The Joyful Elephant Blog

What is your vision for your health?


Do you want to resist disease?  Prevent a heart attack or stroke?  Do you want to lose weight and keep it off? Do you need more energy?  Do you want to be able to exercise more, or keep up with your kids or grandkids?

Do you want to have less indigestion, headaches, back pain, joint pain?

Do you want to sleep better?  Do you want to better cope with stress?

Do you want to increase your libido?  Feel more attractive?


I recently had a new client answer “yes” to all of these questions.  In fact, most of us would!


A plant-based diet lifestyle has the biggest impact on realizing these health and wellness goals.  It’s the one thing we can do to help us achieve “yes” to all of the above questions.


Goals motivate us to achieve something great.  But, when we only have ourselves to hold us accountable to our goal, we often fail to achieve it.


The most effective tool in realizing our health and wellness goals is a strong support system.  Weight loss programs that are the most effective are those that include coaching and peer support.  The same goes for making changes in our diet.  We need the support from our friends and family, and we need those same people to help hold us accountable to our goals.


The biggest challenges to transitioning to a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle is a lack of support.  Very few people make the transition completely on their own.  Social pressure is enormous.  We live in a culture today that promotes comfort and pleasure.  However, we are accepting short term pleasure for long term pain. 


Even our closest friends and family can show lack of support when we first tell them about our decision to transition to a plant-based diet.  Don’t let them pressure you into indulging in foods you know will negatively impact your health. 


Here are my tips for cultivating your support system:

First, explain your motivations for making dietary changes.  Keep it positive and uplifting, and make it sound exciting!  If you’ve already seen some positive results than talk about those and what contributed to them.


Second, talk about some of the obstacles you believe will prevent you from achieving your goals.  Explain what you need in order to help overcome these pitfalls.


Third, ask for their support in helping you to reach your goals.  For example: “This change will be difficult without your support.”  Or, “Please congratulate me when you see me making healthy food choices like having a big salad for lunch.”


When we include our friends and family in our goal attainment we are no longer isolated.  When people understand why we’re making the choices we are, they are more likely to support us.  When they know that they play a critical role in our success, they are more likely to do things that will help us, not hinder us.


Food is a social thing.  In order to not sabotage our achievements we need to ensure our friends and family understand why we’re making the food choices we are.  Don’t squander your health by not cultivating a support system.  Go find your advocates now!  Know that you’ll always have me.  I want you to be vibrantly healthy and am looking forward to sharing in your success! 

Your comments to this post are appreciated.

Transitioning breakfast and lunch

The Joyful Elephant is all about transitioning to a more healthy way of eating by reducing the amount of animal foods we consume and increasing plant-based foods.  This means reducing milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, fish, and eggs and increasing the amounts of leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds that we eat. 


It’s all about making choices.  Instead of having a turkey or tuna fish sandwich for lunch have a big salad and top it with a variety of plant foods.  Or, have a bowl of rice and beans with a Mexican spice blend and some fresh cilantro.


If your health is important to you.  Keep an open mind.  Try something new.  Learn to enjoy new foods.  Get out of your routine of grabbing lunch on the go and instead plan ahead and make your lunch the night before and take it with you to work.  Even if you start doing this just one or two days a week you’ll notice a difference in the way you feel, especially in the afternoons!


My tips for beginning a transition to a plant-based diet are:

1.  Think “replacement” at lunch.  The easiest meal to replace with a plant-based one is lunch.  If you work, you typically are responsible for your own lunch so you can eat whatever you want!  Choose a big salad or a rice, bean and veggie dish.  If you’re a mom or dad who stays at home treat yourself to a wonderful lunch of nutrient packed foods!


2.  Ditch the cereal for breakfast.  All boxed cereals have added sugar.  This sugar programs our bodies to store fat.  If we’re trying to stay trim, we need to stay away from packaged foods with added sugar.  What to eat instead of cereal?  If you prefer to have grains in the morning one of my favorite options is Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Cinnamon Raisin Bread.  Locally, both Giant and Wegmans carry it in the freezer aisle of the natural foods section.  Top a couple of toasted slices with no sugar added Medford Farms Apple Butter spread found at Wegmans.


My other favorite breakfast option is Bob’s Red Mill Meusli topped with sliced banana or your favorite fruit in season.  Locally, both Giant and Wegmans carry it.  I scoop a ½ cup Meusli into a small sauce pan, add a ½ cup of water, cover and cook on very low heat for 4 ½ minutes.  (The water is absorbed and the grains are soft.) You can also microwave it but times vary by microwave so check it every minute until the water is absorbed.  If you’re making this for kids you can stir in a tablespoon of the apple butter spread to add some sweetness (after the muesli is cooked.)  If you like it sweet and a little sticky then top it with maple syrup.  Make sure it is organic maple syrup then you can be assured it is free of formaldehyde, pesticides, and other processing chemicals.


So, for your first steps in transitioning, focus on breakfast and lunch.