Listen to Your Gut When Eating a Plant-Based Diet

Your gut isn’t just for digestion and metabolizing your foods. It’s also that little voice inside you that tells you when something is right or wrong. You can use that as your navigation system when trying to reach your nutrition goals, eat the right amounts, or choose the right foods for the right reasons.

Eating intuitively

Intuitive eating is an approach that involves listening to your body to determine whether you’re actually hungry, craving something, or just plain bored. This may sound like a far-reaching concept for some, because many people eat strictly from a survival standpoint or select foods based solely on taste as opposed to choosing things at the right time.

People often eat according to the “three square meals a day” approach without realizing whether they’re really hunger or eating just because it’s the right time of day. Getting in touch with what’s really going on with your hunger helps you make the right food choices at the right times.

Consider these tips for intuitive eating:

  • When you crave junk food, stop before you act. Identify what you really want and figure out whether you can reach for something plant-based instead.

  • When you’re eating your delicious, hearty plant-based meal and are starting to feel full, stop. Give your brain time to catch up with your stomach to determine whether you really need those last few bites.

    People are trained to stuff themselves past the point of full or to clean their plates, but that’s not always the best idea. Listen to yourself, and you may find that you want to set the rest aside for later when you’re actually hungry.

  • Eat only when you’re truly hungry, as opposed to eating just because you’re on a schedule or timeline. You may find that your body naturally allows you to eat when it wants to, not when you think it should.

Managing your metabolism

A lot of people want to manage their metabolism, but most don’t know how and inadvertently do all the wrong things — or worse, they think they understand it, but they don’t. (Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that occur in the body, including digestion and the transport of substances into and between different cells.)

Things like not eating regular meals or eating the wrong balance of food can slow down your metabolism, cause weight gain, and make you feel tired and generally unwell.

Here are some of the best ways to manage your metabolism:

  • Eat four to six regular meals throughout the day. Three of these meals can be slightly larger meals, and the others can be smaller snacks.

  • Maintain your plant protein intake with complex carbohydrates. Keep up with your beans, nuts, and seeds along with whole grains, sweet potatoes, vegetables, and fruits. These foods can help keep you satisfied between meals and keep your metabolism burning.

  • Drink lots of water. Dehydration can slow down your resting metabolic rate. Without water going through your body, you can’t flush things out. There isn’t an exact amount you should drink, but keep hydrated all day long, even if that means carrying a water bottle. You know you’re properly hydrated when your urine is pale yellow or almost clear.

  • Add a shot of apple-cider vinegar to your routine. A tablespoon of apple-cider vinegar added to a glass of water can boost your metabolism. If you take it first thing in the morning, it can also help your body eliminate waste and help with digestion.

    Apple-cider vinegar is used in many fat-flush and weight-loss diets, but some people take it to an extreme. Give this tip a try once in a while, because it really can work wonders when it comes to your metabolism.

  • Drink warm lemon water in the morning and sip green tea during the day. Starting your day with 1/2 cup of warm water mixed with 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice helps regulate and jump-start your digestive tract.

    It gets your digestive juices going, helps your body eliminate waste, and makes you feel more energized. Green tea can help increase metabolic rate while also improving fat oxidation. So enjoy one to two cups a day.

  • Exercise. Nothing helps boost your metabolism like exercise. The more you move your body, the more calories you burn. Also, the more strength-training exercise you do and the more muscle mass you build, the more your body keeps metabolizing calories all day long.

Many people have a glass of ice water with their meals. This can be problematic for digestion. Consuming too much water with food can dilute stomach acids and enzymes and prevent digestion from happening. Instead, drink a glass or two of room temperature water about 30 minutes before you eat and then again one to two hours after your meal. However, you can still sip water as you eat to help get the food down.

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