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Boost Your Energy with a Plant-Based Diet

February 23, 2021

When people hear the term “plant-based diet,” they fear they’ll never eat anything they find tasty again—especially meat. But plant-based is different from vegan, and it’s not limited to leafy, green vegetables. 

“Plant-based eating simply means you incorporate more foods that come from plants into your diet,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Sharon Katzman at Chambers Center for Well-Being

To get a feel for what plant-based eating means, think about food in two groups. One is foods that come from animals, such as beef, pork, chicken, fish, animal-based milks or eggs. The second is, plant-based, meaning anything that comes from a plant. Yes, it includes vegetables, but it also includes whole-grains, nuts, legumes and fruits. You’ll find most plant-based foods around the perimeter of your local grocery store.

Over time, people who adapt a plant-based diet tell me, ‘I never knew how much I would like it.'

Sharon Katzman, Registered dietitian and nutritionist with Atlantic Health System’s Chambers Center for Well-Being


How Plant-Based Diets Improve Your Health

Plant-based eating has soared in popularity due to its health benefits, which are similar to those of the highly regarded Mediterranean diet. The best potential benefit: a reduction in overall inflammation.

“Research shows that eating a steak dinner with a baked potato, for example, will produce a larger inflammatory response than eating that same dinner with a side of asparagus or brussels sprouts,” Katzman says.

Plants naturally include antioxidants that carry anti-inflammatory properties and help to build a better immune system. “Many of the diseases associated with aging, such as high-blood pressure, cancer and osteoporosis, are diseases of inflammation, so reducing that inflammation is important,” Katzman says.

While foods derived from animals include macronutrients – mostly fat, protein and carbohydrates – foods derived from plants include micronutrients, which naturally boost a body’s energy level. Plant-based foods also include phytochemicals that can increase immunity.

How to Incorporate Plant-Based Eating into Your Everyday Life If you’re saying to yourself, “I don’t like veggies,” you’re not alone. You don’t have to go 100% plant-based to reap the health benefits of plant-based eating, and the more plant-based foods you add to your diet, the more your taste buds will crave different flavors. “Over time, people who adapt a plant-based diet tell me, ‘I never knew how much I would like it,’” Katzman says.

Here’s one trick: It’s OK to add meat to any dish in a plant-based diet. “Use beef or chicken as a garnish,” Katzman says. “Just make sure half of your plate includes vegetables.”

Some simple ways to incorporate plant-based foods into your daily life:

In the morning:

  • Add peppers, tomatoes and onions to an omelet
  • Add berries, seeds and a plant-based milk (almond or soy milk) to oatmeal

 At lunch or dinner:

  • Add lettuce, cucumbers or arugula to sandwiches
  • Use whole-grain breads and wraps
  • Mix up a stir fry with fresh vegetables, quinoa and a garnish of chicken or beef
  • Try a colorful veggie bowl
  • Plan a #MeatlessMonday. Find a vegan recipe online and try it.

 At snack time:

  • Reach for berries – fresh or frozen.
  • Take a handful of nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, etc.)
  • Eat cut veggies (save time; buy them in pre-washed and pre-cut bags)
  • Create a frozen banana ice cream with a plant-based milk

Looking for more ways to add plant-based foods into your diet or to start a different nutrition plan? The Chambers Center for Well-Being offers a nutritional assessment and private nutritional counseling.

 View our complete menu of well-being services >