Top 10 excuses for not eating more plants
Have you stopped to consider what it means to eat a "plant-based" diet? I think for most people, the concept means that you become a vegetarian. And that often seems to be where the thought process comes to an end. Apart from a handful of people who are driven to cut animal products out of their diets, most people are not willing to turn their backs on steak and chicken wings. But, does it have to be an all or nothing approach? Isn't it possible to eat a bit less meat and a lot more veggies? Can you not supplement your "plant-based" diet with animal protein?
Truthfully, until recently, I also thought a "plant-based" diet was a vegetarian diet. But I started digging and realised that my normal, everyday mixed diet is mostly plant-based, with a little meat on the side. I suggested to my husband and son that we opt for a vegan diet… I was met with a great amount of resistance! So, we won't be doing that. But they have agreed to a couple of vegetarian meals every week and lots of veggies and other plants every day.
Having said this…
- Do you eat your vegetables?
- Do you eat fruit?
- Do you eat whole grains?
- Do you eat nuts and seeds?
- Do you eat legumes?
The reasons for not eating these foods are widely varied. It could be:
- Time - I get home late and I don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen
- Money - Vegetables are expensive
- I don’t know how to cook them - No one has ever shown me how
- They just go off in the fridge - I never eat them all on time
- Boarding school / the army / my mother put me off
- They are boring - Boiled vegetables are tasteless
- I like all the wrong ones - I only like butternut and peas
- They cause weight gain - Starch is fattening
- Fruit contains too much sugar
- They make me bloated - Every time I eat beans my stomach bloats
Some reasons, such as "they make me bloated", or "I am allergic to them", are good valid reasons. But the majority of reasons I am given are poor excuses.
Time - It may be a little time consuming to wash and chop veggies everyday. But cooking them is quick and easy. There is no reason why you can’t buy pre-prepared veggies or even frozen veggies to take the time factor out of the equation.
Money - Buying pre-prepared veggies can be pricy. Buying veggies that are in season and from the local green grocer can be extremely cost effective.
I don’t know how to cook them - My family mostly only gets simply prepared veggies - steamed or roasted with a little herb seasoning if they are lucky. Cooked correctly veggies have a great taste of their own. If you need some inspiration, the internet has a wealth of recipe ideas. taste.com.au is my favourite recipe resource at the moment, but by no means the only one.
They just go off in my fridge - Be prepared. Write up a menu plan for the week that includes veggies. If you don’t have to think about what to cook everyday, it makes it easier to eat well.
Boarding school / the army / my mother put me off - Food preferences are important considerations, but often all it takes is a different cooking method to make the food taste amazing! (I used to be adamant that I hated Brussels Sprouts. It turns out that if they are roasted with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and chilli flakes, they are delicious!)
They are boring - They may be a little boring simply steamed without any flavouring. Personally I like them that way. But other people need more a more intense taste. Get creative in the kitchen and start experimenting with herbs, spices, lemon juice, wine, whatever takes your fancy.
I like all the wrong ones - There is no such thing as a "wrong" vegetable. Sure some contain a bit more starch than others, but that is not all they are good for. What about the vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients they add to your diet?
They cause weight gain - Too much of anything can be a problem. The food plate model, that I use widely in my practice, advises that half of your plate is filled with vegetables, a quarter with carbohydrate (whole grains) and a quarter protein. These guidelines are for health and weight loss. This works well for most people. Some are a little more sensitive to the amount of carbohydrate in their diet, but the majority of people do well eating a moderate amount of whole grain carbs everyday. And half a plate of veggies is a lot of veggies - foods with very few calories!
Fruit contains too much sugar - Yes, there is sugar in fruit. No, it is not bad. The sugar in fruit is unrefined and always comes with fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, not to mention a little water. As human beings, we like sweet food. Fruit allows us to eat a little something sweet, without the guilt. As with the whole grains, too much is a problem, but 2 to 3 portions of fruit per day, spread throughout the day, help us to feel dietary fulfilment.
They make me bloated - Some people are sensitive to certain compounds in certain foods. Often, though, it is a case of eating a very low Fibre diet and your digestive system not being able to deal effectively with the influx of Fibre from the increase in plants. We need Fibre in our diets - 30g per day is the recommended amount. Fibre comes from plants! The only way to meet your Fibre requirements is to eat more plants!
Next week, I will examine the scientific evidence and make it impossible for you to keep making excuses (wink, wink!)