Recently, I posted the following on my Facebook page:
Shhhh... I have a secret... Putting it on Facebook won't spoil it, will it lol?? Anyway, some of you know that I have been doing Paleo eating for a while now, and that one of the things I like about it is that it stresses whole foods, things found in nature, no processed crap, etc. It also specifies no grains and no legumes, for a number of reasons. It's helped me pinpoint my food sensitivities, which is primarily gluten, and that alone has changed my life and the way I eat. I have learned a ton!
Soooo... I've been thinking a lot lately about my health, my family's health, and what we need to eat to properly fuel our bodies. I thought back to a time when my husband and I were a little more fit and healthy, and there was no doubt. It was during and right after The Ultimate Reset, a program Beachbody has that cleanses toxins from your body, and has you adopt a vegan lifestyle during the 21 days, in order to put your body in a less acidic and inflamed state. I can honestly say I've never felt more alive, aware, and just HEALTHY than I did when we were eating this way. So like I said, I was thinking about this... and I wondered, why did I stop? Why did I go back to my old lifestyle, a lifestyle that was not only hard for me to maintain, but also one that took a lot of enjoyment out of eating? I was constantly measuring out "carbs" and trying to eat enough good fats, and worrying about where my meat came from. So the simple solution is going to be just that - to keep it simple!
I've decided to adopt a plant based lifestyle that will not only give me every bit of nutrition I need, but will also help me to enjoy food again! And I won't have to worry about what's in the animal products I feed my family. I feel an immense weight lifted already. I've done this before, and I know I can do it again and thrive. Sure, I know I will slip up, and I go have about 25 days worth of regular ShakeO to finish off, but then that order is getting switched to vegan. Starting today, we are making the transition to plant-based food, and I couldn't be happier about it!
Yes, I had been eating Paleo for a while, but could never stick with it. It was so restrictive on carbs that I was slowly losing my excitement regarding food. This caused me to only want to binge MORE because I was being so strict. I was obsessing over the carbs in fruit, nuts, etc. - things that we know are healthy. I was trying to cram a ton of protein and (good) fat into my diet to fit the guidelines. It was just too much, and it didn't feel natural or in tune with what I intuitively felt was the right way to eat. I am grateful to have had the experience with Paleo eating though, because it did help me to cut out processed foods and start making everything from scratch! Discovering my gluten sensitivity was also huge.
Why go vegan?
Well, as I said before above, I kept thinking of my time on the Reset, and how good I felt. My mind was clear, my stomach shrunk, I slept better, and the weight just fell off effortlessly! The Reset was an actual "detox" program with supplements, but vegan eating during the 21 days was highly emphasized, the purpose of which was to reduce inflammation in the body and to assist with the detox process. Yes, the calories were more limited in order to make the cleanse more effective, but I still felt very satisfied overall, and very much in control. It's hard to explain - I just felt good, like my body was functioning the way it should.
I started reading books about being vegan, and scoured lots of blogs and websites. Things just started to click for me. One of the main pitfalls I had always recognized in Paleo eating was the emphasis on high quality meats, eggs, and dairy - grass fed beef, free range chickens/eggs, pastured butter, etc. These were things that were not readily available to my family at a reasonable cost, so I was fairly sure I wasn't getting all of the benefits of eating this way. That led to a lot of guilt and worry over what I was putting in my body. I bought organic produce and dairy when I could, but I knew I was "doing it wrong" as far as meat goes. So one day, randomly, I stumbled upon a video on YouTube about someone who had been vegan but then went back to animal products and gained a bunch of weight. It was just a silly video for entertainment purposes, but it did get me thinking. That video led to me watching and reading more about the lifestyle, and it made a lot of sense - the way our bodies are made, what we were meant to eat, etc. I also picked up the book, Skinny Bitch, a somewhat controversial manual for getting "skinny". And I learned later, what the authors really mean is healthy and lean - skinny is just a buzzword and a way to sell more books, and they full admit it! ;) Say what you will about the foul language and "tough love" approach by the authors; this book opened my eyes.
In addition to the many health benefits of removing animal products from my diet, the book goes in depth into how meat is processed, how the animals are cared for, and what types of EXTRA things are actually in our meat and dairy besides the meat and dairy - and it's not pretty. Without going into too much detail, I will say that the vast majority of the animals in conventional factory farms are so sick that they need to be given antibiotics to make it to slaughter. So you are likely eating very sick or very medicated animal meat/dairy, or both. I know what you're thinking - here she goes on a rant about animal rights... No, I realize that many people aren't bothered by the treatment of animals, etc. But if you are curious, have a look at Skinny Bitch, or check out the movie "Earthlings" on YouTube. You may change your mind. But enough about that! I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer here. ;)
After I did some research , I decided that I would commit to eating a vegan diet. No meat, no eggs, no dairy or any animal products of any kind. I also do not eat gluten due to my sensitivity. That means lots of reading labels, lots of cooking, and lots of shopping for produce! I have virtually eliminated processed foods, other than some rice crackers now and then, etc. The structure of my day varies, but usually I have oatmeal and fruit or a green smoothie for breakfast, a raw lunch consisting of salad and possibly a complex carb or nuts, and dinner is my main meal that consists of a complex carb and veggies, something like a stir-fry or hearty soup, etc. I generally do not eat "fake meat" products except for fermented soy like tempeh. This is better for you than tofu, which is highly processed and often GMO. Do your research! ;) For snacks I eat fruit (by itself), rice crackers with nut butter or hummus, a vegan Shakeology, or veggies with hummus. The simpler the better. I make a lot of things ahead of time, like my rice/quinoa/sweet potatoes for carbs, and soups to have on hand in a pinch. Basically, if it's a veggie or came from a plant, I can eat it. I do not count calories or carbs. I just have fun with my food! More about how my day is structured and my meals in my next post...
I have been plant-based for almost 4 full days and I have lost 3.5 pounds. I feel lighter, my pants are loose, I am sleeping like a baby, and I have amazing mental clarity. I have NO stomach problems, bloating, gas, etc. that I used to have with eating animal products. I feel fantastic! Will I eat this way forever? Hopefully so! But I know I will have setbacks just like anything we do in life that is important to us. I know it's a process, and I am sticking with it to the best of my ability. Luckily, so far it's been a breeze. I am having so much fun, and I definitely feel like this is the best choice for me right now!