Maybe you went vegan for environmental reasons, to lessen animal suffering, or for personal health reasons. With Cancer Survivor Awareness month just wrapping up, many people choose to adopt a vegan lifestyle to help combat and prevent serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. But even vegans can have some pretty unhealthy food habits. Many people don’t realize it is still possible to eat an unhealthy diet and gain unwanted weight as a vegan. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
Switching to a vegan diet is a great opportunity to incorporate healthy eating habits into your everyday life. In this article, we’ll offer tips for avoiding unhealthy food habits and eating more healthy vegan meals and snacks.
Unhealthy Vegan Food Habits
There are plenty of unhealthy food habits that cause weight gain even for vegans. Watch out for these bad habits:
- Eating too much bread.
- Not eating enough protein from tofu, beans, lentils, nut butters, and tempeh.
- Eating too many processed vegan foods.
- Getting bored of vegetables.
- Too many vegan desserts.
When you’re vegan and you don’t eat any meat, it’s easy to replace this source of protein with bread and processed foods. But this is what causes some vegans to still have health issues and experience weight gain, even though a vegan diet should help them avoid this.
Be sure to only eat processed foods and desserts in moderation and get creative with your vegetables. Try out different recipes, cooking techniques, and ingredients like herbs and spices. Here are a few tips for keeping your vegan meals from getting bland and boring:
- Jazz up your dishes with herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, and vegan sauces.
- Try cooking techniques and recipes from other cultures.
- Eat seasonal produce so your food is the most flavorful and you’ll get a variety of options from season to season.
Unhealthy habits can be easily avoided if you switch them out for healthier habits. It just takes some mindfulness and practice. Don’t beat yourself up for the little slip-ups; a sweet treat now and then never hurt anybody!
Plan Your Meals
One of the all-time best ways to avoid the unhealthy food habits listed above is to plan out your meals and even your snacks! Having healthy snacks on hand and knowing exactly what you’re cooking for dinner (or having it pre-prepped) will not only keep you from grabbing something quick and processed when you’re hungry and busy, but also help you stay within budget. Knowing what you’re going to eat ahead of time will lessen the temptation of ordering takeout food that can add up in the long run among other things.
The Dos and Don’ts of Healthy Eating
Maintaining healthy eating habits is hard enough, but when you’re a busy parent or stressed-out college student, it can feel impossible. But we’re here to help! Here are some dos and don’ts of healthy eating to keep in mind:
- DO eat mindfully, and try to eat your meals slow, enjoying every bite. Try to be mindful of your snacks and DON’T mindlessly snack on junk food while watching TV or studying.
- DO consider the consequences of unhealthy eating habits — like the effects of sugar and alcohol.
- DON’T let yourself get hangry! Keep healthy snacks on hand so you never cross that line.
- DON’T join food trends that aren’t right for you. Everybody is different and some diets won’t be right for you. Try to listen to your body and eat what makes you feel good.
- DO thoroughly wash any produce you plan on cooking or eating. With supermarkets like Meijer recalling many of their vegetables due to Listeria contamination in 2017, it’s best to be safe and give your produce a good scrub before consuming.
Going vegan is a great decision whether you’re worried about the environment, animals, or your health. Just remember that even vegan eaters can have some pretty unhealthy eating habits. Work on swapping out those unhealthy habits with better options, plan out your meals and snacks, and don’t sweat the small things. Bon appetit!