Getting – and staying – healthy can seem an overwhelming task with long lists of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’. Adding ‘vegan’ to the mix actually simplifies the process, because when eating vegan you will naturally be avoiding many foods such as meat, dairy, chicken, eggs, and other animal products that have been shown to be harmful to your health.
Getting started – or pulling yourself out of a dietary slump – can be daunting. It doesn’t need to be. Just pick a goal or two, take action, and build upon success. Here are 5 simple ways to take control of your health:
1) Eat enough. This can be more challenging than it sounds. We have become habituated – and pressured – to ‘cut back’, ‘tide over’, and ‘wait until….’ when it comes to eating. But mother nature installed our hunger signals for a reason – to take care of our primary survival need, fuel. When we attempt to override this important device with external controls, though it may sound virtuous, it usually backfires in overeating, eating foods not compatible with your health and fitness goals, or an all-out binge.
2) Eat 90 – 95% + of your diet in whole, low-fat plant foods. That leaves 5 – 10% for a condiment or two. A shake of cinnamon and sugar on your oatmeal, a non-fat dressing on your salad – these can all make a low-fat vegan diet easier, especially when in transition.
3) What you have is what you’ll eat. Even the best laid plans (see #1 and #2) won’t do you any good if you aren’t stocked with the basics: vegetables, starchy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, beans, and nuts and seeds. If all you have is processed, high fare then you won’t be able to eat optimally. Be prepared with good foods on hand to support your healthy self.
4) Eat on time. Related to, yet different from #1, eat enough. If you starve all day and then stuff yourself at dinner, it’s quite possible that you will have eaten ‘enough’ for that day. Yet it’s also quite possible that you will have eaten too much because of the hunger deficit that has you plowing through edibles at the end of a long, busy (and hungry) day. Not only that, but stored hunger (as I call it) seems to inspire us to eat all the wrong foods. It’s why we crave chocolate but not broccoli.
5) Move your body. The number one reason to exercise is not because it burns calories (which it does) or because it shapes and strengthens muscle (which it also does). Rather, the biggest reason you need to move your muscles is because of what exercise does for your head. The biochemistry resulting from movement boosts your willpower and physical confidence – both critical elements in making choices for better health and weight management. And even 5 minutes at a time will do the trick. See 5 minute willpower workout #1: Exercise, the closest thing to a willpower magic bullet.
If even this simple list of 5 seems overwhelming, then start with just one of them. Make it a priority to be successful at what you have chosen for a week. The next week, add on another, until by the end of a month or so you have built 5 new, healthy habits of simple ways to take control of your health. Making better choices for your health can become a habit – and that’s exactly how to get your habits to work in your favor! For a complete guide on building better habits, food planning, and exercise, grab a copy of my Fit Quickies: 5 Minute Targeted Body Shaping Workouts, complete with exercise plan, plant-based food plan, and mindset and motivational guide.