Deciding to eat a more—or completely—plant-based diet is a health choice many people are advocating and taking part in today. The last decade, we’ve learned more about the harmful and unnecessary effects of factory farming than ever before. As a result, people everywhere are starting to wake up and make changes, starting with how they eat. No longer is the massive amount of animal foods necessary for us to eat well, be happy and thrive, or survive. We’re now looking to mostly (or all) plants to do that for us, even though we still have a long way to go.
Helping Our Body Feel Its Best During the Change
When it comes to health, however, not everyone opts for a plant-based diet to become healthier. Many people just do it for the animals or environment, which are both great reasons to do so. However, what most people don’t realize or think about initially, is that at some point, health issues may arise because the body is going through so many changes internally by eating new foods. Animal foods contain certain hormones (natural or added) and other properties that interact with our cells and change how they function. Some of these are straightforward vitamins and minerals they contribute, while others are simply the way the proteins or fats metabolize differently than plants, and their effects on our digestion. Though plants provide vital nutrients that support the body, the transition away from animal products can still be tough for some, even though it’s easy for many others.
Because most of us come from a past of eating animal products, our bodies adapted and stored some of their hormones in our cells, and also adapted to digest and assimilate these foods into nutrients. Whether you’ve had health problems by eating animal foods or not, it’s still smart to realize that the body may need some time to adjust and to be aware of some issues in case they ever come up.
Possible Troubleshooting Issues and How to Deal With Them
Not everyone experiences health troubles during the transition, but in case you ever do or have, here are some common issues you may encounter and some ways to be aware of them so you can work through them to serve your body best.
1. Blood Sugar Imbalances
It’s important to realize that an imbalance of blood sugar can initially be temporary as the body shifts away from animal foods that take a very long time to digest because they have denser sources of protein and fats. Protein and fats can have a beneficial effects on blood sugar because they initially lower insulin levels and halt hunger, though that doesn’t mean animal sources are the healthiest for our blood sugar (or our bodies) on a long-term basis. Sometimes in the beginning, the body may feel more hungry because blood sugar levels are changing and adapting to a new diet, so it’s very important to eat plenty of whole foods during this time, not just processed substitute foods. This will ensure that your body gets the crucial minerals it needs from plants to help keep your blood sugar balanced. These nutrients include: magnesium, fiber, and plant-based proteins and fats. The best options are leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats like coconut and avocado or olives, beans, legumes, and whole grains and fruit. If you still have problems, you can try lowering the amount of grains and fruits you eat to 1-3 servings a day, as some people find their excess carbohydrates may cause some blood sugar spikes in comparison to lower carbohydrate plant-based foods.
Foods like chia, greens, nuts, hemp, legumes, and vegetables are excellent for your blood sugar levels because they contain fiber, magnesium, protein, iron, and large amounts of easy-to-digest vitamins and minerals.