Vegan and Plant-based 'Diet' - There is a diffrence?

Hello Everyone! 

My reason to write this post is because working as a personal trainer I get so many people asking what I do eat since I am plat based and also have an intolerance to gluten, dairy and soy.. yay for me!

So, I thought I would make this post just to show you how easy it can be if you are looking to get more wholesome foods in to your diet or just some tips to go vegetarian or even vegan. Please do not take this post as a pushy one that everyone should go vegan / plant based, it certainly is not! I just want to share my current lifestyle and how it works for me having such an active job and being able to balance my hormones and still have enough energy for a good workout.

I would also like to highlight that am not a medical professional, and this post is not meant to be used for education purposes and substitute for professional care. This post is based upon personal experience only. Please do your own research and or speak to a medical professional before making any major changes to your diet / lifestyle.

Eating real, fresh food and avoiding processed foods might seem daunting at first, especially if you are looking to go more plant based with your lifestyle and it may be easy to come up with reasons why it is faster and more convenient to pick up a ready meal, meat / dairy products than make a fresh dinner. But it is surprisingly easy to eat only ‘real food’, plus it really is so healthy and nutritious for you. It will take some getting used to but taking it in small steps will make the world if difference and does not have to be to intense to change.

A question I get asked so many times is “What is the difference eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, aren’t they the same as being vegan”? which is a good question. And I can tell you that, while there are certainly some similarities between eating a whole-food, plant-based diet and being vegan, there are also some differences.

Vegans avoid ALL animal products or exploitation in food, clothing, shoes, or any other aspect of their lives. Vegans may not necessarily focus on whole plant foods; they may eat refined and processed foods, although many choose not to. Whereas a whole food ‘diet’ is made up of natural foods that are not heavily processed. Meaning whole, unrefined, or minimally refined ingredients. Following a whole-food, plant-based diet lets you meet your nutritional needs by focusing on natural, minimally processed plant foods – which is what I am sticking too and find works great for me. 

So here’s my ‘lucky 7’ very simple points that you can implement to your next food shop:
  • When food shopping try and stick to store perimeters – fresh foods including, fruit, veg, legumes and chilled products are normally located on the outskirts of the shops. Processed foods tend to stick to the middle.
  • Try not to shop when hungry as I am sure many of you – myself included shop when hungry are more likely to spend more money, and usually are guilty of picking up unhealthy food as these are seen to be faster, more convenient options.
  • Encourage yourself to read the food labels carefully – the general rule I try to stick too is if you don’t recognise  most of the ingredient then it is processed and not ‘real food’ and most likely not very nutrient dense.
  • Near enough anything ending in ‘ose’ on the ingredient label typically is a sign of sugar, for example sucrose, glucose, galactose.
  • Vary the vegetables you eat to reap the different health benefits each vegetable offers.
  • Try to think of your plate as 50% vegetables, 30% protein, 10% good fats such as avocado, 5% fruit and 5% nuts and seeds. But again, it depends of your own bodies’ intolerances – everyone will be different. 
  • Cook at home – that way you know exactly what ingredients are going in.
Create meals around these staple items and you will spend less than you do on a diet rich in meat and other animal products and again they can be the most comforting and nutritious meals full of flavour. 
There are plenty of other foods you can also enjoy - including nuts, seeds, tempeh, whole-grain flour and breads, plant-based burgers, mock meats, and plant-based milks. However, I would recommend eating these foods in moderation, because they are more calorie-dense and can contribute to weight gain. There is so many plant-based gluten, dairy and refined sugar free options to cook up for snacks and meals online these days you are spoilt for choice, and the great thing is that they are so simple to make.

Here’s a quick overview of the main food categories you’ll enjoy on a plant-based diet:
Fruits: any type of fruit including apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, citrus fruits, etc
Vegetables: peppers, corn, avocados, lettuce, spinach, kale, peas etc. 
Root Vegetables: potatoes, carrots, parsnips, sweet potatoes, beets, etc
Whole grains: grains, cereals, and other starches in their whole form, such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, whole wheat, oats, barley, etc. Even popcorn is a whole grain.
Legumes: beans of any kind, lentils, pulses, and similar ingredients.

Can I eat a plant-based diet on a budget? Yet another question I get asked a lot. 

Whole food, plant-based eating is cheaper than you think. Fresh food goes a long way, and whole grains, potatoes, and beans are some of the most affordable bulk foods you can buy! One main tip I tell my clients is to buy as fresh as you can and if it is going off, cut it up and freeze it for another day! The average family will waste about £50 of food per month.

I hope this helps some of you that are looking to make healthy changes! Start off with one meal, or even add in one snack that is plant based and see how you go. Just play around with it all and all the flavours, you will be surprised :) 

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