21 Simple Ways to Eat More Plants Starting Now

Looking to eat more plants and embrace a healthier lifestyle? But how do you easily add more to your diet?  In this guide, I share with you 21 simple ways to eat more plants that you can start right now! 

A plant based meal with the title 21 simple ways to eat more plants

You’ve probably heard that adding more plant-based foods to your diet is a smart move for your health and the planet. But, did you also know it can be great for your diabetes management too?

This guidecexplores the health benefits of incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet, considering its positive impact on overall well-being and diabetes management. Additionally, I share 21 practical tips and tricks to easily increase your plant intake, regardless of your dietary preferences. These tips are designed to simplify the process without being overwhelming. Hopefully helping you to make the transition to a more plant-oriented lifestyle in an accessible and convenient way. And I promise they work as we have done it!

So, If like us you want to increase your plant consumption without completely switching to a strict vegetarian or vegan diet with ease, then read on to find out more!

Why make the move to eat more plants?

Choosing to incorporate more plants into your diet holds numerous advantages for both personal health and the environment. Plant-based foods are rich in essential nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre, contributing to overall well-being. But, for individuals managing diabetes, the slow digestion of complex carbohydrates in plant foods can also work to stabilise blood sugar levels.

Plant-based eating offers a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Improved gut health: Studies and Reviews like the recent 2023 review in Nutrients suggest that whole plant foods can positively impact gut bacteria, which is crucial for our overall health.
  • Reduced risk of chronic diseases: Research also indicates that a healthy plant-based diet can lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure.
  • Sustainable eating: Opting for more plants can contribute to a more sustainable food system and help combat climate change.

Making a move to a more plant-based diet was something that we approached gradually. Which, if I’m being honest, was probably more driven by my need for not wanting to continuously cook different meals. However, the surprise for us was how it has also helped with our daughter’s diabetes management. This unexpected benefit has added an extra tool to our diabetes management toolkit. Along with a layer of motivation and positivity to our journey towards a more plant-centric lifestyle.

So, if you’re also ready to make the switch to a more plant-based diet, then you’re in luck! Whether you’re looking to go vegan or just increase your intake, this article will provide simple tips and guidance to get started.

What Foods Count as Plants?

So when I talk about plants I’m not talking about the luscious potted varieties around your homes. I am of course talking about the edible kinds. And this doesn’t just mean fresh fruit and vegetables. Plants include:

  1. Fruit
  2. Vegetables
  3. Wholegrains
  4. Legumes – Beans and Lentils
  5. Nuts and Seeds
  6. Herbs and Spices

What are the benefits of eating more plants?

There is a lot of evidence out there which supports that eating more plants can have great benefits for your overall health. (See the links under resources if you would like to read further)

A diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes and seeds, has many benefits. Not only physically in treating and preventing disease but also for our psychological health. Food feeds your brain as much as it does your body.

Incorporating a variety of plants into your diet not only boosts your nutritional intake but also naturally increases your dietary fibre consumption. All plants are inherently rich in fibre. An additional benefit is the potential reduction in the intake of saturated fats, given that plants are low in such fats. As you incorporate more plant-based foods into your meals, there’s a likelihood of consuming fewer saturated fats from other sources. This becomes a win-win situation for your overall health, which again emphasises the positive impact embracing a plant-centric dietary approach can have.

Another benefit is that eating more plants helps to increase the diverse community of bacteria that live in your gut. More and more research is showing the important role our gut microbiome plays in our overall health. And guess what, our guts thrive when they are fed a diverse amount of plants. This article from Zoe Science has lots of great information if you would like to learn more.


What are the benefits of eating more plants and Diabetes Management?

There isn’t much information or research out there about the benefits of eating more plants and type 1 diabetes management. It seems that most of the research has been focused on type 2 diabetes and the benefits plant-based diets can have in preventing and treating it. But what I can share is our experiences of how it has benefitted and impacted our daughter’s diabetes control.

Along with the overall health benefits of:

  • Increasing dietary fibre intake
  • Decreasing processed food eaten and subsequently, the amount of trans and saturated fats consumed
  • Increasing the number and amount of nutrients our minds and bodies are receiving daily

Eating more plants has:

  • Made it simpler for carb counting – With the exception of whole grains, fruit and potatoes, plants are carb count free. This means that I can create healthy and filling meals that don’t need to be carb counted, like my EASY VEGAN LENTIL AND BEAN CHILLI or HARISSA VEGGIE SAUSAGE TRAY BAKE.
  • It has taught us to use Beans and Lentils for bulking meals – Not only are they great sauce thickeners but are cheap and filling. This has meant that I can keep countable carb sizes slightly smaller (like pasta and rice) as I know that she will get all her mealtime satisfaction from the plant-based dish and vegetable sides.
  • Kept the overall carb count per meal lower – Including more plants in our meals reduces the overall carb count which then reduces the error rate when it comes to the insulin required. The less insulin given means fewer problems!

