Eating a plant-based diet can be so much fun! There is a world of fruits + veggies out there that so many of us pass right by, and there are a number of health benefits that are connected to adding a little extra greenery to your diet. Sadly, it’s all too easy to fall into bad habits with the processed food options that sell themselves as plant-based or vegetarian-friendly. We’ve outlined 5 of the most common mistakes made when transitioning to a plant-based diet so you can reap all of the health benefits of your new lifestyle below:
Refined Carb Overload
Fiber is your friend, but it is glaringly missing from common foods such as potato chips, white bread, and pasta. While these types of food are safely in the plant-based realm, they aren’t helping you to build a healthy diet or lifestyle. This is because those refined grains are stripped of their beneficial fiber, leaving you with a filler that isn’t adding much to your meal besides sodium.
Try opting for whole-grain options + pairing those whole grains with fruits and vegetables to build a healthy + balanced meal! As with every dietary change, incorporate in this change in fiber slowly. Going from a low-fiber to high-fiber diet too quickly can lead to an unhappy digestive system, especially if you aren’t increasing your fluid intake as well!
Assuming Plant-Based Options Are Healthier
Just because a product is labeled as plant-based doesn’t always mean it’s better for you! Many people load up on veggie patties, meatless hotdogs, + veggie cheeses. Like the chips + bread we mentioned earlier, they may be plant-based but they are definitely not healthy. They’re often packed with sodium, processed soy, and oils. Plus, the ones that do consist of veggies can be so processed that the nutrients have been stripped!
The health benefits that come from a plant-based diet come from what you’re taking out and what you’re putting in. If these products help you transition into your new lifestyle, that’s great! But, be sure to work towards incorporating whole, real foods into your diet as a replacement as you go. If you’re finding the transition difficult, try following the 70/30 rule! This rule states that 70% of your meals are meat-less while the other 30% can include meat.
Not Eating Enough Calories
With a plant-based diet, many food groups are off-limits. This can be a problem if you haven’t taken the time to plan your meals based on your nutritional needs. Calories are your body’s fuel, and you may start experiencing negative side effects if you’re deprived. You may find yourself less able to focus, more irritable, fatigued, or unable to complete workouts you didn’t have trouble with before! This is because your caloric density is simply lower than it would be eating the same amount of food on a traditional diet as it is when you’re on a plant-based one.
It’s a common mistake, but you may simply have to eat more if you’re sticking to fruits + veggies. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that you have to meet nutritional needs with the foods you’re eating. Many products offer supplementation in the form of vitamins + shakes to help! This change may take a little bit of preparation. But, taking time to make sure you’re diet is well-rounded and full of healthy calories is going to leave you feeling much better in the long run!
Forgetting About B-12
There are countless ways to find many of your body’s essential vitamins through plant-based sources. Calcium can be found in milk, but also in tofu + leafy greens. Protein is found in meat, but also in beans + pumpkin seeds. Vitamin B-12, on the other hand, isn’t readily available in plants. This vitamin is primarily found in animal products and is very important in neurological function + development. It is especially important to monitor since our bodies hold on to this vitamin for such a long period of time. You could go almost a year without realizing you’re deficient.
There are many fortified foods on the market today that can be a source of vitamin b-12. Remember to read labels to decide which foods are best without adding refined carbs + sugars, and keep in mind that there are supplements to help as well! Isotonix Activated B-Complex offers a great isotonic-capable formula that delivers a number of activated b vitamins to ensure a balanced dose of these essential nutrients!
The Dairy Trap
When transitioning away from meat, cheese can become a comfort food which poses a problem, especially for plant-based newcomers. Cheese pizza, grilled cheeses, mozzarella sticks, and macaroni + cheese are common go-to’s for those who aren’t quite sure what to eat. This is especially true on the road or at a restaurant! These options are usually made up of saturated fats, oil, refined carbs, and a lot of sodium, leaving you feeling sluggish and tired.
Dairy doesn’t have to go, but it should be an accent rather than the focus of a meal. If you’re out on the road, try packing your own snacks beforehand or sticking a plant-based protein powder in your bag. If you’re worried about what to do eating out + can’t stomach another dinner salad, ordering the entre! Just ask to substitute a soup or additional serving of veggies for the listed protein. It might take a little more time or planning, but your body will thank you for the effort.
How do you ensure you’re meeting your nutritional needs on a plant-based diet? Let us know in the comments!