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The Health Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
Have you ever asked yourself, what is a plant-based diet? It’s pretty simple; the goal is to eat more plants. And what is that exactly? You may imagine eating a lot of salads and sprouts, while others might dream of foraging in the forest for some nuts and seeds. Well, it’s all that and much more! It may seem like a very restrictive diet at first, but I promise you that once you start discovering all the food you can enjoy that is plant-based, you won’t miss a thing from your diet.
The next question may be, what exactly is on the menu? Of course there are vegetables. At first you may want to stick with the ones you already know like green beans, peas, and corn. But, especially now that we get food flown in from all over the world, there is a dizzying array of vegetables you can choose from. You can try anything from asparagus to artichokes, squash to sweet potato. Fruits are next on the list. Full of nutrients and fibre, they are good for you and your sweet tooth! Good ones to try are avocado, blueberries, coconut, and pears. Whole grains are important to a plant-based diet, but make sure they are not refined or processed, which strips the grains of all the nutrients and fibre. Try brown rice pasta, rolled oats and quinoa for a filling meal. Legumes are important because they fill you up and are full of essential protein your body uses as fuel. You can add lentils, kidney beans or chickpeas to soups and salads. Nuts and seeds tend to be overlooked because they are small but they are mighty! A handful of unsalted, raw almonds, hempseeds and walnuts can really add a great flavour to any meal.
There are many health benefits associated with a plant-based diet.
- Weight management: Plant-based foods contain less saturated fat and fewer dense calories which can lead to weight gain. The extra fibre provided will fill you up allowing you to eat less. Choosing complex carbohydrates will help balance blood sugar, reducing those mid-afternoon cravings.
- Energy and vitality: Those green leafy vegetables and fruits you’ll be eating will energize you due to the water content in the food. Plant-based foods are easier to digest, not weighing you down like animal-based foods.
- Better sleep quality: Many plant-based foods are rich in the minerals we need for quality sleep. Whole grains help the body produce serotonin which has a calming effect on the body.
- Disease prevention: Plant-based foods provide the body with phytonutrients; chemical warriors that help boost the immune system and prevent disease. Eating lots of fibre helps eliminate any toxic waste quickly from your system.
How to get started
Although you can make the change to your diet overnight, transitioning in a gradual way is okay too! Eventually, you’ll need to eliminate anything from the animal world including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, and other dairy products. In addition you should also consider eliminating anything that is processed and fried because these foods do not offer any nutritional value to you. Whether you choose to go cold turkey or transition gradually, don’t think you need to go it alone. Talk to your friends and family, tell them of the changes you are making to your diet, and ask for their support. Look for community or social media groups where you can share your experiences and ask for guidance from like-minded people. It’s also a good idea to enlist the assistance of a nutritionist, naturopath, or medical doctor. They can help with meal planning, provide suggestions for food sensitivities, and in the case of a medical doctor, monitor your health and any medications you may be on. Finally, to help with the preparation of food, take a cooking class or buy a cookbook with plant-based recipes. Be prepared to try new things, have fun experimenting in the kitchen, and be proud of yourself for making a change to a healthy new way of living!
Simply said, Marni Wasserman’s life is rooted in healthy eating. Culinary nutritionist, health strategist, author and owner of Toronto’s first plant-based cooking studio, Marni uses passion and experience to educate individuals on how to adopt a realistic plant-based lifestyle that is both simple and delicious.
Marni is a graduate of the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, (and now part of their faculty as a plant-based cooking teacher) and the Natural Gourmet Culinary School in New York, and is also the founder of Marni Wasserman’s Food Studio & Lifestyle Shop located in midtown Toronto where she teaches her signature cooking classes, and offers collaborative workshops and urban retreats. She is also the author of book "Plant Based Diet for Dummies", "Fermenting For Dummies" and several well-received plant-based eBooks. You can learn more about Marni by visiting her Facebook page, following her on Twitter, or by checking out her website www.marniwasserman.com.