One constant in my weight management counseling is to nudge patients toward eating more plant-based foods.
That’s because these good-for-you foods are generally lower in calorie density and higher in vitamins, minerals, disease-fighting phytochemicals and fiber than the foods they end up displacing such as meats and fried foods.
Plant-based foods can also help lower your risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
This is not an all-or-nothing prescription where you have to become a vegetarian.
Instead, here are some tips to help you EASE INTO MORE PLANT-BASED EATING:
1-Add Vegetable and/or Fruit to Each Meal
People who are on-the-go may think this is hard to do. But all it takes is a little planning ahead to find produce options that fit your lifestyle and meal schedule.
Add fresh or frozen berries to your morning meal such as cereal, oatmeal, yogurt or cottage cheese.
Add lettuce or spinach to your sandwiches, or cut-up baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers as a vegetable side dish.
Make a side salad of greens and cut-up vegetables as a complement to any dinner meal.
Consider snacks that combine produce and protein such as strawberries and Greek yogurt, cucumber slices and hummus or apple slices and peanut butter.
2-Go Meatless Now and Then
Creating meals without red meat (beef) or other meats (chicken, turkey, veal or pork) allows you to lower your meal’s calorie density while also increasing its fiber content and your feelings of fullness.
If preparing meatless meals is unfamiliar to you, go slow and try one new meatless meal each week by using recipes you find online, meal planning ideas from my book, Six Factors to Fit: Weight Loss that Works for You! or ask friends and family members for their favorites.
Whether you’re making a vegetable chili, tofu stir fry, black bean burger, grilled vegetable wrap and lentil soup or entree salad, make sure your plant-based meals have protein sources like nuts, seeds, lentils, beans, tofu or quinoa.
Fish, seafood or eggs offer other healthful protein sources to complement your meatless meals.
3-Use Restaurants to Explore Tasty Meatless Meal Options
For even more inspiration, order meatless meals at restaurants – either plant-based or with fish or seafood, and then you can reproduce them at home.
Whether it’s a thin vegetable pizza and side salad, bean chili, lentil soup and Greek salad, or an entrée salad with grilled salmon or shrimp, many tasty options exist.
It’s helpful to know that you don’t have to become a vegetarian to reap the many benefits of eating more plant-based foods.
With time, the goal is to eat more low-calorie-dense meals where ½ your plate is filled with colorful produce, ¼ is filled with lean protein and ¼ is filled with wholegrains or starchy vegetables.