So, you’re going to change your diet….
First off, you should be commended for even considering the change, and in lieu of so many nay-sayers of veganism still around. If you have already mentally committed to this change, congratulations on making such a remarkable and valuable decision for yourself! I’m glad you found this post and I hope that it helps in making for the smoothest transition possible.
Thinking back on my first transition to WFPB, I confess, I totally winged it. I say ‘first’ transition because I’ll also confess that this is not how I eat all the time (though the more and more I do eat this way, the more and more I am compelled to never look back). It just feels so good.
That first time was…well, painstaking to be honest. Desire and dedication were at 100%, but I had very little knowledge, guidance, or support. I ended up eating raw cauliflower more than I care to admit. I learned as I went, yes, but I bet the experience would have been a great deal more enjoyable had I armed myself with knowledge ahead of time.
So, in an effort to 1. Keep myself on track when I want to do a personal WFPB challenge, and 2. Help others avoid my same mistakes, I developed this little plan; E.A.T. W.I.S.E. It is actually comprised of some things that we should try to practice regularly, but are especially helpful when making a change.
Address addictions and other challenges
What to eat
Now, do I need the whole plan each time I want a reset? No, because some of the things are redundant after the first time and can be ‘reused’ in a sense during subsequent ‘challenges’, or practiced regularly, like I mentioned (you’ll see what I mean as we move further on). But, this plan addresses how to best prepare yourself, your loved ones, and your environment for a successful and enjoyable experience eating the WFPB way. Let’s cut to the good stuff and jump right in.
Making this decision might be as easy as simply saying, “I’m going to give this whole food plant-based thing a go”. Implementing that decision? Well, that might take a little work and research on your part, and that’s okay. Arming yourself with knowledge only enhances your situation in all circumstances in life, that’s just a fact. So, what are some of the things we should know before embarking upon a WFPB adventure? Here’s a little direction:
What is WFPB?
*What exactly makes up a whole food plant-based diet? I mean, what can I eat?? What am I supposed to avoid? If you haven’t researched this already, stroll on over to here where we answer those questions. There’s even a handy printable list that you can take with you to the store, or use as you plan your meals!
*How to read a nutrition label- this is an important skill for everyone to have, regardless of their dietary choices. With the rise in allergies over the years, and the epidemic of nutrition-related diseases, the significance of being able to do this cannot be overrated, or overlooked. This is an excellent resource to help with this.
Not All Foods are Food
*Being able to identify what ingredients to avoid (if you’re supplementing with some packaged food items). For example, there are well over 100 names for sugars and sugar substitutes! More about that ridiculousness in this post. Oils, carrageenan, natural flavors, artificial flavors, citric acid, and many, many other ingredients are important to be able to identify so that they can be avoided (for WFPB at least). Do a little research. When you come across an ingredient with which you’re not familiar, look it up. Start to make a list of things you want to avoid and things you are okay with. Not everyone has the same beliefs or opinions on these things. But, if WFPB is what you’re striving to achieve, perhaps consider avoiding packaged food altogether, or at least those with ingredients not directly from a whole food plant-based source.
Natural Flavors Aren’t *Always* so Natural
*A bit about natural flavors- this ‘ingredient’ doesn’t necessarily nix the item off the grocery list, BUT it does need to be investigated if you truly do want the food, and you truly do want to maintain the healthy WFPB way of eating. Natural flavors could be anything from animal products, to a chemical made in a lab to be an exact match to something found in nature, or it could be a mixture of crushed up organic berries. As the consumer pushing a cart through the store perusing labels, we don’t really know, do we? But, sometimes you can go to the product’s website and see if the ‘natural flavors’ are discussed in their FAQ section, use a contact form to ask, or even post the question to their product in an Amazon listing to find out. You could also just err on the side of caution and avoid the food altogether, and recreate that product on your own at home. Pinterest is a gold mine.
Address Addictions (and other challenges)
One reason people won’t even consider changing their diet is actually the very reason they should; addiction. Addiction to sugars, salt, unhealthy fats, refined carbohydrates, and the list goes on. Or, addictions to poor eating practices like grazing throughout the day, binging at night, or making convenience foods become staples in their everyday regimen (even if they are on the healthier side).
Recognizing the issue is the first step to addressing it. Always is. Here are some possible signs that food addiction may have a seat at the table:
Gorging in more food than one can physically tolerate
Eating to the point of feeling ill
Going out of your way to obtain certain foods
Continuing to eat certain foods even if no longer hungry
Eating in secret, isolation
Avoiding social interactions, relationships, or functions to spend time eating certain foods.
Difficulty function in a career or job due to decreased efficiency
Spending significant amount of money on buying certain foods for bingeing purposes
For more information, I highly encourage anyone who has even the slightest inkling that they may have an issue, to check out this site, or others like it. There is no shame in looking into this further. There is no shame if you, yourself, struggle with unhealthy eating habits. The food industry has done a magnificent job with science, food manipulation and additives, and marketing. The struggle to not be a food zombie among the hoard, is real.
There are some very helpful, highly-rated books with excellent reviews available. It could never hurt to learn skills and techniques to maintain healthy eating habits, with or without addiction issues. Below are a few that I have personally read, or know someone who has and had positive feedback to provide.
That’s right, tell people. Tell everyone, and here’s why. Informing others that you’re making a healthier lifestyle and dietary change will empower them to support you. They are more likely to recommend WFPB dining options, more likely to ask you how it’s going (a little healthy accountability), and they are more likely to be open to considering the change themselves (another member of the tribe never hurts 😉 ).
So, don’t be shy about it. Let the world know. Be the change you want to see in others. Who knows, you could be the trail blazer that got people in the office to stop bringing in garbage food, or what drove your sister to finally watch what she eats and get healthier too.
Cruise on over to here to read more about the E.A.T. W.I.S.E. preparation method, and ensure success with your healthy goals!