So, this is my update, Plant-Based Diet: 2 Months journey. So if you’ve been following me, you’ll know that I began my plant-based diet journey back in November of 2019. The reason I decided to embark on a plant-based diet was primarily to improve my health and nutrition. I had been dealing with some digestive issues and was ready to make a change. I was also inspired by a number of people and shows like Forks Over Knives, and The Game Changers on Netflix that made for another compelling reason to start. Second, my goal was to set up a better foundation for my fitness goals. I have been working out consistently 3-5 days per week for the last 5 years.
In addition, I chose to create a website and blog with the hopes of inspiring others to do the same. The Dad Goes Green blog was intended to ramp up my efforts and allow me to document my dietary changes and to share it in a fun and inspiring way. I may even add a supplemental blog that would focus on teaching others to build their own websites as well in the near future. Stay tuned on that, but for now, let’s share how we’re doing.
I wanted to organize my thoughts in a way that would make sense. So I thought I’d start off with a SWOT- style format. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses opportunities, and threats. Let’s see how this goes.
Strengths: What worked for me to date on a Plant-Based Diet: 2 Months?
So, Confession time. I like to eat. I’m a foodie and prior to going green I would make lots of savory, delicious, traditional Italian and Mexican inspired dishes. That’s what I grew up eating. Whether it was sausage and peppers over penne pasta or chicken enchiladas, beef tacos or pasta alla carbonara, I couldn’t get enough. So initially I found it hard to replace those amazing comfort food-type dishes because I thought I had to eat plain old raw veggies or steamed veggies and Brown rice all the time. How Boring is that?
After a couple of weeks I knew I needed help. So I searched a variety of meal plans and meal planners online and found some helpful meal planning apps like The Engine 2 Meal Planner (aka The Engine 2 Diet) and the PCRM (aka The Physicians Council for Responsible Medicine App). Now, full disclosure, some of these are paid apps or planners, but they’re not too expensive. I’ve always thought that if they worked for me, they’d be worth the investment. Both have been extremely helpful in providing great meal ideas and inspiration. I could either prep the meals as recommended or doll them up with my own favorite spices and additions and make them my own. I hope to share some of these with you soon.
The main benefit of meal planning, however, was taking the burden off of my mind. The pressure that can come from being hungry with no idea of what you’re going to make to eat is daunting. For this reason alone, you should try one of these options. You’ll be glad you did.
Use a Shopping lists
The meal planning took the pressure off with great ideas, but I still needed to buy the ingredients. Fortunately, the meal planning apps included a grocery list or shopping list feature. These features allow you to export a grocery list of items straight out of the app. The lists are based on the number of people eating and can be customized to omit any ingredients you don’t like. An example might be onions or tomatoes or if you have a food allergy like nuts or gluten, you can omit those, too. This is a truly awesome feature and a very helpful tool to prep you for your trip to the store. This shopping list definitely took some additional stress off of my back.
Start slow and be patient
One big tip I learned from others on their plant-based diet journey was starting slowly. Going green can be a big change. It has social, physical, emotional and psychological implications. It can also be very stressful. I am doing this to improve my health and mindset not to destroy it, so it’s important to look at this as a long term journey, more of a marathon than a sprint. If you’ve ever trained for a marathon, you’ll know it takes time to prepare for that type of journey.
It’s also important to be patient and flexible with yourself, especially while you are still figuring out what “compliant” means to you as it pertains to meat and dairy. I’m still working on this in general. I have chosen mostly a vegan plant-based diet. However, if I eat a slice of veggie pizza or accidentally order a regular latte at Starbucks, no big deal. A little cheese or milk isn’t going to ruin my long term objectives. Figure out where you need to be more flexible and kind to yourself. The last thing any of us should be doing is beating ourselves up over our diet. Understand that this is a journey and it’s going to take time, but you have everything it takes to be successful.
Support and community
Stay plugged in to a supportive community. That’s the biggest reason why I started this website. To provide support and inspiration to all of you. I do recognize my limitations, however, and also know it helps to get multiple bits of advice. So find and plug into Facebook groups or social media groups of like-minded people.
Examples would be forksoverknives.com, plantstrong.com, nutritionfacts.org. These have been great resources for me. PCRM, is another great one. I think that stands for a physicians committee for responsible medicine. Another good one is plantbasednews.com. All of these are active groups, posting inspiring stories, daily stories, others who have begun their stories of others who have begun their plant-based diet journeys and are at phases in the process from brand new to veteran plant-based diet -ers. They all have much to offer from moms and dads to all out hardcore athletes running ultra marathons. They’re all represented there.
We’re all after the same or similar goals regarding nutrition. Just be aware of the idealistic trolls that may criticize your food choices. Remember, this is YOUR journey. You do you and you’ll be alright. I respect anyone that is looking to improve their diet and health no matter what the reason they’re doing that, and I believe others should do the same.
Let’s go to the W for Weaknesses: What didn’t work for me?
Again, I like to eat. If there’s one thing I’ve enjoyed is not really worrying so much about portion size. Nevertheless, I did not enjoy heading out to family or work events, not knowing if they would have healthy plant-based diet options when I arrived. Nothing is worse than going hungry. Period. The experience did open me up to considering intermittent fasting, however, so I may write about that experience if we go down that road. Bottom line: Always have a healthy, hearty snack available. For example, a small bag of nuts, a protein bar, or a Ziploc bag with some carrot sticks.
