This isn’t your typical diet advice where you’re going to have to focus on calories, portion sizes, or even carbs or fat. Plant-based nutrition is a unique science because it’s full of real, whole foods that support the body on every single level. When you consider that all living things live off plants, it only makes sense that we as humans, can get all the nutrients we need straight from the source other living things do. Staying healthy and managing your weight on a plant-based diet is pretty simple when you keep some keep things simple, and make smart, common sense choices. While some foods may work better for certain individuals than others, generally speaking, a plant-based, whole foods diet will ensure a healthy weight for anyone looking to eat healthfully for life.

1. Always Start With Veggies

One way to ensure you fill up on some of the most nutritious whole foods first, is to start every meal with veggies (leafy greens count here too.) This adds fiber to fill you up and provides your body with critical minerals needed for metabolism like magnesium, calcium, B vitamins, Vitamins A and C, and even iron. Secondly, starting your meals out with veggies or leafy greens also trains you to reach for whole, green foods first instead of processed options or high carb “treats” instead of actual meals. Try out a green smoothie with different greens, saute some veggies with tofu for breakfast, add some butternut squash or broccoli to your lunchtime salad, and always make half your plate at dinner full of veggies and/or leafy greens. Be sure you know how to make your greens taste delicious, so you can enjoy them even more.

2. Hydrate with H2O

Yes, this is such a boring tip, but I hate to break it to you – it really does help! Your metabolism needs water to stay properly hydrated and to keep your metabolism running smoothly. It also prevents blood sugar and blood pressure problems, which can often lead you to reach for sugar when you’re stressed or your blood sugar runs low. Drink six to eight glasses a day, and remember that a cup of black coffee and herbal tea count towards your water requirements, as does the plain water you use in your smoothies.

3. Eat Low Glycemic Fruits

Low-glycemic fruits can help control your insulin levels and still provide you with nutrients fruit contains. There is no “bad” fruit, and it can be a part of anyone’s diet. Choosing low-glycemic fruits that are higher in fiber, however, can help prevent blood sugar swings that lead to overeating or excess sugar cravings. Some great options are: berries, cucumbers, green apples, tomatoes, squash, and avocado.

4. Always Go for Whole Grains

Choosing whole grains versus processed foods made with whole grains, is one of the most important parts about managing your weight. Processed foods, even those that contain whole grains, don’t act the same way in the body that pure, whole grains do. For instance, an oatmeal cookie, cup of sweetened muesli, or slice of rye bread isn’t going to be as filling or wholesome as a bowl of rolled oats or bowl of cracked rye porridge would be. Whole grains in their pure form will break down slowly, which stabilizes blood sugar, keeps you fuller longer, and will enhance your metabolism much more than processed grains will. As a bonus, they’re also much cheaper per serving than processed choices, so they’ll also help save you money!

5. Prioritize Eating Regular Meals

Don’t skip meals, whatever you do. Skipping meals trains your body to think it’s under a famine. To prevent starvation, the body will naturally slow down, which causes your metabolism to plummet and your energy to fall right with it. Always eat regular meals and if you’re on the go, remember to keep an easy, plant-based on-the-go snack with you so you’re not stuck without something to eat.

6. Nix the Processed Stuff

The best way to manage your weight on a whole, foods plant-based diet is to eat real, whole foods. Sounds simple, but so many of us have a hard time doing that when we’re in a hurry or have a mad craving out of nowhere. Base your diet off: leafy greens, green vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, fresh fruits, moderate portions of nuts and healthy fats like coconut and avocado, and seeds such as flax, chia, and hemp. If you choose a plant-based protein powder, go for plain hemp protein since it’s the least-processed and contains nothing but raw hemp seeds. Some processed foods like ground flax, unsweetened non-dairy milk, and things such as shredded coconut, coconut flour, or even almond flour are all acceptable since they contain only one or a few ingredients. Just base the majority of your diet off whole foods and you’ll be good to go. Why whole foods? They’re packed with FIBER! Fiber is a key to maintaining a healthy weight and an important part of your overall health.

7. Say Goodbye to the Sweet Stuff

In case you didn’t get the memo, sugar is bad news. It’s addicting, found in everything, and is the one thing that can hinder maintaining or achieving your optimal weight. Dr. Mark Hyman even says all sources of sugar are a leading reason why Americans are now struggling with weight more than ever. If you avoid processed foods, you’ll automatically cut out sugar in the process. But if you do opt for a few processed items (such as those mentioned above), be sure to read labels on everything you buy to avoid the over 50 sneaky names for added sugar. Manufacturers sneak sugar into everything these days and it’s found in some pretty surprising places.

8. Move!

Don’t forget that a complimentary exercise routine is also important for managing your weight. If you don’t enjoy high-intensity exercises, then take up something simple like walking or yoga, which can both help you stay active and reduce your stress. Exercise isn’t about burning a certain number of calories, but instead, it’s about keeping you active and fit. We weren’t meant to sit on our bums all day, so get up and move a little; you’ll feel much better as a result!

It’s also important to get enough sleep, stop eating once you’re full, and never deprive yourself from eating enough. Listen to your body and the rest will follow. When you give your body whole, plant-based foods, you’ll feel nourished on so many levels. This will help your body find its happy, natural weight, which is the healthiest place any of us can be.

Image Source: Jennifer/Flickr