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Plant Based Diet

Where Do I Start?

Limit/Discontinue: Refined Products and Processed Food
When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, one of the first steps is to limit or discontinue the consumption of refined products and processed foods. These items undergo extensive processing and refining, resulting in a significant loss of nutrients while often adding unhealthy additives and preservatives. It's time to prioritize our well-being by making more conscious choices about what we put into our bodies.

Limit/Discontinue: Processed and Refined Sugars
Refined sugars are devoid of essential nutrients and can lead to a multitude of health issues. To promote a healthier diet, it is crucial to minimize or eliminate the intake of processed and refined sugars. Instead, opt for natural sweeteners like raw honey, pure maple syrup, or fruits that provide essential nutrients and are easier for your body to process.

Discontinue: Dairy Products
Dairy products can be problematic for some individuals, leading to digestive issues, allergies, or sensitivities. It might be worthwhile to consider discontinuing or reducing the consumption of dairy products to improve overall well-being. If necessary, explore alternative options like plant-based milk, such as almond, soy, or oat milk, which can offer similar nutritional benefits without the potential negative effects.

Discontinue: Red Meat, Pork, and Chicken
While red meat, pork, and chicken are sources of protein, they are also associated with increased risk of certain health conditions when consumed excessively. Consider discontinuing or significantly reducing the consumption of these meats and explore alternative protein sources such as legumes, tofu, tempeh, or a wider variety of fish like salmon or sardines. These alternatives offer essential nutrients while providing a healthier balance.

Discontinue: Wheat if You Are Gluten Sensitive
For individuals who are gluten sensitive, wheat can cause various health problems and discomfort. To alleviate these issues, it is advisable to discontinue or minimize the consumption of wheat-based products. Thankfully, there are numerous gluten-free alternatives available, ensuring that you can still enjoy a wholesome variety of grains, such as quinoa, rice, buckwheat, and gluten-free oats.

Discontinue: Sugar Drinks, Carbonated Sodas, Fake Juices
Sugar-sweetened beverages like carbonated sodas and fake juices offer minimal nutritional value but contribute significantly to excessive sugar consumption. It is essential to discontinue or strictly limit the intake of these high-sugar drinks for the sake of our health. Opt for healthier hydrating options like water, herbal teas, or freshly squeezed fruit juices to quench your thirst and nourish your body simultaneously.

Focusing on whole foods is a beneficial step toward a more nourishing diet and lifestyle. By limiting or discontinuing refined products, processed foods, refined sugars, dairy products, red meat, pork, chicken, and wheat (for those who are gluten sensitive), we can pave the way for a healthier, more balanced approach to eating. Choose whole foods that provide essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, enabling our bodies to thrive and flourish.

Standard American Diet

The statistics surrounding the Standard American Diet (SAD) are both eye-opening and concerning. With 63% of America's calories derived from refined and processed foods, it becomes evident how our eating habits have shifted towards convenience and quick fixes. Soft drinks, packaged snacks like potato chips, and tempting packaged desserts dominate our choices, leaving a significant impact on our health.

Another alarming fact is that 25% of America's calorie intake comes from animal-based foods. This proportion indicates a heavy reliance on meat, dairy, and other animal products within our diet. While these foods can provide essential nutrients, such as protein and certain vitamins, an imbalance arises when they become the primary source of calories. Such a dietary pattern could lead to excessive fat consumption, contributing to health issues like obesity and heart disease.

Interestingly, only 12% of America's calories are derived from plant-based foods. This figure seems disproportionately low, given the numerous health benefits associated with plant-based diets. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and plant-derived fats offer a wide array of nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants that promote overall wellness and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Unfortunately, a majority of Americans seem to overlook the importance of incorporating these foods into their daily meals.

The implications of these statistics are multifaceted. Firstly, the high consumption of refined and processed foods indicates a need for education and awareness regarding healthier alternatives. By reducing our reliance on these convenience foods, we can minimize the detrimental effects they have on our health. Secondly, the excessive intake of animal-based foods suggests the importance of embracing a more balanced approach to our dietary choices. Incorporating more plant-based options can contribute to a healthier lifestyle while still accommodating personal taste preferences.

To break free from the Standard American Diet, it is crucial to prioritize whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based proteins. These choices will provide a wealth of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals while reducing the consumption of refined sugars and unhealthy fats.

