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Diet Is Not a Personal Choice: an invitation

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I've noticed the same thing about oil, @DianeHB. Low-fat, plant-based foods feel like they "burn cleaner", which results in more energy, less sluggishness.

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I didn't know where else to share this but I've been off meat for a month now. I figure it's a good place to start without trying to do too much at once. I still eat processed food and some dairy but I figure more down the road I will cut those out as well. Switching from meat has gotten me into cooking as well which I never used to do because no one in my house really cooks. It was quite a surprise finding out how much I love it! It's something I can just focus on and just DO. Here's a list I've been going off for recipes if anyone wants to look. 

 

https://www.buzzfeed.com/deenashanker/satisfying-vegan-dinners?utm_term=.mt1e41eVWB#.gce9er9anA

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Posted (edited)

NickG that is great! That is how I got into cooking. It is so creative, and it gives so much scope for experimentation and learning, with either blah, or great results that you can eat. I love cooking too. Do you recommend any dish over another? I am always wanting personal recommendations.

Edited by AnnaD
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2 minutes ago, AnnaD said:

NickG that is great! Tell me which meals do you recommend? I am always wanting personal recommendations.

 

Thanks! The only ones I've tried so far are number 11, the easy peanut noodles, and number 5, the poblano and portobello fajitas. They're both really good and only take like a half hour to make. The hardest part is cleaning up the pans after lol   

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Good for you, Nick! It's really cool to me when a guy who never cooks is willing to learn, because a lot of times they're not encourage to learn cooking from a young age. Fajitas and pasta are two of my go-to meals, too. Another one I frequently make is curry, and it's super easy if you get a ready-made curry sauce and a bag of frozen veggies (I like Japanese curry in a cube or a jar of Indian curry sauce). Make some rice, combine the sauce, veggies, and beans/tofu/tempeh in a pot, cook about 15 minutes, and you're done.

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That's very cool, Nick! I also love cooking, it's a grounding pleasure, and really connects you to your food. It will take time to find your new favorites. Happy experimenting!

I'm fond of using different hummuses (the best: with sun-dried tomatoes) as a pasta sauce to get some protein along with the carbs, super easy, too, if you can buy decent suff, or you can make a batch yourself. I also love curries -- so easy, such flavor, so filling, endless possibilities. Stir fries with some nuts are also great.

I got a "lovely" virus this weekend, had a massive fever (which is good) and recovered quickly compared to my husband who had the same thing weeks before. I wanted a serious punch of garlic, so my favorite way to eat it was pressed garlic on toasted rye bread with avocado slices on top, to take the worst edge off the raw garlic.

*
So far, I've found that eating plant-based has made my life easier in the sense that I know what I can eat, and from that pool there is SO MUCH to choose from! Also, food is just food now. I'm hungry, I eat -- I don't overthink it. I don't see food as status related, wealth related or as an emotional comfort thing. I don't know how that happened, but I'm guessing all the nasties in dairy actually made me feel down very often, so I needed to "eat more ice cream to get over the ice cream blues", to simplify. Now I'd say I get appetites rather than cravings.

Sarah and Diane, I understand your oil position. I haven't been entirely vegetarian long enough to know yet, but so far my intuitive sense is that living in a colder climate requires more fats. Some penguins are a good example, with their near-3-inch fat layer :) I'm suspecting at some point it may come to the choice between more fat or wool clothing for me... to be updated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Hi everyone! I am looking for advice on vegetarian/vegan diet: just like NickG and many others here, I started my vegetarian diet at the beginning of New Year and it went fairly well for a few weeks until February. It got interrupted by a work trip outside of the country, and also by an abnormal menstrual period which caused Anemia. It's kind of scary, according to the blood count result, my red blood cell percentage is only at 33%, compared to 41% in another test I did four months ago. I went through many tests, and the doctors cannot find a definite reason for this abnormal amount of bleeding, but did advise me to avoid, or at least cut down soy intake, as they suspect the increase amount of soy in my diet has caused hormone problems (the levels seems to be normal in the test results though).

 

I went back to eat meat, as I don't know a good, tasty plant-based protein to replace soy. Also I am concerned about the Anemia situation. Soy does interfere with the ability to absorb iron. Can anyone offer some diet advice here for non-soy based protein? I am aware of food like Quinoa, mix of rice and beans, lentils and all that, but as I don't have much time to cook for myself, I kind of get stuck with very limited vegetarian choices if I eliminate Tofu as an option. Besides, I actually really love all kinds of Tofu, it's one very important reason why I think I may do well as an vegetarian from the beginning :(

 

Another thing I want to ask is, how do you make sure you get all the nutrition you need when on a vegan/vegetarian diet? One challenge is protein, the other is the Anemia situation I mentioned above. I am fully aware of the health benefits of plant based diet and I do think it's the way to go if I can manage to keep a healthy nutrition balance.      

