I've got a few friends in my space who are documentary-aholics. Lately, they have been goin' in when it comes to watching ones that have to do with why people should totally nix meat and commit to a life of veganism for the rest of their life. One of my friends, in particular, makes this formal proclamation every time she watches a vegan food doc. Then, about three months later, she has a steak. I'm so used to the pattern that I tend to tease her and say, "Girl, just say that you're the ficklest 'vegan' on the planet and go." But then there are those who are so impassioned to the world of veganism that they impress me by how much time and effort they devote to researching the topic. I'm so impressed that they actually inspired me to pen this piece.
Whether you're someone who is a new vegan convert or you're simply considering going on a plant-based diet in order to detox your system, I first recommend that you check out the really insightful article "15 Ingredients That Are NOT Vegan | Non-Vegan Ingredients To Avoid" (whey, beeswax and oleic acid are just some of the things that aren't vegan). Then, take a moment to go down the list of things you should and absolutely should not be eating while you're on your plant-based diet—or lifestyle. Because, if you're gonna do the whole meat-free thing, you might as well do it right…right?
A Beginner's Guide: What To Eat On A Plant-Based Diet
Potatoes are plants. So, if you're someone who loves homemade sweet potato fries or white potato soup, you can indulge in either or both without too much stress. After all, potatoes are considered to be a "high healthy carb food" which means that they can provide you with the energy that you need to get through a long workday or an extensive workout.
Potatoes, in general, have lots of fiber. Also, thanks to the Vitamin B6 that's in them, they are good for your heart. Sweet potatoes, specifically, contain potassium, calcium and antioxidants. Yams (which are not the same thing as a sweet potato; you can read more about that here), contain copper and manganese, are able to ease menopause-related symptoms (which is why some menopausal women choose to apply wild yam cream) and bodily inflammation as well. So again, if you think that a plant-based diet means you have to kiss your potatoes goodbye, nothing could be further from the truth. Just watch how you prepare them; baked instead of fried is always better.
DON’T: Sugary Foods
Just because you might be foregoing meat, that doesn't mean that you should go crazy on the sugar content. Too much sugar consumption can do everything from throw off your blood sugar levels and put you at risk for diabetes and heart disease, to damage your immune system, promote tooth decay and even accelerate the aging process.
If you just read all of that and thought to yourself, "No problem. I'm not big on desserts, anyway", that's great. Just remember that juices and yogurts contain a good amount of sugar as well.
If you're curious about how much sugar you should have on a daily basis, the average woman is good if it's six teaspoons or less.
A good thing to keep in mind while you're making your morning plant-based smoothie or you're putting some sugar into your hot cup of herbal tea.
DO: Whole Grains
Whole oats. Whole wheat. Buckwheat. Millet. Spelt. Quinoa. These are some foods that are considered to be whole grains. The reason why they are great for a plant-based diet is because they're grass-like plants that are high in fiber, B vitamins, antioxidants, proteins and disease-preventing plant compounds like polyphenols, stanols, and sterols. Some other health benefits of whole grains are they're able to lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. Whole grains are also able to reduce chronic inflammation and assist with healthy digestion. So, if you like having oatmeal for breakfast or snacking on popcorn, enjoy—both of those foods are totally good for you.
DON’T: “Fake Meat”
I grew up Seventh-Day Adventist. There are a lot of vegetarians in that denomination. It didn't mean that a lot of folks battled less with their weight, high cholesterol or high blood pressure, though. That's because a lot of the meat substitutes that they thought were so much better than real meat contained so much sodium, additives and preservatives that it still put their health at risk.
I just read that Wendy's has joined in with the un-meat burger craze. Before you head over there for lunch, you might wanna read articles like "Vegan and Vegetarian Meat Substitutes Could Pose Health Risks, Researchers Warn". The things that I just said about my religious diet experience while growing up? More and more content co-signs on it.
DO: Plant-Based Oils
Some people think that if they decide to go on a plant-based diet, they need to not cook with oil anymore. That's not true. The key is to go with an oil that is plant-based because they contain mono and/or polyunsaturated fats that can help to keep your heart in good condition. And just what qualifies as a plant-based oil? Olive oil. Sesame oil. Avocado oil. Almond oil. Coconut oil. Flaxseed oil. Walnut oil. Pumpkin seed oil. Peanut oil. Cocoa butter—that's just a few of 'em. All of these are oils that you can prepare your meals with. The key is to make sure to buy the kinds that are virgin or extra-virgin cold-pressed. Oil that is in that state is less refined which means you're able to get more nutrients from it which is always beneficial.
DON’T: Vegan Dairy
Some say that dairy is the devil. I mean, if you make the time to do your own research on it, it's hard to find credible enough information to debate them. Dairy contains hormones, microorganisms and pesticides. The main protein in milk known as casein can increase your cancer risk. And, while most of us were raised to believe that dairy is good for our bones and teeth, there's research that indicates that it can actually put our bones at risk too.
So, what about vegan dairy substitutes like vegan eggs and vegan cheese? While they certainly can help you to bypass all of the dairy drama, most of them still fall under the category of "processed foods" which is oftentimes loaded with fat.
Still, if there is no way on this earth that you are totally going to go without a slice of pizza or some mac 'n cheese, opt to make it yourself. Also, make sure to use one of the healthier kinds of vegan cheeses. You can check out a list of some of them here.
DO: Fresh Fruits
One of the best things about going on a plant-based diet is all of the fresh fruit that you can consume. Fruits are full of water and antioxidants and are oftentimes low in calories too. If you're wondering which fruits make "the healthiest list", some of those include—grapefruit, blueberries, mangoes, pomegranates, watermelon, oranges, pineapples, bing cherries and bananas. Oh, and due to all of the Vitamin E that's in them, olives are on the list too (yep, olives are a fruit!). Just make sure to get most out of any fruit you choose by consuming them while they are actually in season.