Furthermore, education and accessibility to healthier foods are vital components in promoting a shift towards a more balanced and sustainable diet. By empowering individuals to make informed choices and ensuring that nutritious options are readily available, we can collectively work towards improving the health of our nation.

The statistics surrounding the Standard American Diet paint a clear picture of the unhealthy eating habits prevalent in our society. With a majority of our calorie intake coming from refined and processed foods, and a significant reliance on animal-based foods, it is imperative that we prioritize incorporating more plant-based options into our daily lives. By focusing on whole, unprocessed foods and educating ourselves on healthier alternatives, we can work towards a more balanced and nutritious diet, ultimately fostering a healthier population.

Healthy Balanced Diet: Making the Most of Your Meals

One of the key factors in maintaining good health is following a healthy balanced diet. Such a diet ensures that we provide our body with the necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to function optimally. To achieve a well-rounded diet, it's important to keep in mind certain guidelines.

Vegetables and Fruits: The Foundation of Your Plate
When it comes to your meals, make vegetables and fruits the star of the show, accounting for half of your plate. Aim for a variety of colors to ensure you're consuming different nutrients and antioxidants. However, keep in mind that potatoes do not count as vegetables on the Healthy Eating Plate. This is due to their negative impact on blood sugar levels. Instead, focus on leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, and vibrant fruits.

Whole Grains: Nourishing Your Body
Allocate a quarter of your plate to whole grains. Opt for options like whole wheat, barley, wheat berries, quinoa, oats, and brown rice. These whole and intact grains have a milder effect on your blood sugar and insulin levels compared to refined grains, such as white bread and white rice. Whole grain foods, such as whole wheat pasta, are packed with fiber and provide sustained energy, contributing to a well-balanced meal.

Protein and Healthy Fats: A Balanced Combination
Dedicate another quarter of your plate to protein and healthy fats. Choose from an array of options such as fish, poultry, legumes, and nuts. These versatile protein sources can be incorporated into salads or paired with vegetables. It's wise to limit your consumption of red meat and avoid processed meats like bacon and sausage, as they aren't as beneficial to your overall health.

Aiming for a healthy balanced diet involves making conscious choices that prioritize fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein. This combination provides your body with the essential nutrients it needs to function optimally. By following these dietary guidelines, you'll be on your way to maintaining a healthy lifestyle that promotes overall well-being.

Debunking Plant Based Myths

Myth #1: Vegetarians and Vegans Have a Hard Time Getting Enough Protein
Contrary to popular belief, plant-based protein sources often offer more dietary fiber and less saturated fat compared to animal-based alternatives. These two factors are crucial elements of a heart-healthy diet. Vegetarians and vegans can easily meet their protein needs by consuming a variety of plant-based foods such as lentils, beans, quinoa, tofu, and tempeh.
Myth #2: To Build Strong Bones, You Must Include Dairy in Your Diet
While dairy products are commonly associated with calcium intake for strong bones, they are by no means the sole providers of this essential nutrient. Other plant foods like kale, broccoli, bok choy, and fortified plant-based milk alternatives also contain significant amounts of calcium. Additionally, adequate levels of vitamin D and protein are important contributors to bone health, both of which can be attained through plant-based sources.
Myth #3: Eating Soy Increases the Risk of Breast Cancer
Despite prevailing misconceptions, soy consumption does not increase the risk of breast cancer. In fact, there is evidence suggesting that incorporating soy products into the diet during childhood and adolescence can lead to a lower lifetime risk of breast cancer. However, starting soy consumption in adulthood may not offer the same level of protection. Fortified soy products can be a convenient way for vegans and vegetarians to fulfill their protein and calcium requirements.
Myth #4: Just Because Something Is Vegetarian Means It Is Healthy
It is important to recognize that labeling a food item as "vegetarian" or "vegan" does not automatically guarantee it is healthy. While many nutritious plant-based options exist, it is also possible to find vegetarian foods that are high in added sugars or sodium. Snacks like cookies, chips, and sweetened cereals can fall into this category. It is crucial to prioritize whole, unprocessed plant foods to ensure a well-rounded and nourishing diet.

By dispelling these common plant-based myths, individuals can make informed dietary choices that align with their health goals and ethical values. Plant-based diets can provide ample protein, essential nutrients, and promote well-being when approached in a well-balanced manner.

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