Easy Steps No. 1 – Know Your Why

Here’s the start of my series 7 Easy  you can make to get your whole-food plant-based journey started. Before you actually start to take action, there are a couple of things I believe should be considered beforehand, to help you with positive and sustainable change. After all, as well as easy, you want it to work, right?

So Step 1 is know your ‘why’.

Why ‘why’? I have found that any change to lifestyle – whether it’s the food you eat, exercise, stress reduction or something else, if you don’t know why you’re doing it, it’s easy to get waylaid or discouraged when you hit your first hurdle. And there will be plenty of them. I’m not saying that to put you off, rather to prepare you. Any positive change throws up obstacles – it’s normal. But when you are changing something quite profound, it may seem just too hard to continue.

Many challenges come from within. Often it’s a favourite food – usually cheese – that’s the sticking point. I can’t say how many times I’ve heard people say “oh I can give up anything except for cheese”. There’s a physiological reason for that – it’s addictive. And when you’re giving up any addiction, it’s more successful when you know why you’re doing it. Oh, and just in case you’re wondering how you could ever live without it, it really is possible! I used to be sooooo addicted to it, but now I have no real opinion on it. Apart from when I get a waft of stinky cheese and it makes me feel slightly nauseous! (why do we like to eat mouldy stuff???)

The media can cause problems; there’s so many mixed messages out there. You may decide that a whole-food plant-based diet is the way for you, then read a headline saying it’s bad for brain health or that meat is ok to eat after all (as occurred recently). This may make you feel confused and start to question whether it’s right for you. And whilst it’s always good to fact check your choices, these headlines are more often than not deliberately phrased to create confusion. Because when people are confused, they don’t make changes.

Family and friends can create challenges too; peer pressure and conformity has been an issue since society began so it’s not a new issue! So knowing why you are changing to a whole-food plant-based diet is important as you will be asked that very question on numerous occasions.

So what are the main ‘whys’? In my experience, they come under 4 main headings:

  1. Health. A whole-food plant-based diet promotes health and supports healing. There is a shed load of evidence-based research which shows how chronic health problems can be prevented, managed and sometimes even reversed.
  2. Weight loss. Again, evidence-based research show that a whole-food plant-based diet is effective for long term weight management. And without feeling deprived too! But please note, this way of eating is not a ‘diet’ as such. Choose it as a way of life and you’ll never have to ‘diet’ again.
  3. Environmental concerns. Plant-based eating is the most effective way of directly contributing to the care of our beautiful planet. Many people are now changing the way they eat because of the climate crisis. Eating whole, minimally refined foods has a far less impact on the environment and use of resources.
  4. Animal welfare. Increased awareness about animal agriculture is having a huge effect on people’s food choices. Plant-based eating means animals don’t have to suffer. If this is your why, then focus on whole-food eating, as consuming vegan junk food will mean the animals won’t suffer but you may well do.

These are all huge reasons. And whilst your ‘why’ might come underneath one or more of the headings, you may well have slightly less highfalutin reasons. And that really is ok!

All the reasons above are important to me but my main reason for eating a whole-food plant-based diet is still health. First it started with my food intolerances. Then when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, research showed me it was still the best way to eat, I just had to be a bit stricter. I have written openly about all this.

What I haven’t mentioned is that I have yet another reason to keep eating as best I can – cancer. Two years ago I had a malignant melanoma removed. It appeared out of nowhere, possibly due to some MS medication I took. It all seems ok now but the fact that happened was pretty scary. Scary because I also have a blood disorder that could be the early signs of another type of cancer – multiple myeloma. This was found co-incidentally. It freaked me out at the time, but now I know it’s there, I can live my life in a way not to tip it over. Food really is my medicine.

Even with these pretty big ‘whys’, I do still have a shallow one – to be able to drink wine again! It’s good to have the pleasurable things in life!

So take a moment to think about your own ‘whys’. Then jot them down somewhere. So that if you hit an obstacle or start to question whether whole-food plant-based eating is right for you, that little list will remind you that yes it is. That’s why you need to know your ‘why’.

Step 2 is coming up – and it’s just as easy as step 1!

 

My book Eat Well Live Well with The Sensitive Foodie covers this subject in more detail. Click here to grab your copy on Amazon.

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