Welcome to the Vegetarian Times Plant-Based Health Plan. Over the next four weeks, we’ll be giving you four building blocks of healthy habits and lifestyle updates to start the new year off fresh. Our guide for this project is Ashley Kitchens of Plant-Centered Nutrition. Ashley holds a Masters in Public Health and Nutrition from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has worked as a registered dietitian in 2012. She focuses on coaching clients towards a plant-centered way of eating, using a holistic approach and intuitive eating practices. Maybe you decided this was your year to go plant-based (welcome!) or you just want to reset, take good care of yourself, and prioritize yourself and your health – either way, the Plant-Based Health Reset is here to help with tips and recipes to cook each week.
Illustration: Ksenia Zvezdina
Plant-Based Health Reset, Part 1: Mindfulness and Focusing on Your Well-Being
Feel empowered by your own journey. Become your biggest cheerleader this year. Silence the noise and make sure you’re doing what’s best for you this year. Keep the journey simple and exciting.
One of the biggest obstacles we see to living a fulfilling plant-based lifestyle is lack of confidence, knowledge, and a positive relationship with food. While plant-based eating is gaining more of a foothold in our society, there is still an undercurrent of resistance and skepticism that can derail and undermine your desired plant-based lifestyle. This is why eating more plants and making positive shifts in your life often start with your own mindset, not just the food on your plate (of course, that is very important too; we’ll be discussing that more in the next three installments).
There are many reasons why it’s important to prioritize your health and well-being. One of the most important is that your health is directly linked to your happiness. When you’re feeling well, you’re more likely to feel happy. And when you’re happy, it’s easier to be productive and enjoy life. Another reason why it’s important to focus on your well-being is because good physical health leads to better mental health. When you’re physically healthy, your body produces fewer stress hormones, which can have a positive impact on your mood and overall outlook on life.
So where do you begin? Start by making modest changes in your life – such as being more conscientious of your mindset, self-talk, and eating habits – while giving yourself grace to live the life you want. Here are four tips to help you get started.
Believe in Yourself and Stay Positive
Success is not an easy journey and comes with ups and downs. You’ll encounter setbacks that you will need to work through in order to keep moving forward. It’s important that you don’t dwell on the setbacks, but learn from them to reach your fullest potential.
Connect with a Community
You have to be your own biggest cheerleader, but that doesn’t mean you should go it alone. Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and encouraging will make it far easier. You can connect with others and ask for help from those who have been where you are now and succeeded. There are plenty of people who are interested in eating more plant-based foods and finding a community of like-minded people can help fuel your enthusiasm.
Create Your Version of ‘Plant-Based’
When it comes to your diet, incorporate more plant-based foods to the degree that makes you feel most comfortable. You can start by gradually adding more plant-based foods to your meals or try adding a vegan meal once or twice a week and then working your way up to more. This will help your body adjust to the change and make it easier to stick with. Once your baseline changes, it can be easier to add in more layers. Even if your goal isn’t to become fully vegetarian or vegan, eating more plants can still help you feel better.
This is a journey not a race. It’s OK not to be where you want to be yet. You’ll get there. Take the time that you need to build yourself up to be the person that you want to be. It may seem daunting and it may feel like you’re not making the progress that others are making, but taking small steps that feel good to you add up over time. Know that you’re trying and doing your best.
Illustration: Ksenia Zvezdina
Plant-Based Health Reset, Part 1: Action Item
As you’re cultivating awareness, it’s important to be mindful of how you’re thinking and feeling on a daily basis. This can be done by journaling or meditation. Take some time each day this week to reflect on your thoughts, emotions, and habits. Write them down. Make note of where you are now and where you want to go. This will help you become more aware of your patterns so you can make changes. With practice, you will start to see the benefits in all areas of your life. Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help you live a happier and more fulfilling life. So give it a try and see for yourself!
Plant-Based Health Reset, Part 1: Recipes to Cook
It can be hard to make the switch to eating more plants, but there are plenty of resources out there to help. This week, we’re focusing on quick and easy meals that make adding more healthy, plant-based dishes to your menu as simple as possible.
- Corn-Quinoa Salad
- Fast & Fresh Rice Noodle Soup
- Vegan Black Bean Tacos
- Baby Romaine Salad with Date Vinaigrette