The Take Away: Eating Nutritionally Dense Foods Makes You Healthier
When going vegan, it is easy to be caught up in the moment- the excitement of having found a way to changeyour life drastically; maybe veganism is a cause you care about deeply, or even aid in the improvement of your failing health and lack luster life.
All things being equal, veganism is the healthiest way to eat, when done properly. The "properly" part is where things get tricky. That is the Take Away- how to eat nutritionally minded.
I will not pretend to have all the answers; this article is an aid, not a textbook. And that is important- that vegans listen to each other, and learn from one another, so please comment below all your thoughts.
Step One: Avoid Alternative Meat and Dairy
Firstly, if you read this article, you know that becoming vegan is hard. The process is emotionally draining, and for myself and my father, we clung to the prospect of still eating all our favorite foods just changed slightly to be vegan. We still buttered our bread like there was no tomorrow, just with Earth Balance. We still filled our plates with pasta and sauce and fake sausage and pizza that used Daiya instead of mozzarella.
This was comforting, but pointless. Why even become vegan, if there is a minimum of change?
I am very close to one woman who became vegan because her eating habits before nearly killed her- her gallbladder was brimming with stones and she had gained wait to an obese level. She chose to become vegan- a wise and needed change.
However, she chose the path of least resistance when it comes to what she eats now. She avoids meat and dairy, sure- in today's marketplace, full of alternatives to meat and cheese, that is not so difficult. These alternatives, though tasty, often have very little nutritional value, but along with carbs like pasta and chips, have become the staple of her diet. My friend is not alone in this either. Many new vegans start out strong, and then hit a rough patch where they don't have the time or the strength to make the best food choices. This can turn into a habit that leads to poor eating choices. My dear friend has lost some weight, and luckily hasn't had any additional health risks, but is still over weight because she is over eating on nutrionally useless food.
*NOTE: It is Easier to Over Eat on Processed Foods like Faux Meat and Tortilla Chips.
Why? Because they are high in calories per serving and low on nutrition. Unprocessed foods like vegetable, fruit and whole grains (like oatmeal) are usually low in calories and high in nutrition, allowing the eater to eat more kale than they could possibly want and still have only consumed 100 calories- a satisfying way to eat! (An exception- avocados are high in calories and fat. They are also very good for you- don't get me wrong- but should be eaten with consideration).
Step Two: Eat More Vegetables than Anything Else and If You're Still Hungry, Eat Fruit
Vegetables are amazing for your body. They are full or all the vitamins, minerals and fiber you need to be healthly, nearly always are yummy, and are filling without sacrificing quality or quantity like processed foods do.
Fruits fill in whatever gaps there could be in your vegetables- though there really aren't any. They are also the perfect snack food- usually fruit is its own serving (an apple, a pear, a bunch of grapes).
These things should be the staple and bottom line of nutritionally dense eating habits.
How to get into the habit of eating mostly veggies and fruits is relatively easy, but could be emotionally painful. It begins with NOT buying any more snack food and NO more filler carbs. That includes chips, candy, popcorn, pastry, foods that require frying (like french fries and perogi), no more alternative meat and dairy, and if you can, avoid high calorie drinks (but black coffee is fine!)
Instead of filling your cupboards up with fluff, buy your favorite fruits and veggies, whole grain bread, veggie soups, tofu and nuts like cashews and almonds, dates and prunes, and other goodies.
This makes it easier to fill up your meals and snacks with nutritionally dense foods, even if you feel like snacking extra. Something I do is eat an apple every day, and a couple prunes- by having a habit of a snack being something good for me, I eat less overall.
For more information on nutrition density, read up on Dr. Fuhrman, Some if it might be a little bit confusing, but it boils down to the better the food is for you, the more of it you can and want to eat, and the less of bad food you eat.
I hope that this helps out those struggling to find a yummy and good for you balance! Don't hesitate to ask questions.