So, how am I doing on the road to a plant based diet whole foods diet?
In one word; Thriving!
I had no trouble making changes to the way I was eating. I am what Gretchen Rubin (author of Better than Before) would call a Questioner. Basically, that means I tend to question new things insentiently until I get the answers I need to make my decision. Through question and research, I gained the empirical data I needed to make my decision that a plant based whole foods diet would be the best way to fuel my body. I was convinced and adopted the new way of eating overnight and with little difficulty. The answers I found in my search for a simple way to eat nutritiously, is what prompted me to start this blog.
However, I am still working on finding the right balance of plant based whole foods that is most comfortable for my body. When making changes to your diet you need to give your body time to adapt which often means going through a period of discomfort while you figure out what works and what doesn’t. I have noticed I am more bloated than normal. Also, I find I am giving into cravings for sweets more often. Thirdly, my bowel movements have increased (which may be a positive side effect for many, but I was already pleasantly regular prior to starting this new diet). Sorry for the TMI, but it is a valid point to make when looking at dietary changes. I think these issues are the result of incorporating more beans into my meals, mainly chickpeas (because I love them), and because I have added grains back into my diet, which I previously avoided. I feel like the bloating is due to the increase in vegetable and bean fiber, and the additional sugar cravings are due to some of the extra carbohydrates I am consuming.
Trouble digesting Raw Veggies?
With this new way of eating I have noticed that my digestive system is not quite strong enough to handle raw veggies. My digestive system is still healing from the damage of past IBS flare ups, and it is still not functioning at its’ optimal ability. For now, I need to steam my veggies at a minimum. This was recommended to by my Acupuncturist a while back and it has helped so much. I am also a big fan of quick and easy salads, so I add warm rice or quinoa on top of the lettuce. This helps to warm up the salad and makes the mixed greens much easier on my tummy.
Sometimes it does depend which vegetables you are choosing. Cruciferous vegetables tend to be a bit harder to digest; a weak digestive system may struggle with things like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. Vegetables that are easier on your digestive system would be: carrots, zucchini (and other summer squash), butternut squash (and other winter squash), lettuce, spinach, eggplant, cucumbers, and cucumbers. Your digestive system will heal over time as you eliminate the foods that harm and incorporate the foods that heal, so stick to cooked vegetables and ‘safe’ vegetables for the first few months when incorporating this new way of eating. Also, to make cruciferous vegetables more easily digestible Marni Wasserman recommends “putting an acid on (lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar), get them chopped up into small pieces, massage them, put a little sea salt, and olive oil on them (or other omega 3 oil), and let it sit for about 30 minutes” (The Ultimate Health Podcast).
And don’t forget about soups! Soups are a delicious and warm way to eat vegetables. Here is a great idea to turn your vegetable scraps into a vegetable broth: Tasty: How to make vegetable stock from kitchen scraps
I originally intended to go completely vegetarian, but have since decided to make modifications. It’s important to understand that there is not a good diet for everyone. We are all biologically very different, so listen to your body and make choices that give you energy, keep you healthy and make you feel balanced. I still want to avoid meat for ethical and environmental issues, which I will dig into in a future blog. But, I have decided to keep eggs and a bit of fish in my diet for the time being. I feel like those foods help me feel satiated longer and help reduce my intake of sugars.
Not one diet fits all.
Diet in this context does not refer to a short-term calorie restricted way of eating. Whenever I use the word ‘diet’, I am referring to your personal philosophy towards what you choose to put into your body. I believe we all should have one and most of us do, even if we don’t realize it. The choices we make in regards to what foods fuel us, should not simply be left up to whim. We are lucky enough to have choices in regards to what we eat, so when I refer to diet I am referring to the choices we make.
Too often we try to outsource our health to other people, when really all we need to do is listen to our body. Our bodies are miraculous machines and tell us everything we need to know to thrive. The trouble is the body communicates to us through subtle changes in the way we feel, and many of us have trouble interpreting these feelings. Even worse, many of us are so used to feeling uncomfortable, that we start to assume it is normal. Try to be more cognizant of the way different foods, activities, even people make you feel, and stick to the things that make you feel good inside. The trickiest part is figuring out what things to eliminate and what things to add to your healthy lifestyle so be patient and stick with it.
If you want to keep things really simple; start with increasing your intake of vegetables and decreasing your intake of sugar.