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At the top of todays show on 2020 Vegan Food Upgrades I thought I’d do a little check in.
I’ll get to the food talk in just a couple of minutes however first, how has your 2020 started? The first few weeks have flown right?
I feel like a lot has happened and yet also I did take a lovely indulgent 3 week holiday at the end of 2019 / beginning of 2020 so it’s been a pretty good combo of lovely and lazy plus pleasingly productive.
I could handle the old 3 weeks holidaying then 3 weeks working really hard pattern! What do you reckon? We’re dreaming right?!
If you’re a dear long term listener you’ve likely noticed I’ve only been publishing the podcast once a week for the past couple of weeks. I’m keen to get back to twice a week, one solo show and one interview as soon as I can justify it however right now brutal truth, the downloads just don’t justify the HUGE, time, energy and financial investment. So once a week it is, and hopefully it’ll be more soon as I LOVE LOVE LOVE producing this little show however gosh, it’d be fab if it was a little less little! So, up front: if you know anyone who you think might like this show, or if you have the chance to leave a review wherever you listen that’s the very best way to help me grow the show and so much more importantly help us create a fit, strong, happy, healthy vegan world.
That’s my BIG vision. Talking of fit and #plantstrong… it’s that time of year when a lot of us are extra incentivised to make some improvements to what we eat and how we move.
I include myself in the “us” because although I believe ANY time of year is the perfect time to make beneficial upgrades there’s of course something refreshing about the clean slate of a new year. Equally a break from your normal routine can be the perfect time to lock and load some new helpful habits and ditch some less desirable habits.
I’ve made quite a few upgrades over the past couple of months so far as
What I Eat In A Day To Stay Plant Strong and Lean.
However before I get to my specific 2020 Vegan Food Upgrades I do want to share a few important criteria worth applying to any new eating approach.
14 years into my personal training career and I’ve seen the same tired patterns repeat with my clients and other gym members with depressing and frustrating predictability. To AVOID all the restriction and none of the long term results here are 3 questions to ask yourself:
- One is this an eating approach I could imagine making a part of my lifestyle long term, easily and sustainably?Like is it fun and delicious and (WOW, it blows my mind how often this isn’t even considered!) is it geared towards optimal long term health (rather than perhaps just short term weight loss)
- Is this eating approach manageable when dining out? Traveling? When unwell or super-crazy-busy?
- Is this eating approach aligned with my values and beliefs. Accordingly, would I want my child or another loved one to follow this approach? (because absolutely YOU must be a “loved one” in your own mind too).
This year I’ve listened with quiet disappointment while one dear client shared with me how she’s started Weight Watchers, and is managing just fine on her 2 hard boiled eggs at breakfast, cheese and mince lasagna at lunch and lamb chop plus pop corn at dinner.
It meets her points however that’s about all it meets. That’s a day chock full of saturated fat and barely any fibre or micronutrients. My client is happy she’s lost a couple of kilo’s (cough: water-weight) and yet “terrified at the prospect of dining out.”
I gently plant the seeds each session that: What if you could eat without restriction, or calorie / point counting and never feel hungry and easily eat out and maintain that way of eating simply and sustainably without yo-yo’ing from “acceptable” to “repulsive” in your own words every single year?
What if you didn’t have to think about what you eat ALL THE TIME. And yet, you also got the stay a size and weight and energy level and health that you loved ALL THE TIME? Wouldn’t that rock?!!
For some reason the thought of moving away from animal products and indulging abundantly in everything else is just way too extreme.
I’m guessing if you’ve made it this far with me today, you’re a lot more receptive to animal free eating. So one quick disclaimer and we can power on with the plant based upgrades I’ve recently made.
The disclaimer: I’m striving for sustainable NOT perfect. My food is a constantly evolving process and that’s what I recommend for you too. Although it’s useful to know what “the perfect day” might be, it’s vital to acknowledge “perfect” won’t happen often and that’s ok.
I’ve divided my 2020 Vegan Food Upgrades into 3 categories.
One: Learnings from How Not To Diet. If you missed it, I had the huge pleasure of interviewing Dr Michael Greger, founder of nutritionfacts.org and author of How Not To Die and How Not To Diet on E664: Dr Michael Greger and How Not To Diet, The Ultimate Weight Loss Guide.
- Negative Calorie preloading. This strategy involves consuming a small (around 100 calorie) salad, soup or other such low calorie density, high nutritional snack before your main meal. An apple is fab. Studies show that consuming that 100 calorie apple can lead to 200-300 calories less consumed in the following main meal. Even better down a couple of glasses of (ideally cold) water too.I’ve been enjoying apple or watermelon, sugar snaps or steamed silverbeet prior to dinner and when I do I notice that I don’t snack after dinner. Eating a larger dinner isn’t generally an issue for me as I meal prep and have set meal sizes to make the prep last… however snacking after dinner is certainly something I have a history of.
