Most people instinctively know that they should eat more fruits and vegetables and fewer processed foods. However, the road to getting there is somewhat unclear. Many people are so hooked on processed foods that they have no idea where to start. The thought of giving everything up and trying to eat whole foods is a bit overwhelming and they tend to give up quickly. With that in mind, here are some do's and don'ts for beginning a vegetarian diet.
The first step, of course, is to try to eat as naturally as possible. One common recommendation is to begin by cleaning out your cupboard and pantry. However, many people find that it is hard to know what to get rid of. Some people say to throw away anything with more than one or two ingredients. Other people say to get rid of anything that your great grandmother would not recognize. Still another recommendation is to throw away any food where you cannot pronounce all of the ingredients. No matter which ones you do, beginning with a goal of cleaning out your pantry and eating as naturally as possible is an excellent start.
Another step that you will want to take is to try and find alternatives for foods that you like. Do not expect to be able to cut things out of your diet without having some cravings for foods that you used to enjoy. The trick is to figure out what exactly you are craving. If you want something sweet try eating a piece of fruit or dark chocolate. If it is the caffeine in soda then try drinking tea instead. Finding alternatives for foods that you like is generally much more successful than focusing on things that you are no longer allowing yourself to eat.
Although many people try to change to a vegetarian whole food diet all at once, drastic changes are often more successful if they are gradual. Even if you feel like you need to give up all processed foods, doing it all at once is more likely to cause you to burn out than changing a few things at a time. Start by clearing your pantry of the most processed of foods such as chips, cookies, and prepackaged dinners. While you are doing this concentrate on eating more fresh fruits and vegetables. This will naturally reduce your cravings for processed foods, and enable you to eliminate them from your diet entirely without feeling deprived.
As with any major lifestyle change, try not to be too hard on yourself. Changing from the standard American diet to a whole foods diet is a large switch, and there will probably be times when you fall back on old habits. Don't get so discouraged by this that you give up entirely. Instead, focus on what you can learn by falling short, and use it to avoid temptation the next time. With perseverance and dedication you will soon be experiencing all of the amazing benefits of a vegetarian whole food diet.
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