TAKE ANXIETY OUT OF THE HOLIDAYS
The plant-based diet, or simply the desire to add more plants to our plates is here to stay. There is so much evidence supporting the health benefits of this way of eating, not to mention, every time you turn around someone else has reversed their type II diabetes, lowered their cholesterol, stopped taking many of the meds they've been on for years, etc.
We all have to start somewhere (good heavens there is a lot of information out there now!) and we must all go through our "firsts". This means our first holiday! Take a breath. You've got this.
You may be in one of two camps:
1. You are the plant-based person, full of anxiety and unsure what will unfold around the Thanksgiving table and the entire holiday season, for that matter.
2. You have a plant-based person coming to dinner and what the heck will you feed them?!
There is anxiety in both camps, but one thing we have in common is that we all want to make the other feel welcomed and not shine a spotlight on any new differences.
1. If you are the plant-based newbie, listen up, the responsibility is mostly on you to take charge and calm the room. It's simple. Call the host, let them know you're trying something new, and you'd like to stick to it even during the holidays. That said, ask what you can bring to the dinner or party. A common reply is, "whatever you feel comfortable eating". My #1 suggestion is to bring something simple, and full of ingredients others can identify. Shoot, even the most carnivorous person at the table can pick out corn, beans and tomatoes. Make this simple for you and for them. Bring enough for you to eat as a meal and enough to share with your fellow guests. At the table, feed yourself and leave the rest on the table for others to try, don't be pushy. This will be a great opportunity for you to introduce a delicious and simple recipe.
2. If you are the host and, Yikes!, you have a vegan at the table! Take a beat, you'll be ok. Because this plant-based stuff is so, do I dare say, popular, now, there are plenty of resources and recipes out there. But, I get it, if it's not your thing, and you're busy enough planning and prepping a gathering, the last thing you want is to research someone else's diet choices. Similar to before, this more so lies on the plant-based person to find inclusion, so please give them a ring. Going out on a limb and offering to make a dish would be quite generous, but also asking them to bring something to share with everyone is very appropriate. Let them know you are looking forward to seeing them and trying "their food".
This year's suggestion for both the plant-based newbie and any host with a vegan at the table is this Three Sister's Stew. Everyone around the table will love it. These Cornbread Muffins with Fruit and Nuts are SO EASY to make and will go great with the stew!
Once you are around the table and people start asking questions about your plant-based diet, anxiety may begin to rise again. Many times people who decide to give this a go feel they need to be a full-fledged plant-based scholar to field all the questions that arise. Here are some easy answers to the most common questions:
What about protein?
Because a well-rounded, whole food, plant-based diet includes all the macronutrients we need everyday to live and thrive, protein is not an issue. Everything that comes up out of the ground (plants!) have varying ratios of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Even iceberg lettuce will have a little bit of protein, for instance! For foods with higher protein values, try tempeh, beans, lentils, quinoa, and almonds.
And, calcium? Where will you get that if not from dairy?
Calcium is a mineral found in the ground and this is where cows get their calcium. If calcium comes from the earth, I'll eat the plants that get it from the dirt, not the animals who ingest it. Some of the foods with the highest concentration of calcium include, figs, dark leafy greens and soybeans!
Meat has so much iron, what will you do to get that in?
Great question! I find iron in lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, dried apricots and figs, raisins, quinoa.
Why are you doing this??
Now, your answer will vary on your motivation behind changing your diet, however, one really great response that most can agree on is, "I like the way this makes me feel and I'm looking forward to the positive health outcomes I have been reading so much about." You might add, "I have notified my doctor and we'll be monitoring my progress together."
If someone wants a quick overview of a plant-based diet here are some resources:
The Game Changers (great for men and athletes!)
Code Blue (focuses on MS)
Plantrician Project (resources for healthcare providers)
If you'd like to make a telehealth appointment with a plant-based practicing physician, please contact Jim Loomis, MD.
Want a cooking class? You'll love these!
If you need on-going support, this membership is something you might really enjoy!