With 2012 upon us many friends and family members are preparing for the annual diet attempt. Since I am on the road to recovery, my standard resolutions involving weight loss will have to be replaced with different lofty goals like world domination or growing my hair out into a pony tail.
I am not qualified to give medical advice to the masses. I was a lifeguard in the distant past and I do an exceptional job administering CPR to a practice dummy. However, I lack the medical training, background and general hunkiness/sexiness that all medical personnel posses. Therefore, it is plain that you should not gamble your health and well being on anything that I might say here. Besides, if you wanted to adopt a plant based diet or lifestyle you are a mere Google search away from all of the best sites for hot singles in your area. Then, after refining the search, you would be awarded with countless forums, formulas, and self proclaimed experts that would be glad to tell you exactly what to do to start a plant based diet.
With all that in mind, I have a friend that wanted to kick off a new healthy life and was perfectly willing to take the advice that I had for starting a plant based diet. For a lark, I thought I’d share the email here as well.
1. Get psyched up: the key for me to being successful with this kind of giant change is to rip the band-aid off and be done with it. It requires a lot of determination and will power. There are cravings and detox moments that you might struggle through in the first week or so. When making this kind of long-term commitment to yourself you need to be protected with a lot of mental armor.
I highly recommend watching two movies at a bare minimum: Food, Inc. followed by Forks Over Knives. There are other documentaries I can suggest that could help you in the weeks to come: Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, Supersize Me, Fed Up, Food Matters, and Food Fight. When you really get into the swing of things it is also very easy to find blogs to read, internet radio shows to listen to, and video cooking segments to watch. The streaming media available online offers a vast assortment of shields to use when cravings attack.
2. Start! Give the meat and dairy away to the omnivores in your life. All of it. It is out of your life. It is dead to you. Give it to food banks or families that can use it. Empty the house of all processed crap and then head for the local produce stand/store/section. Organic produce is nice, but this is already a big change in your life- start by focusing on fresh produce and in the future you can add organic and local to the list of food criteria.
Spend ten to fourteen days eating unlimited amounts of whole, single ingredient plants. Have as much fruit as you want. Eat all of the vegetables you want. Eat reasonable amounts of nuts and beans. If it is a single step out of the ground it is on the menu. Complete, whole foods are completely and wholly good. Oils and fats and sugars (even those that are derived from plants) are counter productive to weight loss and should be skipped with fanatical zeal.
Don’t eat three meals a day. It is better to graze all day. I find a lot of pleasure each morning in stocking my little bags and containers with almonds, carrot sticks, raisins and wasabi peas. You can skip lunch and munch all day instead.
Drink water and unsweetened tea and black coffee. Then drink more water. Diet soda might not have carbs or cals but it has a million other things that will work against your detoxing body. Avoid store bought fruit juice. Juicing at home might be OK, but I didn’t do it during my detox. Drink more water.
You can shorten this to seven days (or even less) if it will keep you from falling off the wagon. If you decide to cut it short, move on to the next step. The benefits that I gained from the 10-14 day detox was a true body cleanse and increased openness to the millions of new foods available. I appreciated my new lifestyle and the meals that came with it because of the detox period.
3. Stay plant strong: after the ten to fourteen day detox using whole fruits and vegetables, it is time to add recipes and dishes. You can keep eating the whole fruits and vegetables, but now there are a million low-fat plant based recipes for you to make and eat as well. They are all on the menu and you can substitute your whole fruits and vegetables with any of these options. This lifestyle uses little or no oil, fat, and processing. If you want specific cookbook titles, my family has found a lot of success with the Happy Herbivore, Everyday Happy Herbivore, Appetite for Reduction, and the Engine 2 Diet. All of these books are filled with legal breakfast lunch and diner options. These books and hundreds of recipes shared on blogs and with friends will make eating a healthy plant based diet easier than you would ever believe.
4. Final bits: (a) B12 is already stored up in your liver and might be there for months to come, but it wouldn’t hurt to take a multivitamin with it. Also try to use nutritional yeast in meals from time to time, it tastes like cheese powder and contains B12. (b) Don’t fall into the delicious vegan food trap. There are tons of vegan junk food options that will not help you lose weight. (c) If you make a mistake, forgive yourself and go back to perfection. Build your will power muscle by not making mistakes and learning from them when you do. (d) Don’t eat after 7pm. (e) Everyone thinks they know what you should be eating. When the devil on one shoulder tells you to eat some cake and the angel on your other shoulder tells you to eat chicken, its time to ignore them all and make your own decisions.
Best of luck on this spectacular life change. You will be so thankful that you persevered. There is plenty of time to become a plant based expert in the months and years to come. Hopefully this will help you get started on the journey.