At healthy, plant based diet should consist of good quality protein from an array of different sources, low GI carbohydrates, healthy fats, and a rainbow of fruits and vegetables. All of these will work together to keep you satiated and full and cravings at bay.
In this post you will learn how to start eating a plant based diet today. We will show you how to combine your macronutrients to help you achieve a healthy well-rounded diet that will boost your health and vitality to the next level.
Other advantages will include stable blood sugar and even weight loss. Keeping blood sugar stable is the cornerstone of good health, and will help keep you within a healthy BMI range and your weight down.
The role of Sugar and Chronic inflammation
Sugar is a contributer to inflammation in the body, and chronic inflammation is thought to be the driver of many diseases. But, you can temper this inflammation by changing your diet and adding more alkaline plant plant foods in general.
Many people have different ideas and beliefs as to what constitutes a healthy diet. And, many of these beliefs are more than likely misguided.
There are so many different diets and healthy eating plans out there that it can all get very confusing. We are obsessed by food. And, this is more evident now than ever before what with the culture of Instagram and other social media platforms all awash with pictures of beautifully prepared meals.
Which “diet” should I choose?
We are in a culture filled with so many different types of ‘diets’ and ways of eating. We have veganism, whole foods plant based, raw vegan, high protein, low carb, fruitarian; and that’s just the tip of the iceberg lettuce – excuse the pun.
There are also lots of different short term diet plans and detoxification systems out there all promising you that fabulous beach body in an impossible amount of time.
It’s exhausting, and can leave you pretty confused; or worse still, completely despondent about which way to turn.
But, fear not, you don’t need to go on some set up to fail crazy diet plan to get to where you want to go. Simply apply small changes that will add up over time. For instance, swap your usual mid-afternoon snack of biscuits or cake, for a handful of nuts and a piece of fresh fruit. OR, eat less starchy potatoes with your main meal and pile on the green veggies instead.
These small changes (when applied daily) will start building new neural pathways in your brain, until in the end they become habit.
Change one small thing each week as per example, and just think how quickly this will set you on the path for LIFELONG changes. Which is ultimately what you need to aim for if you want increased vitality, a stronger immune system, and a longer, happier life. Well worth the effort it right?
The benefits of a whole foods plant based diet
If you were to give up the animal products and begin your plant based journey today, you would find immense health benefits. These may include:-
- MORE ENERGY AND VITALITY
- LOWER CHRONIC INFLAMMATION LEADING TO LESS ACHES AND PAINS
- WEIGHT LOSS
- GLOWING AND CLEAR SKIN
- HIGHER FITNESS LEVELS
- FINDING IT EASIER TO GET PHYSICALLY FIT
- BETTER MOOD
- HORMONE BALANCE
- LOWER RISK OF CHRONIC DISEASE
Junk foods list
This post is designed to help you understand the foods you should be be eating for better health. Also, the foods you should cut down on, and how to implement correct food combining to be sure you are receiving all the nutrients you need.
Remember, you don’t need to ditch everything at once. Just start with a few items a week; or make simple swaps as you go along.
Here’s an awesome list to be getting on with:-
- Anything deep-fried
- Animal products
- Confectionery such as sweets, pastries, biscuits and cakes
- All kinds of vegetable oils such as corn, canola, soybean, safflower, sunflower and cottonseed
- Anything refined such as white bread, white flour, white rice, white sugar and white pasta
- Fast foods such as burgers, fries, pizzas and takeaways
- Ready meals/ frozen meals such as pizza, pies, chips and most things in the frozen section. Exceptions are frozen vegetables, fruits, and some ranges of healthier low salt, low fat convenience meals
- Fizzy drinks and fruit juices
Foods to add in to your diet
To keep things simple, you will find foods put into the groups of the nutrients they are dominant in. Therefore, if you choose your meals from all of these groups then you are sure to cover all bases.
Fresh fruits of all kinds
- High carbohydrate fruits – pineapple, papaya, mango, grapes, banana, pomegranate, fresh figs.
- Medium carbohydrate fruits – melons, apricots, peaches, apples, pears, orange citrus fruits.
- Low carbohydrate fruits – all berries including blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants.
(These are high carbohydrate as their sugars have been condensed)
- Dates, figs, sultanas, raisins, apricots, mango, pineapple, prunes, goji berries
Vegetables of all kinds
- High carbohydrate vegetables – potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beetroot, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash.
- Low carbohydrate vegetables – all greens, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, courgette, cauliflower, avocado, peppers.
- Wholegrain bread
- Brown rice
- Wholegrain pasta
- Cracked wheat
- Oats and oatmeal
- Green peas
- Yellow split peas
- Beans – black, pinto, cannellini, butter, chickpeas, borlotti, haricot, kidney beans.
- Beans (beans are both a carbohydrate and a protein, though they do not contain a complete amino profile)
- Quinoa (quinoa is one of the few known foods that contains both protein, carbohydrate, omega 3 fats, and a complete amino acid profile, so can therefore be eaten alone as a complete meal on its own). It’s one of nature’s true superfoods.
FOODS THAT CONTAIN BOTH PROTEIN AND FAT
- Nuts – peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazils, macadamia, hazelnuts, pine nuts, and pecans.
- Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, flax, hemp, chia.
Use all oils as sparingly as possible as they are not a whole foods plant based food, therefore not truly healthy. Eat fats in their whole form as much as possible, such as the whole nut, seed or olive.
- Nuts – peanuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazil’s, macadamia, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pecans.
- Seeds – pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, flax, hemp, chia.
