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In February 2010, a friend shared with me how raw plant-based foods, could be eaten for healing purposes. I came into this knowledge, at a time, when I was in need of much healing in my body and emotions. I had eaten a semi healthy diet, on and off for 25 years, and enjoyed fresh foods, and was desperate to feel better, so I gave it a try. I found that eating raw plant-based foods radically changed my life. I began healing from injuries, digestive issues, and insomnia almost immediately. Within just a month or two, I was feeling like a new person and due to the weight loss, was looking like a new person! Genesis 1:29 …“Everything that grows out of the ground is for our food,” became my basis for the new life I had begun to live.

For me, there wasn’t a “time of transition.” I jumped into a raw, vegan lifestyle overnight, hook, line and sinker, never to look back! I’m asked on a regular basis, “How do I get started eating plant-based, plant-powered, vegan, foods?” There are many things you can do to successfully transition to a healthier life style, but there is not one answer that will work for everyone! You have to find and do what works for you. My motto is, “Making better choices today, so tomorrow can be your best so you can live in optimum health.”

Here are 10 steps that can assist you in making better choices for your health.

1. Assess where you are with your eating.

Write down why you want or need to change the way you eat. Without a “why” that resonates with who you are, it is difficult to stay the course, once it has begun.

2. Take a good look at what you eat each day.

What foods do you crave? What foods do you “always” have to eat? What are your “comfort” foods? How much meat and diary (animal protein) are you consuming daily? What is your beverage of choice? Answer these questions on paper, so you can see what you are working with.

3. Eat a clean breakfast.

Breakfast is “breaking the fast,” so it is a good idea to ease into your food for the day by allowing your body to get some good nutrients through easy to digest foods. In the beginning, I changed my diet by eating fresh fruit every morning. I ate as much as I wanted which could’ve included, a pint of blueberries; ½ a cantaloupe; 2-3 grapefruit; a large bowl of whatever seasonal fruit. I also suggest drinking fresh veggie juices, or green smoothies made with fresh fruits and vegetables. Green smoothies can help keep hunger at bay, as there are greens, fruit and fiber, providing plenty of nutrients.

4. Eat at least one salad a day, which includes the colors of the rainbow in it.

If you don’t already eat salad, this could be a challenge. The point of eating salad is to get the nutrients from the dark leafy greens and veggies of all colors. Most Americans eat a little salad with the dressing and salad toppers. Try eating leafy greens and veggies, with a few nuts or seeds (if necessary) sprouts, and very little dressing. I enjoy squeezing, lemon on my salad or using salsa as a dressing. The calories and cholesterol are in the dressing, cheese, croutons, bacon bits, chicken and eggs. Make one meal a large salad with all the veggies you can think of. Eat a side salad along with the other meal.

5. Start eliminating animal protein from your diet.

Some can do this cold turkey, but many choose to transition. Remove animal protein from your breakfast first. If you drink milk, change to almond milk or another nut or seed milk. If you like yogurt, substituting coconut yogurt can be a good option. The variety of raw or cooked, plant-based meals are endless, and most meat lovers will find they don’t even miss the meat or dairy.

6. Drink at least 64 ounces of pure water each day, or one half of your body weight in ounces.

For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink approximately 75 ounces of pure water. Most people are dehydrated to some extent. We’ve pushed aside the sensation of thirst, eating food instead of drinking water. Next time you are hungry, drink a couple glasses of water and see if the hunger pains subside some. Stay hydrated.

7. Have an Attitude of Gratitude and a Positive Attitude.

The way we view life, has a lot to do with our health and stress level. Being healthy is so much more than just eating healthy foods. Having an attitude of gratitude, can make or break your day, or someone else’s day. Being positive can decrease your stress levels tremendously as you choose to see the good in your situations and circumstances, instead choosing to see of the negative.

8. Sleep

Get at least 7 hours of sleep if possible. Your body needs uninterrupted sleep to combat stress, to rejuvenate itself, and to promote healing from within. Our bodies are cyclical and need the down time during the night to help us be our best the next morning. It helps to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day. For many this can be challenging. A bedtime routine is beneficial for all, not just babies.

9. Exercise

Many people don’t exercise because they are too tired or too busy to do so. Increasing your heart rate, helps increase oxygen in your blood and cells, and is good for weight loss. Strength training and weight bearing exercises are needed for good muscle tone and bone health. Those who are active in their youth or younger years, are more likely to be active in later years. But, it is NEVER too late to begin moving your body and exercising. Find something that appeals to you and get moving.

10. Manage the stress in your life.

Stress is a silent killer, as it helps breaks down cells, tissues and organs, through the barrage of cortisol and adrenaline that are released into the blood stream during stressful situations. Learning to de-stress or manage stress is crucial to good health. Breathing exercises, prayer and meditation, yoga, exercising, being positive, getting restful sleep, and eating plant-based foods are all ways of managing stress or decreasing stress levels.

I encourage you to be easy on yourself, as you step out to better your health. Living a plant-based lifestyle is one of the most adventurous journeys I’ve ever embarked on! Well worth anything I may have sacrificed along the way. Remember, do what works for you and practice making better choices today, so tomorrow can be your best, so you can live in optimum health.

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