It should be no surprise that healthier living starts with what you eat. Getting more plant-based foods into your diet while cutting back on meat is a great way to jump-start your journey into creating a healthier you. While exercise also plays an important role in creating a healthy lifestyle, changing what you eat can kick-start the whole experience. However, eating more plant-based meals isn’t always easy. Here are a few tips that can make the whole process easier.
While cutting back on meat used to be difficult, more and more manufacturers are replacing traditional ingredients with plant-based items. One example is Hampton Creek, which makes a product called Just Mayo. Rather than use eggs like the traditional recipe for mayonnaise, it uses organic, plant-based ingredients. These types of companies are making it easier than ever to remove products such as eggs from your diet and replace it with healthy pea protein or other ingredients.
Don’t Focus on Meal Variety
Thanks to cooking shows and social standards, people have an idea of what the perfect meal looks like in their heads. This often includes a plate full of variety. Keep in mind that there’s no rule that states how many different types of foods you need on your plate during any one meal. This is not to say that variety is bad, but it’s just as fine to eat just one or two types of food during a meal. Trying to fit too many on your plate can make eating more plant-based foods harder. Instead, focus on eating a variety throughout the day, and make sure you hit your main food groups.
Eat the Same Thing More Often
While there are a lot of great plant-based meal ideas, it can be difficult to come up with a new plant-based menu item all the time. However, you don’t have to. Don’t be afraid to eat the same thing more than once a week. Find four to 10 meal ideas you like, and focus on eating those over the course of a week or two. It’s perfectly fine to have the same meal twice during this amount of time.
Pro tip: Try to choose meal ideas that use many of the same ingredients. This will prevent you from having to buy tons of different ingredients to make your meals throughout the next week or two.
Make Your Meals Ahead of Time
The biggest problem with preparing plant-based meals is that it takes longer. That’s why it’s a good idea to make your meals ahead of time. Choose one day out of the week to spend a few hours in the kitchen cooking. You can freeze and store your prepared meals for later. When it’s meal time, just pop that meal into the microwave or oven, and you have a home-cooked meal in minutes.
Invest in the Right Tools
Sometimes healthier living involves investing in new kitchen tools. Having the right tools on hand can make preparing healthier meals seem less daunting. For example, some peelers can easily turn a zucchini or squish into long noodle-like pieces in just seconds. If you replace your traditional wheat noodles with these zucchini noodles, you have a healthy veggie pasta dish. Other tools such as preparing knifes and blenders make healthy eating quick and simple as well.
Herb It Up
One common complaint that people have about healthy eating is how bland it is, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Just because you opt for more plant-based foods in your diet doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of flavor. Spice up your dishes with dried herbs. While you can easily pick up seasoning from your local store, remember that many seasonings have more sodium and other additives mixed in. Instead, focus on buying your herbs fresh and drying them yourself. If you feel better buying your herbs from a store, choose brands that don’t put additives in their seasonings. Look for the staples such as oregano, basil and thyme. Most of the time, you can find these types of herbs in stand-alone form.
By using the tips above, you can jump-start your path to wellness. Living healthier doesn’t have to be hard. All it takes is a little willpower and a better understanding of the food you put into your body. Most importantly, don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up. Mistakes are going to happen, but the key is to continue adding more plant-based foods into your diet.