Read more about Carb Counting in the article below:

various carbohydrate foods with a title, a type 1 mums guide mastering carb counting for diabetes management

MASTERING CARB COUNTING: A TYPE 1 MUM’S GUIDE 

Master Carb Counting with Confidence! Discover why it’s crucial, learn practical techniques, and refine your skills to accurately count carbs for better diabetes management.

  • Contributed to maintaining good time in range and HbA1c control – Eating more plants has helped us to manage glucose levels and insulin requirements better. It has also helped us to get a deeper understanding of how foods work together and their impact on blood glucose levels.
    • We have noticed that the combination of increased fibre and protein along with the fact that most plants have a low to medium Glycemic Index (discounting fruits) helps to slow the glucose release of carbohydrates into the bloodstream. This results in a slower and lower rise in blood glucose levels, which helps levels to stay in range for longer and reduces dramatic spikes.
  • Blood Sugar Control: Plant-based diets, especially those focused on whole, unprocessed foods, can contribute to better blood sugar control. The complex carbohydrates found in plants are absorbed more slowly, preventing rapid spikes in blood glucose levels.
  • Improved Insulin Sensitivity: Some studies suggest that a plant-based diet may improve insulin sensitivity, helping the body utilize insulin more effectively. This is beneficial for individuals with diabetes, particularly those with insulin resistance.

However, this has meant that we do find, particularly with wholegrains and sometimes potatoes, that they continue to impact blood glucose levels after the 3 hours of fast-acting insulin (Novo rapid) being given. Therefore we sometimes have to give corrections in order to bring levels back in range.

21 simple ways to eat more plants

Most of us still are not getting enough plants into our diets, according to the NHS. The Eat Well Guide breaks plants into 3 main areas:

  • Fruit and Vegetables
  • Starchy Foods – Whole Grains and Potatoes
  • Protein – Beans, Lentils, Nuts and Seeds
infographic dividing a plate of food to show a healthy eating plate

So how can you get more of these plants onto your plate?

1. Start by doing a little audit

Use my handy checklist of plant foods by signing up below and check-off how many you include in your diet a week. The aim is to eat more than 30 different plants a week!

2. Use the checklist to inspire you

Use this plant checklist to encourage yourself to try some different plant foods. You could set yourself a goal of adding 1 to 2 new or different varieties on the list per week.

3. Eat the Rainbow

Eat the rainbow is an easy way to visualise your plate. The more colourful it is then the more likely it is that you are going to include more plants and varieties of plants on your plate.

4. Make Legumes part of your main meals

Adding beans and pulses to a meal that you would normally cook in the week like a traybake, spaghetti bolognese or chilli con carne is such an easy way to get them into your diet. Not only are they great sauce thickeners but they will also cheaply stretch a meal even further.

5. Pimp up your sides

Raw or boiled vegetables on the side can be a little boring. Instead try roasting them, adding herbs, spices, sauces and dressings to your veg to make them more of a main attraction in your meals. There are lots of great ideas in my Salad and Sides section. But here are a few of my favourites to get you started:

PESTO ROASTED GREEN VEGETABLES

ZESTY PAN FRIED COURGETTES

EASY ROASTED BEETROOT AND LENTILS 

CREAMY CABBAGE AND WHITE BEANS 

6. Make a dish that combines multiple plants

The more plants you can add to a dish the better in my opinion. This SRIRACHA RICE SALAD has 7 plant-based foods while my VEGETARIAN COTTAGE PIE WITH SWEET POTATO has 9, and my VEGETARIAN MOUSSAKA WITH LENTILS has a whopping 15 if you count the herbs and spices!

7. Swap Animal Products for Plant-Based Proteins

If you are a big meat eater, explore swapping these with plant-based proteins like black beans, kidney beans, lentils, soy products (tofu, tempeh), and plant-based meat alternatives. But read the labels as not all meat alternatives are as healthy as they report and can be stuffed with lots of additives, emulsifers and thickening agents. Start small and swap out the meat in one meal every week so you can adjust slowly.

8. Homemade Soups and Salads

Both are very easy ways to increase your vegetable intake. Anything goes when you are making soups and salads. But if you want some ideas to get you started then check out my soups and salads section here on WHK.

9. Embrace Whole Grains

Replace refined processed white grains with brown rice, quinoa, or whole-wheat bread. These offer more fibre and nutrients. Again you can start small and just mix your white and brown grains to begin with if you feel you need to adjust to their taste.

10. Spice Up Your Life

Use fresh herbs and spices to add flavour and complexity to your meals. If you don’t know where to start most UK supermarkets have a brilliant range of already combined spices like cajun spice, harissa spice, Middle Eastern spice mix, mixed herbs and different curry powders. Also to save any bags of fresh herbs going to waste I keep lots of different frozen herbs in my freezer which I can add to my meals, sauces and dressings.

11. Sneak In the Greens

Finely chop spinach or courgettes and add them to smoothies, sauces, or baked goods. This is a great way to sneak in extra veggies without compromising on taste or texture. I love to spiralise courgettes and add them to our spaghetti dishes like in this TUNA SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE (my girls are never quite as impressed though!)

