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Whether you are just looking for a week of healthy plant-based eating to give your body a break, are participating in Plant-Based January, or are wanting to make the switch to a whole-food, plant-based diet, here is a PLANT-BASED Recipe Guide to help you on your journey.
A little back story: For several years, I have watched my own metabolism slow down and my weight slowly creep up. Growing up, I was naturally slim and it wasn’t really until my forties that I noticed weight gain that was harder to shed.
When I was young, losing a few pounds used to be fairly easy. Not anymore! Although I’ve never considered myself to be overweight, I gained fat around my middle that made me feel sluggish and unhealthy that I couldn’t seem to lose. I tried many different diet fads. Nothing really seemed to work.
So I tried something different. I started listening and paying attention to what my body was actually telling me. In the beginning, I just started noticing what and when I was eating and why. I noticed that much of the time I ate when I was not actually hungry. I did a lot of mindless eating… eating whatever was sitting on the counter as I walked past regardless if I was hungry. Being a caterer, there was always food in front of me, which inevitably ended up in my mouth! I noticed if the “healthy” nuts were out, and I had just one, even though I wasn’t hungry, I’d enviably eat the entire bowl. The salt! The fat! I loved it!
I started paying attention to how my body felt – acknowledging the foods left me feeling energized, satiated and deeply nourished. And this is different for each of us. We are genetically different and no one diet is right for all of us. And the interesting thing is most diets actually “work” if they align with your genetics and lifestyle. Meaning, most diets – vegan, keto, paleo, low-fat, low-carb, pescatarian, etc, can all work to help people lose weight. The issue is, which one is the most sustainable for you personally? And more and more I believe, our bodies adapt to whatever we are doing. Perhaps the best thing for our bodies is just simply to mix things up – eat more variety, consume a diverse array of veggies and fruit, and eat with the seasons.
I noticed how there were foods that actually caused me to feel ravenous and overeat. These were processed foods. Most of us can agree, that processed foods, even so-called “healthy” ones, create inflammation, cravings, and rev up our appetites even more, making them incredibly easy to overeat. Most processed foods, contain inflammation-causing “seed” oils (polyunsaturated fats, aka PUFA’s)- canola oil, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, corn oil, and soybean oil- which were introduced to our diet not too long ago. They seem to cause inflammation, lower immunity, are near impossible to burn off. They can “hijack” our fat cells and actually turn our “satiated signals” off, making us crave even more inflammatory foods. When was the last time you tried to eat just one tortilla chip? It’s impossible.
Some doctors believe that if you just changed this one thing, and eliminated seeds oils, your health would improve greatly. Some are even prioritizing this over eliminating sugar and smoking. Seriously.
The problem is, these Polyunsaterated seed oils (or PUFAS) are in practically everything. Even “healthy” things! Organic, store-bought hummus, nut milks, vegan cheeses, vegan mayo, store-bought dressings, sauces, even healthy “organic”, “non-GMO” products. Check the labels friends- it’s concerning!
So the week of “clean-eating” begins with cutting out these processed foods for a period of time, allowing our bodies a break, and help reset our taste buds. Eating plant-based meals, with lots of healthy fruits and veggies, slow metabolizing carbs, plant-based proteins, healthy fats, allows our bodies to do what it naturally does… balance and heal itself. This diet feeds our healthy gut bacteria. It energizes us. So, though I am not technically vegan, I do a week of plant-powered eating every month or so. In January, I do it for the whole month. It’s a nice practice and I know my body feels the benefits, and I just wanted to share it.
Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet:
- lowers cholesterol,
- helps heal diabetes
- lowers inflammation,
- lowers blood pressure,
- reduces cancer risk,
- lowers heart disease
- Is the least taxing diet on the environment. Not to mention the animals!
There is even research out there that states that eating vegan for a 3 month period can actually affect our DNA! Studies by Dean Ornish and others show how a plant-based diet affects the length of our telomeres, and ultimately slow the aging process. Don’t take my word for it, please do your own research and see for yourself.
And while we take this “break” our bodies become better able to absorb all the good clean nutrients we are putting into them. Fresh fruits and veggies are full of prebiotics! Slow-metabolizing carbs like beans and whole grains feed our healthy gut bacteria which helps support our immune system. I find that in the process, I start to actually crave these whole plant-based foods because I feel better, sleep better and have way more energy.
So this is what I try to do every couple months: For 7 days, I’ll cut out all processed foods, meat, dairy, refined sugars, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol. I make all meals from scratch, cooking only a few very simple meals that I eat throughout the week. I keep it very simple. This is KEY. (Now, of course, you can transition into the whole food, plant-based vegan diet full time. It need not be a “cleanse”, but rather a lifestyle change if you so choose.)
