For some, following a vegan diet comes with a bad reputation or even the view that it is too good or unreachable, although perceptions are changing there is a good reason for people to think either of these ways.
Firstly, we can accept that we can be an unhealthy vegan, vegetarian or omnivore and it is more about what we choose to eat rather than what we choose not to eat. We choose to avoid animal products for a variety of reasons from ethical and moral issues to health. However, just cutting food groups out whether you are embarking on an elimination diet or a any particular eating pattern, should include a bit of planning.
Believe me, I know! At the age of 17 I decided I wanted no part in animal cruelty and stopped eating meat and fish, of course, after eating the same foods, day in day out, usually beans on toast and sugar-laden desserts, I was in a pretty malnourished state. I now understand that we all must think of our food as preventative medicine, and what we fuel ourselves with impacts how we feel, think, perform as well as the level or types of diseases we may see in our future.
We have become unconscious about this, we strive to lose weight and feel good, knowing on the surface food is relevant, but forgetting that we need a myriad of nutrients and antioxidants to really feel great. Remember each day that food is medicine, you have so many choices. It may mean you have to change habits! Aaaaghhh! Yes, it can be hard, but so worth it. We often need pain too much us in to change. What if you can head pain and disease off before they land?
The British Dietetic Association and the NHS now advocate that a well planned vegan diet is healthy for people of all ages. This means that if you choose to follow a vegan diet, making sure you have a good range of nutrients is essential. Eating natural where possible and keeping meat substitutes as a rarity supports good health, also making sure you supplement with B12 and take an omega 3. Most experts agree that everyone should take a multivitamin and mineral for extra insurance, from a reputable company. Download my free vegan guide for more nutritional support http://passionatenutrition.co.uk/eating-healthy-the-vegan-way/
“When your intake of certain nutrients becomes too low, the body’s repair, replacement, and defence systems slow down or stop, allowing the damage to accumulate or fungi, bacteria, and viruses to proliferate” Dr Valter Longo
A note about micronutrient deficiencies
I am often contacted by people eliminating foods to tackle food intolerances. It is so important to think about how you get a variety of nutrients, and also start with promoting your gut health. Often people cut foods out and they become malnourished, leading to further problems. Micronutrient and gut health are the foundations, check your basic nutrient status on my free test http://passionatenutrition.co.uk/nutrient-assessment/
7 Happy, healthy vegan habits
1. Eat a variety of beans, lentils, nuts and seeds
This will ensure your body gets a good range of protein and fibre, it also keeps everything interesting. Mung beans are the most gentle on the digestive system, if you find beans a little difficult to digest. Usually, just having a small amount at each serving is best, especially if you are unused to the amounts of fibre.
2. Get your healthy fats
Having a diet rich in unsaturated fats has been shown to be protective to the heart and brain. Fats are essential to the absorption of certain vitamins and so also keep you beautiful! Choose foods such as walnuts, olive oil, avocado
3. Check supplementation
Identify any micronutrient deficiencies and check the best supplements for you.
4. Eat a rainbow 5-6 servings of veggies 2-3 of fruits per day
Eating a rainbow of colours ensures you get a good range of antioxidants to protect your health and immunity, also, a wonderful range of micronutrients and fibre to keep you feeling amazing.
5. Be active everyday
Keep moving, we know this is protective to your mental wellbeing, supporting overall health including heart and bone health. Walk, swim, take the stairs, dance, yoga…
6. Reduce processed foods and cook from scratch
Eat natural where possible, start to include a range of foods in your salads, try new things. Roasting and stir-frying are quick and easy ways to cook your veggies, bung in a few beans, flavour with Tamari, miso and a range of spices e.g. chilli, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, ginger, fennel etc. Use quinoa, brown and wild rice, sweet potatoes and other wholemeal options.
7. Enjoy, feel gratitude and celebrate your food and lifestyle
This is most important, enjoy your food, experiment with new flavours and have fun, invite friends round to try your food, explore the spice aisles, and look up new natural vegan recipes on the internet.
Thank you for reading, lots of love and health,