These can all help hold you over until a veggie full meal option is available. Also, drinking tons of water helps. More importantly, hunger reminds me how vital and necessary it is to include healthy fats in my meals. Adding some nuts, avocado or hummus, which normally has tahini in it which is made from Sesame seeds, can fill you up. All types of legumes go well with your meals and can have a very satiating effect. So, listen to the Boy Scouts whose motto is “Be prepared” and don’t wing it.
Have you ever been at a buffet with friends or coworkers and they notice that you’ve skipped the main course? That meat omission can be the topic of the entire lunch or meal if you let it. If friends or family ask you if your skipping the meat, own up to your decision to go green. If you hide it or get defensive, it becomes very obvious that you are not even convinced for yourself of why you’re eating this way. Re-establish your “why?” Keep it top of mind. Be prepared and proud of your decision to improve your health. Anyone that can’t be positive of that or support your decision isn’t much of a friend or they just need some time to adjust to it.
Not consuming enough greens or water
It can be easy sometimes to focus your plant-based diet on beans and grains. They are simple to prepare in bulk and last a while in your fridge and or freezer. However, without plenty of greens and water, you may find yourself bloated and constipated. Remedy that by aiming to include greens or veggies with every meal. Add some shredded carrot to your overnight oats with a dash of cinnamon and raisins for a carrot cake-style overnight oatmeal or top a bed of lettuce with a spoonful of quinoa and roasted veggies for lunch, or dinner. Drink at least 5 large glasses of water per day. Make a nice big salad with all the Fixin’s as a side for any dish. This will ensure you have plenty of fiber and are well hydrated and it’ll keep the pipes flowing, if you know what I mean. The digestive pipes, that is.
So, let’s move on to the O for Opportunities
It can be challenging switching to a plant based diet. It can be even worse if you have a bad attitude about it. Stay positive when times get rough and you feel like giving up. Remember your “Why?” and know that you’re on a noble quest. You may even find yourself inspiring others. People are not only attracted to a person with a plan, they are drawn by positivity. Perhaps because there seems to be less and less of this around these days.
Discover new ingredients
Experiment with new spices for added flavor. Try new ingredients that you may never have heard of before. I have discovered that Asian stores and Indian markets have an incredible variety of yummy foods. I even made my first batch of homemade kimchi. I’ve been serving kimchi on rice, braised greens, over beans with great results. Shoot. I’ve even found myself snacking on it for a quick and spicy treat at times. One new ingredient that I’ve loved is Korean radish. It tastes like a white carrot or a mild parsnip. It’s crunchy and flavorful and a wonderful veggie. Play around and discover some new stuff for yourself. Not all will be winners, but you’ll have fun discovering
I bought a pretty nasty fermented soy product the other day at the Asian food store that looked really good in the jar, but one quick taste and boy was it salty. So into the trash went that sample, but I wasn’t perturbed. I probably just need to google how to properly use that ingredient in a recipe and I’m sure it would be delicious. I will continue to try new products willingly.
I’m pretty active most weeks, hitting the gym three to five times per week. Recently, I’ve reignited my love of walking and running. I like that I can walk or run to my favorite music or podcast and get a good sweat going. My goal each day is to break a sweat. I encourage you to break one also, daily, if not at least three to five times per week. Also, stay active and move regularly as it has great health benefits. Most importantly, it can reduce your risk of disease and help to promote a regular digestion. Plus the fresh air can always do us some good.
Okay, Let’s move on to the T for Threats
Highly processed foods and snacks
As you go searching for that perfect snack to hold you over. Watch out! There are many products out there that are technically veggie or vegan, but that you shouldn’t eat often. Examples would be Oreos, French fries, etc. Stick with whole food options like broccoli florets, cut carrots, edamame, nuts, seeds and raisins.
Negative “friends” or family
I write friends in quotations because those that can’t support you for wanting to improve your health are not friends. Protect your mind by protecting what you allow into it. This can be friends, TV, web content, music, et cetera. Garbage in equals garbage out. Work to cleanse your environment of the negative wherever possible. Invite more inspirational content into your life. Share your journey with others. Often that’s all someone else needs to embark on their own positive journey towards personal growth.
In n’ Out Burgers are a weakness of mine. The family loves them. You want to identify your own kryptonite threats and look for alternatives whenever necessary. I can get close to eating something veggie compliant at In n’ Out by ordering a veggie burger with no meat. Basically it’s a grilled cheese with veggies like lettuce and tomato and pickles with or without their secret sauce. I’ll play around with other options for you as I go through my process and see what I discovered too.
Or for you, depending upon how strict you want to be, perhaps you choose to indulge once a month and order a burger. I feel best when I avoid the animal proteins altogether, so I opt not to typically, but you decide what you want to do. Remember you do you.
Next, Let’s cover MINDSET on a Plant Based Diet: 2 Months
I think it’s an important part of what we’re doing here. How am I feeling? So how do I feel after two months of eating, plant based? Great. Overall, I’m feeling empowered. I’m feeling more and more like I can do this. I am getting more comfortable with my food options, eating out or when traveling, and I love it. I’m also noticing there are a lot of people out there that want to change their dietary choices. Shows like The Game Changers, Forks Over Knives and many others have truly struck a chord in the United States. I know they are not the be all and end all for plant based eating, but I do think they are drawing a lot of attention to the crazy way most Americans eat.
Again, my goal is to share and invite you to share as well. Our Facebook page has been the easiest way to do so, but feel free to comment on our blogs as well. I’d love to know how best to serve you and what content you’re interested in seeing.
Keep moving forward daily, you guys, I’m rooting for you.
Read on to view: CAN I LOSE WEIGHT ON A PLANT BASED DIET?