A healthy diet is an integral part of maintaining a strong immune system, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Social isolation has made many struggle with their eating habits. This is ironic, given that it is so important to safeguard your health, especially right now. Many doctors recommend trying a plant-based diet for fast results. Curt E. Liebman MD is here with tips for developing and maintaining a plant-based diet through quarantine.
A plant-based diet, as the name suggests, is eating food directly derived from plants, as opposed to animal products. This includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and other legumes, omega-3 rich oils, whole grains, plant protein like tofu and tempeh, and more. Following a predominantly plant-based diet does not require transitioning to a strict vegan or vegetarian diet. It can be as small as simply switching out one meal per day from a meat course to a plant-based course.
Curt E. Liebman’s(MD) suggestions to start a plant based diet
- Eat lots of vegetables: Make sure that you fill your plate with a lot of vegetables. Include leafy greens and a variety of colorful plants- the more color there is on your plate, the more variety of vitamins and minerals you will consume. Have 50% of your lunch and dinner be comprised of vegetables. You should try to eat different green leafy vegetables like collards, kale, swiss chard, spinach, and other greens. You can steam, stir-fry, grill, or even braise to preserve and enhance their flavor and nutrients.
- Change the way you think about meat: To successfully pursue a plant-based diet, you have to change the way you think about meat. Most people in North America grew up eating meat at almost every meal – as such, it will take creativity to come up with alternatives. One way to transition is to think about meat as a garnish, rather than an entire meal, so as to make consumption more occasional.
- Choose good fats: By “good,” this means fats that promote heart health and boost HDL levels (‘good’ cholesterol) and decrease LDL levels (‘bad’ cholesterol). Cutting out meat and dairy is a quick, accessible way to reduce the number of saturated fats you consume. These fats can be detrimental to your health and are difficult to digest for many. Unsaturated fats like olive oil, nut butter, seeds, and avocado are healthy parts of a balanced diet and should be consumed regularly.
- Include whole grains at breakfast: Start your day with foods like oatmeal, buckwheat, barley, rye bread, or quinoa. Adding some nuts and seeds or fruit can further enrich your meal. Including whole grains at breakfast will help you feel full longer, as they take longer to digest.
- Eat fruits for desert: To satisfy your craving for sweets, try opting for fruits. Eating a Medjool date, a ripe mango, or a crisp watermelon can help you stay away from sweet desserts with high calories and low nutrient density.
- Build a meal around a salad: Make an effort to fill your plate with salad greens like spinach, red leafy greens, and romaine. You can also add other vegetables along with fresh beans, herbs, peas, and even tofu. Salads are a great source of vitamins and minerals and you can get very creative with what you put in them so they never get boring.
A plant-based diet can assist in lowering the probability of developing coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and more. During this pandemic, it is especially important that you pay close attention to your diet.