The C.A.R.E. Transition Plan

Not everyone can make huge lifestyle changes overnight and stick to them with perfect success.  For most of us, we need a slow transition.  I've developed a transition plan I like to call "CARE"*:

C is for CHANGE

You know you need to make a change.  Whether you are trying to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, or reduce your sugar intake, you've made goals and are ready to tackle them.  Maybe you are even ready to adopt a plant based lifestyle but are afraid of giving up the foods you enjoy, or you're unsure how to prepare plant based meals.  The CARE transition plan can help make your journey smoother and practically painless.

A is for ADD

The first step is to ADD healthier foods.  You don't need to give up anything yet.  Try adding some fresh fruit to your oatmeal, grabbing an apple for a snack, or making a side salad with dinner.  And if even the thought of produce makes you gag, a great way to add fruits and veggies to your diet painlessly is to try a whole food supplement like JuicePlus+ -- I never liked vegetables before I tried it, and now I crave them!  Whatever route you choose, make sure to add at least one serving a day and work your way up to three during this phase.  You can stay in this phase for several weeks if you need to -- it may help to maintain a food tracker, so I have attached one below.  Feel free to use whatever tracking method makes sense for you.

R is for REPLACE

Now that you've become accustomed to adding healthier foods to the menu, you are ready to replace meals, even parts of meals, with healthier choices.  For example, Meatless Mondays is a great example of replacing one meal with a meatless option.  Here are some other possibilities:

  • Replace your dairy creamer with a soy or coconut creamer -- I have a frother and I use vanilla soy milk; tastes just like Starbucks!
  • Find a non-dairy cheese like Daiya, or make your own creamy cheese sauce using cashews and nutritional yeast.  Don't be afraid to try something new!
  • Make "tuna" salad using mashed chickpeas and vegan mayo (I love Just Mayo, personally).
  • Experiment with tofu -- baked and breaded, it takes on a similar flavor to chicken!
  • Replace butter with Earth Balance -- a non-hydrogenated vegan option that melts and tastes just like butter.

E is for ELIMINATE

Once you've slowly replaced your meals with plant-based choices, you have most likely discovered new favorites!  Choose 14-21 meals and rotate them to create a menu that will work for your family.  Some of the meals that are on our menu rotation are:

  • Tofu Tikka Masala
  • Black bean burritos
  • Baked polenta lasagna
  • Baked spaghetti
  • Baked falafel and hummus garlic sauce
  • Sabzi polo with crimini mushroom sauce (this is a Persian dish consisting of rice and greens, and it's so aromatic and fresh!)
  • Tempeh Reubens
  • Black bean chili

Once you have menu options in place, you no longer have to worry about what to eat, and you're more likely to succeed long-term.  Never be afraid to try something new!  There are plenty of plant based recipes online to choose from, and nearly any recipe can be adapted.

 

An easy way to track your progress.

An easy way to track your progress.

I've attached a free tracker worksheet.  Simply mark the number of servings you added, the number of meals you replaced, and check off  the days you were successful eliminating non-plant-based foods.

 

*I must give credit where it's due -- I was inspired by the Exsalus Health and Wellness Center's book Keep it Simple, Keep It Whole and their examples of how people may transition their diet.  While their plan includes a grading system, a food continuum, and three-phase meals, I chose to trim the process down to three easy steps and the "CARE" label is all my own.   

 

 

 

 

 

One Response to The C.A.R.E. Transition Plan

  1. FruityGirl says:

    OMW. That meal organizer is so cute!! <3

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