Changing Your Approach to Eating

Changing Your Approach to Eating

Our Journey with Alia Sweis

Last month, we invited Alia Sweis to talk about her journey towards a healthier, plant-based diet. Like many Americans, Alia has struggled with nutrition in the past. Over the course of the season, we’ll be working with her through her dietary journey. Come along with us as we explore the successes and challenges of the path to plant-based!

What made you decide to change your way of eating and lifestyle?

Alia Sweis: I had a reality check. I did a biometric screening about six weeks ago, and it came back that my cholesterol is 100 points over the normal average. My biggest fear happened; I’ve been avoiding being healthy, I’ve gained weight, I’ve just been living this resigned kind of life.

I’m very busy at work, and I emotionally eat. Whenever it’s time to work out, I feel like I need to work or rest, and I just don’t give myself that time.

How long have you been eating somewhat plant-based?

I entered into a fast for religious reasons, so this is the first time in many years to which I actually honored the fast and ate primarily plant-based and fish within the last five weeks. By being ‘woken up, ’ it brought me into a plant-based lifestyle. I’m probably about 70% plant-based right now.

Have you noticed any changes since you started?

I’m surprisingly full; I didn’t think I would be full. I was worried I’d have to eat more, but I actually have more energy and just generally more balanced. That probably has a lot to do with the increase in fiber in general.

Do you have any questions for us?

I guess the question is around counting calories. The idea is exciting, but also a little scary; I’m so ingrained with the various diets, hiring trainers, and the weight loss apps that you have to count calories.

Counting Calories

Something to understand is that we look at macros in some majorly different ways on a plant-based diet. One of the biggest concerns you may hear is about protein. “Where do I get my protein?” or “How much protein do I need?” are probably the most common questions people have going plant-based. There are great, plant-based sources of protein such as beans, lentils, and certain nuts. However, none of these foods are ‘purely’ protein. What this means in practice is the foods you eat will be a carbohydrate and often fat sources as much as they are protein. Oh, and nearly all vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, and whole grains contain protein. Even mushrooms have protein.

Ultimately, any diet that puts you at a calorie deficit will make you lose weight. However, a plant-based diet specifically prioritizes nourishment over calories. As Alia mentioned, plant-based foods are more filling and very nutrient-dense, so getting into that caloric deficit while still being well-nourished is much easier.

We’ll be documenting Alia’s journey and progress along the way; we’ll check back in with her on the PBNM podcast later this season. Make sure to stick around, and share your journey in the meantime.

– Meryl Fury M.S., R.N., and Carrie Bruno, PharmD, DipACLM

Enjoy our complete interview by CLICKING HERE!!!


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