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Tasty Tuesday: Transitioning to Plant-based Eating
Posted: Sep 28, 2021
Tasty Tuesday: Transitioning to Plant-based Eating image

The Nutrition and Wellness for Myeloma Chapter hosted Plant-Powered Metro representative Kristin Kabay MS, RD, CSSD to learn how we can make a more seamless transition to a plant-based whole food diet. 

The mission of Plant-Powered Metro New York is to empower people to find better health and overcome chronic diseases through whole-food, plant-based nutrition. They offer evidence-based education, resources, and support to create community and inspire change. 

Throughout the year, we have been hearing from top physicians and professionals in the nutrition field explain how a whole-food plant-based diet can improve heart health, regulate diabetes, improve our sexual wellness, and preliminary findings show that this type of diet can prevent myeloma progression. And while eating a whole-food, plant-based diet can do great things for your health, let's face it... making the change feels pretty daunting. Whether it's giving up cheese, detoxing your pantry, shopping anxiety, or just knowing how to find recipes, there seem to be so many lifestyle barriers. 

We invited Kristin to join our Chapter in order to help overcome these fears and help us make a more seamless transition into plant-based eating. 

Watch the video below or read the summary in order to learn more about how to ease this lifestyle change. 

Where can I start? 

Kristin's biggest suggestion is to start with the kitchen and look around. Consider: are you ready to jump all in, or will it be a more gradual transition? It varies per person and is a personal decision, though most people's transition takes about six months in order to adopt a whole-food plant-based diet. 

Let's say that you want to start by giving up dairy. Look in your fridge: what dairy products are in your fridge that you would rather live without? The next steps could include giving up eggs or red meat. 

Make a list of foods that you have in your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Decide what you are willing to give up and throw away some items you are better off without right then and there (fatty, oily, or generally unhealthy items are a good start). Your situation will look different depending on whether you live alone or you are living with family, but preparation and awareness in both cases will make this transition substantially easier. 

What's next? 

Bulk-ordering can save a lot of money if you are deciding to go full into the whole-food plant-based diet. Stores like Costco and Sam's Club can be a great staple if you're trying to stock up on foods that will become a staple in your new diets such as whole grains, dry beans or legumes, nuts and seeds, frozen fruits, and vegetables, or herbs and spices. 

Once you have these new items in your pantry and your fridge and freezer, try using clear containers or even labels when you store your essentials so you can see them more clearly and remind yourself to include them in your everyday life. 

Did you know that certain herbs and spices can boost your antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory compounds that can boost your nutrition? Some of these spices include: 

  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Cardamom
  • Black pepper
  • Ginseng
  • Green tea
  • Rosemary

By finding whole-food plant-based recipes that use these helpful herbs and spices and by experimenting with new flavors that you haven't tried before, you are able to quickly expand your palate and become more versatile in your food choices. The WFPB (whole-food plant-based) diet does not have to be restrictive! 

What kitchen appliances will I need? 

While Kristin encourages us to make it simple as we make our transition, here are some kitchen appliances she really recommends to have on hand: 

  • pressure cooker 
  • blender 
  • food processer 
  • spiralizer 
  • air fryer (optional, but highly recommended) 

The last thing you want is to make this more of a headache, having the right tools will really make meal-making time more simple. 

What foods should I begin eliminating? 

The biggest culprit in our kitchens in harming our health is added sugars. Start with the desserts and toss them in the garbage. Look at the label to see what percentage of the serving is added sugar. You might be surprised how much sugar you are putting in your body on a daily basis. Toss the ice cream in the freezer (it's hard, I know!) and try to make sure there is significantly less sugar in your house than when you started to read this article (or listen to Kristin's presentation.) 

The next thing to consider eliminating is canned foods with high oil content. Oil is something that we should be avoiding in our diet (though it is better than butter and margarine), and definitely something that we should live without. Look for foods that are canned in water or natural juices. You won't be disappointed! 

Another category to eliminate and easily replace is white flour products, such as white bread, crackers, or pasta. With little to no nutritional value, these ingredients can easily be replaced with multi-grain versions that provide significantly more nutrition to your diet. 

What foods should I have on hand? 

Part of making the whole food plant-based transition simple includes letting others do some of the hard work for you. That might include buying the pre-washed, pre-cut, and pre-bagged vegetables at the supermarket so that you have less to do when you arrive home. Fruit is also an option as well when it comes to buying fresh pre-packaged foods. Green leaf plants such as spinach, kale, arugula, and romaine lettuce are versatile between soups, smoothies, and other meals and are nice to have on hand. Frozen fruit is great for smoothies, frozen vegetables like edamame or broccoli are great for snacks (defrosted of course), and an unlikely source of nutrients comes in the form of potatoes! White, red, purple, and sweet potatoes really add a punch of nutrition to your diet. Low-sugar canned tomatoestomato sauce, and vegetable stocks or broths are great pantry staples. 

Tips for shopping at the grocery store 

  • Spend most of your time in the produce area of the grocery store 
  • Come with a list if possible of what you need based on recipes that you would like to make that week 
  • Try to find a brand new fruit or vegetable that you've never tried before, something that's in season 
  • Get bulk items when it comes to brown rice, barley, oats, buckwheat, or other bulk items available in your grocery store 
  • Search for whole-grain or multigrain foods when it comes to grains and other staples 
  • Watch out for added sugars, high oils levels, and large levels of sodium 

Fun substitution ideas 

Consider substituting the following in your diet: 

  • Use applesaucedried fruit, or canned pumpkin puree (it's fall, y'all) as sweeteners instead of sugar or butter/oil
  • Instead of an egg, you can make a flaxseed egg (mix one tablespoon ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of water) or chia egg (mix 1 tablespoon chia seeds + 2.5 tablespoon water), or aquafaba (leftover chickpea liquid juice whipped into peaks). 
  • Instead of sauteeing with oil, try using a little bit of vegetable broth or water 

Watch the rest of Kristin's presentation to hear what questions were asked and answers and gain your own insights! 

Make sure to join our Nutrition and Wellness for Myeloma Chapter so that you can stay up to date with expert recommendations regarding our diet. 


Join the N+W for Myeloma Chapter Today!


And a big thank you to our Myeloma Crowd Community sponsors who make this possible: 


The author Audrey Burton-Bethke

about the author
Audrey Burton-Bethke

Audrey joined the HealthTree Foundation as the Myeloma Community Program Director in 2020. While not knowing much about myeloma at the start, she has since worked hard to educate herself, empathize and learn from others' experiences. She loves this job. Audrey is passionate about serving others, loves learning, and enjoys a nice mug of hot chocolate no matter the weather. 

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