Transitioning to a Plant-Based Diet: A How-To Guide from a Nutritionist
We are fortunate enough to have a team full of enthusiastic foodies at Nuzest, all of who hold varying health and nutrition related qualifications.
This month, we asked our Production Team Assistant Danika Choy to come on the blog to share her tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet.
Not only is Danika a qualified nutritionist, she is also a vegan who has been following a plant-based lifestyle for over six years.
Below, we discuss Danika’s own experience transitioning to a plant-based diet; factors that should be considered before transitioning; and the tips that she wished she had of known before making the switch to a plant-based diet.
How long should people take to transition to a plant-based diet?
Transitioning to a plant-based diet does not have to happen overnight.
It may take three weeks for one person or a year for another, so it’s important to set realistic expectations for your transition.
Making changes to your diet can be both emotionally and socially challenging.
I believe that it’s best to make a slow transition as if you make change at a comfortable pace, you will always win the race.
What was your experience transitioning to a plant-based diet?
My transition was very extreme. I went through restriction to the point of being undernourished and felt like I didn’t know what to eat on a day to day basis.
It was hard! I want people to learn from my experiences, which is why I advocate for a slow and educated transition. I have now been plant based for six years and am healthy and happy.
Why do you think there is an increasing interest in plant-based living?
I think many people are driven to the plant-based diet movement due to it being heavily supported by the evolving links of health outcomes such as psychological well being, a lower risk of chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease (CVD) and mortality.
Are all plant-based diets equal?
Absolutely not! I don’t think plant-based diets are necessarily appropriate or beneficial for everybody either.
This is why it is critical that people do their research on plant-based diets and seek the advice of a qualified nutrition professional such as an Accredited Practicing Dietitian or Nutritionist before embarking on this change.
While the definition of a plant-based diet is often disputed, my definition of a plant-based diet is an eating pattern that avoids most or all foods of animal origin, and instead focuses on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.
Predominately a diet in which you eat the rainbow.
What is the biggest consideration that people should make before transitioning to a plant-based diet?
Nutrient bio-availability. Not all nutrients are equal. While most essential nutrients can be found in foods of both animal and plant origin, the amount of a nutrient that is absorbed by the body is less from plant foods.
In other words, the bio-availability of nutrients is less in plant-based diets.
There are a few key nutrients that are at high risk of becoming depleted when animal foods are removed from the diet.
What are your tips for people looking to transition to a plant-based diet?
- Start slow!
- Stock your house with a variety of plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, beans, tofu, tempeh, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, avocado and olive oil.
- Plan your meals ahead of time to keep them fun, colourful and exciting
- Keep some snacks on hand to ensure you are always prepared on the run
- Eat when you are hungry and stop when you a full
- Aim to drink 2-3 L of water everyday
- Exercise daily and get enough good quality sleep
- Regular bloods testing of nutrient levels
- Consider supplementing key nutrients such as protein, iron and B-vitamins. Nuzest Clean Lean Protein and Nuzest Good Green Vitality are suitable for vegan diets and have been formulated to fill any nutritional gaps in the diet.
- Continued education- researching, talking to fellow plant-based eaters, seeking help from a qualified health professional and listening to podcasts.
- Don’t take things too seriously. Aim to eat around 80% wholefoods and enjoy whatever you like for the rest!
The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.