Beginning a plant based diet can be overwhelming when you don’t know where to start. Planning and setting yourself up for success is important to make permanent changes. Starting off right helps keep the focus on the important things. There are 10 steps you need to know before starting a plant based diet that will help you make the transition to improving your diet.
10 steps you need to know before starting a plant based diet
The following steps will help set the foundation for a plant based diet. Giving you the ability to review what’s happened, what’s working and what’s not working. This will provide help when evaluating the next action to take.
I understand feeling overwhelmed. This is exactly what I went through. I watched “Forks over Knives” in 2012 and knew I wanted to improve my diet but everything was new to me. I created the Plant Based Progress Tracker to help with the following steps, making it easier to keep track of everything.
If you prefer, take out a notebook, journal or a piece of paper. One thing to remember is that you don’t have to share this information with anyone. This is a starting point, a point of reference to help you on your journey.
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Following the 10 steps will help any plant based beginner.
One step is not more important than the other. Each have their place in the process. You have already taken the most important step – deciding to make a change! So, let’s get started!Take the most important step - decide to make a change! Click To Tweet
Step One: Consult your Doctor
Always consult a doctor before beginning any health/habit changing program. Read my disclosure page. Changes can happen fast when changing from a Standard American Diet to a Whole Food Plant Based Diet. The doctor will need to monitor and/or adjust your medicine as your health improves.
Step Two: Take a before picture
Yes, that’s what I said. Take a picture even if you don’t want to. No one has to see it. You can take your own photo in front of a mirror (selfie) or have someone else take it for you. Take a front view and side view.
As you go along this journey you should continue to take pictures of yourself. At least take one picture each month. That’s right! At least once a month and in the same location if possible.
Improving your diet is more than weight-loss. It’s about improving your health inside and out. Natural weight loss because of healthy changes is a wonderful side effect. There is more to see in a photo than just weight loss, a person’s face, facial expressions, how they stand, etc.
At my heaviest, I didn’t want my picture taken. I preferred avoiding the camera. I’m sure I’m not alone on this one.
My husband took the photo below which I was not happy about at the time. I have few pictures of myself during this time in my life. I am grateful now that he took the picture. This has helped me to see the changes that have happened over the years. Here is a look at my photo journal. Start creating your own.
Step Three: Current Medication List
List all medications and supplements you are currently taking. The list may be long, short or nothing at all, but write everything down.
The items you will want to write down are: Medication name, reason or purpose of the medicine, dosage and how many times per day it’s taken. Also, list the name and phone number of the doctor that prescribed the medicine.
My list was not long so that made it easy for me to remember what I was taking. If I had done this in the beginning it would have saved me time.
In the Plant Based Progress Tracker there are two different forms, depending on the amount of medications you are currently taking. No matter if the list is long or short, the tracker will fit your needs. With your doctor’s help this list may be reduced over time.
Step Four: Health Issues/Concerns
Write down all the health issues you are currently dealing with, no matter how small you think they are or how long you have been suffering with them.
Write down the things you deal with currently or on occasion. How do you feel most days? Nothing is too small or too big. Write it all down! This will give you a starting point to look back over. You can add to this list later on as you remember things you have dealt with.
Step Five: Vitals and Lab Results
Write down your vitals and lab results. If you had this done recently you could request a copy from your doctor. This will give you an excellent starting point. There is more to getting healthy than weight loss.
Include the following:
Vitals: Blood Pressure, Pulse, Respirations, Heart Rate, Glucose levels and A1C.
Lab results: Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, HDL Cholesterol and LDL.
Step Six: Body Measurements
Write down your weight and body measurements. Have someone take your measurements. The scale is not the only guide. Measurements can be such a powerful tool.
Check your weight once or twice a month or not at all. Are you affected by the scale? Does your attitude, actions, eating habits change depending on what the scale reads? I don’t recommend checking your weight everyday, especially if the scale is a stopper for you. Taking your weight once or maybe twice a month is enough to see how you are doing. Make sure you weigh yourself at the same time of the day, preferably in the morning before you eat. That is what I have found is the best time.
How do your clothes feel? How is your physical or mental state? These are better indicators of how things are going instead of getting on the scale. If the scale is an issue, then have someone hide the scale or put it out of sight.
For me, I noticed that the weight came off in clumps when applying a Protective Diet. When I thought that things were not working is when the weight came off. You never know when that will be, so keep on the path and give your body time to adjust to the changes you are making.
Improving your health is more important than the scale. Eat to improve your endothelium not to lose weight. It’s about our overall health not just weight loss. Every bit does count.
The Endothelium is a single layer of cells that run throughout our body. Dr Esselstyn says “The endothelium, the innermost lining of the artery”. That is why he recommends avoiding oil. Yes that includes olive oil! Read what he has to say regarding eliminating oil. Dr Gregor from NutritionFacts.org talks about the endothelium in this short 4 minute video.
As we eat every bite is either helping our endothelium or it is not. Eating a Protective Diet focuses on improving our endothelium. Learn more about Protective Diet here.
Step Seven: What is your Why!
Why have you decided to make this change? There has to be some reason that brought you to this point of wanting to change your diet. We all have reasons why we do things. Making the decision to change is huge! Make sure to write it down.
Step Eight: Start Date
Once you decide on a date write it down. Are you going to wait till Monday? What is it with Mondays? Do we always have to start on a Monday? What’s so great about Monday? Are you more successful if you start on a Monday? If not, then move on and just pick a date.
