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Tips for Plant-Based Diet Veterans

· Plant-Based Health
A photo of a vegetable and fruit market with brightly colored fresh produce, as featured in the blog post "Tips for Plant-Based-Diet Veterans" on The Purple Dog Blog by The Purple Dog Vegan

No matter how long we have been doing something there is always room for improvement. Even if you have been following a plant-based diet for a long time there are some things to be aware of and ways to get even better at what you're doing.

Plateaus

Even if you've been consistent with your healthy eating and exercise you may reach a plateau. Don't worry at all! Our bodies are adaptation machines and that's a good thing because it means we can survive in a wide variety of conditions. With a little guidance you can be back to making the progress you want.
 
If there's one piece of advice that works for every age and every type of person it's to know your own body and to experiment if something is not working the way you want it to. Ideally you would only want to change one variable at a time and see if that works.
 
For instance, maybe you're eating most of your calories in the morning instead of spreading them out during the day. Or perhaps you are exercising at night but you have the most energy right after breakfast. Changing your patterns and what you're doing may make a difference.
 
Keep in mind that the best thing one person can do for themselves may not be the best for another person so make sure to pay attention to how your particular body responds and how you feel physically and mentally.

Switching Up Your Exercise Routine

A few signs that you should think about mixing up your exercise routine are:

  • You're not getting stronger
  • You're not getting the "good" soreness that comes from productive activity 
  • You're getting injured (possibly pushing yourself too much or using incorrect form and posture) 
  • You aren't getting your heart rate up 
  • Exercise feels like it has become a chore and not an investment in yourself

The good news is that you can get over these problems! Stay positive and experiment with variables such as the time you exercise, when and what you eat before and after a workout, learning new movements, change where you exercise, do more or fewer repetitions, try increasing or decreasing the weight/resistance you are using, change where you exercise... the list goes on.
 
Try a little something different and you'll most likely be back to doing great in no time!
 

Vitamin B12 

Make sure you are getting your recommended levels of vitamin B12. The vitamin component in most B12 supplements and fortified foods is made by bacteria and sourced from bacteria cultures. It is not taken from animal products.
 
Many vegan foods are fortified with B12. They include nondairy milks, meat substitutes, breakfast cereals, and at least one type of nutritional yeast.
 
Be sure to watch out for supplements that use animal-based gelatin. The good news is that this practice seems to be going away and is seen less and less. It is becoming very easy to find completely vegan B12 supplements on the internet or at grocery stores.
 
There are some food supplement companies that use pirulina or other algae rather than bacteria cultures. You may not want to rely on those as a B12 source as testing has indicated it is not a reliable contributor of active vitamin B12.

Vitamin D

Your body must have vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote bone growth and maintenance. Too little vitamin D can result in soft bones in children (rickets) and fragile, misshapen bones in adults (osteomalacia). We also need vitamin D for other important body functions.
 
As you can see, vitamin D is important, but you probably don't have to stress at all about it. Most soy and nut milks are fortified, as well as cereal. Tofu and mushrooms are also excellent sources.
 
Another way of getting vitamin D is to soak up the sun for 10-20 minutes a day.
 

Sleep

So you've been absolutely loving your diet and your exercise routine has you in a tremendous state. All of your hard work can be hindered by bad sleep habits. The importance of sleep and the consequences of not getting it are well documented.
 
The number of hours each person needs is going to vary by individual but there are some general guidelines that can help pretty much everyone.
 
If possible, stick with a set schedule for going to bed and for waking up. I know this can be very difficult to do at times but the more you can stick with it the better off you're likely to be.
 
Avoiding eating close to bed time is a great tip as well as avoiding alcohol.
 
A quiet, cool, and dark bedroom is recommended. I have had success darkening my bedroom with blackout window curtains.
 
Even though we have so much technology around us, sleep experts say to try and avoid using computers, phones, tablets, and other devices for at least an hour before going to sleep if you can.
 

Key Takeaway

Even if you can't be perfect just try the best that you can and make improvements along the way. It'll be worth it!

A photo of a girl holding a cut watermelon in front of her face to look like a smile, as featured in the blog post "Tips for Plant-Based-Diet Veterans" on The Purple Dog Blog by The Purple Dog Vegan
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