Eating a Variety of Plant-Based Foods
We all know that fruit and vegetables, and maybe less so other plant-based foods, are good for us, but do you still pay that a bit of lip service? Do plant-based foods form the bulk of your meal, or do you find yourself realising you haven’t got any vegetables with your dinner, so grab some frozen peas or grate a bit of carrot into what you are cooking? We really should be eating mostly plant-based foods and it’s also important that we eat a variety. But why?
There are so many reasons why a majority plant-based diet is so good for us. There have been many years of research done by organisations including the world Cancer Organisation and the American College of Cardiology that all indicates that eating a plant-based diet is the number one thing that we can do to prevent things like heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, or high cholesterol. And even if we have these conditions, it’s also the number one thing that we can do to reduce them.
Eating plant-based is not just about eating fruit and vegetables, it’s anything that comes from a plant. You may have heard that joke that plant-based is anything coming from a factory plant, but what we mean here is whole foods or whole grains that come from a plant, things you don’t have to question whether they have been grown or not. This includes beans, pulses, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains like oats, millet, or buckwheat to name a few. And of course, there is the whole range of fruit and vegetables that can help you wherever you’re at.
So, whatever is going on for you health-wise now – perhaps you have a little bit of eczema, or you always feel tired, maybe you have IBS, or your hormones are playing up – plant-based foods can surely help with this. We’re not talking about veganism here, or about what you might leave off your plate, we’re taking about what else you are putting on your plate and thinking about shifting the balance, so your diet becomes more plant-based.
And it’s not just about eating more fruit and vegetables, but it’s also looking at the variety. Each plant-based food has different phytonutrients, the things that fight off free radicals around us that come into our body. These are things we might not know much yet about how they affect us, things in the atmosphere or environment around us, like electricity, plastic, aerosols including deodorant and perfume. There is also a variety of vitamins and minerals in all the different kinds of plant-based food, which help our bodies to function effectively. It’s so important to get a variety of these to give your body the best chance of fighting off whatever’s going on for you. So, as well as increasing the amount of plants-based foods that you’re eating, it’s great to increase the variety as well.
Over in our Motivationfish Facebook group I’ve just announced a new ‘Plant Variety Challenge’, encouraging members to share how they are improving the variety of plant-based foods in their meals and in your snacks. Here are some ideas: for a lunch where you might have had some beans, some salad and maybe some mackerel, could you have mixed beans instead of just butter beans for example. Or if you might have had some almonds for a snack, could you get a bag of mixed nuts, so you have not just almonds, but maybe Brazils, cashews, pistachios, and pecans too? If you like to snack on raisins, could you add some dried strawberries next time? Or instead of always buying red peppers, could you get some yellow and orange peppers too? When was the last time you ate lentils? Could you include those in a meal for the coming week, and if you usually eat red lentils, could you try green this time? Have you eaten any other grains or seeds lately?
There are so many options and I’ve created the challenge so we can inspire and encourage each other to improve the variety of the plant-based foods that we eat. There are so many benefits for fighting disease and fighting symptoms; weight loss is often a nice by-product too if you need to lose weight; you’ll find you generally have more energy for your day to day life.
I’d love to hear your ideas, so do comment below or come and join us over at Motivationfish to share ideas with the group.