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A PLANT-BASED DIET COULD HELP YOU REACH YOUR HEALTH GOALS IN 2018.

Looking to get healthier in 2018? You might want to consider a plant-based diet.

Drastically reducing or cutting out animal products can help with weight loss, improve energy levels, prevent health issues and even reverse some diseases. Not sure where to begin? Remedy Food Project can help.

The nonprofit group offers information about the medical and nutritional benefits of a plant-based lifestyle. It offers educational and immersive conferences to help people transition from a “traditional” diet to a plant-based one; the most recent Remedy Live event was held in November on Hilton Head Island.

“You have the ability to take healthcare into your own hands and reverse a lot of problems,” said Benji Kurtz, the group’s founder and executive director. “At our events, we present a balanced mix of medicine, science and athletics. We also present a guide on how to live this way.”

The Hilton Head Remedy Live event included a buffet of plant-based food, guest speakers, an “Iron Chef”-style cooking challenge, exercises led by a celebrity trainer, and other opportunities for participants to sample a healthy lifestyle.

plant based diet

Dr. Thomas M. Campbell, a plant-based nutrition pioneer and co-author of “The China Study,” a book on nutrition research, told attendees that plant-based diets can significantly reduce the likelihood of certain diseases, but that there are right and wrong ways to switch to what many know as a vegan diet.

“There are a lot of products out now that are vegan, but they’re not healthy,” Campbell said. “There are highly processed foods ranging from sweets to crackers and pastries, and it might be organic, vegan and free-trade and it looks great, but if you look at the actual ingredients, it’s all processed, not whole food.”

Chips like Fritos and Duncan Hines canned frosting do not contain animal products, but that doesn’t make them healthy, Campbell said. He suggests people stick to foods that come straight from the earth, without any additives — and if you can understand the ingredients list, the item is probably okay.

Dr. Doug Lisle, psychologist and author of “The Pleasure Trap,” also spoke at November’s Remedy Live event. Lisle said he decided to write a book about addictive behaviors after he saw how frustrated many of his clients became while trying to adopt healthier lifestyles.

“The most important revelation in the book is that self-destructive behavior is actually adaptive behavior in a natural setting,” Lisle said. “The problem isn’t with people, it’s with their environment.”

Lisle’s advice? Keep junk food out of your house. It might be difficult at first, but removing tempting foods will go a long way in helping you overcome initial cravings as your body detoxes.

As for whether or you should take baby steps into a plant-based diet or cut out animal products cold turkey —if you’ll excuse the pun — Campbell believes the reward comes after the risk.

“I really encourage and challenge people to take the biggest step they can,” he said. “The fastest way to change your habits is to go ahead and make a really big change and try it for maybe a week or two weeks and go as far as you possibly can. What’s going to happen is you’re going to have to learn a whole new way to shop, you’ll have to try new recipes and new foods, and I promise you that you’re going to find some things that work.”