A week or so ago I was bustling about in Shakti Life Kitchen working on a huge batch of chips when I got a call, the woman on the line asked if she could meet me to ask questions on veganism. The voice was urgent. When we met 10 minutes (!) later face-to-face she asked if I was vegan and for how long, I told her 3ish years. Wide-eyed, she blurted:
"When will the cravings stop? Will the cravings stop!? ... I crave cheese. I could eat a whole fucking cow made of cheese."
I know how she feels. Five years ago I was eating fast food and working an office job where I barely moved. I was 30+ pounds heavier and much unhealthier for it, I'd have never guessed the direction my life would take. The change was gradual, first switching to eating all whole foods, then to vegetarian, vegan and finally raw vegan. These tips may help you with any diet switch you're trying to make, whether it's vegan, paleo, or just a little less cheese and meat. Whatever you're trying to accomplish.
1. You Have to Really Want the Change.
A short detox of processed food may help inspire you to make a cold-turkey change. I did this with my skin-clearing detox years ago (it really worked in just 3 days!) and it helped see a quick visible change. I'd wanted to and made gradual changes for years but the snap decision to change and cut all processed food from my life was quick and strongly desired. I haven't looked back.
2. Change Your Mindset. It's About Addition, Not Deprivation.
Browse vegan/healthy websites, books, blogs, and YouTube channels. Google recipes and vegan options in your city. There's so much to try, it's really all about seeing the positive. It's not above all the stuff you're depriving yourself of but rather all the yummy new options. This was my #1 motivation- I get to eat ample goodness and get healthier for it? Sign. Me. Up.
3. Start with substitutions for your favorites to satisfy, not deny, cravings.
I offered the lady asking for help a sample of our scrumptious aged cheddar cheese and she was ecstatic, it hit the spot. There are healthy substitutes for everything you could imagine, I enjoy the challenge of making former "unhealthy" favs from nutritious whole ingredients. When I first started my journey I switched my beloved hamburgers for frozen veggie burgers. Still not ideal, but a step in the right direction. Now I don't need or crave either.
4. Plan Ahead: Keep Your House Stuffed Full of Food and Cook Ahead of Time.
Plan your grocery list, meals, and snacks and keep your kitchen stuffed with healthy options so you're full and happy and you won't want to go off the rails. I love having nuts and dried fruit for on-the-go and I'll even make smoothies ahead of time and pour them into bottles with a funnel to enjoy in the mornings when I spend the night at my boyfriend's house.
5. EAT. Never Deprive Nutrients or Calories.
Ah ha, the fun part! I suspected my cheese-craving visitor may not be eating enough as a busy mom. When you have a nutritional deficit your body makes up for it by screaming for a high calorie food source like cheese. Get in the "good" calories guilt-free and eat a nutritionally balanced diet to help calm the screaming food beast within.
Cravings can be crushed with good planning and the right mindset. I know you can do it! I'll continue to share many healthy alternatives to your old favorites. (The much requested salad dressings and deserts are 'a comin'!) Food is not the enemy, it's our fuel. Just try to get in more of the "real" stuff that nourishes, energizes and heals you from a cellular level inside and out.
Got any tips for staying on track I've left out? Let me know in the comments. I have a beginner's fitness journey to share in the coming months, too. Let's help each other get healthy!