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FAQ, aka Top Ten Myths about Whole Foods, Plant–based Eating

Whole foods, plant-based eating is quickly becoming a trend, as new discoveries about the role overly-refined processed foods play in everything from depression to Alzheimer’s disease continue to unfold.  Foods high in salt, sugar, chemicals and fat have hijacked the American Diet, and as disease rates increasingly illustrate, it’s time for a serious makeover.  Given how ingrained fast food has become in our culture that sounds like a tall order.  And it’s not just the what, but the how that becomes challenging.   The biggest question for many of us is, How can I upgrade my eating habits without becoming anemic, going broke, or giving up my social life?

The good news is, Beanalicious-style plant based eating is easy, flexible and, once you start experiencing all of the benefits it offers, exciting!  Here are answers to some of the most common concerns we get about whole foods, plant-based eating:

How will I get enough protein?  Animal- proteins and fats are associated with increased heart and cancer-related mortality, a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine concludes.  Fortunately, meat isn’t the only protein source in town and the good news is you can stop obsessing about it.    In fact, nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain protein, no special combining tricks required.  In short, as long as you’re eating a healthy, varied diet, including foods like whole grains, legumes and fresh produce.  Still not convinced?  Click here for more information, including a protein content chart and calculator. 

Isn’t it more expensive to eat this way?   Pound for pound, fresh, whole legumes and vegetables deliver more nutritional value for less money than most foods that come in a package. Buy local and in season, and learn how to shop and cook from the bulk bin section of your local market and you’ll be surprised at how cost effective this style of eating can be.

Is it hard to cook whole foods?   Try replacing the word “cook with assemble” to describe much of the Beanalicious Living! meal preparation.  It’s easy to do when you plan ahead.  Fresh whole foods require no special skills to make them taste great, and when you do have to get in front of a stove,  bulk foods cooking is very forgiving.  You can cook beans at higher or lower temperatures, and even for longer than you need to.  They won’t fall apart, or explode, or turn to mush.  In fact, they’ll look much the same as if you’d gotten to them ten minutes earlier.  This style of cooking is like that. In other words, no special skills are required; – if you can hard-boil eggs, you can cook bulk foods.

Won’t I always be hungry, or feel unsatisfied?   The truth is, saturated fat isn’t the only satiate in town.  The standard American diet contains too much saturated fat and too little fiber, typically less than half of the 25 – 38 grams recommended per day. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition links too little dietary fiber to weight gain and obesity.. Because fiber swells in your digestive tract, it gives you the sensation of fullness even when eating a small volume of food. High-fiber foods also tend to be lower in calories than foods without fiber, so they help to prevent weight gain. Trust me, few of us will walk away from a fully loaded veggie burrito still hungry. 

Isn’t cooking at home time consuming?  There are lots of ways to do most everything, depending upon your goals, tools and skillset.  If you don’t want to spend more time than necessary in the kitchen, Beanalicious Living! is designed to offer  plenty of options that work for you.  I would suggest though, that considering re-prioritizing your diet can be a good thing, even if it means de-prioritizing something else to make time for it.  Much fun as Facebook was for me, I had to really cut back on my time spent there.  Looking at the long term, healthy eating offers a bigger payoff.

Are the choices limited?  Maybe ten or even five years ago they were, but not so anymore.  The trend now is on health, and the market is catching on.  The demand for local and organic food is growing at about 10% a year!  Delicious new plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, whole grain snacks and organic options are popping up everywhere.  Restaurants are picking up on the trend as well with more local, organic and sustainable options than ever before.  And even if your local market only stocks rice, beans, salsa, and frozen veggies, once you’re familiar with Beanalicious-style cooking, you’ll know what to do!

What if I don’t like beans?  As most bean eaters know, much as we love them, beans start out rather bland.  This is actually a good thing, because it makes them among the most versatile of foods, kind of like rice, but with more staying power.  If you haven’t found a bean you like, it may be time to try more beans.  Now the less elegant issue is the gassy effects some people experience when they first introduce more beans, or fibrous food in general, into their diet.  To remedy this problem, don’t rush it!  Introduce new foods slowly and steadily, and be sure to incorporate the cooking tricks listed here, just to be on the safe side!

Isn’t it hard to eat out?  Not long ago that was true, but new trends in healthier dining are adding meat-free, plant-based options to most menus, often with creative and delicious results. Of course certain ethnic restaurants like Asian and Indian have always been a good bet.   A further upside?  They’re often less expensive.

What if my family won’t eat that way?  It’s quite possible that if you don’t make it an issue, they won’t even notice, then several meals later, you can tell them what you’re doing and why (or not!).  Meatless Mondays are being introduced all over the country in public schools.  LA Country will serve over 10 million meatless meals this year to kids that will benefit from trying new, healthier alternatives to standard cafeteria fare.  If the lunch ladies can pull it off, chances are you can too!

Won’t people think I’m weird?  Okay, so this is semi tongue-in-cheek, but only semi-so.  Anytime you walk an even slightly less conventional path, you always run the risk of unwanted attention.  You’ll be asked why you’re changing, possibly even challenged by close friends or family that are worried you might start preaching to them…so don’t.  I love author Kathy Freston’s advice, the proof is in the food.  Try introducing friends to some of your new favorites. The best part is  their surprise when you let them in on the secret to looking and feeling better too!