- Wall off your calories. Here Dr Greger is referring to the fibre in plant foods (and not in any animal products) that makes it harder for the calories in those fibrous plant foods to be liberated and stored as fat.The more whole a plant food is the more “walled off” those calories are. Even to the point where the calories in nut butter are more easily liberated (which you don’t want unless you’re trying to gain weight) than the calories in whole almonds. Fibre becomes increasingly fabulous when you also consider about 10% of the calories in a high fibre diet are excreted compared to only about 5% of the calories in a S.A.D.
- Front load your day. Evidently the calories you consume earlier in the day are less likely to be stored as fat. This is likely due in part to our bodies natural circadian rhythm.We’re designed to be on the go early with the sun rise and then powering down in the evening. I’m not at the point of breakfasting like a Queen, however lunch is certainly a bigger meal for me than dinner and I’m increasingly mindful of just giving my body a break from metabolising food for as long as I can manage through the evening and night until break-fast in the morning.
Two: Habits to STOP and Habits to START. Also, I’ll recap some winning Habits to CONTINUE. In fact lets do that first:
- Continue meal prep each Sunday. I make 6 days worth of frozen smoothies. If you’re not a fan of drinking your breakfast, you might prep 3 days at a time of overnight oats or even a dozen breakfast muffins. I just had a huge win with a breakfast muffin recipe from Pick up limes which I’ll link to in the show notes… chocka full of natural goodness like: oats, banana, apple, peanut butter and flax egg. My non-vegan colleagues declared them a win too! Still on meal prep, I also make 6 days worth of dairy free pesto and protein pimped hummus.I really recommend finding the sauce / dressing you love that is versatile and instantly transforms a throw together meal into something you look forward to. Perhaps you’re more a fan of a cheesy sauce made from a vege base and flavoured with nutritional yeast? Or a limey, tahini dressing? Once you have breakfast and a sauce or two to help transform your throw together meals, it’s time to sort one huge batch of dinner made on mass. Most often for me that’s a veggie curry with a can of four bean mix. I like it enough to enjoy it (with difference sides) 4 days a week however if you can only stretch to 2 days then get in the habit of freezing half the batch and alternating between this weeks dinner prep meal and last weeks dinner prep meal.
- Continue “The Running Tally” for tempting trigger foods.There are a few high nutritional value and yet also high caloric density foods that once I start I find it super hard to stop. If you can relate, decide on the total amount you want to consume for the week and keep a tally each day so that you don’t go over. This really only works if you ONLY buy that decided on amount, no more! The start of my weeks see me devouring 100gm serves of nuts and then the last few days I have no nuts left in my quota. That’s ok though as there’s new deliciousness to be devoured over the weekend…
- Continue relegating “transitional processed foods” and “refined carbs” to the weekend only.I need firm rules to be successful in the exercise and nutrition game, or else I’d be eating bread and bought black bean burgers with Veganaise daily. If you can relate I really recommend a whole foods exclusive approach through the week with a little more flexibility on the weekend. Your quantities will be dependant on your goal and the timeframe in which you want to achieve it however I’m a fan of bread twice over the weekend and burgers twice over the weekend.
Let’s talk Habits to STOP. I’m trialing a couple.
- Less salt.
- Less oil.
I’m really curious to see just how flavourful food can taste without unnecessary salt or oil. I’m finding the super-vast-majority is unnecessary! So often a recipe will call for what I deem to be an excessive amount of oil. I’ll half it first time round and then often eliminate it completely next time. Generally it works just fine. Same with salt. It’s one of those more you have, more you need situations.
Since it’s great to focus on what you’re giving you’re body and the nutrients you’re adding I’m taking this as an opportunity to up my intake of high value, nutrient dense herbs and flavourings which I’ll turn to instead of the dollop of oil or shake of salt. Garlic and chilli powder, fresh or dried herbs and where I can manage it, cinnamon, turmeric or ginger!
Moving onto Habits to START. I have a couple here too.
- More beans
- More fruit.
This “start” habit is aligned with my intention to truly focus on nutrients not calories and even more-so, to focus on micronutrients over macronutrients. I’ll admit I fell for and even sadly, propagated the “low carb” myth for years. It’s been a slow journey for me adding back high carb food into my every single day generously. It makes me sad to hear how genuinely frightened of bananas many of my clients still are. We fitness professionals demonised potatoes and banana’s while promoting repulsive pus, faeces and cruelty filled cottage cheese and diet yoghurt.
