Quick Tips to Veg Out.

Nykki Harden, natural health specialist and creator of the plant-based and herbal-infused Nykki’s Cleanse, dubbed the “Happy Cleanse” by her high-profile clients, explains how our bodies positively respond when we cut out animal products from our diet. "Animal products, processed foods, sugar, and caffeine put stress on the system and tax the liver. They cause inflammation, which is at the root of all disease. Replacing these with organic, plant-based, GMO- and gluten-free whole foods gives the body a chance to rest because they are much easier to digest. The nutrient dense food helps restore the system, healing from the inside out."

If going completely vegan seems too drastic for you, Harden offers some simple tips on how to reinvigorate your diet and eat vegan-ish to stimulate weight loss.

Load up on greens: Greens are the most important component of your diet. They are loaded with important nutrients including iron, calcium, vitamin-C, and many other disease fighting photo-chemicals. They are also high in fiber (which helps keep you full and regulates the appetite) and water (which keeps you hydrated).

Integrate beans: Instead of relying on animals for protein, incorporate beans like black, garbanzo, non-brown lentils and mung into your diet, since they are nutrient-rich and add variety to your palate. 

Utilize complex carbohydrates like quinoa and millet, and banish bread and pasta: When whole grains are ground into flour they are stripped of their nutrients and the body digests them like sugar. Rapid metabolism occurs due to the lack of fiber, spiking blood sugar levels and increasing insulin. This can trigger excessive hunger, weight gain, diabetes and other health challenges. Quinoa and millet are easy for our stomach to digest and aid in strengthening our GI tract. They are also great sources of protein.

Organic everything: The food supply we have access to today is incredibly toxic. Studies have shown that conventional crops have 10-100 times the amount of pesticides as organic, and also contain twice the amount of cadmium, a heavy metal that softens bones and causes kidney and liver failure. You need to make sure you are putting the least amount of chemicals into your body.

Get creative with your food: Play with ways to bring veggies together with herbs and spices. Cilantro spruces up any meal. It is high in vitamin K, iron and fiber, and it binds with heavy metals to pull them through the system. Add it to a salad, blend into any soup or dressing or put it in a cooked dish. Dill is also a great addition, because is a powerful source of antioxidants, iron and calcium. It helps prevent bacteria overgrowth and is even said to cure hiccups. It loses some of its medicinal magic once cooked, so aim to use it in salads and dips.

Don’t be afraid of fat: Add healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado to your diet, but avoid vegetable oil or anything processed. Good healthy fat fuels your brain. Essential fatty acids are necessary for proper metabolic functioning, regulating your neurotransmitters and thus your ability to think clearly and to focus and concentrate.

Avoid cooking with oils: Many oils become rancid once heated; cook with water and try baking your food instead of sautéing in oil.