There are so many reasons to eat a whole foods plant-based diet, especially if you have chronic health issues. Let Dr. Greger of NutritionFacts.org tell you all the reasons eating a plant based diet is beneficial for your health.
Many very smart people advise a gradual transition to this way of eating. Some will have you eliminate certain kinds of foods, say starting with dairy or red meat and working your way down the list of no-nos. Others will counsel transitioning breakfasts, then lunches, then dinners.
I disagree with those smart people. I think you should change your eating quickly and dramatically and here’s why.
Reason #1 Dramatic changes cause dramatic benefits.
There is nothing more motivating than seeing improvements in your health and wellbeing. I saw improvements in my angina in only a week of eating this way, and my angina was completely gone within a month. Having this significant and measurable (by number of nitro patches I needed) improvement meant that I was never tempted off the wfpb wagon. A common theme in the writing of doctors who use wfpb diets in their practice is that the patients who are the most diligent see the best results.
Reason #2 You eliminate the one potato chip problem.
I’m sure I’m not alone in being unable to eat only one chip. Long before I became wfpb, I understood that if I didn’t want to eat too many chips, I couldn’t eat any. It’s the same with animal foods, processed foods, and sugary treats. They’re difficult to consume in moderation. I am part of quite a few wfpb internet forums and groups and a common type of question begins “I’ve been transitioning to wfpb for the past year, but I’m finding it difficult to give up x…” The problem isn’t x, it’s the year long transition. Just do it, is my solution.
Reason #3 You are forced to declare yourself.
When you transform rather than transition your diet you will draw attention to yourself. You will be explaining your choices to family, friends, co-workers and restaurant staff. You will have to do some reading so that you can answer their questions. It might be uncomfortable at times, but by putting it out there, you will enlist the support of those closest to you and cement in your own mind what you are doing and why.
Start as you mean to go on.
If you haven’t yet committed to a lifetime of wfpb eating (I promise you will once you try it), give it a month. Tell yourself you will give this way of eating every chance to prove its worth and that you will decide about the rest of your life after the trial. You may want to give yourself a couple of weeks to educate yourself and prepare your pantry before you start, but start as you mean to go on.
You may have a week or two of uncomfortable feelings as your body adjusts, but this will be followed by a noticeable increase in energy and overall wellness. You will lose weight. Your blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure will all drop in days. This would be a good time to remind you to check with your doctor if you are on medication for these things, because the changes are dramatic and you don’t want your blood pressure or blood sugar to drop too low. Don’t be surprised to find relief from the aches and pains you thought were just a normal part of life at your age.
The professionals all know the closer we get to a perfect whole foods plant-based diet, the better off we’ll be, but they can be reluctant to advocate for dramatic transformation because they know that for a lot of people dietary change is hugely stressful, and they just won’t do any of it if they feel overwhelmed. From a public health perspective, small individual changes over a large population add up to major differences in disease rates, but from a personal perspective, small changes just won’t make the difference we’re looking for.
Not sure where to start? I strongly recommend watching the documentary Forks Over Knives. If possible, watch this with your spouse or main social support. It really is life-changing. As of this writing it is available on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon, or you can download it directly from http://www.forksoverknives.com/the-film/. Your public library may also have a copy.
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