Eating a Plant-Based Diet: How to Get Started

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How to start eating a plant-based diet, eating a plant based-diet, plant based diets

The food we put into our bodies and feed our families is both deeply personal and often undervalued. It’s not about individual nutrients and calorie counting. It’s about the whole package—how our food makes us feel and how it affects our world.

One of the healthier food choices I advocate for is centering your plate and diet around minimally-processed plant-based foods.

Healthy eating placemat, guide to eating plant-based food

Let’s start with a definition. Whole-food, plant-based eating is centered around whole or minimally processed plants. These includes fruit, vegetables, tubers, legumes, and whole grains. It avoids meat (including fish), dairy, and eggs, as well as refined foods like bleached flour, oil, and refined sugar.

I want you to know that whole-food, plant-based eating does not have to be an all-or-nothing lifestyle. Rather, it’s easy to start experimenting in small ways that feel doable and exciting to you, like swapping out a single ingredient in your favorite dish or having one meal each day be plant-based. Immerse yourself in this information by practicing at your own pace and simply following what feels interesting or inspiring.

If you’re interested in exploring eating more plant-based food or even transitioning into a completely plant-based diet—but aren’t sure where to start!—this post is for you.

How to Start Eating Plant-Based Food

It’s hard to make changes, so it’s important to support yourself as you shift to a healthier eating routine. The only way to start is to begin eating plant-based foods every day.

The healthiest foods are minimally processed:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Starches
  • Roots/tubers
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes/beans

These should make up most—if not all—of your daily meals. You can start right where you are today and just keep adding more of these foods to each meal.

Fill your pantry and refrigerator with these healthy foods and there will be less room for the unhealthy foods. Depending on the type of person you are, it may be helpful to get rid of any foods in your home that are not supporting your health.

Jewish Food Hero Getting Started Shopping List

Download a Jewish Food Hero Getting Started Plant-Based Shopping List to fill your home with the food you can eat freely.

Make Simple Meals

Simple is one of the values here at Jewish Food Hero.

When I gave myself permission to simplify my meals eight years ago, everything changed for me. I stopped worrying about whether I was eating enough healthy foods, dreading the meal planning process, and wondering what to put on the shopping list.

This relief is possible for you, too—and today I want to share my secret for doing this.

Here’s my simple formula:

starch + vegetable + flavoring to taste = a nourishing meal

Yes, it really can be that easy. It starts with giving yourself permission to create simple, nourishing meals. Even just one simple meal a day can make a difference in your overall peace and well-being.

Simple Meal Guide from Jewish Food Hero

Download a Guide to Creating Simple Meals Here

My Favorite Resources for Plant-Based Food Learning

When you spend time learning about plant-based food, it gives you the information you need to feel confident and informed about your food choices. It helps you understand the importance of diet and nutrition for your life. I find that the right education sources also inspire me to keep going in my commitment to health.

Many people experience social friction from family and friends when they change the way they eat. Becoming informed about this topic helps soften the experience, helping you to get clear about your motivation and intention instead of finding yourself pushed into self-doubt.

 

  • The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good! by John McDougall: This book is my absolute reference guide for eating plant-based food. It offers a ten-day meal plan, plenty of recipes, and lots of case studies and stories. I also keep a few copies of this book on hand to give to people who ask me about plant-based eating (as I try to avoid food debates) and are interested in learning more for themselves.
  • Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition by T. Colin Campbell: If you’re interested in learning more about plant-based nutrition, this is a good source. He lays out the convincing case for eating a plant-based diet and improving your health, backed up by scientific studies and research.
  •   Jeff Novick’s The Nutrition Series DVDs: Six DVDs about plant-based nutrition. Jeff is a born teacher with a common sense approach to eating and a healthy dose of humor. These videos are ideal for people who enjoy visual learning, and engaging for adults and children alike.
  • Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition with Cornell University: If you’d like to take your education a step further, check out this program I did with Cornell University. They teach a powerful, science-based approach to nutrition that can dramatically reduce the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity, and improve your quality of life.
  • Dr. John McDougall online discussion forum: Moderated by helpful and educated nutrition experts Dr. John McDougall and Jeff Novick, RD, this discussion forum is a great spot to ask questions and learn about plant-based food. When I first transitioned to this lifestyle, I spent a lot of time on this forum, reading and asking questions.

I hope this post has inspired and supported you to eat more plant-based foods, and to share your plans for health with those around you.

Have questions about eating plant-based foods? Ask me anything here! Your question will be kept anonymous.

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Comments 8

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  1. Thanks jewishfoodheroe…I need to start doing this diet because I’m diabetic and blood pressure. ….thanks

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  2. ‘I have John and Mary McDougalls All-You-Can-Eat Vegetarian Cookbook. I got it a few years back and had lost a lot of weight then last year I went off eating healthy and I regained everything back so I saw your post on Facebook and found his name and I’m looking forward to restarting up again and getting healthy I have a lot of health issues and this really helped me when I was eating healthy.

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      Victoria: I also have the MsDougall’s cookbook – my favorite recipes are actually in THE STARCH SOLUTION! I love how they focus on simple eating and that it really does work. I wish you the best of luck regaining your health and returning to a weight that makes you feel comfortable. You know what to do and you can do this! To your health in 2017. Sincerely, Kenden

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