Once you get all your lovely, fresh food home, take the time to do your meal prep and fridge prep. Frazzled mid-week you will be grateful.

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5. Give Yourself Grace:

This is probably the most important step. Meaningful change takes time. You will not be “perfect” overnight. There will be meals where you slip up and fall back into old habits. Take a deep breath and try again with the next meal (notice how I didn’t say the next day, the next week, or the next month! THE NEXT MEAL). This is especially true when working on dietary changes with kids. Give them grace too. Be firm yet encouraging (and check out this post on getting your kids to love their veggies for more ideas).

Armed with a well thought out Lifestyle Change Mission Statement and Transition Blueprint, I’m confident that this next decade will be your healthiest yet! If you have any more questions leave them in the comments below. Alternatively, if you need more tailored help on how to make lasting lifestyle changes for yourself or your family, send me a message via my Contact page and we can get you scheduled for a one-on-one consultation.

Let’s rock the 2020’s together!

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