I don’t always tell people about my plant-based diet because I don’t want to come across as preachy. But when my best girlfriend shared how down she was about her weight and ailing health, I had to open my mouth. To my surprise, she was excited about what I had to say. I patted myself on the back as my friend started down the path of changing her life.
A few weeks later, however; she quit the diet. “It’s too hard,” she told me. I was disappointed, but she was right. Transitioning to a plant-based diet is no piece of cake; at least it wasn’t for me. I can’t tell you how many late night runs I made to Albertsons for Ben & Jerry’s or all the times I cried to my husband, “I can’t do this!” the first few months.
In the end, however; I was successful. Me, the girl who could never say no to seconds (or thirds, if they were offered) of dinner, dessert or candy – EVER! So how did I do it? After thinking about it, I came up with the following ten things that helped me to succeed.
10-Tips for Going Plant-based
- Keep your eyes on the prize! By following a plant-based diet, you’ll lose weight, your skin will glow, you’ll lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, you’ll drastically reduce your chances of getting a host of diseases and you’ll feel great. If these changes happened overnight, you’d probably stick with the diet, but they won’t. So, in the beginning you’ll need to remind yourself of the good things in store for you if you stick to it. This is why, after my 100th binge, I wrote a list of my reasons for going plant-based. This helped me, and I bet it will help you too. When you write your list, make it personal. One of the items on my list, for example, was: I don’t want to die young from cancer like my Aunt Mary. Once you’ve completed your list, put it in a place where you’ll easily see it and then read it at least once a day.
- Watch A LOT of plant-based movies. Early in my diet transition, I watched the movie, Forks Over Knives, and I couldn’t stomach eating dairy for a while. The impact, however; quickly wore off. Since it worked in the short run, I decided to start watching plant-based movies every week. It got boring, but it was worth it! I honestly don’t think I could have made the transition without having done this. For a list of plant-based movies, see Zany Zucchini.
- Read, read, read!– I’ve read a lot of plant-based books over the past year, and it’s been helpful. For one, like watching movies, they’ve motivated me to stay with the diet. But books have also taught me how to cook and eat plant-based. There are numerous plant-based books out there. Look for them at Whole Foods Market or any book store. Three that I recommend are The Engine 2 Diet, Becoming Vegan and the Skinny Bitch series.
- Take cooking classes. – Because eating plant-based is different from the way you ate before, you’ll have to learn new ways of cooking. This sounds hard, but the techniques are simple to learn. I’ve taken cooking classes at Whole Foods Market and vegan restaurants. If there aren’t any plant-based cooking classes near you, check out Rouxbe Cooking School where you can learn through instructional videos.
- Learn 5 to 10 simple dinner recipes. – When I went plant-based, I had to throw most of my old recipes out the window and start from scratch. Cooking something new every night felt overwhelming to me. I didn’t want cooking to be such a chore, so I learned 10 simple recipes that I could fall back on when I didn’t feel like experimenting in the kitchen. You can find some simple recipes in The 30-Minute Vegan.
- Get help. – Because transitioning my diet was a struggle, I enlisted help. I met Certified Holistic Health Coach, Katherine Nilbrink, at a cooking class and found out that she helped people to make the plant-based transition. I did her 21-Day Lifestyle Transformation Program online and it was great! It answered all of my nutrition questions, taught me healthy meal plans, got me connected to other people transitioning their diets and provided encouragement and support.
- Find a support group – It’s hard to be successful at something without support and encouragement. So while making my diet transition, I joined several plant-based Meetup groups. Click HERE to find Meetups in your area. I also found support by reading plant-based blogs.
- Find plant–based alternatives for your favorite foods. – The hardest thing for me to give up when I went plant-based was ice cream. What helped me to deal with this was discovering satisfying plant-based alternatives like my Skinny Chocolate Shake, Luna and Larry’s Organic Coconut Bliss and Sharon’s Sorbet. You can find a healthy swap for almost anything you crave in Kim Barnouin’s Skinny Bitch Book of Vegan Swaps.
- Indulge a little – In the beginning, I was strict with my diet. This didn’t work. I felt deprived and ended up binging over and over again. Once I started allowing myself a few scheduled treats on the weekend, I was more successful. I think it’s important to find a balance with this diet, where you follow it enough to be healthy, but splurge enough to be happy. How you determine this balance will be unique to you. For me, a soy mocha latte or two on the weekend does the trick.
- Never beat yourself up for cheating! – When I began this diet I saw cheating as my enemy and beat myself up whenever I did it. Being a psychotherapist, however; I knew this was sabotaging my efforts. For more information about why it’s not helpful to beat up on yourself, click HERE. While beating up on yourself hurts your chances of success, the opposite, being compassionate toward yourself increases them. Knowing this, I worked on being more compassionate toward myself whenever I slipped up. It sounds silly, but it helped me to succeed. For more information on being compassionate toward yourself, click HERE.
I appreciate anyone who takes the time to say hello! I love receiving your comments and questions, so please contact me. Email: celestedimilla(at)yahoo(dot)com (pardon this funky spelling…it helps prevent spam).
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