22 KEY PRINCIPLES TO HELP YOU BEGIN A HEALTHY PLANT-BASED Or raw food LIFESTYLE..
1. 100% PLANT BASED - This is a 100% plant-based diet, meaning one should eat food derived from plants, with no animal products. Aim for as many raw foods as possible - this is vital in your success to robust health.
2. CLEAN OUT YA PANTRY! - Get rid of all that packet and processed food full of names and numbers we can't even pronounce half the time! Remember, this is NOT real food and it will be much easier if that packet of chocolate biscuits are not easy to reach for in desperate times! (when living with others or those who have a family this can be a little trickier and more of a gradual change.)
3. PROCESSED FOODS - Your goal is to try and eliminate processed and artificial foods. These foods are extremely detrimental to your health.
4. BE PREPARED - Stock up on fresh fruit and vegetables!! Always have your house full of natures goodies and have fun exploring the magical flavours of new and exciting fruits and veggies! Don't be afraid to eat fruit, it will do wonders for your body! Find your local weekend markets or bargin produce stores and stock up! Buying in bulk is a great way to save money. For example, bargain bags of ripe spotty bananas - simply peel them, chop them up and freeze! Meat and dairy products are not exactly cheap so once you cut this cost out, a plant-based lifestyle is definitely a financially achievable goal. Making your health a priority over other unessary purchases is a key factor in making it affordable!
5. PANTRY/PRODUCE STAPLES - A range of fresh fruit and vegetables are my absolute favourite staples! Bananas, dates, avocados, mangoes, oranges, berries, watermelon, lemons, limes and hemp seeds are some of the things I always like to have at home! Bananas, avocados and sweet potatoes are high in calories which are good when living on plants. Coconut water, pure maple syrup and dates are great natural sweeteners. Greens like spinach, rocket, sprouts and broccoli are fantastic for salads along with red and green onions, carrots, beetroots and a lemon or lime to squeeze over! Fresh herbs such as basil, parsley and coriander add amazing flavour as well as ginger and garlic. Dates, figs, shredded coconut, nuts and seeds are perfect for snacking on and making bliss balls or rawnola. Always have frozen bananas in the freezer for smoothie bowls and ice cream. Depending on how raw you wish to go, millet and quinoa are the most alkalising, gluten free grains and are also great for baking bread. Visit your local health food store for a wide range of nuts, seeds and gluten free grains and legumes if you wish to eat these. They often have bulk bins, these are perfect for buying smaller amounts which could help to save you money.
6. ORGANIC - Organic produce is always ideal, especially in avoiding pesticides and other toxic chemicals, however understandably it is not always entirely possible nor affordable for many people to eat 100 percent organic fruit and vegetables either. Do the best you can, find your local organic farmers markets and when you can't shop organically, (or do not have your own vege garden) use a natural vegetable wash before eating. Here is a simple homemade recipe.. You are far better off attaining the nutrients from non organic produce than avoiding them all together.
7. EAT MORE FRUIT- Many people believe one should avoid eating an excessive amount of fruit because of the high sugar content. I completely disagree. I cannot recommend any other food higher than pure, raw fruits. Fruits are high in antioxidants and astringents and have the highest magnetic energy of all foods. They are excellent brain and nerve foods, keep your lymphatic system moving and are superior in your bodies natural detoxification process. The three main components your body requires to function are amino acids, (protein) fatty acids and sugars (carbohydrates), however it is the sugar mixed with oxygen that is vital for your body to run. It is important to understand that there are two different types of sugars, simple sugar and complex sugar. Simple sugars (fruit), require minimal digestive effort and convert easily into carbohydrates which our body will then use to nourish, repair and energise cells. Complex sugars (processed food etc) require much more digestive effort to convert into simple sugars before than can be used and demand high levels of cortisol from the adrenal glands. The body will then excrete what it can of this excessive amount of sugar, store some of it as fat or rid itself of the unneeded sugar through fermentation which causes acidosis. (an acidic body) It's pretty obvious there is a huge difference between the two sugars.
8. RAW FOOD - Try to eat raw, live foods as much as possible! This will dramatically improve your health and vitality! If you wish to go fully raw, go for it! The more raw you are, the more robust you will become. Majority of my diet are raw fruits and vegetables and I feel amazing for it! You can read more on the incredible benefits of raw food here.
9. ALKALISING FOODS - Choose alakilising foods as much as possible! Being an alkaline species, our bodies thrive on alkalising foods.. Naturally, raw fruits and vegetables are alkalising so if these make up majority of your diet, you are on the right track. Click here to view an alkaline/acidic food chart.
10. FOOD COMBINING - Food combining is important for digestion and nutrient absorption and has an abundance of health benefits. Try to incorporate food combining into your life when you can. I personally try to combine my food correctly majority of the time but this takes patience and practise. Obviously, it can be tricky to do this all of the time but it is definitely worth practising especially for anyone with digestive issues. You can read more on food combining here but the basics are.. Eat melons alone, fruits and vegetables seperate, fruits and proteins seperate, vegetables and proteins together, vegetables and starches together, proteins and starches seperate.
