It's been a little over a year now since I've changed my diet to being primarily vegan and whole foods based. And I must say, it's been going incredibly well. I feel great, I've gotten down to my ideal weight, my food budget has decreased substantially, and my life has become easier.
My secret was focusing on the following food groups and trying to stay balanced throughout the day in the amount of food I eat from any one group. I've listed foods in each group that have become staples for me and have allowed me to simplify my eating habits so much.
- Whole grains - whole wheat, rice, oats, quinoa, corn meal (especially tortilla chips)
- Beans - black beans, lentils, edamame/tofu, garbanzo beans (especially in hummus)
- Greens - spinach, chard, kale, cabbage (especially as sauerkraut)
- Veggies - onions, peppers, potatoes, zucchini, garlic, carrots, celery, cucumbers, artichokes, jalapenos, green chilies
- Fruit - avocado, tomatoes, apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, melon, frozen blueberries, dried cranberries, pineapple
- Nuts and Seeds - almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, raw cashews, sunflower seeds
- Flavorings - herbs, spices, cocoa powder, organic sugar, vinegars, oils, sauces, lemon/lime juice
You'll notice I separated greens as their own category because I think that is a critical component that may get skipped if it got lumped into veggies. I also view whole grains and beans as vitally important which is why they are listed first. Many people try a vegan diet but end up with fatigue. Even though I am not a doctor or nutritionist, my hunch is that they are not getting enough calories nor the full amino acid chain that whole grains and beans provide when eaten daily. This is why they give up and go back to meat when all they need to do is eat more grains and beans. Nuts can also be a big help in this regard as they are calorie rich and protein dense.
Also notice how everything on this list aside from the flavorings is a whole food. No processed items except my one guilty pleasure, tortilla chips. One day, I'll figure out how to make my own tortilla chips like I have done with sourdough bread. That way I control the ingredients and the quality of products.
Hopefully this framework helps you realize how easy it is to simplify your eating habits. Try to lean your eating habits in this direction and I bet you will notice changes in both health and finances like I have.
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