This is part 2 of my vegan experience. What I ate and what I learned. You can read Part 1 here.
I went back to some of the foods I grew up eating, most of which are Japanese. I also cut down on salt and sugar. I decided to cut down on salt because I’ve had a problem with my hands swelling after I run about 2 miles. If I run 4+ miles, it becomes very uncomfortable.
With my options limited, I actually found it much easier to choose something healthy.
I cleaned out the pantry. I was happy most of it was still good but I was horrified at how many packages of certain things we had. I found 6 bags of chocolate chips! Ok, well that wasn’t so horrible. I kept buying them because I thought we were out. We weren’t out. I just couldn’t find them under the mess.
I also simplified our desserts. For dessert we had been giving out M&Ms, jelly beans, ice cream, Oreos, or some other junk. Now I buy the 1 lb. chocolate bars at Trader Joes and each kid gets 1-3 pieces. If we run out of the type they want (milk, dark, with or without almonds) they can have fruit.
Here is a list of the main foods I ate…
- Coffee with coconut cream (no sugar added)
- Smoothie (Kale, frozen strawberries, banana, vanilla Muscle Milk protein powder and vanilla soy milk)
- Vega One Vanilla Chai shake with vanilla soy milk
- Peanut butter toast and a banana
- Oatmeal with coconut butter (no salt or sugar added)
- Miso soup (water and miso paste) with udon noodles and wakame seaweed (bought dried and rehydrated in the boiling miso soup)
- Veggie pizza (no cheese)
- Vegetable cashew stir-fry (broccoli, carrots, kale, water chestnuts and cashew nuts) with rice
- Combination of several snack choices below
- Peanut butter pretzels with no added salt
- Fruit (about 4-5 a day)
- Salad (lettuce, spinach, carrots, cucumber tomato and miso dressing)
- Tofu (silken, cold) with shoyu
- Purple sweet potato
- Mashed avocado with tortilla chips ( Quinoa and Black Bean infused tortilla chips from Trader Joes, I like these because it has less salt)
- Olive bread
- Rice and nori (dried seaweed)
- Mixed nuts
What I struggled with
I stuck to a strictly vegan diet for 8 days. The most difficult thing was avoiding dairy products. I was shocked at how much dairy I was eating. I used to eat yogurt, even though I’m not crazy about it, because I thought I wasn’t getting enough calcium. But it turns out that nearly every time I ate, I was consuming some form of dairy.
I caught myself mindlessly putting a cookie in my mouth one day. And then a few hours later I almost took a bite of some leftover grilled cheese. This surprised me. I didn’t realize I was snacking without thought.
And I didn’t enjoy my coffee as much without the caramel creamer I love so much. I did drink less coffee because of that. But I’m really not ready to give up coffee.
Even though I was strictly vegan for only 8 days, my body did go through a sort of cleanse. I’ll try not to be too graphic, but I spent a lot of time in the bathroom those first few days. Also, I get really gassy at night. My stomach doesn’t hurt, so that’s good. The kids find it hilarious. And Shane is getting used to it. I think.
How I felt
Better. The change was gradual so I can’t say exactly how many days it was before I felt better. I didn’t go through withdrawals like I’ve read some people do. But I noticed enough improvements that make it hard to deny being a vegan made a positive impact on my health.
I slept better. I had been sleeping up to 11 hours at night and would still be tired during the day. I was also sleeping very lightly and woke up several times at night. But during my experiment, I slept much harder, not even needing to get up for a trip to the bathroom. And it was much easier for me to wake up at 6am.
I had more energy during the day. I didn’t experience my usual 2pm crash, where I feel an overwhelming urge to take a nap. This was significant for me because this was in addition to me being able to wake up earlier in the morning.
I felt happier and more in control of my emotions. I felt much more loving. I sent Shane off to work with love and kindness and greeted him with the same when he got home from work. And the best part about that is that I wasn’t forcing myself to do it. It wasn’t some goal I set for myself. I felt compelled to do it because I wanted him to know that I appreciate him. Typically, he would come home to frazzled-and-ready-to-dump-the-kids-off-on-anyone Marie. He completely supports me being a vegan.
My hands no longer swell up when I run. This is the most shocking effect from my experiment. It’s not that the swelling is less, it’s completely gone. I have been reading a lot about how salt is good for runners because we sweat a lot. But I guess there is such a thing as too much salt. I’m bummed that I wasted $30 on those compression sleeves but it’s a good lesson. From now on, if I have something wrong with me, I’ll look to my diet first.
My brain worked. I wrote this blog post about how I remembered to use a coupon and where Eliza’s shoes were. This is not typical for me.
Now that I’m thinking more clearly, I think I was in denial. I really thought that I was eating a healthy variety of foods. I ate vegetables and fruit but also didn’t deny myself the satisfaction of bacon and cheesecake. My philosophy on food was “tasty healthy”. Tasty meaning everything is enhanced with bacon fat and heavy cream.
But maybe my love of bacon fat and heavy cream was a little excessive and not really part of a balanced healthy diet. Hhhmmm…. things to ponder.