When we hear the word, “diet,” most of us picture calorie counting, endless stalks of celery, and way too much salad. However, the word diet actually has two meanings – one is the action of restricting what one eats in the attempt to lose weight, while the other means the style/kind of foods that a person or culture habitually eats.
We’d like to talk about diet as a lifestyle today – not as a weight-loss strategy, or, as one of those food fads that ebb and flow like the tide. Instead, we will talk about four different styles of eating – some of which individuals (or even entire communities) adopt for their lifetime.
In our opinion, a healthy diet is the easiest kind to adapt to, as it requires the fewest number of modifications. Someone eating a healthy diet will choose olive, coconut, or avocado oil over canola or corn, will select baked, poached, or roasted food over fried, and will avoid processed meals whenever possible.
As we know, processed foods contain loads of sodium and other chemicals and preservatives, are typically low in whole grains, and are usually full of unhealthy fats.
Someone on a healthy diet will look to reduce their consumption of sugar (all sugar in general, and refined sugar, specifically) and will choose naturally occurring fruit sugar, honey, or maple syrup as alternatives.
If you are not a vegetarian, a good example of a healthy meal looks something like this: grilled salmon filet, wild rice, asparagus, and a dark, leafy green salad. And, if you are a vegetarian, how about pasta in an arrabiata sauce with sautéed garlic spinach, and a dark, leafy green salad? Yummy.
The vegan diet continues to grow in popularity as more people are learning about the environmental impact that animal agriculture has on our planet. Also, individuals are learning that a diet that avoids animal products can have many health benefits, including a significant reduction in their inflammatory and/or autoimmune conditions. Last, but definitely not least, animal rights activists continue to share their impassioned beliefs about the cruelty involved with factory farming.
People eating a vegan diet avoid all animal products, including milk, eggs, and even honey.
Some people are taking it a step further and choosing to “veganize” their entire life by ridding their homes of down-filled sofas and cushions, wool carpeting, and leather goods, all in an effort to protect the rights of animals.
As a result of eating more vegetables, vegan diets tend to be high in dietary fiber, magnesium, folic acid, as well as vitamins A, C and E.
However, they can tend to be low in vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, and omega 3 fatty acids. Fortunately, there are more and more healthy and complete supplements that vegans can take to ensure they are getting everything their body needs.
Someone eating a healthy vegan diet may enjoy sweet peas in an Indian spiced tomato sauce, stewed lentils with artichokes, and toasted naan bread. How delicious does that sound?
A non-healthy vegan meal would include something like this – a tofu hot dog and French fries topped with vegan cheese.
A plant-based diet is focused primarily on whole foods (a wide and tasty variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds). It typically avoids refined grains and starches (flour, pasta, sugar, etc), as well as processed foods like oils, and anything that isn’t in its natural state.
Plant-based eaters will consume honey, as it doesn’t directly hurt the bee to harvest the honey.
And, the easiest way to remember the difference between vegan and plant-based diets? Vegans can eat Oreo cookies (they don’t contain animal products), but plant-based eaters will choose not to (made with refined ingredients).
Healthy plant-based snacks include: hummus, tapenade, or brownies made from walnuts, dates, and oat flour.
Unhealthy plant-based snacks include: potato chips, oreos, non-dairy ice cream, anything cooked in, or made from, oil.
This lifestyle has made a world of difference in my life. For many years, I was an overweight, unhealthy vegetarian who struggled with a variety of inflammatory conditions. Changing my diet to one that focuses on whole, plant-based foods, along with being low in sugar, and high in balancing, calming flavours, has turned my health around.
Now, my family eats this way 5 or 6 days a week, and we have never felt better. We allow ourselves 1 or 2 days a week to enjoy some alternatives, so that we don’t feel deprived from some foods we love, but that we know are only good in moderation.
We choose naturally immune-boosting foods that reduce inflammation and work together to calm the digestive system. These foods are selected because of their ability to fight cancer, and help in the treatment of conditions such as MS, Diabetes, and Crohn’s disease.
If you have questions about our anti-inflammatory meals, or about how we can help you get your health back on track, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to work with you.
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From our kitchen to yours,
Love + Peace