Making the Shift; A beginners guide
I feel there’s one thing we all have in common as parents and that is we want the best for our children. Our main aim is happy healthy kids and what they eat (or in some cases refuse to eat) has a lot to do with that.
BY Renae – PLant based mumma
In the last few years plantbased diets have become very popular and even if you aren’t interested in going fully plantbased most people would agree that adding more fruit and vegetables into their diets would be beneficial. So where to start? Between the articles on coconut oil and kale smoothies, bone broth and quinoa vs rice it can be easy to become completely overwhelmed but it doesn’t need to be that hard, thank goodness because as mothers we have enough on our plate (figuratively speaking of course.…because we all know there’s nothing on our actual plates, it’s either been taken by tiny hands or we’ve forgotten to eat completely!).
Back in 2013 my husband Sam and I decided to switch to a plantbased diet for our health and by ditching the animal products and adding more fruits and vegetables to our meals we immediately felt better. We had more energy, felt lighter and some of the things we always took as normal (bloating and that sluggish feeling after eating) were gone. So it’s safe to say the past 6 years have been an ongoing journey for us as we learn more about giving our bodies the nutrients they need and of course raising a happy healthy child on an abundant plantbased diet.
Although I realise not everyone is deciding to eat exclusively plantbased, most people would agree that incorporating more fruit and vegetables into our diets is always a good thing.
So how can we ease into a more plantbased lifestyle without throwing away all the food in our fridge and craving a toasted cheese sandwich? Here are some easy tips to start you off without adding too much to your plate (pardon the pun).
- Addition not subtraction
When things are taken away human nature is to feel deprived (this is why the word diet has so many negative connotations), that is definitely not what we want. So ditching all the meat, eggs and dairy in one foul swoop is probably not the way to go.
Instead just try adding things to your usual meals first. Add more vegetables to your stir fry or try adding more vegetables to your Shepherd’s pie. By slightly adjusting meals you have been making for years it takes the fear of having to learn all new recipes straight away.
Add a green smoothie each morning or a piece of fruit for morning tea instead of the usual coffee and cookie. Maybe is hummus and veggie sticks in the afternoon. There are lots of little ways to add more vegetables into your day BEFORE you start ditching the animal products. Which leads to….
- Baby steps
Just because you want to add more plantbased meals into your life doesn’t mean this is an all or nothing situation. Meatless Mondays is a great initiative that has taken hold of social media and is a wonderful way to make what can be an overwhelming situation very manageable. Meatfree Mondays is simply one dinner a week that doesn’t include meat and you may already be doing this without realising (in that case maybe go for 2!). A lot of the usual dinner meals are vegan although of course not labelled this way; think Pumpkin Soup, Vegetable Pie, Veggie Fritters or Risotto.
- Watch and Learn
You didn’t learn to cook overnight, most likely you watched a parent cook and then were asked to help as you got older, and you picked things up along the way. Well there isn’t a plantbased chef living in your home for you to learn from but there is the internet (which is almost as good). So check out some YouTube videos and blogs, or grab a vegan recipe book and see what looks appetising. All families are different but there will definitely be something that appeals. Check out The Happy Pear on YouTube for some amazing quick, healthy meals and Oh She Glows blog and recipe book for some very easy family friendly meals.
- Have fun!
Experiment! If you’re like me I was definitely stuck in a rut before we adopted a plantbased diet. We were having fish, chicken, steak – wash, rinse, repeat every single week. When we opened up some cook books and expanded our options we found that it was actually lots of fun and we enjoyed a bit of a change. It did take some getting used to but dinner time doesn’t have to be so serious. Start simple, no one expects a perfect gourmet meal, sometimes the expectations we put on ourselves are in fact the only expectations out there; give it a go.
- Don’t worry
When my husband Sam and I first found out we were having a child and had only decided to go plantbased 3mths beforehand we were nervous about whether or not he would get the nutrients he needed. With children it definitely helps to have options regardless of which foods you are serving so keep that in mind when you are aiming to introduce new foods that they may not have seen much before. Children wont eat it all, but we all know that if you can get them to try it, it’s a win.
As with anything finding what works for your family is the key. Everyone’s journey is different and different children react differently to foods, but aiming to add more fruits and vegetables is always going to be a step in the right direction.