4 Tips to Transition to a Plant Based Diet (When You Don’t Have Support…YET)
Do you REALLY want to change how you eat and try adopting a plant based diet (or a diet with more whole foods)? But you don’t have the support of the people around you…yet? I totally get it. When I first started my transition to a plant based diet, my spouse and a lot of the people around me wanted no part of it. I had to figure out a new way to prepare meals while keeping the peace. If you live with picky eaters or everyone’s not on board with your new healthy habits just yet... Don’t stress! Here are some tips for making an easy transition and cooking in a way that keeps everyone happy...and also gradually inspires positive changes all around. Its what I figured out that I wished someone had shared with me…
Tip #1: Make a Transition. Not An Announcement.
People have varying opinions on this, but in my own personal experience and experience helping others, the best way to make a lifestyle change easier on everyone is to make a transition. You don’t need to make a big announcement that you and your family will no longer be eating certain foods as of “x” date. Just simply stop buying unhealthy foods one by one and replace them with healthier options (and if asked, let your family know you thought this new item might be something good to try out). Many of the recipes in this guidebook are great ways to take a normal, every day dish and make it healthier, which will allow for an easy transition. You can still have “taco night” or “pasta night”...but this time you’re putting a new spin on it.
Tip #2: Make Adjustments to How You Cook
Some family members may never want to give up certain food items...and that’s ok. You will likely be cooking healthier overall, and everyone will benefit. And eventually, if you stick to it, and the people around you see how amazing you look and feel, they’ll likely want to join you.
So hang in there! In the meantime, you may need to make some adjustments.
Here are a few tips…
- Modify your current go-to dishes by replacing unhealthy ingredients with healthier ones. See if your family likes it or will at least tolerate it until they get used to the healthier version and start to like that better. If not, try the next tip.
- Prepare meat separately to be added later. For instance, prepare a chicken breast to be added to tacos, or prepare meat for the meat eater to add to his or her own meal. This way, you don’t have to make entirely separate meals. Most things can be made with meat added after the fact.
- If you must buy meat, keep it in the freezer. This way, it won't be used as often because it's frozen and requires an extra step, and it won't spoil. You will likely be eating less as a household, and this will keep you from having to buy it as frequently.
- Buy only smaller containers of milk or sugary drinks if your family won’t switch, and stock up on lots of tasty replacements to encourage a change. Slowly start to swap these out.
- The tastier the better! Add lots of spices, seasoning and flavor to your foods. Try new recipes. If you try new things and make good dishes, your loved ones might not even notice the change at first, and when they do, they probably won’t even mind as long as it tastes good!
Tip 3: Ask for Support
If you have picky eaters in your family, or this is a very BIG change for them, making a slower transition may work best. However, sometimes all you have to do is ask for their support. Let your loved ones know what you want to do and why it’s important to you.
Ask them to help YOU make this change and hold YOU accountable. Rather than making it about them and trying to force a new way of eating on them, asking for their support in helping you make a change will likely get them on board, too.
Tip #4: Do Your Best & Give It Time
When it comes to changes like this, most people need several exposures to a new way of thinking, eating, or a new type of food before accepting it. When my husband and I first started living together, he had never heard of “quinoa” in his life. He was disgusted by almond milk and appalled at the taste of the smoothies I made. Now, he eats all of these things on a regular basis...and it’s HIS choice.
It will take a little time for you to adjust and for the people around you to adjust as well. Just stick to it, and give it time! Don’t get discouraged if the people around you aren’t on board right away. When people start to see how great you look and feel and how much energy you have, they’ll start to come around.
Lastly, don't beat yourself up...
And if you have a bad day or mess up, the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up. Decide to get back on track NOW (not tomorrow, not Monday), and just pick up where you left off. Keep trying your best to make healthier decisions, and set up systems (like planning and prepping meals in advance) to help you stay the course. Before you know it, this way of eating and living will be a habit and a way of life! You can do it!
If you'd like more help transitioning to a plant based diet and simply getting more whole foods in your diet, I'd love to help you! Check out my plant based nutrition coaching program Plant Based & Practical, and join our community for our next challenge.