We’re not big on the word “diet”…but we can get behind a plan that actually fits everyone, is easy, and works. It’s called “plant-based” because it’s heavy on veggies, but it doesn’t have to be vegetarian or vegan. People find they lose lots of weight with little effort. Plus you’ll never get tired of it! Don’t believe us? Just try our simple instructions. Start with an 8-10″ plate.
1. Make this split. Mentally divide your plate. One half is going to be all vegetables—the gold standard is organic, locally grown and seasonal. Again, you don’t have to go vegan or vegetarian (unless you want to). But experts across the board agree that eating more vegetables can give you a slimmer waistline and a longer life.
2. Grab a grain. Fill one-quarter of your plate with a nutrient-rich, fiber-filled whole grain such as brown rice, quinoa, hulled barley or another minimally processed carbohydrate. Limit white, processed carbs such as regular pasta or white bread.
3. Pick a protein. Complete the last quarter of your plate with the highest-quality protein you can afford. If it’s animal-sourced, aim for grass-fed, organic, hormone-free (or wild caught or good-quality fish). If it’s vegetarian, consider organic tempeh, beans or lentils.
4. Get a variety. Try to include a wide variety of colors and flavors. Every vegetable’s color signifies a different nutrient, and they all have their own health advantages. Also change up the starches and proteins, and use lots of herbs and spices to ensure your meals never taste ho-hum.
5. Snack well. Aim to minimize processed, artificial foods as much as possible—they tend to contain too much low-quality fat, sugar, salt and chemicals. Fruit, fresh-pressed juices (especially green), nuts and seeds all make great snacks. Especially if your protein in #3 is vegetarian, make sure you’re eating nuts to get good-quality fat. (Fat-phobic? Check out this story about the good fats you need!)
6. Drink up. Sometimes, we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty; drink plenty of water. If you prefer juice, try pressing your own; if you’re having bottled juice, try mixing it with water. As for sodas, most are best avoided, but juice-sweetened options can be an occasional treat.
7. Take a break. We use the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, stick to your healthy diet. The rest of the time, give yourself a break. We’re only human.