On the previous page, you’ve learned about all the foods you can eat on an optimal plant-based diet.
But sometimes it can be hard to maintain a plant-based diet. What does it take to stick to it?
Here's a strong guide to go about it.
1. Build a strong foundation
Think about it. You can’t build a mega tall skyscraper without a solid foundation.
You can guarantee yourself great success if you have one, or else, you are doomed to failure.
What is your true motivation? Start with the why. Envision your potential reality.
Instead of thinking about losing weight, preventing illness, or maintaining your health, why not think about wanting to have a fulfilling life?
2. Acquire education
Knowledge is power, but it’s what you do with the knowledge that makes you powerful.
A comprehensive education on nutrition is necessary to achieve significant success. You don’t have to reach Ph. D status. You just need to learn about different concepts.
The more you understand the subject, the more you "own" it.
Learning nutrition is not only offered in academic institutions; a lot of professionals make nutrition education very accessible.
So get educated with: books, videos, seminars and conferences, or cooking classes… Once you get the knowledge and the skills, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
3. Get equipped
You need the right arsenal to eat a plant-based diet. This includes healthy ingredients, kitchen tools and appliances, and apps.
Healthy ingredients are the base to feeding yourself properly. Kitchen tools and appliances will help you create various and interesting shapes and textures and speed up the preparation time. Apps will help you keep everything in check.
So to get started on the right foot…
1) Revamp your kitchen by stocking your pantry with staple whole food ingredients and cleaning out processed and packaged foods.
2) Hook up your kitchen with good quality tools and appliances, e.g. cutting knife, high-powered blender, etc.
3) Monitor your eating habits with nutrition tracking apps, like Cronometer, meal planning apps, etc.
4. Anticipate and tackle challenging situations
Think of all the potential obstacles that can prevent you from reaching your goal and circumvent them with thought out strategies. Have tricks up your sleeve so you don’t have any excuses to fall off the wagon.
On the go? Prepare simple and ready-to-go foods. On a budget? Buy seasonal ingredients or in bulk. Tempted at work? Bring rival and rocking snacks.
Take your time to make a list of all the different places and times in your life where you need to be alert and ready to tackle a challenge. Then substitute them with clever solutions or pleasant activities.
5. Have a game plan
Think of how you want to go about eating a plant-based diet. Do you want to dip your toe in first? Go step-by-step? Go cold turkey? In my mind, the best way is to go is to do it gradually.
But the most important thing is to find your rhythm and follow it steadily.
Once you know your game plan, you’ll find it easier to achieve your goals.
Here are some ideas:
1) Start with one meal a day. Breakfast is the easiest meal to start with since you control your environment and it doesn’t take long to prepare. Opt for green smoothies, juices, fresh fruits, granola with nut milk, etc.
2) Go plant-based for a whole day, e.g. Meatless Mondays. A typical day can be the choices mentioned above for breakfast, a green salad, veggie bowl, veggie wrap, or nutritious soup for lunch and dinner.
3) Eat half of your daily calories with whole plant-based ingredients.
Choose which part of the day or which day you want to focus on and plan your meals accordingly.
6. Take action
A good plan of action is useless without real action.
So implement the above ideas.
Here’s another set of actions you can take gradually to transition to an optimal plant-based diet more easily.
I call it the ASL formula: Add-Substitute-Limit.
1) Add. Add portions of greens to your traditional meals.
2) Substitute. Transform your favorite meals to an OPB versions
3) Limit. Reduce or eliminate animal-based and processed foods.
Whichever way you do it, just do it!
7. Persevere fiercely
Review your foundation regularly. Remind yourself why you’re doing it. Repeat it over and over again.
In so doing, you change your subconscious mind. You help build new neural pathways in your brain to change your habits. You reinforce your desire and your goals to achieve success.
And success is achieved through perseverance.
You may have some setbacks, but that’s okay. Remember that failures are opportunities to learn. Ask yourself why you got off track and do better next time. Don’t beat yourself up, just keep on going.
Applaud yourself for starting in the first place and celebrate your mini-successes.
You’ll notice that by preserving, you’ll gain confidence and will be more immune to failures.
8. Surround yourself with like-minded people
You’ve heard that two heads are better than one, right? Well, it’s true. The intelligence of a group can exceed that of its members if the right conditions are met.
When you surround yourself with people who are caring, knowledgeable, experienced, and ready to help you, you raise your chances of success. You work in a harmonious way to achieve your goal.
Find like-minded people by going to meet-ups or conferences, attending healthy cooking classes, joining associations and groups offline and online, etc.
9. Energize yourself
As human beings, we need stimulants to stay energized. We need enthusiasm to become highly motivated. When you are stimulated, your brain is flooded with neurotransmitters, like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, that energize you physiologically.
To energize yourself positively, get support from your loved ones, listen to music while you cook, read inspiring stories, find an accountability partner, join a group, serve a cause (environmental or ethical), etc.
In other words, find your "drug", your sources of stimulation that will activate your actions.
10. Have a positive attitude
Positive thinking can have a great impact on your reality. It opens your world to new opportunities and possibilities. You become more creative in finding ways to stay on top of things and develop new skills and tactics.
Whereas when you’re stressed, angry, or afraid — all negative emotions —, you close yourself to finding new options and solutions to overcome obstacles.
Positive thinking or optimism includes positive emotions like desire, faith, love, joy, enthusiasm, tenderness, hope, gratitude, pride, interest, amusement, and awe, which guide behavior in the moment and make you more resilient.
11. Embrace other healthy habits
Diet is a key factor in human health, but there are many more important aspects to optimal health, like exercise, sunshine, good sleep, proper breathing, and stress management. These also nourish your mind and keep you in constant movement.
Most importantly, they keep you grounded and help you stay in the present moment day after day.
Meditate, write, play, practice mindfulness, spend time with the ones you love, seek out cultural activities… In other words, take care of yourself. These activities are all part of increasing your overall health.
12. Listen to your body
An important aspect of taking care of yourself is being connected with yourself. Everybody is made differently so, although it’s good to listen to experts, listening to yourself should come before anybody else. If you feel like something isn’t quite right, then it probably isn’t.
It might be that you’re not digesting a food properly, that you’re feeling weak, or that your hair is thinning (nightmare).
Remember that you don’t have to be 100% this or that. Make readjustments in your diet if you have to and find the best diet that corresponds to your individual needs.
There’s not much to say in this last step but to…
Be dedicated and don’t give up.
Ready to Rock Your Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet may seem hard to stick to, especially if you don’t know where to begin or you lack support.
But with a burning desire, a little planning and the right mindset, it’s completely doable.
Just imagine being able to overcome setbacks confidently. Just imagine having a fulfilling life.
So act now. Don’t just try to eat a plant-based diet, make a commitment.
Promise yourself that you will stick with it no matter what. Give yourself the chance to really succeed.
If you commit for at least a month, you will change your life forever, and going back to your old habits will be more difficult.
So make a clear choice between success and failure.
Take small, determined steps and you’ll turn your eating habits from a hopeful concept to an achievable reality.
You might be wondering if you’ll starve on such a diet. Or that you’ll lack variety.
Let me assure you, you certainly won’t.
There are plenty of foods to choose from in an optimal plant-based diet. The following list is taken from the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) score, developed by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It is grouped in food categories and ordered from the highest nutrient density score to the lowest — based on identified phytochemicals, antioxidant activity, and total vitamin and mineral content.
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Follow my free guidelines to learn six crucial insights that’ll give you the motivation and confidence to prepare balanced and optimal plant-based meals, full of flavor, and yum appeal.
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