How to Gradually Start Eating Vegan/Vegetarian
Your diet plays a big part in how your body responds to internal and external changes. A diet high in fiber and low in fat has been shown to help balance fluctuating estrogen levels. This can help to ease the migraines, night sweats, and hot flashes often associated with peri/menopause.
A vegan or vegetarian diet is one great way to ensure your diet features more high fiber foods and less unhealthy fats. But what does it take to cut out meat and/or animal products? Let's take a closer look.
Tips to Ease into a Vegan or Vegetarian Diet
If you have been eating meat and animal products your whole life, it can be very difficult to make a complete switch to vegetarianism overnight — never mind full-blown veganism. If you want the changes you make to be sustainable, it is best to make small changes. Rome wasn’t built in a day! Here are six tips to help you gradually move over to a plant-based eating regime:
- Take it slow. Start off by not eating animal products just one day a week. For example, adopt a meat-free Mondays policy.
- Alternatively, omit animal products from your diet one at a time. For example, for the first week, remove pork from your meal plan. The following week or month, stave off pork and cheese.
- A cute idea is to follow the saying: “Go from four legs to two legs to no legs.” In other words, first, reduce red meat intake, then chicken and other poultry, and then fish.
- If being entirely vegetarian is not for you, try to reduce your meat portion sizes instead. If you usually have seven ounces of animal-based protein at dinner time, try and reduce that to three and a half ounces. Substitute the shortfall with vegetables.
- Look for vegetarian recipes that excite you. Try one new recipe each week until you have built up a repertoire of tasty vegan recipes.
- There are possibly already dishes that you eat that are meat-free. Take note of these and cycle them through your weekly meal planner.
Make Sure to Get Enough Protein, Nutrients, and Fiber
Switching from an omnivore diet to a vegan or vegetarian diet may leave you vulnerable to certain vitamin deficiencies. Make sure to get enough calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 in your diet.
Use these tips to ensure that your diet stays balanced and healthy as you reduce your animal protein intake:
- Eating protein is essential for optimal blood sugar control. Make sure to include plant-based proteins such as lentils, nuts, beans, and seeds in your meals.
- If you are going to omit dairy from your diet, ensure that you eat enough calcium-rich foods. For example, green leafy veg, calcium-fortified soya milk, tofu, tempeh, or calcium-fortified cereals.
- People following a plant-based diet must make sure to get enough vitamin B12. Nutritional yeast flakes are a good source of plant-based vitamin B12.
Vitamin D, along with calcium and magnesium, is essential for maintaining good bone health. This is especially important during perimenopause because declining estrogen levels can lead to decreased bone density and osteoporosis.
If you find it challenging to consume sufficient vitamins and minerals in your diet, consider taking a lifestyle-appropriate supplement such as our Fit & Happy fiber and supplement combo. This supplement is tailored for women going through menopause and contains the nutrients needed to healthily support your transitioning body.
The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet for Peri/menopausal Women
Vegetarian diets tend to be lower in fat and higher in fiber than omnivore diets. This combination benefits peri/menopausal women in several different ways.
1. Limiting Weight Gain
For most women, any form of weight gain is undesirable. Extra pounds before or during peri/menopause can cause further distress. Excess weight may contribute to an increase in the severity of menopausal symptoms. There are two possible reasons for this; extra weight can increase the possibility of inflammation in the body, and with extra weight, your body has a greater need to rid itself of excess heat. This gives rise to night sweats, hot flashes, and other symptoms.
Studies have shown that women who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet find it easier to maintain their premenopausal body weight and even lose weight.
2. Reducing Vasomotor Symptoms
In one study, researchers compared women who consumed a plant-based diet with women following an omnivore diet. Women following a vegan or vegetarian diet reported fewer vasomotor symptoms. In other words, flushes, hot flashes, and night sweats.
3. Decrease in Risk of Cardiac Disease
People following a plant-based diet will consume fewer saturated fats and inflammatory compounds. This translates to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
A Diet with Less Fat and More Fiber May Ease Menopause Symptoms
Following a diet that has less fat and more fiber can help to reduce the effects of fluctuating estrogen levels typical of peri/menopause. This helps to reduce the severity of menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, and migraines.
Include more fiber in your diet by taking a natural supplement such as our Fit and Happy combo. The MenoFit probiotic works to fix the gut microbiome so that your body can absorb nutrients more efficiently and fight pathogens more effectively. Happy Fiber is a whole food soluble prebiotic fiber that is a food source for healthy gut bacteria. It also acts to slow digestion so that more nutrients are extracted from the food that you eat.