Emmanuelle Bonham was one of the Stars of Dubai Active 2019- a health and fitness coach, influencer and specialist in fat loss, muscle gain and plant based health. With Veganuary taking over in 2020, we sat down with Emmanuelle to hear her top tips for adapting a plant based lifestyle.
1. Take Your Time
There’s no rush into doing this, so take your time and mentally just prepare yourself for the change.
They say it takes 21 days for a habit to form, but I believe if you’re enjoying the process and seeing benefits, it takes WAAAAAY less. If you are planning to stick to your new lifestyle, just know that its totally NOT about being perfect and limiting your enjoyment and choices. It’s about making little changes, for yourself, this place we call home and most importantly, the animals.
If you decide that maybe you want to eat ethically sourced fish once or twice a week or you want to buy organic, free to roam eggs occasionally, then that’s also fine. A ‘flexitarian’ approach is not right or wrong and there should be no judgement from yourself or from anyone else, certainly not from me. No-one else can tell you what to do, it has to come from YOU.
2 . Get to Know how Food Works
I believe it’s a good idea, whether you’re eating plant-based or not to get to know how many calories (very roughly) you need per day. I prefer the term energy so we’ll use it instead of calories from now on. It’s useful for weight management and also weight gain and fat loss if you ever want to go down those paths. Knowledge is power, so if you know how much energy you need a day, you’ll be able to plan for this ensuring you attract an effect that you don’t want.
While people claim that you can lose loads of weight on a vegan diet, you can also gain weight. Like like any other way of eating if you’re consuming too much energy for your needs you will store this energy, if you’re not eating enough, you will make your way through your fat stores or even muscle tissue if you’re unlucky.
When a lot of people transition to a more plant based diet, a common mistake is they consume more simple carbs and fats, thinking that just because it’s vegan, it’s healthy. Now, eating carbs and fats in itself is not bad, it’s good for us. But eating loads of mac and cheese, fried bean burgers with vegan bacon and sweet potato fries isn’t healthy if you’re doing it often.
So by understanding that plant based foods can still be as high energy as non plant based foods, we can ensure that when we choose our foods, we’re educated on what’s healthy and not healthy so that most of the time, we can pick the healthy option, inline with our energy needs.
As a quick note, the three macronutrients contain the following amounts of energy per gram:
Carbohydrates = 4 kcal or 4 units of energy
Proteins = 4 kcal or 4 units of energy
Fats = 9 kcal or 9 units of energy
Take these into account when you’re planning your food choices, and it helps to always read the labels of the foods you’re buying. Don’t obsess over it but educate yourself.
And remember, don’t be afraid of good carbs. Carbs are your friend.
3. Don’t worry about Protein
I say this, trusting that you are going to take a slight interest in what’s in your food. Which I believe you will since you are already interested in making the transition to a healthier lifestyle. Of course, if you decide to eat potato chips for breakfast, lunch and dinner, then yes you will be protein deficient but really why would you want to miss out on all the good food doing that We’re not decided for excessive protein intake, we do well on a fairly low protein diet.
4. Understand that Soy Won’t Kill You
There has been A LOT of debate about Soy and its ability to promote certain cancers. But studies done on soy have actually not correlated to an increase risk of cancer or health problems. In fact the opposite. It can actually help us stay healthy. However, a lot of processed foods contain soy, we know that processed foods aren’t good for us. It’s what is put with the soy to make it into a burger or a sausage or whatever else its moulded into. As always, try to eat the whole, most unprocessed version of the food.
-Emmanuelle’s delicious vegan spaghetti bolognese.
5 Enjoy all the perks of better health
If you’re eating right, you’re gonna experience loads of energy, potentially a reduction on body fat, a sense of wellbeing, a healthier body and loads more really amazing benefits. Being plant-based forces you to step outside of your meat and two veg zone (as we say in the UK) and will challenge you to be adventurous in your cooking and try new things.
Picking a wide variety of foods to include in your diet is so SUPER essential to great health. That way we don’t have to faff about with loads of supplements and vitamins and you’re also less likely to get cravings.
But Fear not…Don’t panic if you have no idea how to cook. The great thing is about vegan food is that you can make it really fancy and complicated or you can make it super simple, quick and easy.