- Olive oil (for cooking)
- Extra virgin olive oil (for using COLD only) – do not cook with extra virgin olive oil as it turns toxic when heated)
- Extra virgin Coconut Oil ( can be used cold AND for cooking at high temperatures, so a great all-rounder).
- Avocado oil (cold only)
- Flax oil (cold only)
These should be used only in moderation:
- Raw honey
- Maple syrup
- Coconut nectar sugar
- Brown rice syrup
You should also consider adding to your diet these antioxidant rich superfoods to ensure you are getting optimal amounts of all the nutrients you need.
The high amount of antioxidants in these foods will not only help neutralise free radicals in your body, but are anti aging, and will help keep your immune system strong.
Superfoods, antioxidants, and collagen rich foods are great for anti aging of the whole body, both inside and out and should be eaten frequently.
Green Super Food Powders
Green superfood powders really are a great addition to any diet no matter how healthful it may be. They are bursting with antioxidants, phytonutrients, chlorophyll, and all kinds of other fat busting and detoxifying nutrients.
When your body is in a high state of detoxification, it won’t be storing toxins into fat cells. Rather, eliminating them instead, which ultimately means the shrinkage of fat cells and a slimmer waistline for you.
For ease, you could buy a blend such as Dr. Schulze’s superfood blend. This has a unique mix of all of the green superfoods and is also processed in a way that gives it a high uptake and absorption rate into the body. This means it is quickly transported into cells to give you an energy boost within 20 minutes.
What are the benefits of green superfood powder?
- Fast energy boost
- Clear, glowing skin
- Sparkling eyes (yes, this really happens)
- It’s like the ULTIMATE multivitamin
- Immune booster
- Great for recovery from sickness
- Pure, fast nutrition
- Anti inflammatory
- Can boost weight loss
- Low GI, so great for diabetics
Benefits of a plant based diet
Since eating a plant based diet, I have seen a LOT of changes in myself. I have great skin, more energy, and I notice I rarely get aches and pains after exercise like I used to. Plus, I rarely get PMS or hormonal problems, and I can also sleep a lot better, more deeply for sure!
I also find tat I rarely get sick with any colds, flus or viruses since eating plant based. And, if I do, it is much shorter lasting.
Another thing I have noticed is that the painful knees I suffered with for years (the result of too much running on concrete) have also got a whole lot better since cutting out animal products, This one is for sure a result of less chronic inflammation, there is just no doubt about it!
How to combine foods correctly
To keep blood sugar as stable as possible, you should make sure you always have (with every meal or snack) some protein, a wholegrain carbohydrate or vegetable, and a little healthy fat.
The carbohydrates and protein should be roughly in a 2:1 ratio. You should also add low carbohydrate fruits and vegetables on top of this ratio for extra nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals. All of which can boost your immune system, are anti aging, and help fight disease.
Complete meal examples
- Main meals:- Brown rice, chickpea curry, side salad, and a piece fruit, OR: A bean/lentil dish with quinoa and steamed greens, piece of fruit. Check out these other fast and easy dinners.
- Snacks:- 2 oatcakes with peanut butter, tahini or avocado. OR, a Handful of nuts or seeds with dried or fresh fruit.
Notice how these meals contain all the nutrients from the main 3 food groups of protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
In many cases, a single food may contain elements of all the main 3 food groups, and a perfect example of this would be quinoa. Check out these great quinoa breakfast recipes for inspiration of how to incorporate this amazing little seed into your diet.
Another good example of a food that contains two of the groups would be peanut butter (or most nuts and seeds in general) as they are high in protein AND healthy monounsaturated fats. And pulses are an example of a food that contain both protein and carbohydrates.
Please check out this free 1 week diet plan for more great samples of correct food combining.
A FEW MORE TOP TIPS:
- Sugars are CARBOHYDRATES, so when deciphering food labels you can look in the section where it says ‘carbohydrates’ and it will tell you the total amount. This total will also include the starches. Underneath that section you will find the ‘carbohydrates of which sugars‘, and this is the amount of actual sugar in that food. Check whether this is either per 100g, the whole product, or just a portion of that product so you can work out exactly how much is in the amount you are going to be consuming.
- Ideally you want to go for as low a sugar content as possible. We’re talking about the ‘carbohydrates of which sugars‘ here, and not just all the carbohydrates in total. 22g per 100 grams is considered very high, so that will give you some point of reference. Try not to go over 10 grams per 100 grams in total. And, don’t forget to count this towards your daily amount.
- The average man should consume no more than 37.5 grams (9 teaspoons) of sugar, the average woman 25 grams (6 teaspoons), and a child 12 grams (3 teaspoons).
- Always eat a rainbow of colours every day from the fruits and veggies section.
- Eat fats and proteins alongside carbohydrates (especially the higher sugar carbs like potatoes, high sugar fruits, and the other sugar alternatives mentioned above). This will slow down the sugar release even more to keep blood sugar stable.
- Try not to eat fried, browned or burnt foods (especially meats) as they are carcinogenic.
- It is always good to have a little fat with meals, as this helps with the absorption of many of the fat soluble nutrients such as A,D,E, and K.
- If you have decided (as suggested) on going more plant based with your diet, then be sure to add extra high calcium plant foods in the form of sesame seeds (tahini is a great sesame seed type butter or dip), oranges, sweet potatoes, tofu, fresh and dried figs, and lots of leafy green vegetables.
- If you are following a plant based diet, then you will more than likely need a B12 supplement.
Eating healthily and plant based will do wonders for your health!
If you would like some great ideas on what to eat, recipes and meal planning, then check out ZestForever’s Weekly Subscription Meal Plans designed to take the hassle out of plant based for you.
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