DON’T: Anything Soy-Based
When I'm not coaching couples or sitting in front of my laptop, sometimes I'm helping someone to birth a baby. As a doula, whenever a woman tells me that she would prefer to not breastfeed (if you're currently pregnant and you're on the fence, check out "101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child"), I make sure to say, "Then please make sure to avoid formula that contains soy."
Soy is a phytoestrogen which means that it's a plant-based kind of estrogen. Eating estrogen all of the time isn't good for children (especially male children) because it can cause their bodies to mature faster. High levels of soy can prove to be toxic in adults as well.
So yeah, please don't be out here thinking that, just because you are drinking soy milk or having a soy burger, you're dodging potential health issues up the road. This includes when it comes to soy sauce (to get a list of some healthy soy sauce substitutes, click here).
DO: Fresh Veggies
It would sound real crazy for someone to say that they are going on a plant-based diet, but they had no intention of eating any veggies. Vegetables are low in fat and calories while being high in vitamins and minerals like fiber, folate, potassium and vitamins A and C. As far as the vegetables that will do your body the most good, some of those include—spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, peas, red cabbage, bell peppers, garlic and collard greens. Veggies have peak seasons too. Refer to that link in the "fresh fruits" section to see which ones you should get right now.
DON’T: Anything “White”
Here's the thing—foods like white pasta and white rice definitely qualify as being a refined grain; this, in turn, makes them a plant-based food. But the reason why "white grains" get an aggressive thumbs down on the plant-based diet tip is because the production of them strips the grains of the nutrients and fiber that your body needs. As a result, they tend to fill you up less, resulting in you eating more—eating more calories and more empty carbs as well. That's why white bread, white flour or even white tortillas aren't a good look. No processed food really is.
If you're someone who likes to snack throughout the day, seeds are a good option. Pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds are great because they are full of protein and fiber. Or, if you like to cook with seeds, add some hemp, sesame or chia seeds to your meals.
I don't care what kind of diet or lifestyle change that you are on, food would suck if you didn't season it well. As far as plant-based spices go, the ones you should definitely have on your rack include onion powder, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, cayenne pepper, cumin, paprika, turmeric and pure vanilla. All delicious, all healthy and all a big "do" when it comes to plant-based cooking. Enjoy!
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Liposuction is one of the most popular cosmetic plastic surgical procedures, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, and on average, it may run you close to $ 4,000. While many people are still turning to surgery to get the look they want, there are many alternatives that are noninvasive and overall safer that are starting to get some shine. Like a lot of people during the pandemic, I had put on a few extra pounds, and I was looking at all the different methods that can help me look and feel great.
I don’t remember how I ran across it, but I began researching laser lipo, and before I knew it, I had booked my first appointment of many. I entered the medispa and was taken to a room and told to lie down. Then, I had lasers placed on top of my stomach for about 30 minutes, and I was done. While it sounds simple, it can take multiple sessions to get the desired look you want. That was a couple of years ago. However, I decided to try it again. This time with a different practitioner and a few add-ons, including wood therapy, cavitation, skin tightening, and vacuum therapy. Let’s dig deeper.
What Is Laser Lipo?
Laser lipo is a non-invasive procedure that penetrates through the skin and shrinks the fat. Not only is it simpler than regular lipo, but it’s also less expensive. Tammy Bell of Sculpted By Bella Beauty Bar, where she offers these noninvasive services, tells us why more people are turning to laser lipo.
“It’s noninvasive. You don’t have no downtime at all, unlike lipo and the different surgeries you have downtime with that,” she says. “You get results. It’s a little slower than regular lipo, but you get results that you want.” Because everyone’s body is different, the results may vary. However, Tammy says it’s also based on lifestyle habits such as what you’re eating and how active you are.
Laser lipo is just one of the many noninvasive services to choose from. See more below.
Microgen Images/ Science Photo Library/ Getty Images
If you follow Tracee Ellis Ross on Instagram or TikTok, then you probably saw the video of her using wooden tools to sculpt her body. This method is called wood therapy, and let me tell you, it’s not for the faint of heart. In my experience, it’s a weird sensation and a little painful. However, they say beauty is pain.
Tammy breaks down what wood therapy is. “It actually breaks up the fat, and it contours your body. It moves the fat through your lymphatic system,” she explains.
Another treatment is skin tightening. As we get older, our skin loses elasticity, and this service targets sagging skin for a tighter appearance. “The heat actually helps tighten the skin,” Tammy says about the skin-tightening tool that is used during the service. “It helps build collagen for your skin to tighten.”
Cavitation liquifies the fat, and it’s the only service out of this list that can’t be done on your face. “With the cavitation and all that stuff, if you notice, I always come in, and then I go down because you have your lymph nodes for your lymphatic system for it to drain,” she says, explaining the technique she does when using the tools on the body.
“That’s why it’s important for you to drink a lot of water ‘cause you (the fat) have to either come out in your sweat or your urine.”
Vacuum therapy involves suction cups that lift the skin. While I’ve only used it on my stomach, Healthline reports that many people are using it to get a butt lift. “Vacuum therapy moves the fat, and if you want to get a butt lift, you push the fat up,” Tammy says.
Costs vary per service and per practitioner. However, I spent around $400 and got all the aforementioned services done within five appointments.
Body sculpting results
Photo courtesy of London Alexaundria
My target areas were my back, stomach, and arms, and I am satisfied with the results I received in such a short amount of time. You can get these services done separately and get good results, but I decided to try them all together as a part of a package. Just like they will tell you after getting regular lipo, for lasting results, you must make sure to keep a healthy lifestyle.
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