5 Mistakes People Make When Going Plant-Based According to a Registered Dietitian

by | Read time: 3 minutes

Making the conscious decision to eat more plants? Whether you’re reducing or completely eliminating animal products from your plate, transitioning to a plant-based diet may seem challenging. But the truth is, taking on this new dietary approach is an opportunity to brush up the benefits of balanced meals, fall in love with new recipes and start a new routine.

Here are five mistakes people make when going plant-based, plus helpful tips so you can bypass potential hurdles and stay on track.

Woman Eating a Balanced Plant-Based Meal | Vitacost.com/Blog

1. Doing it all at once

It’s easy to go overboard when you’re first starting out. Making improvements to your health is exciting! Avoid becoming overwhelmed by making small changes each week. First, focus on vegan supplements. Take inventory of what you have, toss expired items and invest in healthy, organic and vegan-friendly vitamins, supplements and herbs.

The following week, pick up a vegan cookbook and select a few recipes to make. If you work these bite-sized goals into your routine, they’ll quickly become part of your way of life.

2. Thinking if it’s plant-based, it must be healthier

Much like the gluten-free arena, plant-based marketing can be tricky. Simply because a product is labeled gluten-free or plant-based does not mean it’s healthy. When it comes to plant-based products, it’s still important to review labels and understand which ingredients and nutrients you may, or may not be, putting into your body. The more processed the food, the less nutrition yields. When shopping plant based, the rules for healthy grocery shopping still apply:

  • Shop the perimeter of the store
  • Be mindful of sodium and sugar in processed and prepackaged foods
  • Read labels before they go in your cart

3. Relying heavily on carbohydrates – especially refined options

When eliminating meat, it’s common for people to increase the portion of carbohydrates – especially when it comes to foods like fried rice, spaghetti, stir-fry and pizza. This leads to a higher calorie intake of unhealthy, processed foods, which can result in weight gain.

In place of refined grains, opt for whole-grain versions of your favorite foods (pastas, breads, oats, etc.). This will help you keep your plate balanced.

4. Eating too few calories

This is especially true for new plant-based eaters who subscribe to an all-or-nothing mindset, focusing exclusively on fruits and vegetables. Don’t fall short on your caloric needs. The plant world is full of abundance. Eat a variety of beans, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, legumes, dairy-free alternatives and whole grains. Balance these food categories to ensure you feel your best during and after mealtime.

5. Not having a plan

It’s a great idea to plan your meals, snacks and food ahead of time; especially during the first few months. Creating an outline for your meals throughout the week (and each day) is essential to achieving balanced nutrition.

The Daily Dozen is a free app that helps you figure out the amount of servings in each plant-based food group you should be aiming for. This will help you balance your meals, ensuring that the essential components of your plant-based plates are covered!