If you are committed to improving your health and wellbeing, there is no better place to focus on than to improving your diet.
Evidence has shown that the more you increase your whole foods, and plant-based nutrition, the more your health (both physical and mental health) will improve exponentially.
After listening to all the food experts during the Food Revolution Summit, I have become convinced that eating a more plant-based diet is the answer to most all our health woes.
The most encouraging thing is that all the experts agree that disease can be stopped in its tracks and reversed by eating a more plant-based diet.
I recently went to an event where I heard a presentation given by an Exercise Physiologist and Nutrition/Fitness Coach who shared some interesting research and statistics about how a plant-based diet can both improve and prevent disease.
She shared that studies have shown in different parts of the world where they ate a more plant-based diet, they had less disease. And in parts of the world that ate less plant food, they had a higher percentage of disease. You can see this from the chart below.
She also said that studies have shown that a majority of people who eat at least 90% of a plant-based diet don’t experience disease and live full productive lives into their ninties.
And again the really good news is that it is never too late to reverse disease. She shared examples of people in her practice who have reversed disease rather quickly by going to a more plant-based diet. One example stood out to me of a client that was able to go off blood pressure medicine after 3 weeks of eating a plant-based diet. I have been trying to do that for years now and have yet to get there myself.
As I was sitting in this seminar I decided that my goal was going to try to get to 90% of a plant-based diet as well. Over the years my husband and I have been eating a more whole-foods diet but we have noticed more and more that eating meat, especially red meat doesn’t sit well with us afterward. And after joining a CSA last year and learning to eat more seasonal fresh produce, we have been enjoying all the variety of plant-based foods we have been adding into our diet.
So my husband and I talked about it and decided to challenge ourselves to get to the 90% goal. I started doing some research online to get ideas about how to do this and I came across a new term I have never heard of before and that is being a “Flexitarian” which really means Vegetarian but flexible. We decided we liked that idea because sometimes you just have that craving for a Hamburger or a good Steak (even though we usually regret it later).
As we started our new quest, we wanted to find a way to track our plant-based eating to even see what the percentage was with our current way of eating so we knew our starting point and we could keep track of our progress week to week. I couldn’t find what I was looking for online so I created my own tracker.
I used this tracker to fill out a typical week of eating for us to come up with our starting point and determined we were already eating about 43% of a plant-based diet. Then I used the tracker to keep track of everything we ate the first week of our new quest and we hit 77% (not too bad for the first week). You can see a copy of both below.
Note: I made an educated guess of what percentage of each meal and snacks were plant-based. It isn’t an exact calculation but it serves the purpose of letting me know how I am doing in general. Also, plant-based to me does not include any processed food even if it is made from plants.
Challenge Yourself to Increase Your Plant-Based Eating
This tracker is available in both a regular pdf printable version and a pdf digital version you can fill in on your computer.
Get Access to Your Own Plant-Based Eating Tracker Here.
We were so excited about our progress and we kept brainstorming ideas about how we can increase this number every week. This tracker helped gamify improving our diet which made it fun for us. I learned some things by doing this.
Lessons learned while tracking my plant-based eating
- I learned that if a had a meal with a low percentage or no plants that I made better choices for the rest of my meals and snacks for the day so my daily percentage could be higher.
- I ran the numbers and figured out that I could still hit 90% during the week if I had 2 zero percent (plant-based) meals, or 4 fifty percent meals or 8 twenty-five percent meals.
- I loved the flexibility and challenge of keeping my percentages up. It is all about choices.
- I didn’t feel deprived like I was on a diet. I felt empowered and excited to keep improving my numbers.
- Food prep has been the key to helping us eat a more plant-based diet.
Food Prep Ideas to Help You Increase Your Plant-Based Eating
- Make jar salads in mason jars to keep on hand for quick meals. I usually make six at a time. If you are getting out all your
produceto make a salad, why not make up some jars to keep on hand.
- Make chia puddings in small mason jars to have on hand when you need a healthy snack or treat.
- Make a batch of vegan muffins to grab in the morning or when hunger strikes.
- Make a big pot of beans to have on hand each week. I alternate between black beans one week and pinto beans
- Make a batch of brown rice or quinoa to have available for the week.
- Roast a big pan of vegetables to add to your meals for the week.
Note about food prep: I like to do my food prep on the weekends but it doesn’t always work out so I just try to work these tasks into my week as I can and then I always have food available during the week. My husband and I started doing this together and it goes really fast and we have fun doing it. If you have kids, this would be a great family activity (plus they would probably be more inclined to eat what they prepare).
Did you know that the Standard American Diet (The SAD Diet) consists of only 11% plant-based foods? I have read that it is more likely 5-6% because 6% of that 11% is french fries. I believe it too! I used to joke that the only vegetable my kids would eat was ketchup. Sad but true for 2 of my 3 children.
Once I put together this tracker, I decided to try to recreate a typical week of how I fed my family when my kids were growing up. I did one tracker for what I would prepare and serve my family and one for 2 of my kids who refused to eat vegetables. The results were 13% plant-based for our family and 8% for my kids who wouldn’t eat their vegetables. Interestingly, the two kids in my family who struggled with mental health issues were also the same two who wouldn’t eat their vegetables. Hmmm! You can see a copy of these two recreated trackers below.
I can’t tell you how many times I have said I wish I could do it all over again… raising my kids. I would do so many things differently. I always expressed my concern about my kids’ diet to their pediatrician and I was told not to worry about it and that they would get what they needed. I was encouraged to pick my battles and not let food be one of them. Well, I disagree with that now. Food should have been the biggest battle that I determined to win.
So what about you? Are you inspired to increase your plant-based diet?
Wherever you are in your journey through life, it isn’t too late to make a difference in your health and future by improving your diet.
Start with tracking a typical week for you to see where you are currently and then challenge yourself week by week to increase the percentage of plants in your diet.
Stay tuned for more and more posts on my blog about plant-based eating along with recipes, ideas, and inspiration to help you.
Wishing you Joy in your journey,
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