Fun fact: There are six things we have control over that predict roughly 80% of the chronic illnesses we will face, one of these being the food we eat each and every day. Sticking to a diet isn’t necessarily the easiest thing (especially in 2020), but there are steps you can take to manage this.
Nutrition experts say to live our healthiest, whole foods from plant-based sources should be the shining stars. Diets that emphasize plant foods and are low in animal products significantly lower your risk of diabetes, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease and lower rates of all causes of mortality.
Now before you stick your fingers in your ears and run to the nearest drive thru, know that a “plant-focused diet” does not mean you have to go vegetarian or vegan. In fact, all it requires is a simple flip. We’ve been taught to plan meals around a protein and then use vegetables as “sides” to compliment it. Instead, decide what vegetables you are going to have and then pick a smaller amount of protein to compliment them. Easy, peasy (literally).
7 simple ways to start eating well
- Fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal.
- Use meat as a flavor enhancer, not the main event. Sliced chicken on a salad, for instance, rather than a whole chicken breast with a small side of mashed potatoes.
- Eat vegetarian once a week and then more often as you figure out what you like and learn more recipes.
- Add in good fats such as olive oil, avocadoes, and those from nuts and nut butters.
- Bulk up on whole grains at breakfast and throughout the day to help you feel fuller and get more fiber.
- Replace highly processed foods. Try subbing spiralized zucchini (found in the produce section) for pasta, whole-grain bread for white, crackers made from seeds and whole grains instead of “enriched flour.”
- Outsource your meals. There are lots of plant-based meal delivery services that will bring all the ingredients and a recipe to your doorstep. It’s an easy way to experiment with vegetarian or vegan meals, learn new ways of cooking and constructing meals, and it can take the load off two or more nights a week.
Look at it as a learning process. We’ve been raised on a diet culture of all or nothing. We “get rid of carbs,” “cut out sugar,” “go paleo.” And then when we inevitably slip up (because, #human) we feel like failures. Instead, take the pressure off yourself—and make lasting change—by thinking of this as a flexible, ongoing learning process. Focusing on whole-based foods and plants, and staying in touch with how foods are making your body feel, will pay off in the long run for your overall health.
If you’re looking for practical ways to improve your lifestyle habits, we have you covered. Amazon Care is offering a free six-week lifestyle health email challenge full of achievable steps to begin forming better habits.