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My Abundance

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Doing this shit is hard. I was gaining weight on my new vegan diet. I was making very yummy meals using lots of avacado and  playing fast and loose with the olive oil. Plus the vegan cookies and soy ice cream. I figured there would come a point when I would have to get real. The beginning was just about having fun. I planned it that way. But I must say I didn’t expect to gain weight so fast! Or at all really, I just figured I wouldn’t loose in the beginning. So now I’m attempting to cut out the sugar and cut way back on the oil. And things got real, real fast. The first day was excruciating and I failed. I attempted to do 10% of daily calories in fat which is nothing really. It means using no oil whatsoever and no nuts. Try that while eating salad and you’ll see what I mean. Thankfully and mercifully I found some products by Walden Farms which are, if you can believe this, sugar free, fat free, carb free, cholesterol free, and calorie free. I found a sandwich spread to use on wraps and an asian salad dressing that are surprisingly good. I am beyond thankful because truthfully, I don’t think I could eat dry salad and dry veggies. BUT, the hunger was killing me, it was very surprising because I was eating a lot of bulk but when you cut back that much on fat your body screams for it and I mean screams. One book I’m reading says if you follow the low-fat plan perfectly for 3 months you’ll loose your craving for fat. Three months!! excuse my french but are you fucking kidding me!  I can’t feel that hungry for three months or I’m going to end up in jail for punching someone. Anyway, I’ve had to dial back my expectations some and last night I made some stir fry with a small amount of oil and some tempeh (which you can’t have on the 10% fat diet), and it was good and I felt much better. I can live without the sugar,  and the nuts, and I can cut back on the fat by using the Walden Farms products but I’m going to use oil sometimes and I’m going to eat tempeh which is, by the way, a complete and easily digested protein and super yum!

 So, the struggles begin, which are inevitable. But I can’t leave it here without turning the focus to what has gone well and what is good. First and foremost and probably most important is I feel much better. I have more energy and I need less sleep. In fact, the extra energy has led to me feeling bored because I’m so used to feeling tired all the time. It will take time to learn to fill the time and I’m trying to remember that. I heard a lady speak at a 12-step group the other day, who has been without her drug of choice for 21 years and she said she learned an important thing very early on and that was to focus on her abundance. It sounds really new agey and I am not, but it still made  sense. No matter how good your life is you can always find something wrong with it and negative thinking becomes a habit. I know this from personal experience. I also know that no matter how bad things get sometimes there is always something good. Every bad situation I have ever lived through had a silver lining of some sort. If I have a roof over my head, healthy food, and comfortable place to sleep I’m living like a queen. So when I start to feel sorry for myself because eating healthy is hard and I have to shop more and cook more and I don’t get to be spontaneous and go to drive throughs and eat ice cream every weekend, then I’m missing so much that is good. Like the chance to live longer and even more important, the chance to feel good. There is also the chance to set a good example for my kids and to make them proud, and the chance to feel better about myself because I’m living the way I always wished I could. Being a slave to my bad eating habits was a weight that I carried around with me wherever I went. There is such freedom in what I’m doing now, even though that freedom comes with a price.


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Nuts, Bolts, & Bricks

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7/29/1012

  

B-12, B-2 (riboflavin), Calcium, Iron. Vitamin D, Zinc & Protein: These are the nutrients I need to think about if I’m going to be a vegan. These I need to memorize.  The big seven. 

B-12 is the most important one because there are no plant sources of this vitamin! B-12 is made from bacteria that is in certain food like eggs, meat, and milk. Which surprised me because I always thought B-12 came from complex carbohydrates like whole wheat, brown rice, etc. Wrong!  This is very important information and probably the reason that the first time I tried eating vegetarian I felt very bad after about four months. I immediately felt better when I added meat back into my diet leading me to believe that a vegetarian diet is unhealthy. Now I know that eating a vegetarian diet without first learning the facts is what is unhealthy. I also learned that because our food is so sanitized nowadays,  none of us get as much B-12 as we used to. The best source of B-12 is sublingual and is taken under the tongue. This I found easily at Walmart and for very cheap. This one I can check off.

 B-2 is easier to get in vegan foods. Good sources that I already eat often are almonds, bananas, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, mushrooms, peas, whole grains, and more. Easy…I got this one.

 Calcium is one I was worried about even before I started reading up on it. But to my surprise I didn’t need to worry. In the US we consume a lot of calcium rich dairy and we have the highest osteoporosis rates. This is because the protein in dairy foods impedes the absorption of calcium. It’s much better to get calcium by eating plants! In addition, I’ve replaced regular milk with almond milk which is fortified with 45% of RDA for calcium with only 1 gram protein per 8oz glass, and I drink at least 3 per day. PLUS! The unsweetened variety has only 40 calories per serving! Very Cool. 

* A note of caution: Soda pop is acid and when you drink it your body takes calcium (alkaline) from your bones in order to maintain the perfect acid/alkaline balance.

  Iron was another worrisome one. I know there is a lot of iron in meat so where am I going to get this important mineral? It turns out there are two kinds of iron: heme and nonheme. Heme iron is found in animal flesh foods and is the most easily absorbed. Nonheme iron is found in plant food like veggies, fruits, seed, grains and beans and is harder to absorb. But, the absorption of nonheme iron is up to six times greater when accompanied with vitamin C and vegans typically get a lot of vitamin C. In addition, a lot of vegan sources of iron have large amounts of vitamin C in them as well. Still, this is a mineral I’ll watch closely. My plan is to supplement with a multi-vitamin that contains iron. Still on my “To Do” list.

