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Plant Based Diet Plan: Where to Start & How to Stick With It

Author: Amanda Cofer, MPH

You’ve probably heard that plants can have powerful effects on health and wellbeing. Whether that’s an exotic, Amazonian remedy or having a meatless meal day a couple times each week. This is something that many of us already know but sometimes figuring out where to get started and then how to maintain it can be a little less obvious. Remember, that eating more plants or eating a plant based diet plan doesn’t automatically mean you’re cutting out meat entirely or going totally vegan, but you might start to view your food in a different way. Let’s take a look!

Where to start with a Plant Based Diet Plan

If this is something that is brand new to you or something that you haven’t done in a really long time, remember that it’s okay to start small and remember that this will be a work in progress with trial and correction to figure out what plant based foods and recipes you enjoy. Some of these foods and textures might be different at first so be patient with yourself, first and foremost, and don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never had before!

You’re probably thinking “Cool, Noom! Thanks for the pep talk. What about the food?!” When it comes to the foods here you’ll want to start skimming down on processed items that may or may not be plant based. This is a process in itself, but organizing your refrigerator and pantry can make a world of difference sometimes and create a space where these foods are more readily available. Along with this, you might want to find some recipes that interest you and get your gears turning.  

What kinds of foods might you want to focus on when you finally get to the store after going through your kitchen? Work your way around the outer edges of the grocery store, minimizing the amount of time you spend in the aisles. In the outer rim of the store you’ll want to hone in on fruits, vegetables, tubers (aka root vegetables, like potatoes), and whole grains if you’re looking for bread or pasta products. You might also find things like nuts, avocados or guacamole, and humus here as well. Stock up for the recipes you pulled and are eager to try! 

How would you want to start using these new plant based foods that you bought? The smarties at Harvard Medical School have some tips that we, at Noom, can get behind: 

  • Fill half of your plate at meals vegetables (or fruits) whenever possible.
  • To whittle down your meat portions, think about meat as a side dish instead of the main item in your meal.
  • Focus on plant based fats, like nuts, olives or olive oil, and seeds. 
  • Enjoy a Meatless Monday (or any other day of the week), this might help you get used to looking for plant based options at work or on the go.
  • Fruit is nature’s dessert, enjoy this more often instead of your usual go to. 
  • Incorporate colorful, appetizing salads into your weekly meals. 

How to stick with a Plant Based Diet Plan

The name of the game here is sustainability and this looks different on everyone, so try not to compare yourself to your “perfectly vegan” co-worker down the hall. Chances are they started out where you’re starting out and it took a lot of time for them to get to the point they’re at now. So, what could help you stick with your plant based diet plan and sustain it long term? First, build your network of support. These are people that you might be close with and can be there to help you make these changes. At Noom, this is something we are big on! Your Noom coach can help you set goals around incorporating these foods into your day as well as thinking more deeply about how to navigate obstacles, while your group can be there to lend recipe ideas, tips and tricks that worked for them, and be there to celebrate the success and support you in those not so great weeks. 

Second, plan ahead. This is a biggie. Planning or meal prepping a bit ahead of time can be a huge help on a daily basis when it comes to working in more plant based foods. Even just a little bit can go a long way. This planning might be full on meal prep with batches of quinoa and roasted veggies, it could be simply cutting up the items you plan to use in your dinners that week to save you some time, or asking what sort of options will be at the neighborhood picnic to think through what you’ll have. Every little bit helps. In your planning or prep, focus on plant based protein options and what will satisfy you. 

Third, find your go to’s. This one might take some practice but once you find what you really enjoy it’ll become easier and easier. When you have a meal that made you think “I would totally make this again!” write it down and start creating your list of meatless, plant based staples. Overtime you’ll memorize these recipes or even start to tweak them to make them your own.

The Bottom Line: Eating a plant based diet

In the end, eating more plant based foods can have some incredible effects on your health like lowering blood pressure, balancing blood glucose numbers, and sometimes even helping with weight loss. Most of us are aware of these benefits but sometimes it’s hard to know where and how to start and that’s okay! The important thing is that a start is made it in the first place. When it comes to starting a plant based diet plan, it’s important to do what feels right for you and keep in mind that this doesn’t always mean going totally meatless. Noom is here to support you and help you figure out your next steps and help you stick with them