Going Intuitively Plant-Based Without Being Too Restrictive
Hi my loves! Happy FRIDAY!
Ever since I shared about going intuitively plant-based, I have gotten a lot of questions about how to try out this lifestyle without being too restrictive or feeling like you’re in a box.
That topic is very dear to my heart because as many of you know, I was once raw vegan and was very, very restrictive during that season of my life. Four years later, and after MANY ups and downs with my health / hormones / gut issues, I have overcome a lot and feel like a brand new person when it comes to my approach to food.
I would not have been able to ease into an intuitively plant-based lifestyle directly after my strict, orthorexic days of raw veganism and juice cleansing. I needed to let go of all of the rules to have food freedom at that time, which was great — until I got sick from what I was eating. Like, really sick. My body was not too happy to reincorporate everything under the sun at one time.
But now, I have found balance again and I am OVER THE MOON to share that balance with all of you. I still have lasting health problems that I am working to get to the bottom of, but my gut has been happy and I believe it’s largely due to the switch to intuitive plant-based eating I made a few months ago.
Over the years I have made it my mission to experiment and learn about my body, and I’ve really honed in on what food freedom means to me now vs. then.
And now that I have decided to share my new intuitive plant-based way of life on my blog and social media, I figured it was only right that I clarify a few things for those of you who are looking to try out this lifestyle too and do it in a healthy, balanced, non-restrictive way!
I have broken down my methodology with the whole intuitively plant-based thing into five steps… and I am sharing them below!
Photo creds to bae from our smoothie date this morning. Outfit is the Mudra Yoga Jumpsuit from my friend Donna’s line (local to Bali!!) Satya Yogawear. Use code BLONDE for 15% off if you order anything from her amaze site!
STEP ONE // NO RULES!
One thing about being intuitively plant-based is that it’s just that… intuitive! In my eyes, it’s very different from being strictly vegan, vegetarian or raw vegan.
As much as I truly wish in my heart and soul that I could be fully vegan for the animals and for the environment — I would be doing a disservice to my body, and ultimately to the animals and environment as well (because I would be sick and wouldn’t be any help to anyone) because I know that being fully vegan, 100% of the time, does not work for my particular body.
Instead, I can incorporate my values and my food preferences (plant-based eating) as MUCH as humanly possible while also allowing room for other foods when my body needs and craves them. For example, I have been about 95% plant-based since December, and I have also been incorporating bone broth protein powders, collagen powders, and the occasional bone broth from Erewhon or the occasional bit of fresh fish when I feel I need it.
When I was in Hawaii, I had fish a couple of times because it is so fresh and local there, and also because I knew if I didn’t it would be a huge headache and I wouldn’t have been able to eat at all (other than raw spinach if you know what I mean) at a few of our group dinners. Back in the day, I would not have budged. I would have survived on plain lettuce for days and then been WAY out of whack hormonally by the time the trip was over. That is not balanced, or intuitive, and is riddled with rules and anxiety.
Similarly, if being intuitively plant-based feels so good to you that you know in your heart and soul that you don’t want or need fish, bone broth, collagen, etc. for YOU then go with that! For the first 2.5 months of this lifestyle I didn’t have any of the above — it’s more recently that I have found myself incorporating them for health and variety.
It’s all about no rules, and what works for me is most likely going to look a bit differently for you.
STEP TWO // DO IT BECAUSE YOU LOVE IT!
If you are going intuitively plant-based because you think you should, or someone else told you to, or because I am and you feel like you usually have similar preferences to me… I would invite you to think long and hard about why YOU want to do it for YOUR personal body and needs.
If you come to the conclusion that you want to do it for your own reasons, you will enjoy the process so much more and it won’t feel restrictive or difficult to you.
I firmly believe that when we make choices based off of what we love, we are setting ourselves up for an enjoyable and abundant experience. I eased into this intuitively plant-based way of life because my mind, body, and soul was crying out for it. I wanted to try it so badly, and I knew it would be fun for me because I LOVE plant-based foods and have a long history with them (many lifetimes of history if we are getting into the spiritual side of things).
When you are in it because you love it, you also have the goal in mind of being balanced and healthy, rather than the goal of losing weight or something that might not be in alignment with the healthiest of mindsets. (Although if you do need to lose weight for medical reasons, going plant-based is not a bad idea. I am referring to people who don’t need to lose weight and want to steer clear of using the plant-based lifestyle to do so.)
STEP THREE // FIND YOUR OWN GROOVE
It might take a while to find your groove with this new lifestyle (same goes for any lifestyle change), and that is completely okay. I would encourage you not to give up before you’ve found your groove.