 Vitamin D helps your body use calcium and phosphorus. We get vitamin D naturally through the sun and these days a lot of people are deficient. Your liver stores vitamin D for use in the winter. If you drink a lot of alcohol your liver can’t dispense it properly. The almond milk I drink has 25% RDA per serving and I take a vitamin D supplement just to be sure. But I believe getting our vitamins the way nature intended is best. I have always been a proponent of sunscreen. I’m beginning to rethink this strategy. Moderation is the key.

 Zinc is an important mineral that a lot of people lack whether vegan or not. Nutritional yeast, a vegan staple, has a lot of it. I bought this item and it’s sitting on my shelf but I need to begin incorporating it into my recipes. Too much calcium can impede absorption of zinc. Again, moderation in everything! Phytic acid also interrupts your body’s ability to use zinc and soy milk has a lot of it so I’m glad I use almond instead. In fact I’m learning soy isn’t the wonder food I always thought it was. More on that later.

 Protein! There are many good vegan sources of protein and there is an argument to be made that these sources are much healthier than animal sources. This subject is important enough to have gotten its own chapter so I’m going to give it its own post. Much more on this later.

 

And there you have it. Some of the basics to remember, and an extremely important first step in becoming vegan. In fact, I wouldn’t even start trying to eat vegan until I had these under my belt. I did this once before. I stopped eating meat and dairy and just winged it. Not a good strategy at all and I ended up feeling really bad. This time I want to give myself a chance to succeed. Like the good little piggy I’m building my house with the bricks of nutritional fact.

 

 


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Road To Vegan

I’ve been denying that I can’t eat cheese for years. Milk was easy because I could drink Lactaid and the rest of the time I just ignored it when it was an ingredient in other foods. I have the opposite problem as most lactose intolerant people do when it comes to eating dairy. It doesn’t come out fast and furious… it just doesn’t come out at all. A long time ago when reading about cancer I learned that all cancers are a result of some type of constant irritation. And for a long time I had made the connection that things moving along slowly in the colon could not be good. It has to be considered a form of constant irritation to have old food stuck there for long periods of time. I rationalized that I was taking enzymes to help and cutting back by not drinking regular milk. But the truth haunted me. The truth that my belly was bloated and I was constantly putting a substance in my body that it had a hard time digesting.

Finally, I relented. I gave up dairy. In all it’s forms. And I found, very early on, that is wasn’t that hard. Asking for that burger without cheese and the burrito too was no big deal. I didn’t even miss it that much. And then, one night as I sat, eating my Wendy’s Berry Almond Chicken Salad, I noticed that I was picking out the chicken, and I remembered that I do this a lot. In fact, my taste for animal protein has been waning for years. And I realized that the jump from where I was that moment, as a non-dairy eating person, to a complete vegan was really just a little hop. And I began to consider if it was a possibility that I, the queen of impulse eating, could sitck to a diet composed of just grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

Then I saw, on CNN, Sanjay Gupta interviewing Michelle Pfeiffer. He asked her about her recent transition to vegan eating and what had motivated her. She stated that it was Sanjay Gupta’s documentary entitled “The Last Heart Attack” and a book that was mentioned in the documentary. She also stated that she considered President Bill Clinton a very smart man. And he himself had chosen a vegan food plan to deal with serious heart problems he’d developed. She decided if it was good enough for Bill Clinton it was good enough for her. And this made sense to me. Around this same time I received a $30 store credit card for amazon.com and because I believe in synchronicity I decided I had nothing to lose by spending that $30 on a couple of vegan books. I bought “Living Vegan for Dummies” and a vegan  cookbook. I kept it simple by making my decisions fast and ordering the books with the highest rating. I wanted to keep this as simple as possible. Knowing I have an ADD brain and a tendency to overcomplicate everything.

I decided I would make my transition slowly. I would read “Living Vegan for Dummies” first and get the basics under my belt. In the mean time I started just looking at vegan foods in the store to see what was available. Every time I did my regular grocery shopping I spent a few moments stopping and looking at vegan alternatives, making a note of prices, and reading a label or two. It was then that I started to get curious and gave myself permission to do some taste testing. Each time I went to the store I would buy a couple of vegan items just to sample. I gave myself permission to dive right in to the soy ice cream and the vegan cookies, knowing I needed to prove to myself right off the bat the going vegan didn’t spell the end to ever eating anything good again. And it worked. I soon found that there are many scrumptious vegan foods to choose from and I need never feel deprived. I may feel inconvenienced at times, but never deprived.

And then there was the cooking. My least favorite activity in the world! I knew right away I would have to cook. There was no getting around it. I took my new cookbook and chose one recipe a week to try. I only made extra recipes if I wanted to. I was still eating animal protein too. I was slowly eating up the foods that I already had in my kitchen while working in vegan choices when it was convenient. This slow approach is working great for me so far. I picked a great cookbook and have made some very tasty meals. My motivation to cook is greater because I know I’m killing two birds with one stone. I’m cooking more nutritious meals at home and cutting back on processed foods and fast food. Cooking with fresh ingredients is motivating. The food is beautiful and colorful and I know its good for me. Often in the beginning I posted pictures of the dishes I prepared on Facebook. It helped motivate me when people made positive comments and I felt proud that I was finally cooking!

The purpose of this blog is to help me stay motivated. I’m also trying to cement into my brain the things I’m learning by repetition. It is always easier to remember something once you explain it to someone else. My hope is that this is a journey I will continue. I need the psychological work out of writing to get me past the inevitable bumps in the road and the occasional mountain. Wish me luck as I continue my journey. Namaste!

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