Building a Healthy Vegan Diet

Focusing on Quality over Quantity
When clients ask me about serving sizes and portion control, I usually give
them an answer that makes them look at me like I’m crazy. I don’t recommend
servings and portions.
Those numbers, weights, and percentages get in the way of truly balanced
eating, because every person has a unique body and lifestyle as well as a specific
schedule. Quantity and quality are important subjects to consider while
moving forward into a vegan lifestyle.
The proportions of your portions
Every vegan’s body and metabolism are different. Some people feel better
eating three regular meals a day, while others do better with five or six
smaller, more frequent meals. If you sit in a chair all day, you may digest food
slower and feel fine with three regular meals. If you have a more physical job,
you can benefit from more frequent, smaller meals that will replenish your
blood sugar and help you avoid an overly-full feeling. Give yourself a chance
to experiment with both eating styles to see which method works best for
you and your lifestyle. Pay attention to the total quantity of foods you consume
with three meals a day versus more frequent, smaller meals.
Gauge your energy levels throughout the day and notice if you feel better
with a small snack before or after lunch. Try a protein-rich snack of nuts or
hummus with carrots in the morning and fresh fruit in the afternoon. If your
body doesn’t respond well to those foods at those times of day, switch them
around.
Choosing a variety of plant-based foods provides you with all the nutrition
you need! Make sure you’re choosing protein, complex carbohydrates, and
mineral-rich ingredients for each meal. This variety of whole and fresh food
will protect your long-term health.
Quality is key
Rather than focusing on specific serving sizes, choose your meals from a
wide variety of truly healthy and whole foods throughout the day. Nutritional
experts’ understanding of food has led to a better understanding on a scientific
level of what real food includes. It’s simply much more difficult to eat 500
calories of brown rice than 500 calories of cheese. When you eat a huge bowl
of fresh vegetable salad with some cooked garbanzo beans, slivered almonds,
shredded carrots, avocado, cherry tomatoes, lemon juice, and olive oil,
you’re giving your body the recommended daily servings of vegetables, but you’re also getting a whopping dose of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C, protein,
healthy fat, and phytochemicals that support your body in countless ways.
A healthy vegan diet is mainly comprised of proteins, complex carbohydrates,
healthy fats, and unrefined sugars. Choose a variety of proteins from
the lists and suggestions in Chapter 5, and foods that offer consistent iron,
calcium, B12, and other nutrients from the lists in Chapter 4. Planning your
menus on paper using the charts in Chapter 9 for the first few months of your
vegan life will help you put together delicious meals that are truly supportive
of your health.

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