On an ongoing daily basis, I try to practice intermittent fasting most days, adopting a 16/8 fasting schedule (eating just 2 meals a day within an 8 hour period, with no snacking-allowing my body to rest for 16 hours). This helps moderate insulin spikes and promotes autophagy. For more information on the benefits of fasting or intermittent fasting, read this recent article from Harvard Medical School and this Wikipedia article. If you struggle with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, I highly recommend that you research and consider this.
And yes, occasionally I splurge because I really don’t believe in depriving one’s self of all life’s pleasures. For example, I really love ice-cream… but I realized I made a habit of it, eating it every night after dinner. Did I really need to eat it every single night?! I decided I would eat it, only when I really really wanted it, which ended up being far less than I thought. I changed the habit of eating it. And I also changed the habit of constantly snacking when I wasn’t hungry- substituting this tea, or this apple cider vinegar drink called a switchel. This was huge for me.
Slowly but surely, I lost weight for the first time in years. At first, I didn’t actually notice the weight loss, it was that slow. But I felt more energy during the day and slept better at night. After several months, I weighed myself and was astounded. My cholesterol also went down (which is important to me personally, because both of my parents had heart bypass surgery). I’m not promising miracles here, but I think if you give it a try, you may be pleasantly surprised- like I was.
In the free, 7 DAY Plant-Based Guide I lay out a list of things to begin your journey. Please don’t feel like you have to do ALL these things in the first week (unless you really want to jumpstart your body). I’ve found that lasting success comes from gradually and gently incorporating these changes into your lifestyle so they become a more lasting habit. This is key.
Weight will come off a little more slowly, but this is a good thing, and this way it will most likely last. So go ahead and start with just one or two things this week. Then next week add another, and then another the following week so it’s not so overwhelming or dramatic. This is not intended to be a “diet”, but rather a lifestyle change for increased energy, vibrancy and gradual weight loss, with a “jumpstart” option if you are so inclined.
For the record, I am not a dietitian and I can’t say that this vegan PLANT-BASED Guide is right for everyone. Please don’t take my word for it, do your own research, listen to your body and make sure this is a good fit for you. We are all so different, and I don’t believe in “one size fits all”. But this is what has worked for me- and I just wanted to share it! (By the way, the guide is totally FREE, just for subscribing to the blog. )
*I’m not here to try to convince you to become vegan, (I don’t believe the vegan diet is right for everyone) but rather show you simple ways to include more nutritious, veggie-focused, home-cooked meals into your life, and try to help wean you off of processed foods.
There are many paths to health, and my hope is to inspire and motivate you to find your own. Take inventory of how you feel and start taking responsibility for your health. This is not your doctor’s job- this is your job. We only get one body while we are here… and our food choices do affect our health.
Not only does the guide contain helpful tips and tricks to make the transition easier- it contains delicious Vegan Recipes that will keep you feeling vibrant, energized and satisfied! A week without processed foods does wonders for the body. Just imagine what a month would do! Now imagine a whole year!
Here are a few of my favorite resources that have inspired the PLANT-BASED Guide.
- The Longevity Diet
- The Obesity Code
- Wildatarian Diet
- Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
- The China Study
- Fat Burn Fix-great info on seed oils
- The Blue Zones
- Delay Don’t Deny
- Eat to Live
- Mastering Diabetes
Subscribe to the blog and get my free 7-DAY, PLANT-BASED RECIPE GUIDE and make some simple changes starting today! Once you sign up you’ll receive the list of things you can start implementing into your daily routine, along with some simple delicious recipes!
No strings attached, ever. 🙂
A simple, vegan, 7-DAY, PLANT-BASED Guide with Vegan Recipes! Heal your body, increase your energy, rev up your metabolism and shed weight! Free!
- whole grains
- plant-based protein and fat
Read the Plant-Based guide.
Clean out your fridge. Clean out your pantry. Round up all your snacks and processed foods and put them out of site (basement, garage,or give away).
Take inventory of what you have that fits in with the guide- and use these things! Grains, beans, produce, etc.
Pick out a few vegan recipes, make a shopping list and prep a few things ahead for the week.
The key is keeping things simple, using what you have on hand -and incorporating fresh produce.
Cook from scratch! It won’t be hard or complicated.
Fill your self up with fresh vibrant food and you won’t be hungry for the processed stuff.
You can do this. 🙂
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