The world is filled with followers than leaders. An article on the harmful effects of eating red meat gets published and people worldwide start speaking about it. Few celebrities and leaders adopt a plant-based diet quoting a list of benefits and the common man wants to adopt the same! Some of these are extremely useful and beneficial while some others are a waste of expenses and time. For instance, the latest news on ‘pink slime’ which is a meat by-product used as a food additive to ground beef will make any meat lover to think twice before eating meat or beef again. Repeated negative news on animal-based products depicted in movies, swine flu mania or the pink slime limelight encourages more number of people to switch over to a plant-based diet. True, there are advantages of taking up a plant-based diet but there are certain disadvantages too.
Pursuing any new eating routine, exercises or lifestyle changes which is basically healthy can be unhealthy if it is practiced in the wrong way. Listed here are some of the common errors people commit while switching over to a plant-based diet. Ensure to avoid them and reap total benefits:
Improperly Balanced Plate: Adopting a plant-based diet means staying off from all animal products including lean meat and dairy products such as milk, yogurt and curd. All these foods disappear from the kitchen cabinets in no time! So how are you going to compensate for these missing nutrients? French fries and cutlets are technically vegan, but not the kind of foods one expects on his/her plate. The aim is to fill your plate with healthy foods that are not animal-based and also ensure that you do not simply stuff the plate with high-calorie, zero-nutrient foods that are plant-based. Incorporate sufficient quantities of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes in your daily diet. Swap your beef for mushrooms to gain a dash of nutrients such as protein, fiber and antioxidants without all the saturated fat and cholesterol.
Reduced Calorie Intake: An animal-based diet on any day is calorie-rich than a plant-based diet. Hence, while switching over you need to ensure to maintain the number of calories that you consume too. But, its just not about the quantity of food but also about the quality of the calories you consume. Focus on nutrient-dense foods and there are chances for you to feel lethargic or experience rapid weight loss initially. Compensate for these by eating more of nuts, grains and seeds that are high in calories.
Procuring Proteins is Never-ending: There is a widespread myth that only an animal-based diet can satisfy our daily protein requirements and eating a plant-based diet leaves you with insufficient proteins. It is possible to get your daily share of required macronutrients on your properly structured plant-based diet. For example, a serving of tomato or onion contains 25% protein, quinoa contains 18% and beans up to 27%. Dark leafy greens contain 35-50% proteins. Replace roasted turkey and chicken with simple edamame, chick pea and sunflower seeds in your salad to satisfy your protein needs in the healthiest way.
Avoiding Seasonal Produce: Eating the fruits and vegetables available during the season makes you amass total nutrient benefits from the produce and also enjoy fresh ones that taste great. It also ensures supple quantity of vitamins and minerals in your diet. Eating oranges in February provides you with vitamin C and potassium and consuming Brussels sprout in August provides vitamin A and folate. New foods, especially veggies or fruits, baffle some people but start small trying one new produce per week.
Anxiousness About Ignoring Certain Foods: While you brand yourself as a vegetarian, flexitarian, vegan or pescatarian, you start building up pressure within yourself. Any food that you eat must be relished and enjoyed. When you give up certain foods and move towards another diet, explore all the food options that remain open here instead of worrying about all the ones that you omitted. Having no ‘forbidden’ food in your list makes you feel comfortable and a lot safer. Approaching any diet with the mindset of abundance rather than deprivation is the best way to keep yourself healthy as you fill your plate with all the required nutrients for a healthy lifestyle.
Lack of Supplements: Avoiding an animal-based diet necessitates using B12 supplementation. Another nutrient that most people lack irrespective of the diet they follow is vitamin D as sunshine is the primary source of this nutrient. Meet a registered dietitian nutritionist at www.firsteatright.com to check out your requirements for supplements before taking one by yourself. You can also get a personalized diet plan chalked out by your RDN to ensure that switching over from your animal-based diet to a plant-based one is smooth and enriching to your health and lifestyle.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.