The health and wellness world is full of great diets and trends that help us shed pounds and maintain healthy lifestyles. However, like any other industry, it can also present us with some misleading information, so it’s important to do your research and be sure that any changes you make will in fact be beneficial to your health. Especially at this time of the year, many individuals are attempting to introduce healthier habits into their lives, but sometimes the changes that may seem healthy at first are actually not the most effective way to reach our goals.
One of the most common mistakes that people make is switching to a vegan diet, or replacing some of the foods they eat with vegan ones, and buying highly processed vegan foods which in fact are more unhealthy than what they were consuming before. While eating vegan foods helps out the animals (and in many cases, humans), buying processed foods that say “vegan” on the label isn’t always the way to go. For example, switching from turkey burgers to certain brands of frozen veggie burgers may erase your meat intake, but it may also raise your sodium consumption. Additionally, many vegan “dairy” products such as vegan cheeses actually be more processes and can contain more calories than non-vegan cheeses. In the end, while you may be helping out the animals, you’re not really helping yourself.
That being said, starting a vegan diet, or simply adding some vegan foods into your lifestyle, doesn’t have to mean eating processed foods. In fact, maintaining a completely vegan diet can be done without consuming any processed foods at all!
For example, many vegans choose to supplement their protein intake with protein powders, but that doesn’t mean they have to purchase the ones full of chemicals and other harmful ingredients. Instead, opt for clean or plant-based protein powders, which are completely natural and provide many more health benefits in addition to protein supplement.
Additionally, choosing to eat superfoods that are rich in protein and healthy fat, such as pecan butter or other types of nut butters can help amp up your protein intake without consuming any processed foods. Add 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite supergreen powder to your smoothie or a glass of water with fresh lemon, or top your salad with goldenberries for a quick protein boost.
Finally, superfoods also provide vegans with a natural way to support their iron levels. For example, adding some hemp seeds to virtually any meal is a great way to make your food exciting while getting some extra iron that you may otherwise be lacking.
We always recommend reading nutrition labels and leaving behind any food with extraneous ingredients (especially those you can’t pronounce!) as well as added fats and sugars. If you’re considering switching to a vegan diet, or have already started, try purchasing as many foods without nutrition labels as you can - that means they only have one ingredient! Of course, finding the healthiest ways to maintain a vegan diet will come with time, but for now try to remember to stay away from processed foods. In the end, it’ll only help you achieve your goals, whatever they may be.