Sunday, April 17, 2016

An Experiment Gone Horribly Wrong

You may be wondering where I have been. Why haven't I been posting colorful vegan food photos? What happened to all the nutrition info I usually post on social media?

Well, to be honest, I didn't like my food enough to take pictures of it lately. I have been EXPERIMENTING and today I'm going to tell you what I have learned.

I was frustrated with my weight. I have about 12 extra pounds on me that just won't budge. I decided to switch up my diet and see what happens. I mean really, really switch.....

Last year I saw an alternative medicine doctor. I was frustrated with my weight then, too. She recommended a paleo diet. I declined to take that advice, because I was committed to being a vegan, or at least a vegetarian. Lately I've seen several people touting the Bulletproof Diet (basically paleo, and ketogenic as well). The seed was planted....

So for the past month I've been trying to keep my carbs below 50 gm/day. It's nearly impossible to do as a vegan, but as a vegetarian it is possible. The only problem is that I hate eggs.... so in order to get enough protein, I either have to eat a ton of whey or give in to meat.

I actually ate meat several times a week. I also went back to eating Quest Bars (whey), as I had done years ago, in order to get the minimum protein requirement of the ketogenic diet. The first few tasted weird because of the artificial sweeteners, but I got used to them. I also ate some of the Dales Raw Protein Bars (vegan and CLEAN) but they contributed more carbs. I tried adding collagen protein to my Shakeology, but even my Shakeology seemed to contribute too many carbs in one meal. I added MCT oil and even tried Bulletproof Coffee. (google it)

So what happened after a month of this paleo/keto/bulletproof/whateveryoucallit diet? Here's what I learned:

  1. I lost NOTHING. Not a pound. I tracked every carbohydrate, fat and protein gram and every calorie and I'm still the same weight.
  2. I got SICK... after the first week I caught a cold (I never get sick) and it lingered and turned into sinusitis that hung around for 3 weeks! I even went to the doctor and got prescriptions, and it didn't go away!
  3. My skin looked worse... the first week I got pimples! I'm 55 and I broke out! After that my skin just looked dull and more wrinkled.
  4. I missed oats. I can do gluten free, but I really wanted overnight oats.
  5. I missed fruit. Four strawberries or ½ cup of raspberries a day is NOT enough.
  6. I missed VARIETY. All the colors, textures and combinations of the plant kingdom were missing. I was tired of zucchini and asparagus!
  7. I was TIRED. I don't know who these people are that claim by eating copious amounts of FAT and moderate protein with very little fruits and veggies, and no grains or legumes you get more energy. I was so tired and could barely get through my workouts! Sure, bulletproof coffee got me going for a few days, but my body soon adjusted to the caffeine levels. Sure all the fat kept the hunger pangs at bay, but I had very low energy...and I was CRABBY.
  8. Something curious: after a couple of years as a 90% vegan vegetarian, with only a few burgers as “treats” that I always regretted... I had no trouble eating or digesting red meat. I actually LIKE the taste of red meat. I thought I would enjoy uncured bacon, but it only tasted overly salty and greasy, and I could barely look at chicken. I was going to make a chicken curry one day and the raw meat grossed me out so I put it in the freezer for the hubby and substituted tempeh. The curry was delicious, but the tempeh added a few carbs.
  9. I found the diet very hard to stick with. I ate a lot of nuts. I ate a lot of bars. I don't like eggs or fish. Cottage cheese and yogurt have carbohydrates, o the protein choices were very limited. This “lifestyle choice” is very restrictive.
  10. I spent more money on groceries. Animal products are expensive, especially organic and grass-fed ones.
Yesterday, after stepping on the scale and seeing that I had actually gained a pound from the day before I temporarily became determined to cut the carbohydrates even more.... and then after wasting 2 hours browsing recipes and blog posts I came to my senses. I QUIT. I had a bowl of brown rice to celebrate my nutrition freedom! It was glorious! I ate an apple! It was like Christmas! I made vegan pancakes with berries for breakfast! IT WAS HEAVENLY!

Today I have a ton more energy, and my head is clearer! It's been just one day since ditching the high-fat and protein based diet and I already feel better. I may not ever lose these 12 pounds, but I'm going to FEEL better and enjoy my food!

I proved it to myself. A variety of plant based foods will give you all the nutrients and antioxidants you need to fight off disease and keep your body energized. Plant based diets cost less than clean animal based diets. Plant based snacking is easy. You get enough fat in whole foods. You get enough protein for your metabolic needs in a well-rounded plant based diet. Never again! No more adding fat to my food just because I need to reach a number. No more obsessing over ratios and grams. I'll still cheat now and then with my personal kryptonite, pizza, and feel bad the following day. I might still indulge in a slice of cheesecake on my daughter's birthday. But for 90% of the time, this girl is back to vegan, mostly gluten-free and limited added oils.

A plant-based diet is right for me, right for the animals and right for the environment.