4 Tips for Fitting WFPB Into Your Busy Life
During the week, I don’t find myself with a lot of free time. I work a lot of hours, which often include weekends. I’ve got two kids, two dogs, a wife that works full-time, and all the usual obligations: home maintenance, car maintenance, cleaning, laundry… you get the idea. Switching to a whole food, plant-based diet added another layer of complexity to my already busy life. For instance, I can’t rely on fast food anymore in a pinch. Which, although far less convenient, is a good thing. If I’m going to be honest, before I went WFPB I relied on fast food way too much. Every once in a while I’ll ”cheat”, and have some vegan pizza from a local pizza joint. Otherwise, I prepare all of my own meals. I almost never eat out. And that’s been tough.
One way I’ve been able to make that work, and I’ve been getting better and better at this, is to spend a good chunk of time over weekends preparing meals for the week. I don’t think this concept is new or groundbreaking, but committing to it has been challenging to me. This evening I spent about three hours in the kitchen, and I was able to make enough food to get me through the week.
There are really two different types of meals, or meal components, for me. There are the foundational foods, like salad, raw veggies, fruits, and beans that form the basis of my diet. And then there are the prepared foods, like soups, salad dressings, and sauces that I use to break up the monotony.
If I wind up in a situation where I don’t have any prepared foods, I fall back on raw fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds instead of fast food. For this reason, it’s imperative that I keep produce on hand, as well as nuts and seeds. I know that if I don’t have time to prepare a meal, and all else fails, I can grab an apple or a banana, a handful of raw cashews, maybe a carrot, or a bagged salad with some balsamic vinegar as a dressing. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Sure, at first eating like this wasn’t easy, but I’ve grown accustomed to it. I actually prefer it now. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, your taste buds start to change after a few weeks of eating WFPB, to the point that you start craving foods that you wouldn’t even consider eating before switching.
Tip #1: Stock Up on Produce
Especially fruit. Fruit just hits the spot. You’d be surprised at how satisfying an apple becomes after you’ve switched to a WFPB diet. Bananas are my second favorite. I eat a lot of apples and bananas! Halos, the tangerines, are another one. We buy them on sale for $2.99/box, and I’ll eat the entire box in a week. They’re a quick, portable snack. I usually drop 3 or 4 in my lunch bag every day. When I’m craving a snack, I peel one.
Tip #2: Get Creative
My favorite part of eating WFPB has been unleashing my creativity to combine foods in new ways. Anything goes, really, and I’ve surprised myself with some of the food combinations I’ve discovered to be extremely enjoyable. For example… I’ll toast two pieces of Ezekiel 4:9 Bread, usually found in the freezer section if your local grocer carries it, add some tahini, sliced tomato, black pepper, pickles (which I do less often now, since I’ve gotten really serious about reducing my sodium intake, and I crave salty foods much less than I used to), romaine, avocado, and onion. Very tasty!
Other times I’ll toast some Ezekiel 4:9 Cinnamon Raisin bread, add all-natural peanut butter, sliced banana, raisins, sliced apple, and cinnamon… and it’s so delicious! I usually wash that down with a little bit of almond milk. I really do my best to limit my consumption of nuts, and nut butters, but it’s much better than French fries or Big Macs.
Steamed veggies are another favorite of mine. I’ve discovered that I love steamed vegetables, and they’re really easy to make. My favorite right now is steamed cauliflower. If you’ve got a steamer pot, bring some water to a boil and add veggies for 10 – 13 minutes. One of my most recent concoctions consisted of leftover black beans I had in the fridge, water sautéed mushrooms (with garlic, onion, and balsamic vinegar), and steamed kale. I mixed that in a bowl with a bit of lemon tahini sauce consisting of tahini, garlic, lemon juice, and a little bit of water…. my mouth is literally watering as I write this!
Tip #3: Stick to Your Guns
While you may be tempted to grab that bag of Doritos after a long day at work to satisfy your food cravings… don’t do it! Eat healthy! The cravings will pass and, eventually, you won’t crave junk food anymore at all. Keep healthy foods on hand, and if you’re going to overindulge, do it with fruits, nuts, nut butters, and veggies. My favorite part of eating WFPB is that I can eat as much as I want of fruits, veggies, beans, and mushrooms and I still lose weight! Occasionally I’ll get the munchies and eat more peanut butter than I think I should… I have to laugh at myself when this happens because, in the past, I’d pig out on burritos, Taco Bell, or White Castle. If you’re trying to lose weight, overeating on nuts, nut butters, or seeds will impede your efforts… but that’s small potatoes if you’ve been able to cut out fast food altogether.
Tip #4: Be Flexible
The most important part of changing my lifestyle to WFPB has been flexibility. By that I mean, consider new foods as meals. Understand that overcoming food addiction means giving up fast food, cheese, grease, and all that unhealthy stuff you’ve been eating for years. Shop the produce section at the grocery store, and don’t be afraid to eat raw fruits and veggies as a meal. When you find yourself at a restaurant with coworkers or family, have a double dinner salad. If they don’t have any vegan, oil-free dressings (and they probably won’t) ask for plain balsamic vinegar. Should you find that’s not an option, ask for a couple lemon wedges and squeeze them over your salad. Not the best salad I’ve ever eaten, but very healthy!
That’s all I’ve got for now, but I think this will be a topic I’ll expand upon in the future. My biggest challenge as a plant-based eater has been finding the time to prepare food. As I get better and better at it, I’ll share what I learn.