You have been going strong for a while with your plant-strong life, but all of a sudden you aren’t losing weight, or maybe your cholesterol numbers are not where you’d like them, or your blood sugar has started creeping up. What do you do?
First things first, remember that eating a plant-strong diet is complete in every way, you don’t need to worry about if you are getting enough nutrients, enough protein or enough fat, you are, so you can stop worrying about that.
Sometimes we let things sneak in, without even realizing that we have. Here are some of the top culprits of being stuck in a rut:
1. You’ve added oil. This one can slide right in. It starts with more spray oil, or maybe a little bit in a few recipes. Maybe you have added vegan junk food like vegan cheese, sour cream, mayo, or butter. When you eat out you aren’t requesting “NO OIL”. You might not check all of the food that you purchase to make sure it has no oil. We had an E2-er write to us recently, she had this to say:
“I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong! So I did what you said, checked all my packaged food. Well, wouldn’t ya know, there was oil in my whole grain bread, my whole grain crackers and get this; MY WHOLE GRAIN BROWN RICE! I purchased a pre-made brown rice, and just assumed it had no oil, well low and behold, it had 2 different kinds of oils!” – Janice
2. Salt. Salt magically works its way into a lot of plant-strong meals. You start to not pay attention to the “1 to 1″ label reading rule, or maybe you start adding salt into your cooking as you are preparing a meal. Go check your labels! Salt should be a 1 to 1 ratio, meaning if there are 100 calories per serving there should only be 100 mg of sodium (or less) of salt per serving. In addition, make sure that any salt you add is AFTER you finish preparing your meal.
3. High fat plant-foods. Don’t get us wrong, we love a few slices of avocado from time to time, but if high fat plant-foods have become a staple rather than a treat, you might run into a rut. Tofu, avocado, tempeh, nuts, seeds and nut butter should all be condiments/treats. The largest portion of your meal should consist of foods lower in caloric density. Make sure your plate is first filled with whole grains/starches, vegetables, beans and fruit. After that, you can sprinkle a FEW nuts or seeds, add a few cubes of tofu, a couple of slices of tempeh, 1/4 of an avocado. You also want to watch dressings, even oil free dressing can be packed with calories and fat if they rely on too many high fat plant-foods. If you’d like, cut out the high fat plant-foods for a while to see how you do. You will not miss any nutrients and you will get all of the fat you need, so long as you are eating enough (just like protein, if you are eating enough, you are getting enough)
4. You are drinking your calories. It seems logical that the more you cram in a glass in the way of plant-strong foods, the better, right? Not really. We now know that chewing is a very important part of digestion, and we should not skip it if we don’t have to. (Of course if you have a medical condition which prohibits you from chewing, you will need to adjust accordingly). Chewing food does all sorts of wonderful things. When we drink food, we bypass salivary digestion all together, and often get a big hit of calories and often sugar (from fruit). In addition, think about all of that food you stick in your fancy machines, could you eat it in one sitting? If not, you should not try to drink it in one sitting either. Instead of drinking your calories, chew them. It will help with your overall health and it will also help keep you feel full and satisfied longer.
As a nice summer treat? Sure, go ahead and have a plant-strong milkshake with some frozen fruit and non-dairy milk. But as a meal? You are better off chewing all of that food you are sticking in your blenders.
*There is a lot more research on blending vs. chewing and we could go into a lot more detail. However, we like to keep things simple around here, give it a try for yourself and see how you do. We have heard from a lot of you who stopped drinking calories and had really amazing results after the fact. So give it a try. It will be okay, we promise.
5. You are eating out more and not asking for plant-strong meals. We have fallen into this trap a few times. We are out with friends, we see the ‘vegan’ menu item, we order it, and it comes out and it’s glistening with shiny, fatty, artery clogging oil. Instead of skipping it, or re-ordering, we eat it and later pay for it. Be sure to have an eating out plan. Know how to order when you are out to eat, call ahead and ask if they can meet your crazy plant-strong request.
Recently we heard from E2-er, John about his Chipolte habit: ” I started grabbing Chipolte everyday for lunch. One day, a co-worker asked if my veggie bowl was really plant-strong. So I checked. I found out that they put oil in the brown rice, lots of oil and salt in the veggies and even the beans! The pinto beans also have bacon fat in them! The guac has added oil and salt. The chips are full of fat and salt. The salsa has lots of salt. Soon my “healthy” Chipolte meal was a fat and salt bomb! Now I bring my own lunch, brown rice, vegetables, salsa and beans, but all oil free, no salt added, it is much better!” – John
6. You are eating a lot of bread, pretzels and crackers. Even whole grain breads, pretzels and crackers can be a lot more calorically dense than you might expect. They are also very easy to over-snack on. Try going with out them for a little while. Have your homemade veggie burgers on a bed of greens instead of a whole grain bun. You can have a couple more burgers instead of the buns, and it will fill you up more!
7. You are eating chocolate. We love chocolate. That is why we can’t have it around. It is a treat that we have for special occasions. If there is dark chocolate around, we will eat it, it’s that simple.
8. You are eating a lot of dried fruit/dates. A sprinkle of raisins on your oatmeal is just fine, however eating a lot of dried fruit is going to put you in a rut. Dried fruit is very calorically dense, so you need to watch how much you are including. Also, a lot of dried fruit has added oil/sugar, so you’ll want to watch that. Dates fall into this category as well. Dates are delicious, but make sure you are keeping it to 1 or 2, and not eating them by the handful, or using excess amount of date syrup/paste.
9. You are putting non-dairy creamer/sugar in your morning coffee. Of course, we’ll first encourage you to start cutting back/cutting out the caffeine. If you feel the need to drink caffeine we’d encourage you to look at your diet and lifestyle and see why you feel the need to use caffeine. All of that aside, many people will dump soy creamer and sugar into their morning hot drinks, and it can add up. We also hear from people who have made Starbucks a habit, even the non-dairy drinks at Starbucks are going to set you over the top in calories and sugar. Don’t forget, coffee with non dairy creamer/sugar has excess calories. We looked up a popular Starbucks non dairy drink and it had over 400 calories!
10. You are drinking too much. A glass of wine every so often is okay. However, when you start drinking a glass a night, you might want to consider cutting it out, except for special occasions. (not just wine, any alcoholic drink). It is not required for alcohol manufacturers to include nutrition facts on their labels. Many people drink without thinking of the calories they are consuming. Beer ranges from 100-200 calories for a glass and wine ranges from 100-150 calories for a small glass. To give you an idea of where that falls, regular coke has 136 calories per serving. If you feel the need to drink every night, we would encourage you to start evaluating your relationship with alcohol. If you need help, please reach out and ask.
So if you find yourself stuck in a rut, check the above and see if you are falling into any of our “rut traps”. If you need more guidance, please feel free to e-mail us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What are some of the ruts you have fallen into?