Are you waiting for the beginning of the month? Or do you have to wait until this event or that party is over?
If you are ready to make a change, just do it! Events will happen all the time. You will learn to navigate through them as time passes. Don’t put off the best decision of your life.
Your health is the most important thing! Don’t wait! Jump in with both feet, set that date!
When I started my journey, I thought I would be able to remember my start date. I found that I had to go back and estimate the time frame. Would have been easier if I kept a journal and wrote it all down in one place. Set the date and go for it!!
Step Nine: Deciding on the plant based plan to follow. What are you changing?
There needs to be a plan! Without one it will be harder to keep on track. Have you decided to cut out soda, sugar, oil or nuts? Whatever you decide to do, you need to write it down. This will help remind you and keep you on track.
For example, if you decided to cut out soda. Then when you are in a situation where a soda is available, it will be easier to say, no thank you. It’s easier to make the choice once the decision has been made ahead of time about what is and what is not on plan. The focus can move to what is on plan. Making this decision ahead of time is an important part of improving your health. This will start you out on the right path. This takes out the guess work. In the Plant Based Progress Tracker there is a sheet to write “The Plan” you have decided to follow.
Decide the do’s and don’ts ahead of time and increase your success of sticking to a plant-based diet. This was a huge thing for me! Food decisions become easier when you take the guess work out of it.Decide the do’s and don’ts ahead of time and increase your success of sticking to a plant-based… Click To Tweet
My plan changed throughout my plant-based journey. When I first started, I decided to remove all animal protein (meat, chicken and fish), dairy (milk, cheese etc) and oil. I lost some weight but then struggled with losing weight. Then, I came across Protective Diet. I further removed sugar, nuts, avocados, concentrated sugars, artificial sweeteners and food additives. This was the change that real made a difference in my life. I was dealing with some health issues at the time and struggled with finding foods I liked. I figured I might as well give Protective Diet a try. Read more about my plant-based journey.
As you change your diet, your taste buds will change and the foods you crave will change over time. Mine for sure changed over time. I didn’t eat spinach or mixed green before, now both are a part of my meals.
Just a side note, when I first started eating spinach I hated the stems. I would take off every single stem and throw them away. Then I would chop the spinach into small pieces before adding to soups or salads. I don’t worry about the stems anymore, but I still chop the spinach. Who does that? Believe me I did and still do.
Below is a list of my do’s and don’ts. You will need to decide what yours will be.
Foods I eat: Vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, brown rice, whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, potatoes, corn, beans, lentils and tofu
Foods I avoid: Meat (including poultry & fish), dairy (including eggs), oil, nuts, nut butters, seeds, avocado, coconut, dried fruit, sugar (including syrup & nectars), and artificial sweeteners.
I used the FREE Protective Diet recipes when I first started. My pantry staple grew with each recipe I created. One of the things I love about these recipes is that the ingredients are used within several recipes. Avoiding the need to buy a special ingredient for only one recipe. I have created a pantry staple list that goes along with the 125 Free Recipes on Protective Diet. To gain access to my Free Resource Library click here. To learn more about a Protective Diet click here.
For the most part I pick up the same perishable items each week. Here is a list of my weekly items: onions, potatoes, bananas, carrots, celery, spinach, mixed greens, lemons, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, bell peppers, butternut squash. There are other items I pick up but it depends on price, what looks good and what recipe I’m cooking.
Step Ten: Keep things simple
Now that you have decided what plan to follow, try the recipes they have to offer. Keep it simple. Pick out a simple breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. Usually my lunches were leftovers from dinner the night before. Before siting down to dinner, put some in a container for tomorrow’s lunch.
In 2012 I decided to apply a whole food plant based diet after watching “Forks over Knives”. At the time I wanted to know everything. All the do’s and don’ts. I thought that if I knew everything at first it would help me be more successful. As I struggled to find foods I liked I continued to learn about a plant based diet.
When I found Protective Diet in 2013, I decided to just cook the recipes from the site. Sure, there were things I needed to learn about this plan. I wanted to take advantage of this program so I started making the recipes. I figured that if I just made the recipes, then I was on plan. At the time I started Protective Diet there were only the free recipes available. Protective Diet works even if you only use the FREE recipes. I Know it does because that is what I did. (sign up and receive access to the free Protective Diet recipes) (affiliate links)
Set yourself up for success. Go pick out a breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack. Let’s get cooking!
It doesn’t need to be hard or overwhelming when you first transition to a whole food plant based diet. I didn’t always cook and my cooking skills were not the greatest when I first started on my plant based journey. My husband did the majority of the cooking. I was happy with that. Since then I have become a better cook and have more control over what goes into my mouth and what goes into my body. Follow the 10 steps and start your path today to better health.
10 important steps to take when beginning a plant based diet!
1. Consult your Doctor
2. Take a before picture, front and side view
3. Current medications list
4. Current Health Issues/Concerns
5. Vitals & Lab Results
6. Body Measurements
7. Write down your “WHY”
8. Start Date
9. Decide on a plant-based diet plan to follow
10. Keep things simple
These 10 steps will help guide you on your journey and set you up for success. Take the time to write these things down in a journal. You will be glad you did! Getting healthy is not just about losing weight! It’s about being healthy from the inside out. Grab your own Plant Based Progress Tracker today!
What steps have you taken when beginning your plant based diet? How do you keep track of things? Let me know below in the comment.
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