Edited by Cong
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On 18.2.2017 at 9:30 AM, Stickyflames said:

https://youtu.be/2R07FL1wVo4

Just watched this amazing teach on protiens.

A must watch for anyone who fears lacking meat in ones diet.

 

Thank you so much for posting this! @Cong, if you have time, see this or listen while cooking, it should take the sharpest edge off your protein worry :)

I never worried about protein when I first went vegetarian, but I am arming myself with information now as I lacked confidence and scientific information to answer the skeptics and frighteners as I was young then and not eating meat was actually one of the first steps of my 3rd IM, I now see. Another thing I was often frightened with is lack of iron, which was never an issue for me during my strict vegetarian years.


On another note, I found out today there is a thing called peace silk which means the cocoons are only used after their inhabitant has left the premises. Now I wonder if sheep bred to grow lots of wool might just start shedding their wool on their own eventually when they get too hot, I'd be okay with using that if they don't need it anymore :)

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On closer reading, the peace silk is still highly iffy, at best... so I'll wear whatever secondhand silk I find and be happy with it. Cheaper, anyhow... I have so much to learn yet, cool :)

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Posted (edited)

@Cong you can cook on batch and freeze your food. I do this for legumes and saves a lot of time! And for raising your iron levels, for salads lightly steam your spinachs, and add citrics for better absorption.  A spinach, kale, cup of orange and parsley smoothie is awesome and your skin will glow, too! :D

Here's another: http://www.healthyfoodstyle.com/smoothie-that-prevents-and-fights-anemia-in-a-natural-way/ 

 

-1/2 cup strawberries

-1 banana /mango

-a handful of spinach or dandelion greens

-1 cup of green apple juice

 ** Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend for several seconds until you get thick enough mixture. 

 

I also take a mutivit and magnesium to make sure everything is ok. Here's some interesting info: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/easy-ways-to-add-iron-to-your-meals-without-meat/ 
Spirulina is great: "This superfood (when bought from a reputable brand that does routine testing for contaminants) is rich in some of the most important nutrients your body needs, iron being one of those. Containing 80 percent of your daily iron needs in a TEASPOON, spirulina can easily be added to a smoothie. Just be sure not to consume too much of this superfood. A little will go a long way, not to mention, it’s more cost-effective to use the recommended serving size of one teaspoon and eat other iron-rich foods in addition to this superfood algae. Spirulina also contains Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, iodine, and Vitamin A. All of these are important for metabolic health, muscle health, immune health, and brain health."

Edited by Rosario
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4 hours ago, Evelin said:

 

 

I never worried about protein when I first went vegetarian, but I am arming myself with information now as I lacked confidence and scientific information to answer the skeptics and frighteners as I was young then and not eating meat was actually one of the first steps of my 3rd IM, I now see.


 

I read this and just realized this was the case for me as well. I was surrounded by drinking, smoking, coffee dependent meat-eaters. So, I turned 15 and became a teetotalling, no caffeine drinking, nonsmoking vegetarian. How else to rebel, when your parents only care about your getting good grades, apart from letting those slide?

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On 2017-03-08 at 5:16 AM, Evelin said:

Sarah and Diane, I understand your oil position. I haven't been entirely vegetarian long enough to know yet, but so far my intuitive sense is that living in a colder climate requires more fats. Some penguins are a good example, with their near-3-inch fat layer :) I'm suspecting at some point it may come to the choice between more fat or wool clothing for me... to be updated.

 

I've been told to eat more fat, but I don't always do well with that. I do eat nuts and avocados, and I do eat things cooked in oil (I'm terrible when it comes to French fries). I just don't feel optimal when I do, that's all.

 

One thing that a naturopath told me was to eat more cooked foods, especially through the winter (I'm near Vancouver, so we've got the "damp cold" thing going... which can be really unpleasant). I've found that the cooked food really helps, as far as staying warm. Soups, stews, roasted veggies... all of those are good ways of warming up without adding too much fat to the diet.

 

I tried a low-fat raw vegan diet a few years ago... and sort of ended up doing it in the middle of winter. Not a great idea. All that raw food can make you really cold! (I try to eat more of the raw stuff through the summer when I want to cool down.)

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Congrats on the diet change, @Cong! I can highly recommend both Vega (I used Vega Sport) and Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal shakes (made with unflavored almond milk for even more protein) as a quick, effortless option. In terms of whole food, black bean or lentil pastas are incredible (available at Trader Joe's or Aldi, for ex). The ones I have cook in 6-8 minutes, have at minimum 20g of protein per serving, and at least 36% iron. Eaten with tomato sauce would also increase iron absorption because of the high Vit. C content. I sauté a few veggies, pour the sauce into the pan, mix it up and pour it over the pasta. High protein, high iron meal in about 10 mins. 

