Going vegan is a huge lifestyle change—one that can improve your life and health for the better. Being informed about what your diet will be like before you actually make the jump into veganism is important so that you’ll know what to expect. Staying in optimal health while being vegan will make your life whole, delicious, and you’ll feel better than ever. How can you be sure to feel your best as a vegan?
Get Enough Veggies!
This sounds really silly considering the fact that eating vegan is all about veggies, but consider that vegans have the option of a lot of other foods today to “replace” meat, eggs, and dairy. These replacements involve soy-laden fake meat (97% of all soy in the United States is GMO—look for a non-GMO label before you buy), sugar-filled desserts, and alternative milk products that contain carrageenan. It’s great to get coconut milk and non-GMO soy milk or organic almond milk, but while you’re thinking of what can replace what, just remember that vegetables are now your new best friends. These green leafy veggies will nourish your body and help you get on your path to wellness.
Vegetables will also help you get enough fiber, which is essential for weight loss and regularity. Fiber will help fill you up, keep your digestive system happy, and will help cut your risk of heart disease, which is the number one killer of men and women in America. Embrace vegetables with every meal; you’ll be surprised how great you feel.
Whole Grains—A Word of Warning
Vegans need to get enough whole grains—these could include oats, quinoa, rice, corn (again, look for a non-GMO label on this) and buckwheat. Whole grains could also include wheat, barley, or rye, but a word of warning with these three things: they contain gluten. While some people are not sensitive to the protein gluten, there are more and more people who are discovering that they are. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity or intolerance involve bloating, stomach discomfort or digestive problems, acne, muscle pain, rashes, joint pain, and more. The list of uncommon symptoms for gluten sensitivity is much more extensive than the list for common symptoms. Getting whole grains in your diet is important, but be sure you don’t have a gluten sensitivity before you celebrate the fact that wheat flour is vegan friendly.
Essential Fatty Acids—A Must
We’ve established that vegetables are important, but what about fats? Back in the 90s, there was public fear of fat, fueling an increase in snacks and foods that were “low-fat” or “fat-free”. We now know that fat is absolutely essential for our bodies, especially our brains, but it’s the right kind of fat that will keep you in optimal health, including keeping you at a healthy weight. Foods, oils, nuts, and seeds that are excellent for healthy fats include:
- Sunflower, sesame, chia, and flax seeds
- Olive, coconut, sunflower, and sesame oil
- Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and pine nuts
- Hemp and broccoli
These foods are packed with healthy fats. There’s no need to eat fish when you can get all your essential fatty acids from nuts, seeds, oils, and yummy veggies. Dr. Jakob Taylor of True Weight Loss Solutions in Chattanooga Tennessee knows the importance of fatty acids for his patients. “Fatty acids are important components of cell membranes and precursors to many other substances in the body, such as those involved with regulating blood pressure and inflammatory responses. There is increasing support for omega-3 fatty acids in protecting against fatal heat disease and it is known that they have anti-inflammatory effects, which may be important in dealing with many diseases. There is also growing interest in the role of omega-3 fatty acids in the prevention of diabetes and certain types of cancer.”
Many people believe that you need to eat dairy to get the proper amount of calcium you need. This isn’t true, and vegans celebrate that fact every day. Dairy has loads of unhealthy benefits. Besides the fact that growth hormones, GMOs, and antibiotics are present in much of the United States’ cow milk, dairy products can raise your cholesterol, cause stomach discomfort, and result in bloating and weight gain. Get your calcium for veggies from great healthy foods such as collard and turnip greens, kale, spinach, arugula, broccoli, and okra.
Being vegan is a conscious life choice and can keep you feeling great for life. Stay in optimal health during your vegan transition and your established vegan routine by getting enough vegetables, healthy grains, and fatty acids. For when you can’t get all your nutrients from food, a quality multivitamin supplement should be able to help—just make sure there’s no gelatin or animal products in it!
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