11. GLUTEN FREE - Gluten is extremely destructive in our bodies, especially for digestion and bowel health. I would strongly recommend going gluten free. Visit your local health food store for a wide range of gluten free substitutes.
12. VITAMIN B12 - Many people are concerned about becoming diffieienct in Vitamin B12 when adopting a vegan diet. B12 is an important vitamin essential for growth, production, and regeneration of red blood cells. The best plant based food sources to get B12 from are bananas, sunflower seeds, comfrey leaves, kelp and concord grapes. Blackstrap molasses and nutritional yeast are also a good source. There are also many natural supplements available from your health food store if you are suffering from low levels. I personally have not experienced any problems with low B12 levels however we are all different so this is something you will need to check. Common symptoms of low B12 levels are feeling fatigue, weakness, depression, pale skin and brain fog.
13. PROTEIN - Fruits and Vegetables are a superior form of amino acids our body will very easily break apart to use, causing no harm in the body what so ever and leaving an alkalising ash. Here are some plant-based foods high in amino acids to help you ensure you are getting enough, dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards), raw green beans, sunflower seeds, pea sprouts, hemp seeds, pumpkin seed, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and quinoa.
14. EAT ENOUGH - Make sure you eat enough food! Many people make the mistake of not eating enough when they first switch to a plant based or raw food diet and become hungry and frustrated! You will need to eat much more than you would normally eat to provide a sufficient amount of calories and carbohydrates for sustained energy. Listen to your body, eat when you feel hungry and eat until you are full and satisfied! Remember this is not the kind of food that will send you to the couch 5 minutes later with a sore tummy. This is real, wholesome food and will provide you with everything you need when you eat a variation in an adequate amount.
15. EXERCISE - Exercise is really important, especially in moving the lymphatic system which requires muscle movement to flow more efficiently. The lymphatic system has a vital role in attaining optimum health.. Basically, the cells in our body eat and excrete unwanted waste, it then becomes the lymphatic systems job to collect this waste and filter it to either the kidneys, bowels or skin for elimination from the body. No-one wants a stagnant lymphatic system, so keep moving! Exercise is also important for the mind and soul and is a helpful tool for stress levels. However, this does not mean you need to join a cross fit class or run a marathon! Light exercise such as walking, stretching or yoga will do wonders for your body, mind and soul.
16. HYDRATION - Keep hydrated.. try to drink at least 2 litres of filtered water per day. A squeeze of fresh Lemon is an amazing alkalising and detoxifying drink to incorporate into your world! And did you know that the most pure form of water comes from fruit and veggies? Try eating a whole heap of watermelon when you're feeling dehydrated - amazing, watermelon is my favourite way to keep hydrated!
17. SLEEP AND RELAXATION - Just as exercise is important, sleep, rest and relaxation and are extremely important too. Adequate sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and can have a major impact on our overall quality of life. Our bodies are busy repairing and replenishing when we sleep allowing us to awake feeling rejuvenated for another day, so it is important not to cut this process short through lack of sleep. Relaxation, meditation and self love will also have extremely positive effects on your overall health and well being.
18. EDUCATE - As mentioned above, educate yourself! This will help you to understand why you are making this incredible change in the first place and could perhaps give you more motivation to continue.
19. KEEP IT SIMPLE - Our bodies actually like simplicity! The more simple I keep my meals, the better I feel! Try not to overwhelm yourself by creating and preparing gourmet meals everyday (unless of course you wish to) Keeping it simple and easing into this new way of eating can help to make the process easier for you.
20. CONSISTENCY IS KEY - Be consistent in making healthy meals (even on the days you feel like binging) and as time goes on, the more you will grow to love every bite! Your taste buds will eventually change and you'll no longer crave those acidic foods you once thought you could never live a day without! Don't beat yourself up for setbacks either. It's ok to have one good day of eating and the next terrible. Changes like this dont just happen over night and as long as you keep your ultimate goal in mind and keep working towards this, a few falls won't matter in the long term plan! Be proud of yourself for taking this step to better your health and keep moving forward with consistency.
21. SEEK INSPIRATION - Follow like minded people who inspire you! There are some incredible blogs and instagram accounts with beautiful recipes and ideas! You could even create your own account to share your journey with others, this could be an idea to help keep you motivated!
22. HAVE FUN - And most importantly - Enjoy this process and have fun exploring new foods, recipes and meeting new people along the way! Have fun discovering new ways to nourish your body and enjoy this incredible lifestyle change you are making! Happiness and a positive attitude sets you up for success and has so many positive effects on your health... When I was 8 years old, my great grandmother Daisy said to me "The more you laugh and smile, the longer you will live for". And I totally agree!