 

If you're worried about getting enough nutrients after the switch, one thing that made a huge difference for me when I first started eating vegetarian was tracking micro-nutrients using a food tracking site called Cronometer. It's pretty time intensive because you input everything you eat, but it'll help you get data about which food combinations provide for all your nutritional needs. We tend to eat the same things over and over anyways, so once you figure that out, you can be sure your staples provide for what you need. I tracked pretty regularly for about 2 months, and then usually just repeated what was most nutritionally balanced, plus the daily input also taught me nutritional info for lots of food, so even when I'm out, I can make informed decisions. And my Scholar-casting was thrilled with the whole experience, too. 😉

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Also, as far as the protein question goes, I'd say don't worry too much about it. If you're eating a healthy plant-based diet and getting enough calories, you should be getting enough protein. (At least, that's what I've read.) I can't tolerate soy, so I haven't eaten it in years. My protein comes from everything else I eat: quinoa, nuts, beans, lentils, veggies... Everything has protein, actually.

 

Anemia has other causes, as well, including thyroid disease. I know people who've struggled with anemia for years... and eating meat or not eating meat didn't really make a difference. I don't think one period would cause anemia on its own... though perhaps whatever caused the abnormal period is also behind the anemia.

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Posted (edited)

I'm glad you're on this journey, Cong. It can be confusing trying to eat right on a vegetarian/vegan diet, what with all the conflicting information. Here are some of my thoughts:

 

1. It's a long-perpetuated myth that we don't get enough protein, or that plant proteins aren't "complete", based on misinterpreted research from earlier 20th century. 

2. All plants have protein, not just soy. See this for percentage of protein in plant foods. I've read an article (can't find it at the moment) by the same dietitian, Jeff Novick, that any single whole plant food, if eaten enough to fulfill your daily caloric requirement, will have enough protein for your daily requirement. And you can tell this simply by looking up nutrition facts in the USDA food database. The point is not for you to eat 5 lbs of broccoli, but to make the point that whole plant foods in almost any combination will provide enough protein when you eat your daily caloric requirement. However, if you don't eat whole foods you might need to pay attention to getting enough protein. In that case focus on the foods high in protein.

3. Even though soy has phytoestrogens, it has actually been found to prevent breast cancer and increase breast cancer survival rates. Watch these videos for more detail. But did you know that meat, dairy, and eggs all have estrogen, the kind that's indistinguishable from human estrogen? So to reduce foreign hormones in your body, you'll probably want to cut out both animal foods and soy.

 

This is a good overview of how to prevent deficiencies on a plant-based diet. However, since you have health issues that might need more nutritional support, I would really suggest finding a plant-based dietitian to help you. Regular doctors get almost no nutrition training in medical school and shouldn't be giving nutrition advice.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKwnMCEp3HM

 

Edited by DianeHB
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Posted (edited)

On 3/8/2017 at 5:16 AM, Evelin said:

Sarah and Diane, I understand your oil position. I haven't been entirely vegetarian long enough to know yet, but so far my intuitive sense is that living in a colder climate requires more fats. Some penguins are a good example, with their near-3-inch fat layer :) I'm suspecting at some point it may come to the choice between more fat or wool clothing for me... to be updated.

 

Oil vs. Fat

- When I say I avoid oil, I mean processed oils in a bottle or jar, not fats from whole foods like nuts, seeds, avocados (or even soy, which is a fatty bean). There is no processed oil that is good for the body, including olive oil and coconut oil (the benefits of which are mostly hype). They are inflammatory on the blood vessels and can lead to cardiac disease and high cholesterol, even in vegans. I avoid oil because I'm prone to high cholesterol and need to get it down. A side effect is I'm losing the weight I gained from working at a desk, eating poorly, and not exercising for the last two years. But, like Sarah, I still eat oily foods (including fries) from time to time when I go out. I don't feel great afterwards, either. Nothing obvious, but I can feel the inflammation in the back of my throat when I eat oily foods. It feels a little like the onset of a sore throat, but then goes away by the next day. 

 

I can dig up the research on all of this if anyone is interested.

 

@Evelin, I noticed that I crave more calories in the winter, too, and want lighter foods when the weather's warm. I think it's because we burn more calories to sustain body heat in the cold. I can't find it at the moment, but I recall a study showing that we do put on a fat layer in the winter (which explains how we can get "used to" the cold a few weeks into winter). I'm perfectly happy with starchy foods when I want more calories, though.

Edited by DianeHB
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@DianeHB I know I have things to learn yet about the whole food diet. The oil thing makes sense to me, though. I watched the protein video and it was mentioned there as well. I usually also sense in my throat when something isn't (good) for me, haven't had that feeling with oil, but I'm only beginning with all this, so I'm taking it slow. I've just been using oil (before it was butter) as an easy source of extra calories, as I've often had a problem getting enough calories, I lose my appetite or forget to eat when I'm stressed. So, I'm gonna use whatever good oils I have left on my skin. (Please don't tell me that's bad for me, too...)

 

Yup, we definitely need more calories in winter :) I don't even need research to convince me here.

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