The hype surrounding a new diet, eating plan, or way of life usually eclipses any thoughts other than "I can't wait to get started!" At least that's the case for me. Here are five things I forgot to think about when starting a whole foods, plant-based diet.
Whenever you start a new way of eating - be it more often, less often, or different foods - you're bound to see results when you flush. Eating a diet filled with whole grains and plants (in case you're interested) cleans your body out quite nicely. Just know that with the addition of the new eating habits will also come
some wonderful new topics for discussion. For my husband and I it's poop, over a nice, big, steamy... cup of coffee. [wink, wink]
2. Animals are Everywhere
Searching online recently for vitamins and supplements, I came across a vegan supplement site. I was surprised because I hadn't considered my vitamins to be a source of animal products. When I found out I was pregnant (in June, 2010) I started prenatal vitamins right away. I had a choice between vitamins with fish oil, or without. I chose with in order to get extra omega-3's (I knew we wouldn't be eating fish as often as we should, even though I was a meat eater then). Now I've learned that something as minute as the fish oil in a capsule has the power to suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to infections and sickness. A good rule to live by is this: Never trust a package, even something labeled vegan can have trace amounts of health-compromising animal products.
3. It's Going to Get Worse
Because a new diet will cause things inside of your body to move in ways they never have (eating more oats, for example, lowers cholesterol in arteries and therefore allows blood to flow more freely. Another example is eating less fat, which causes fat that's been stored in your body to dislodge and become mobile. Because it's a toxin your body goes to work destroying and expelling it, and you get sick) you're going to feel worse before you feel better. Don't let that get you down. Remind yourself that the crumminess you're feeling is actually your body healing, and it will shortly pass.
Improving one's life is great, even better is getting to do that alongside people who share your passion and ideas. Unfortunately that's not always an option. I find that around friends and family who don't understand what we're doing or care about our wishes, mealtime and conversation can get tricky. It's a good idea to surround yourself with like-minded people - whether it's in the form of an online support group, a weekly playgroup with like minded parents, or a cooking class at the local health foods store - that way when you need encouragement you've got someone to turn to who understands.
5. What About Baby?
It's easy for an adult with a full mouth of teeth, the ability to prepare food, and a voice to share their preferences to make healthy eating choices, but what about the kids? Their menu is limited not only by their ability to eat certain foods (for our tots we avoid things like popcorn, whole nuts and seeds, and tofu dogs because they're choke hazards) but also by their palate. For example: our boys prefer unseasoned dishes, despite introducing them to seasonings when they were still eating purees. To find a happy medium and still expand their food loves we try to extract part of the meal before we season it (set aside a dish of unseasoned meat crumbles or tofu, separate out a bit of hummus before adding garlic, or leave some noodles plain after they're cooked). This way we stick to our rule: what's prepared for dinner is what you can eat, while providing it in a way that we know will be palate pleasing. We always ask the boys to try one bite of our adult version, too, on the off chance they love what we've got and we can make our life that much easier.