Transitioning to Plant-Based Diet? Expect Change
There are many benefits of a plant-based diet. However, you may experience body changes after going vegan. You’re about to learn what happens after you begin the process of going vegan, the immediate benefits of a vegan diet, and possible problems you could experience with a plant-based diet.
As one of Philly’s Bad Ass Female Vegan Chefs, I was privileged to conduct plant-based cooking classes for the Peace Advocacy Network Vegan Pledge Program.
It was not only great fun but awesome to see so many people interested in incorporating more plants into their diet.
Over the past 10 years, I have created 100’s of plant-based meals and I receive a lot of questions about what to anticipate when on a plant-based journey.
Everyone is different. No two people will have the same reaction to a change as significant as switching your diet to a plant-based one.
A Plant-Based Diet Tends To Be Healthier for Most People
Research suggests that people who eat primarily plant-based diets tend to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease than those who eat meat. Plant-based diets are high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and water content from fruit and vegetables. Medical News Today
A plant-based diet offers lots of benefits toward better health. However, potentially there can be significant pitfalls as well. You should be aware of these and prepare for them.
Reflecting on my Vegan journey and the conversations I have had over the years with the vegan-curious embarking on this journey, I created a timeline that will help you prepare for the experience ahead.
In this article, I break down what the first year of your plant-based journey will look like and I share answers to some frequently asked questions.
What is Your “Why” for Choosing a Plant-Based Diet?
In some ways, the “why” is right there for us to see. It is clear that the food we eat is being modified for profit at the expense of the consumer. Your “why” could be health-related, based on your concerns about animal cruelty or your concerns about the damage caused to the environment by industrial animal farms.
Whatever your reason for deciding to eat plant-based or pursuing a vegan lifestyle, your “why” will anchor you throughout your journey.
You will find that you will continually have to make choices about what to eat, who to eat with, and how easy it would be to just have that _, fill in the blank.
My reason for deciding to go plant-based was the choice between the deteriorating effects of Type 2 diabetes or being here for my children. Your why is personal and will be all you need to keep moving forward.
Your First 30 Days – Cravings
It is so easy to find something to eat when you can eat everything or anything. In the beginning, especially in the beginning, avoiding dairy, meat and seafood may seem impossible. You may experience cravings and sometimes symptoms of withdrawal.
Processed food contains a lot of salt and sugar. Since we’ve been eating this way all of our lives, it will take time for your tastebuds to get adjusted to lesser amounts of salt, sugar, and preservatives.
As you add more fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and legumes; and eliminate processed food from your meals, you will begin to enjoy the flavors, textures, and colors that might have been missing from your plate.
We generally crave foods that are Sweet, Salty, or Crunchy. Here are hacks that will satisfy your cravings.
- Apple slices, nut butter, raisins & walnuts
- Nice cream: frozen banana, 1 cup hemp or flax milk, 1 cup blueberries, 2 tablespoons cacao powder – blend.
- 65 – 85% cacao dark chocolate
- Popcorn – mix grapeseed oil with sea salt and garlic powder, drizzle over freshly popped popcorn
- Oven-baked french fries with garlic, paprika and sea salt
- Dill pickles
- Sweet Potato Chips – home-baked is better but it’s a better choice than Utz.
- Nuts or seeds – walnuts, almonds, pistachio, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds. Rich in healthy fats.
- Cucumber – has a great crunch and they are very hydrating.
Months 2-3: Where To Shop for Plant-Based foods?
Where Do I Shop Hack
Eating a plant-based diet will change your food shopping habits. Here’s a quick tip. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. That’s generally where the vegetables and fruit are. Items with more salt, sugar, and preservatives are in the isles.
Listen to my podcast Shop Plant-Based Like a Pro to get more practical guidance on how and where to shop.
Months 3-6: Fruit & Plants Tend to Make You Toot
Fruit, vegetables, nuts, and legumes add fiber to your diet and your digestive system. They also lead to an increase in carbohydrates, and that can result in flatulence and more frequent bowel movements.
This can be an annoying side effect of all the chickpeas, spinach and pumpkin seeds you’ve been eating.
The enzymes in the following foods aid in balancing digestion.
- Ginger Tea
- Fresh pineapple
- Miso soup
- Fennel seeds
Use any of these items in as many of your meals as you desire. They will begin to work with your digestive system and provide relief.
6 Months to 1 Year – Vitamins You Need on a Plant-Based Diet
Take Your Vitamins
You may be experiencing more of the positive impacts of eating plant-based. You may see improvement in your skin, weight loss, a general feeling of good health. Your body is continuing to get rid of the meat, dairy, and processed foods eaten over the years. You feel great and you look great.
So, to maintain your health, it is important to get the nutrients that meat, dairy, and seafood provide now that you have eliminated them from your diet.
Vitamin D is a critical supplement to include in your plant-based journey. Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, is found in dairy products. Cheese, ice cream, and butter in an animal-based diet are fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D is the primary source of calcium in our body which builds healthy bones.
There are plant-based foods that contain vitamin D such as broccoli, coconut yogurt, flax milk. But to ensure you are protecting your bones through your plant-based journey, it is recommended that you take a vitamin D supplement.
You should also get as much time outside in nature as you possibly can. Vitamin D also comes from the sun.
Another supplement we need as part of our plant-based journey is B12.
B12 is found in dairy and meat, eggs, and insects. Plant-based foods fortified with B12 include nutritional yeast, cereal, and plant-based milk. The amount of B12 derived from plants alone is not enough to protect our nervous system.
Taking a daily B12 supplement is recommended.
Your Plant-Based Diet May Cause Your Body To Change
Weight loss, clearer skin, and brighter eyes are just a few of the many benefits of your plant-based journey. You may have more energy and less of a “weighed-down” feeling after a meal. You may have started to exercise and are starting to enjoy the results.
One of my experiences in my vegan journey was body changes after going vegan; specifically, I lost my curves.
I was curvy, 5’1 145 to 160 lbs. The guys loved it. I lost 25lbs and lost the curves. Because of this, I had some guys take issue with it, but it’s a life choice.
Meat and dairy products contain growth hormones, steroids, and antibiotics. These poisons are fed to the animals for disease control or rapid production (larger chickens more profit).
We ingest steroids, growth hormones, and antibiotics through the meat and dairy products we consume. These toxins can, in some people, cause weight gain. For me, this weight gain led to Type 2 diabetes.
Embrace the change in your body, the new you is healthy, strong and sexy.
Your Confidence Will Change From Healthy Eating
In the beginning, you will feel unsure about your choice. The limitations may seem overwhelming. As you continue down the path you will have discovered new foods, started cooking again, and know where to buy your favorite items.
Your family will begin to embrace your lifestyle choice about plant-based meals and explanations will no longer be necessary. Your confidence will change, Changing the way you eat is a big deal. Be gentle with yourself.
For Americans, a diet of meat and dairy is cultural and creates fond memories of the food we came to enjoy.
My Grandma Eva made the best Red Beans & Rice with pork neck bones that made me pat my feet in excitement.
Food is love and we have loving feelings about those past experiences. Food is different today. The health issues it causes are real and often intentional.
We can change the way we eat and to create new food memories. There is no better thing that you can do for yourself and your family.
Congratulations on moving toward a healthier you.