Want To Go On A Plant-Based Diet? Here’s What It Really Is + How To Start
Should you start during the holidays? We say yes!
The Netflix documentary Gamechangers really made the information on the benefits of a plant-based diet disseminate faster than you can finish blending a smoothie. Nowadays, people use the term to mean a diet mostly revolving around plants and sometimes even use it interchangeably with veganism. But what really is it?
What is a Whole-Food, Plant-Based diet?
According to T. Colin Campbell who did the study on the link between nutrition and its relation to cancer and other deadly diseases and is the author of the bestselling book, The China Study, a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet (WFPBD) is a "lifestyle [that] includes eating plant foods in their whole, unprocessed form. This includes vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, seeds, and whole grains. It does not include animal products, such as meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs." This lifestyle also takes into account where the food was sourced (no to pesticides please!) and how the food is prepared (they don't use oils so no sauteeing, frying). No fastfood and processed food for sure, too!
The Forks Over Knives website (which also has its own powerful documentary worth-watching) defines plant-based as a diet "predominantly consisting of plants." Some use it to mean they only eat 100% vegetables but some include "a small amount of animal products." It's very similar to WFPBD but is used as well to say one is vegan.
Veganism has compassion for animals at its core. It was Donald Watson who coined the term "vegan" in 1944 and he defined it as "someone who fully abstains from all animal products for ethical reasons."
The Vegan Society has an expanded definition and says veganism is "a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude-as far as is possible and practicable-all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals."
In terms of what they eat, absolutely no to all kinds of meat and no to animal-derived products like butter, milk, eggs, and honey as well.
Can you use these terms interchangeably? No.
Which one is the healthiest? Definitely Whole Food, Plant-Based.
Whatever you choose to follow however, we think that is will still be a big step toward improving your overall health and will positively impact the environment.
So, what to do first:
1 Set your intention
Identify why you want to do it. The reason doesn't even need to be elaborate. It can be as simple as I want to be healthier. This helps you focus on the goal and will help you break down this big goal into smaller achievable ones with the help of a nutrition coach, of course.
2 Keep a food diary for a month
Whether you choose to do a digital or handwritten one, jotting down everything you ate lets you keep track not only of what you ate but also what time you had the meal, the times you didn't eat, the times you may have binged, or how many times you eat out.
Write without thinking or without the fear of judgment (and without cheating!). Later on, when you do an assessment with a health coach, this will come in handy and help you identify the challenging areas.
3 Drink lemon water in the morning and no colored drinks
This was the first thing that Kay Sy, founder of Kay Sy Dynamics tells her clients. It helps alkalinize the body and as she explains, "helps the body heal and detofixy at night" plus it revs up your metabolism, too.
Don't forget the crucial second component! No colored drinks-this means no soda, no juice, no frappucinos, no milk tea, no cocktails, no beer, no coffee. This step will ease you into a WFPBD or even just a plant-based one and is a very crucial to-do in the prep phase.
4 Consult with a professional
It's always best to know one's numbers or bring a copy of your latest annual physical exam results or your complete blood count (CBC) and consult with a professional.
Kay is the force behind Kay Sy Dynamics. She's a Functional Medicine Health Coach & Plant-Based Nutrition Coach and is the first and only one in the country. She goes beyond counting calories and cutting meals to help you reach your fitness or health goals. She takes the time to know her clients and creates a tailor-made program that will best fit their current condition and lifestyle.
She explains, "Nutrition and diet is not a cookie-cutter approach. There is no one formula in eating healthy and nourishing the body."