My plant-based diet: A typical day

"What do you eat everyday?”

That’s what my sister asked on the phone the other day. And to be honest, it feels like I haven't put much thought into this question. Over the years of studying behavior, I've concluded that the easiest way to make something a ritual is to automate it.

From athletes, to CEO’s, to artists, I’ve learned that rituals are the catalyst to their progress. They make their practice regiment simple to execute. Meaning, they don’t have to think about what they need to do, they automate the behavior to save mental and emotional energy to perform the practice itself.

While I enjoy lovely cookbooks, I've always had a hard time believing that everyone who purchases them, actually uses them. Unless you’re a food artist, food photographer or a chef, a cookbook with hundreds of complex recipes in it likely renders itself useless when it comes to practicality. 

I’m guilty of this myself. I've bought many cookbooks filled with wonderful recipes and beautiful photos. But instead of using as a cookbook (and actually cooking the recipes), I use it as a look-book. It takes too much effort and cognitive investment to execute some (and most) of the recipes. 

Once I figured out that I don’t have two or three hours every night to prepare a lavish meal, I knew I needed to simplify my daily nutrition. I needed to automate the practice to make it a sustainable ritual and to eliminate the mental exhaustion that comes with deciding on what to eat everyday. 

While I gave a long winded, dis-jointed answer to my sister when she asked me what I ate everyday, I’ve since had some time to think about it and have provided an unfiltered look at my daily plant-based diet in this article. 

Please know that this is what works for me. It’s simply a look at what I actually do with my diet on a daily basis to offer you some insight and ideas. It's not intended for you to follow it verbatim. 

I eat according to a few simple guidelines. My focus is on practicality, health, and then performance. I eat when I’m hungry and I don’t really lose my mind over how many meals I eat or don’t eat. As long as I’m hitting my requirements, I’m good to go.

7-8 A.M Just about every day, after my morning writing session, I have with a green smoothie. Easy, practical and loaded with high nutrient foods makes this a staple in my plant-based diet. I’ll change it up a bit from day to day, but the base is typically spinach or kale with 2 scoops of plant-based protein powder, a tablespoon of shaved coconut and two tablespoons of ground flax seed meal. Depending on my carbohydrate needs, I may have a small bowl of quinoa with some berries. Then, I take a few supplements which include vitamin D, B-complex and an algae based Omega 3.

11-12 P.M Lunch usually consists of a huge salad or stir-fry of some type. As of late, stir-fry’s have been my go to. I’ll take 4-5 oz of organic, Non-GMO tofu and stir fry it up with onions, mushrooms, and spinach. Salt, pepper and turmeric are the spices I use and then I'll top it with some Daiya cheddar cheese. Again, depending on my carbohydrate needs, I’ll throw in some quinoa or brown rice. 

1-2 P.M. I’ll have my afternoon cocktail. No it’s not an old fashioned. My pre-workout cocktail right now is about 100mg of caffeine, 5g of BCAA’s and 5g of creatine.

3-4 P.M. After my training session, I don’t have the stomach to take down a shake, much less a full meal. I’ll sip another serving of BCAA’s to help support recovery. I’ll also note that I’m in a place in my training and diet where I’m trying to minimize body-fat while maintaining muscle mass. If my goal was increased strength and muscle mass, I would probably make myself have a calorie dense shake at this time of day.

5-6 P.M I’m pretty hungry by this point, but it’s not quite dinner time for us at the McFadden home. We usually have dinner around 8 P.M., or so. Right now, I’m enjoying my taco salads for my afternoon meal. I’ll throw in several handfuls of mixed greens in a large bowl topped with sautéed onions, fire roasted green green chiles, mushrooms, pinto beans and Beyond Meat’s beefless ground. Two tablespoons of homemade guacamole and pico de gallo make this my go to afternoon meal. To bump up protein intake, I’ll have another shake with 2 scoops of plant based protein powder.

8-9 P.M. Dinner time. To save time and automate the weekly dinner routine in our home, I cook every other day (which happens to be Monday and Wednesday right now. On Friday's we like to go out to eat). This meal prep rhythm allows for enough leftovers for us on Tuesday and Thursday. I choose to cook meals that are fairly easy to prepare and make. Last night we had raw zucchini pasta tossed in a walnut based pesto sauce topped with cherry tomatoes. I added some Beyond Meat chicken strips to bump up the protein. The other week we had vegetable lasagna made with cashew cheese and spinach. Vegetable coconut curry over quinoa is another favorite in our home. 

10 P.M. A few dark chocolate squares (right now, I'm loving the popped quinoa flavor from the Cocoa Parlor). Then, I take a ZMA supplement to help calm my nervous system and aid in deep sleep. 

If you’re looking into transitioning into a plant-based diet or simply just looking to eat healthier, I hope this helped. Since transitioning to a plant-based diet myself over the past few years, my diet has evolved. I brought back organic cage free eggs and wild caught fish for a few weeks, and it simply didn’t work for me.

I understand your diet is a personal, and by no means am I trying to jam my diet down your throat. Thankfully, I learned through experience that coercion rarely influences positive behavior change.

But one thing I do know for sure is that we all need to eat more plants. Hopefully, this article gave you a real-life glance at what that looks like.