5 mistakes to avoid if you’re going Vegan this January
Veganuary is one of those months that nutritionists applaud and dread at the same time. Getting more fruit, veg and plant based foods into your diet is always a good thing – and one that we will always encourage – but people often go in to Veganuary not focussed on this and end up in worse health, not losing weight and generally ending the month binging on food that hasn’t been “allowed” during January.
If you’re going to do Veganuary there are a few mistakes to avoid:
1. Don’t fall in to the processed foods trap
Chances are you’ve decided to do Veganuary to improve your health or lose some weight. If that’s the case, avoid buying just processed foods – which are laden with salt and fat, and often poor quality. Approach your new way of eating in much the same way a you would if you were trying to improve your diet whilst eating meat. Fill your plate with wholefoods – lots of veg, fruit, potatoes, grains, chickpeas, beans, legumes, some healthy fats like avocado, nuts, seeds, and some form of vegan protein (tofu, Tempah, Quorn, Seitan. Eating this way will mean that you will keep your diet full of nutrients, your energy levels should improve, and you’re more likely to control your calories and therefore lose some weight.
2. Don’t forget the protein
The number of people that I talk to about Veganuary that say they’re just going to eat vegetables is insane. A vegan diet can be a healthy diet if you approach it the right way -but that doesn’t mean ignoring your protein needs. You have to work harder to get your protein when you’re eating vegan, but it is absolutely possible. If you cut it out completely you’ll end up with worse body composition, you’re likely to gets some deficiencies, and your skin and hair will start to go dry/brittle. Remember, whatever way you choose to eat, you still need to follow the same principles – your body needs, protein, carbs and fats to function optimally. As well as protein alternatives, lentils and chickpeas/legumes, you can also supplement with vegan protein powder if you’re finding it difficult.
3. Don’t eat boring food
As with any diet – the key to long term success is making what you eat as interesting as possible. Google some healthy vegan recipes. You can find my favourite vegan recipe resource here from BBC Good Food, or check out my Vegan recipe e-book here
4. Portion sizes still count
Don’t fall in to the trap of thinking you can’t gain weight eating “all good food”. You can. Even if it is Vegan. You’ll need to pay as much attention to your portion sizes as you would if you were trying to lose weight with any other diet. Even more so if you have gone for all processed vegan food.
5. Don’t give up if you make a mistake
You’ve spent all year eating meat, if you “fall off the vegan wagon” during the month don’t give up and have a blow out. That’s like puncturing all your tyres if one got a puncture. There’s really no need. No one is going to say you failed because you ate some meat or an animal product. Decide if eating vegan is for you, if not, it’s ok to change track and eat healthy balanced meals instead. No one diet is better than another, and if you started Veganuary to lose weight, you can still do that with taking a sensible approach and including all foods in your diet in the right proportion. Remember, you don’t have to cut out a whole food group to see results. Decide what you want to do and why, pick a sensible approach that you can stick to, and the results will come. And if it’s accountability that you need (most people do) then consider using one of our coaches to help keep you on track while you get started. We have many different options for you to choose from and help to find the right approach for you.