Becoming vegan has prompted me to explore so many new foods and welcome back into my world so many old food friends. Like, come on (!) how good are spuds and apples? Again referring to the expertise of Dr Michael Greger and his handy Daily Dozen checklist of “Everything we should ideally strive to fit into our daily routine for optimal health and longevity” the doc recommends 3 servings of fruit (actually 4 as 1 serve of berries is separate) and 3 servings of beans.
I’m there with the fruit and closing in on the beans thanks to my third category of 2020 Vegan Food Upgrades…
Three: Smarter Snacking. I’m guessing most of us could get better so far as the quality of our snacks. As I near the end of a busy year I notice my coffee intake and hot protein drink intake creep up. I’ve set s firm daily quota for each of these (zero with the hot protein drinks and 3 with the coffees) and importantly found a way to work some higher value foods into my snacking instead.
A little bit of caveating before we dig in with snacking: I no longer believe in the value of small regular meals and snacks for increasing your metabolism. I used to subscribe to that. Now the evidence now seems to suggest that actually our bodies benefit from less time constantly metabolising food not more! Snacks are certainly of value when you’re genuinely hungry – I get shocked to hear how rare it is for many people to ever feel hungry – and if you can relate, to never feeling hungry then it’s a goal to work towards. Try ditching the snacking, increasing your window of fasting between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the day (my window is around 10 hours however maybe you need 12-16 hours) and also consider swapping out some of your high caloric density foods for more fibrous veg. So a typical plate will be mostly covered in fibrous veg with smaller amounts of grains, legumes, starchy veg and fat.
Back to Smarter Snacking (!) if you can relate to an addiction to liquid calories try to find a tea to swap out for at least some of those coffees or whatever it is for you. After a few miss’s with bland brands I’ve settled on a great liquorice root tea (the brand is ??? and I get it from a health food store) which is actually a deliciously sweet after dinner treat.
Regarding beans, I’ve long raved about the ease of baked edamame and I’m still loving them as a snack or salad topper however I have a new fav: baked chickpeas! These are so simple and versatile. For the lazy cook such as myself you simply need to drain and rinse a can of chickpeas. Pat them dry if you can be bothered. Next spread them out on a tray with baking paper and season with whatever you like. I use (just a smidge) of salt and garlic powder however you can go wild with nutritional yeast, onion powder, chilli and paprika. They’ll be cooked in around 30 minutes at 180-200 degrees celsius and crispy (my preference) at closer to 45 minutes.
My final smarter snacking win is perhaps best for those with youngsters or teenagers who you want to tempt away from processed crap-o-la.
I made breakfast muffins for the first time recently and they were fab! I’ll link to the recipe from Pick Up Limes for these Apple banana Peanut Butter Breakfast Cups. They freeze super well and are quick and I imagine versatile so I super recommend them as a delicious way to sneak in plenty of good stuff like fruit, oats and flaxseed.
It’s been a while since I’ve suggested the time of the actionable so let’s make it happen today. If you’re looking to stay (or get!) Plant Strong and Lean then I really recommend Dr Micheal Greger’s How Not To Diet, or if that’s too much of a time investment (the audio book version is nearly 24 hours!) how about our 30 minute chat back in show 664? Of course the implementation part is key so to recap the points that most jumped out at me:
- Negative Calorie preloading.
- Wall off your calories.
- Front load your day.
Alternatively, how about deciding on a couple of habits to Start and / or a couple of habits to Stop?
Generally when I set Start, Stop habits I also reaffirm the habits I want to Continue because A: It’s always good to focus on what you’re already doing well and B: To constantly evolve you want to lock and load the great habits and add to them rather than simply swap between good habits.
That’s it for today in Healthification. I’ll be back next week likely with a fresh podcast interview. I hope you can join me. Till then, huge thanks to YOU for sharing this week with me. I appreciate your support!
The Healthification podcast is proudly bought to you by my FREE ‘Easy Vegan’ plan. It took me 25 years to transition from a meat eater to a happy, healthy Vegan! You can do it in just 3 days with my simplified ‘easy vegan’ plan! Get the fit, strong, and healthy plant based body you deserve… while avoiding ALL the mistakes I made along the way!
To learn more check out: strongbodygreenplanet.com
Till next time, remember Creating a body and life you love is Freedom. (If this ex-carb queen, non genetically gifted, naturally uncoordinated vegan chick can do it – so can YOU!!!)
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