Say the word, 'vegan' and images pop up of someone drinking a green smoothie with flakes of grass floating in it. Throw in plant-based, whole food vegan and there’s no end to the possibilities. On a wellness journey, keeping an open mind to new ideas lends to success in lifestyle changes.

We followed Paula’s journey with changing her eating patterns. Whether you are prompted by an illness or desire for lasting change, her tips below will encourage you in your decision.

I did a fast with a group where I cut out processed foods. To start I had to admit I had a problem. I needed more than my will to get free from my bad choices.

Tell the truth:

Processed foods are not good for me or my family. I had a problem with junk food and an even bigger problem with GLUTTONY, especially when it came to the desirable foods. To continue on this path would lead to further health problems.

Shift my focus:

By focusing on what I could eat, rather than what I couldn’t seemed more positive to me. I started phasing out the processed foods. I didn’t omit foods that I like or wanted or even DESIRED. I’d make it my goal to eat what I’d prepared for the day. If during a weak moment I’d eat half a bag of potato chips or Oreos, I’d keep on the rest of the day with what I should eat.

Journal it:

I wrote down what I ate every day. EVEN the bad stuff. I forgave myself when I fell out of my goals.

No more feeding frenzies:

In the past when I ate something I shouldn’t have, I’d throw in the towel for the rest of the day and tell myself “Might as well eat.” I gave myself FREE rein to eat what I had been denying myself. I would just go to the cabinet or stop by the store and get all the junk food that I’d been telling myself was and untouchable.

Form community:

I searched online for all recipes and tips from others who were were successful. I talked to others who were eating primarily plant-based food.


Meal prep ahead of time, sometimes putting all the food in mason jars for three days! Mason jars are excellent and handy for reheating and storing. Cook large pots of beans and rice with lots of veggies.

It’s a process:

I didn’t follow a diet. Food is fuel for your body. Put good fuel in and you get better performance out. When I was asked to put this together, I looked at some diets that are popular and found that in the beginning what I ate was closest to a Mediterranean diet.

A cure for nighttime binging:

Nighttime snacking. When it came to be going to bed, I’d developed a habit of eating junk. I was eating to relax during my reading time. I phased out the junk and exchanged it with good stuff. Like nuts or banana (my favorite fruits).

Food will heal your body:

I had a major surgery and my body is prepared to heal and be healthy. I am eating raw vegan right now and have never felt better, clearer in thought and more energy. My skin is softer and clearer. People have come up to me to tell me how good my skin looked. In the first month I heard, “Paula what are you doing? You have a glow.” This was before my weight started to fall off.

Overall benefits:

I am down 40 pounds at this time and I feel so much better. I still have aches and pains. But I am energized! When I do eat the bad stuff , the next day I feel so BLAH! Food tastes so good to me.

Forgive yourself:

I am not perfect. So about a month ago I thought I wanted those Oreos. They tasted awful and I could taste the chemicals!

Life is meant to be lived to the fullest. Wellness is a journey and I am here cheering you on!

Paula Matthews is an overcomer, nurse and mentor to many. She is a Compassion Community Leader in Gainesville, Florida and loves to encourage others on their road to healing.

Photo provided by Gwen Plauche