Is a Plant-Based Diet Healthy for You? The Answer Might Surprise You.

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may have noticed an abundance of pictures lately. Before, I wasn’t much of a picture-taker. Now, I take them constantly. I’m not trying to show off, but rather, show you what’s possible in terms of coming up with simple meal ideas.
 
Generally, I make it a point to add hashtags to all of my pictures to give you an idea of why they’re relevant to a healthy lifestyle. #Plantbased is one that I use as often as it is applicable. I also tend to recommend adding more plant-based meals to your lifestyle and following plant-based influencers and experts online. So, it might come as a surprise to you when I tell you that I eat meat. GASP! Yes, that’s right, I eat meat and eggs.
 
You might wonder, why does this chick who eats meat and eggs talk so much about a plant-based lifestyle? It’s simple, really. I just think people aren’t getting enough vegetables and fruits! And, don’t tell me if you’re vegan or vegetarian that this doesn’t apply to you. Of course, I don’t mean to generalize, but I do find that there are plenty of vegans and vegetarians out there who eat lots of packaged foods or foods containing large amounts of corn and soy. While some of these foods may be considered plant-based, they are not at all nutrient dense. I’m most concerned with you getting the most nutritious foods into your belly.
 
Fruits and vegetables generally digest easily and contain an abundance of micronutrients and phytonutrients. Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that are required for your body to function properly. Phytonutrients are substances found in plants (Phyto is the Greek version of the word “plant”) that may result in disease prevention and improving health. In fact, plant foods contain over 25,000 phytonutrients! They can be found in raw plant foods of course, but sometimes they are even enhanced by cooking the plant foods.
 
Enough with the science lesson. Does this mean we should all switch to a plant-based diet? Eating all plants all the time? The answer is a big fat NO. And here’s why. Every. Body. Is. Different. There’s no “one size fits all” when it comes to eating habits.
 
I had a client tell me the other day that she had been transitioning to a more plant-based diet, still eating a bit of fish and eggs, but largely cutting out other animal products. And trust me, she was being totally healthy about it – we’re talking green smoothies, salads at lunch, and a healthy dinner. What was the result? She became iron deficient, exhausted, and had developed anxiety. It’s not normal to feel this way! So, after a lot of discussion and asking questions, basically, she told me she had always craved fats and it got me thinking, there’s typically only one blood type (according to The Blood Type Diet) that craves fats and that is the O blood type. We’ll get into the Blood Type Diet another day, but basically, an O blood type does best on fats and proteins because they have very efficient digestive systems. I asked my client if she was an O and she wasn’t sure, but based on what she was describing it made me feel like she probably is. And even if she isn’t, the dietary changes she was making in an effort to get healthier were actually working against her. So, after adding some animal protein (just meat, eggs, and meat – very little dairy in the form of some very high-end cheeses) back in, she started to feel significantly better. Her iron levels appear to be going up, her fatigue is going away, and she felt a lot calmer.
 
My personal experience with going vegan was very similar. I was vegetarian for about a year in my early 20s and then vegan for about 3 months in my late 20s. I do believe it can be a healthy lifestyle for some, but for me, it ended up causing some weight gain, fatigue, and low moods. As I started to accept that being entirely plant-based wasn’t a good idea for me at the time and I started adding in more meat, eggs, and yogurt, I did start to feel better. Now, I no longer consume dairy due to the inflammatory effect it has on my body and I feel even better! But hey, if all of a sudden, dairy starts to agree with me, then ghee (clarified butter) and yogurt are definitely back in!
 
With all that said, I still advocate for people to eat more plant-based meals with a side of animal protein if they need it. Remember, there’s never any need to completely cut out any food group unless it feels right to you. At the same time, most of us are under-consuming vegetables and fruits and we really need to try to get more.
 
Your body has an innate intelligence that knows everything you need to run efficiently and optimally. Sometimes, we just forget to listen to it…that’s where I can come in handy. Here are a few tips to raise your awareness of how you feel in your body when you eat certain foods.
 

  • What do you crave most? Crunchy? Savory? Sweet? Spicy? And when do you crave these foods? Each craving is associated with specific feelings. If we can get to the bottom of these feelings, we might figure out what’s making it so hard to lose those last 10 pounds…or the first 10. Or why you’re feeling so exhausted all the time.
  • How do you feel after you eat foods that tend to be inflammatory? Observe how you feel (both physically and emotionally) after you eat wheat/gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine, and meat. Even if you feel some negative effects, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to give them up, but maybe there’s a more strategic way you can build them into your day so you don’t have to suffer with discomfort.
  • Are you currently experiencing any uncomfortable symptoms? Are you overweight or obese? Are you gaining weight or losing weight without explanation? Do you always feel bloated? Do you feel anxious? Are you depressed? Are you always tired?

 
Take the time to answer these questions and if you feel like something is wrong or you just want to chat about some of the answers that came up, or your just curious what your cravings mean, reach out to me (it’s free!)! Either set up a call with me using my calendar or email me at hello@lovebitesbytanuja.com.
 
I’m here to serve you and want to help you feel better in your body!