I used to love the meatier side of life. I grew up eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) and I was addicted to fast food, dairy, meat and seafood. It wasn’t a meal unless there was a big hunk of meat on the plate and because of these eating habits I ballooned to over 210 lbs.
I did the yo-yo diet thing for awhile, I would take a diet pill and lose 20 lbs in a month but it always came back, plus some. Then I jumped on the low-carb band wagon and again I lost 40 lbs but it came back and just for good measures a few pounds more. I tried every quick fix available in a bottle but nothing worked and I quickly found myself crying into a tub of ice cream trying to figure out what my next step would be.
It wasn't until I was introduced to a plant based, whole foods vegan diet that everything fell into place. The healthy food gave me more energy, the more energy I had the more I wanted to move and the more I moved the lower the number on the scale went. I've now lost and kept off over 70 lbs. Here’s what you can do to lose weight on a vegan diet:
1. Don’t be a junk food vegan.
Just because that organic frozen pizza uses non-dairy cheese and soy pepperoni does not mean you are making a healthy decision. Avoid the processed, boxed vegan treats and stick to food that can rot. Vegan does not automatically mean healthy so you’re best to eat these types of foods sparingly.
2. Get to know the outer perimeter of your shopping market.
For the most part that’s where all the real food lives. You want to fill your cart with vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and grains. There are some healthy processed foods like frozen vegetables and tinned beans but for the most part the stuff in the middle of the store isn't food but food-like substances. A good rule of thumb to follow is if your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food then you probably shouldn't be eating it.
3. In fact, get out of the grocery store and head to the farmers market.
I’m head over heels in love with Farmer’s markets! They are the best way to support the local economy, eat healthy real plant foods and minimize your carbon footprint. If you don’t have a local farmers market, look into joining a co-op so you can get freshly grown produce delivered right to your door.
4. Use herbs and natural seasonings to flavor your food.
It’s easy to lose track of how much oil we’re adding to our meals so instead of piling on the extra fats use herbs and seasonings in their place. Keep a well-stocked herb rack and you can alter the flavor of your foods a variety of different ways without ever feeling bored or deprived.
5. When you can shop organic.
Organic food usually comes from nutrient dense soil which results in, ta-da more nutrient dense food. When you can actually taste the difference in quality and flavor the more satisfied you become with your food and the less likely you are to over eat.
6. Snack on fiber rich fruits.
If you’re hungry reach for the fruit bowl. Studies show that we tend to eat what’s in front of us so keep a fully stocked bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter. Apples and pears are great options because they have more belly filling fiber that will keep you satisfied longer.
7. Let oatmeal be thy best friend.
Ditch those sugary cereals for some heart-healthy oatmeal. Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast food because it can be jazzed up in many different ways: apples, bananas, berries, chia seeds, flaxseed, cinnamon, carob powder, maple syrup…the options are endless. If that weren’t reason enough to grab a bowl, oatmeal can lower cholesterol, protect your heart, and is naturally low in gluten. Just make sure you incorporate some protein to give your meal some staying power so you’re not just having a big bowl of carbs. Nuts, pea protein milk, or a plant-based protein powder can help ensure your breakfast bowl keeps you full until lunch.
8. Get up and move.
Like any diet, a vegan diet should be accompanied by an active lifestyle. Walk more than you stand, stand more than you sit and sit more that you lay flat. You don’t need to be an avid runner to experience the health benefits of movement. Find something you love whether it is yoga, crossfit, walking or dance as long as you unplug from technology and move around you’re making progress. Remember to live by the principle that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% movement so even if you exercise for hours on end you can’t outrun (or out-yoga) a bad diet. If you need tips on how to exercise on a vegan diet, read this.
Natt Smith is an aspiring vegan lifestyle coach and keeps busy helping others create a healthy and glowing life through a plant based diet and movement. Overweight her entire life she switched to a vegan lifestyle and lost over 70 lbs. Natt hopes to inspire others to listen to their bodies and understand how plants are the best fuel for overall wellness. She holds a BA in Communication from Oakland University and a Plant Based Nutrition certification from Cornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation.