Vegan diets are increasing in popularity, with research showing how they are actually becoming mainstream in the United States. But just because you’re vegan, it doesn’t always mean that you’re healthy or keeping the pounds off your body. Here are four instances when you need to tweak your vegan diet so that it keeps you looking and feeling great.
Mistake 1: Relying on Processed Foods
This error tends to occur when starting a vegan diet. You might think that as long as a food item doesn’t contain any animal ingredients it’s safe to quaff. But this is not always the case. If you’re relying on processed foods to beat hunger, such as vegan bread, cereals, biscuits or faux meat, you could be notching up calories, eating lots of sugar and exposing yourself to chemicals.
Processed foods go through a lot of stages to look and taste the way they do, so they contain lots of ingredients, such as chemicals used for flavour, colour, and texture. These are not good for you so you want to avoid processed foods as much as possible in favour of natural, whole foods that don’t have a lot of complicated ingredients. Keep it simple and healthy with foods such as nuts, beans, whole grains, greens and seeds, which are much better for you while keeping hunger at bay.
Mistake 2: Eating Too Many ‘Healthy’ Fats
We all need a bit of fat in our diets, but these should come from healthy sources. For instance, healthy fats include avocados, nuts, and oils. But sometimes in your quest to enjoy these, you might not realize that you’re choosing unhealthy ways of eating them For instance, you might reach for low-fat peanut butter to give you some healthy nuts in your diet without realizing that sometimes low-fat contains more calories than the regular kind! Always scrutinize ingredients, even if something looks or sounds healthy.
You might also make an error when choosing to eat fatty acids. Although omega-3s and omega-6s are both essential for our bodies, they are not the same thing. Omega-6s, found in vegetable oils, avocados and nuts, can actually be bad for you if you eat too much of them because they increase inflammation in the body! Therefore, even something healthy can become bad for you. Moderation is key.
Mistake 3: Missing out on Protein
You might associate protein with meat and dairy, but the truth is that you can gain enough protein on a vegan diet from plant-based sources. These include chickpeas, seeds, nuts, beans and lentils. The benefit of this is that it can also help you to lose weight. In a study, when people increased how much protein they were eating so that 30 percent of their calories were made up of protein, they consumed 450 less calories and lost approximately 11 pounds in three months without trying anything else to lose weight.
This makes sense because when you’re eating high-protein sources, it keeps you fuller for longer. Added to this, protein foods can lower your chances of getting diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, so you’ll be healthy while reducing your waistline.
Mistake 4: Feeling Bored with Fruits and Vegetables
Just because your diet contains lots of fresh produce, it doesn’t mean that it should be boring! If you keep eating the same things every day, you not only get tired of it (which could have you reaching for processed foods) but it could also prevent your body from getting different nutrients.
The next time you go shopping at the grocery store or market, walk through the fruit and veggie aisles and try some produce that you haven’t eaten lately. These might be produce you don’t like, such as broccoli or beets. Make them more interesting by being a little more creative in the kitchen. For example, blanch your broccoli so they’re crunchy and dip them in a delicious bean dip; or roast beetroot slices before popping them into a delicious salad. There are many ways to keep your vegan eating plan exciting while boosting your nutrient intake.
Vegan diets can definitely be healthy for you and they’re better for the environment. By avoiding common errors with them, you can ensure that what you eat benefits you with the right nutrients while keeping you trim.