ve-gan • noun: a person who does not eat any food that comes from animals and who often also does not use animal products (such as leather).

Beware of Fads

“Mrs. Ojeda,” my former student told me, “I’m going to eat vegan from now on.”

“Really?” I replied, surprised that my meat-loving student had decided on a drastic dietary change.

“Yeah. I watched that Netflix movie What the Health. Have you seen it yet?”

I hadn’t, and I still haven’t. Maybe I would check it out if it made an actual lasting impact on my student.

Two months later, he has fallen off the wagon several times—mostly for red meat. He seldom eats cheese, drinks almond milk like it’s water, and does pretty well with the whole vegan thing. But he still eats Hot Cheetos. He drinks soda on a regular basis. Evidently, because neither of those contain dairy or meat, the documentary didn’t mention them.

His quest to ‘eat vegan’ mirrors the drastic changes that many of us make in our journey for physical wholeness. All too often, we jump on a bandwagon and try a new diet or cleanse or fad that everyone promises will change our lives.

That diet, cleanse, or fad will only change our lives for the amount of time we can stick to it. Most of them propose such radical changes that few people can stick to it for prolonged periods of time. I lasted 10 days on the cabbage diet, and I didn’t lose a pound!

That #diet, #cleanse, or #fad will only work as long as we can stick with it. Instead, use substitutions and start small. Click To Tweet

Substitutions that Improve Your Health and Don’t Ruin Your Day

In my quest for physical wholeness, I have learned to not only make small adjustments in my activity level, but incremental dietary changes as well. I grew up eating vegetarian, but that didn’t mean I had great health.

Unfortunately, for many, the unspoken slogan of vegetarianism is “Eat sweets, not meats!” Just because a person eats vegetarian or vegan doesn’t ensure that the person has a healthy diet.

Just because a person eats #vegan or #vegetarian doesn't mean that person has a healthy diet. Click To Tweet

So, before you go all radical and decide to eat raw and vegan, try these simple substitutions for a while. If you have a family, they will appreciate you making gradual changes in the kitchen!

1. Less sugar

For any recipe that calls for white sugar, just use brown sugar instead, and a little less than the recipe calls for. After gradually changing the amounts of sugar in our baked goods, no one notices the substitution. I often make cookies for my students, and they love them, even with less sugar.

2. Brown rice

Use brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice has more nutrients and protein. The increased amount of fiber helps you feel fuller faster, too.

3. Whole-wheat flour

After Pedro’s recovery from cancer, we decided to eliminate white flour from our diet. He wisely suggested that we make the change over time, though. I started by using half white flour and half whole-wheat flour. After six months or so, I stopped using white flour altogether.

Whole-wheat flour has many benefits, including a lower glycemic index and more protein and fiber. Remember, the more fiber, the fuller you’ll feel!

My favorite brand of whole-wheat flour is Prairie Gold, a non-GMO, high-protein, hard white wheat grown and produced by Wheat Montana. It has a slightly nutty flavor—perfect for cookies, cakes, bread, lava cake, and other delicacies. (affiliate links)

4. Limit High Glycemic Index Foods

Back when I had gestational diabetes, I learned that a baked potato can send your blood sugar levels soaring higher than a serving of ice-cream. Of course, that gave me the perfect excuse to eat ice-cream. Now that I’ve gained wisdom and experience, I no longer use that excuse. We do try to limit foods like potatoes and things with white flour that raise our blood sugar levels. Once a gal gets gestational diabetes, she becomes more susceptible to Type 2 Diabetes.

5. Substitute Half the Fat with Applesauce

veganObviously, this won’t work with things you fry in a pan! But any time I bake, I substitute half of the fat with applesauce. So far, no one has complained. You can also experiment with whizzed-up prunes (especially in chocolate cake).

Remember that seeking physical wholeness involves a journey. If you travel by jet to a faraway place, you may end up with jet lag. Gradual, sustainable change works best. You may one day decide to become a vegan. Enjoy the journey. You can visit my other blog to find lots of healthy (er), vegan, and vegetarian recipes.

Nurture Yourself Takeaway #19—Don’t make sudden changes in your eating habits. Start with small substitutions and allow your palate to adapt. 




  1. Very wise advice! I’ve seen similar situations where friends are all gung-ho about changing their diet or exercise routines but burn out after a few short weeks.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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