Part of finding what works for you means trying a bunch of different things. For a while I was on a major kitchari kick for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Lately I am all about smoothies for breakfast with bone broth collagen and even smoothies for dinner, loaded with all of the greens and bananas and sweet potatoes.
I know that in a few weeks I will be onto something different. Part of living this lifestyle without getting too restrictive means letting yourself switch things up! Being plant-based doesn’t mean you have to have smoothies every day, or ever for that matter if they’re not your thing.
I find that the more new recipes I try, the more exciting this lifestyle is and the less restricted I feel. It is always a good idea to incorporate plenty of plant-based protein from legumes to nuts and seeds to plant-based protein powders — if they work for you and make you feel good.
STEP FOUR // BE OPEN TO CHANGE
When you’re doing intuitive eating of any kind…. you’ve gotta be open to the possibility of change. Or really, the constant of change. Because it’s always there.
It is so unbelievably hard for a Type A personality like myself to accept the fact that even though I am LOVING and thriving off of being plant-based right now… I know it won’t always be that way. Down the road I might be all about the protein. The ethical animal lover inside of me really doesn’t like that, but that is reality. I know I will always prioritize my health, and I acknowledge that what works right now may not work next year, or in 5 years.
When we are open to change we are allowing ourselves to TRULY be intuitive. To go with the flow. I know that I am plant-BASED which does not mean vegan. It means that most of my meals are plants, and plants will always take up the majority of my plate. Even if I have to eat meat again down the road, that will still be the case.
But this time around I am not closed off to change. I have had enough lasting health problems from my first go-round with veganism to know better for MY personal body. For the people reading who have no issues being vegan longterm, more power to you. I so, so wish my body could get on board with that, but this is my reality and I love my reality too. Wherever each of us are in this journey, it is beautiful and THAT is inspiring to me.
Grocery shopping is KEY. Be stocked up on all of the fruits and veggies so that you always have variety around! And ALWAYS ORGANIC, when you can make it happen.
STEP FIVE // ALLOW VARIETY!
This is similar to step 3, but I wanted it to have its own section too because variety is so important. Switch up your veggies and fruits, eat the rainbow, and DO NOT BE AFRAID OF FRUIT. I spent so many years fearing fruit and it was one of the most unfortunate things I ever did for my health because I missed out on so many vital vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants during that time.
I feared fruit because of the sugar content, but fruit sugar (fructose) happens to break down in our bodies very differently than other forms of sugar and laboratory-made fructose (like high-fructose corn syrup — never touch that). Now I enjoy it in abundance and have been feeling better than ever from the fiber and antioxidants. I have been more regular, which means my digestion is SO much happier than it was before… especially because I am coffee-free right now as well.
Listen to your own body and do you, but always make sure there is variety involved. One of my biggest issues the first time I was a vegan was that I ate the same thing every day… for 3 years! Not only is that not good for us physically, but it’s definitely not good for us mentally.
Switch it up, it’s fun! Try new recipes, get inspired, and make it part of your lifestyle to cook and spend time in the kitchen. Also seek out fun restaurants near you that support the lifestyle so that you don’t feel restricted to ONLY eating at home. Balance, in all ways!
Boom! There you go!
If you incorporate these 5 steps into your intuitive eating plan, you will be off to a great start. My hope is that if you try the intuitively plant-based lifestyle and fall in love with it, you will never feel restricted or bogged down by food again.
I have found that on the contrary of feeling restricted, this lifestyle has opened so many doors for me. I feel freer with food than ever, and that is largely due to the fact that I am eating foods my body LOVES and craves.
Plants feel so, so good in my particular body. Same with legumes, seeds, and the smoothies I have been loving on lately. I do eat a few gluten-free grains (rice, quinoa) but I keep them to a minimum because of my sensitive stomach and my overall grain allergy. I have found that I can tolerate them in a couple of meals per week at max.
For you, you may be able to have grains all the time… or never! It’s all about finding what works for you, which often includes getting tested by an integrative doctor to see what’s up in your personal body.
Lastly… I have also had a lot of requests for intuitively plant-based MEAL PREP which I am so on board with! I will get a post up about that ASAP!
Now, I am off to spend Passover weekend with my family… my parents are in town, you can find them on my IG stories all weekend! They are actually here until the day I leave for Bali, so I am so excited to soak in some good time with them.
So in love with all of you. Please leave any questions below, and use the hashtag #intuitivelyplantbased to share your experiences and your meal ideas with our TBB community! ALL MY LOVE.