12. Try some different dips

Looking for a change from Hummus? Then experiment with different dips like guacamole, other bean dips or my favourite is any dip with cottage cheese like my 5 MINUTE BLENDED COTTAGE CHEESE or 3 INGREDIENT SMOKED MACKEREL DIP. They help to make vegetables more appealing and enjoyable for dipping and snacking.

13. Switch your Meat Burger

Explore plant-based burger alternatives or experiment with homemade bean and lentil burgers for a tasty meat-free alternative. There are lots of options available but again read the labels if you are going for a shop-bought burger. Many of them are stuffed with lots of additives, emulsifiers and thickening agents. This is a satisfying option for those seeking a 

14. Punchy Pasta Sauces

Increase the nutritional value of your favourite pasta sauces by adding chopped vegetables like mushrooms, peppers, butternut squash, aubergines and courgettes. This boosts fibre and vitamin content and a whole lot of extra flavour. Here are some recipes to get you started; HIDDEN VEGGIE PASTA SAUCE, ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND TOMATO PASTA SAUCE, SIMPLE ROASTED VEGGIE SAUCE RECIPE WITH TOMATO.

15. Create a jar of mixed nuts and seeds

Since listening to the Zoe podcasts and reading Food for Life by Tim Spector, I have been inspired to make our own version of his nut and seed jars. We keep a stacking jar of chia seeds, milled flaxseed, mixed chopped nuts and seeds which we use to sprinkle on breakfasts, salads, yoghurt and soups.

We also have a larger kiln jar full of different nuts which are great for a snack. Although we do ensure it’s just a small handful a day, portion control is still important!

16. Make plant foods accessible

If you make foods like fruit, nuts and seeds more accessible as well as visible it’s much more likely that you will eat them. Try making up jars of nuts and seeds as suggested in point 8 to keep out on the side and put your fruit bowl in a central location in the kitchen.

17. Try a fruit and vegetable delivery service

There are lots of great fruit and veg delivery services like Oddbox, Riverford, Veg Box Company and Able and Cole. By subscribing they will deliver a box, weekly or fortnightly, straight to your door. The great thing about these boxes is that they change every week, are seasonal and help you to switch up what you would normally buy at the supermarkets.

18. Frozen Favourites

Embrace the convenience and affordability of frozen fruits and vegetables. They are a versatile and healthy option as they retain most nutrients, are readily available and great in lots of meals. Like my OVERNIGHT OATS WITH FROZEN FRUIT, HIDDEN VEGGIE PASTA SAUCE, or my favourite SUGAR FREE BERRY CRUMBLE.

19. Meal Plan and Create Shopping Lists

I have found that doing both of these (rather boring) tasks every week helps ensure that I am buying a good variety of plant foods along with changing some of the foods I typically buy. As a bonus, I have also found that it has helped to reduce my food waste as I am not randomly buying food thinking I may eat it later in the week.

Sign up for my free wholefood 7-Day Meal Plan to help get you started:

20. Make fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds a part of your snacks

Add nut butter to fruit snacks, enjoy a handful of nuts with a piece of fruit, chop some raw vegetables and serve with humous, roasted chickpeas and kale are all great ways to add more plants to your snacks.

For more ideas on how to build balanced wholefood snacks make sure to read this article HOW TO BUILD BALANCED SNACKS FOR BLOOD GLUCOSE MANAGEMENT

There are also a lot more legume-based snacks available at supermarkets. We love the lentil curls at Lidl and the chickpea snacks at Sainsbury’s.

21. Leftover Magic

Repurpose and of your leftover vegetables into omelettes, frittatas, or healthy egg scrambles. This reduces food waste and allows you to enjoy your veggies in new ways. If I have veg left from our Sunday Roast I simply add it to a big salad the following night with a simple vinaigrette dressing.

Adding more plants isn’t about making big changes overnight

Don’t try and implement these tips all at once!

The best approach when it comes to any change is slow and gradual. Often when we try and change too much too quickly it ends up not being not sustainable. In fact, I listened to a great podcast on building good habits and the 4 rules were; making them visible or available, attractive to make them motivating, easy to do and satisfying or enjoyable. But it continually enforced you need to start small and go slowly!

What counts is the difference you can make over a week, a month or a year which will lead to you consistently eating more plants.

And if you are looking for some recipe inspiration, then make sure to take a look at my roundup of 33 EASY WHOLE FOOD RECIPES – RICH IN PLANTS!

Resources

The Eatwell Guide – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Veganism and diabetes | Eating with diabetes | Diabetes UK

Want to know one of the easiest ways to improve your health? (joinzoe.com)

A Review of the Science of Colorful, Plant-Based Food and Practical Strategies for “Eating the Rainbow” (hindawi.com)

Plant-based diets – British Nutrition Foundation

Effect of Plant-Based Diets on Gut Microbiota: A Systematic Review of Interventional Studies Mar 2023 Nutrients 


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I’m on a mission to prove that eating for health and managing diabetes can be easy & incredibly flavourful.

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