Now that I’ve truly committed to the Plant Based Journey, I feel like I should update on the physical changes I’ve experienced. I don’t have a crazy weight loss story or dramatic loss in inches from my body but I have experienced enough of a benefit that I can honestly say there’s no turning back now.
Getting personal with things, it’s been three cycles since I’ve started to change my diet and I’ve already noticed an improvement in many things. I came off hormonal birth control last May and switched over to the copper IUD. I will say, things got kinda wonky there for a bit. Between having cramps for the first time in years and having some of the heaviest periods imaginable I almost went back to my GYN to have it removed. I knew the first few cycles would be rough but I was persistent in waiting out the symptoms to see if things balanced out (I also just dreaded getting it out since it hurt putting it in). It took until December for me to get any kind of relief (conveniently around the time I started to completely revamp my diet….). Last month, I noticed my cycle was shorter, less heavy, and I only cramped for one day instead of three days like I had become accustomed to.
I also became used to breaking out the week before my period started. It was how I new my cycle was about to start but this month, I didn’t even get a blemish! In fact, my skin got even clearer the week before my period showed up and a friend of mine even commented on how great my skin looked (without makeup). I have the type of acne that forms painful cysts and scars for months on end. While I still have a few blemishes, my skin is very smooth and there haven’t been any new demons popping up (I hope I didn’t just jinx myself).
I also noticed that my energy levels are improving. The last few months before I started to eliminate animal products from my diet I would get exhausted on my period. It had gotten to a point where I was ready to call in sick from work. I’m not sure if I was anemic since I never actually went to the doctor to get my blood checked but I can say that last month my energy levels were so much better and I was at least able to make it through each day. This month, I was even able to do some light exercise the first few days and I was able to get in about 4 miles of walking on the worst day.
Speaking of healthy eating to help with menstruation, Dr. Greger posted this video last week on Fennel Seeds and ginger for menstrual cramps and PMS. I know its anecdotal but I have been incorporating ginger into my diet more…
Finally, and most importantly to me, my mood has dramatically increased over the last two months. I’ve written about my struggle with depression on this blog before and I’ve always been proud of myself for being able to manage things with mental exercises. I never really put a link to diet and my mood but I have noticed things being a lot better. I know my mood will always fluctuate to some degree and there were obviously precipitating factors to my depressive episodes in the past but anything I can do to keep myself in a healthy state is worth it to me.
You guys. I have something amazing to share with you.
I’ve been incorporating more potatoes into my diet recently thanks to my favorite youtube vlogger High Carb Hannah. She’s doing a 30 day potato cleanse eating nothing but potato recipes and non starchy vegetables. While I haven’t gone completely potato based, I have been inspired to eat more spuds lately. I’ve been eating a lot of oven baked fries with dipping sauces and tonight I made this insane cheese-y deliciousness.
There are a few recipes out there but I made mine based off of what I had on hand in my kitchen. I’m pretty excited about the results. So excited in fact, that I used an oven baked potato fry to wipe my Vitamix when I was done. And since my sauce is all veggies and no fat, I didn’t even bat an eyelash. In fact, I sat down for more.
Nacho “Cheez” Sauce:
3 chopped potatoes-I used 2 red potatoes and 1 gold potato
3/4 yellow onion diced
3 large carrots chopped
1 cup chopped sweet peppers
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon garlic
1 tablespoon chives
dash of cayenne pepper
sprinkle of salt (I added mine after I portioned it out so I could use less)
Boil all of the veggies in water. Place nutritional yeast and spices into Vitamix then add boiled veggies and blend until smooth. If the mixture is too thick, you can add some of the potato water to thin it out. Add cayenne and salt to taste.
Voila! Perfect, delicious sauce made before you have time to bake a potato. Obviously, this sauce does not have the same taste of cheese but if you’ve been plant based for more than a few weeks (or just never really liked processed cheese) you’ll go nuts over this stuff. I made enough to fill two mason jars full!
I’ve already decided that tomorrow I’ll be having a loaded baked potato with this stuff all over it topped with salsa. Is it bad that I’m drooling for tomorrow’s dinner already?
Well its finally February which means I have officially been eating a vegan/plant based diet for a whole month. There was a slip up at the beginning of the month but I’ve since learned to navigate the social scene a little better (and I’ve gotten better about standing up for myself and stating my preferences). Today in fact was a pretty big victory for me. We had a work lunch party for my boss and of course there wasn’t a single option available that didn’t have some sort of animal product in it. Mostly meats but of course, even the veggie sandwich was mostly mozzarella cheese. Rather than make a big deal about the salad I had waiting for me in the fridge I just took the cheese off and ate the bread/minimal veggies.
Obviously not the ideal situation but in recent weeks I would’ve just eaten the sandwich and told myself to eat healthier later. And while I did have a salad waiting for me, I didn’t want to disrupt the social situation to make a big deal. I’m pretty excited that I was able to compromise by making a healthier choice while still navigating the social environment. I’m finally starting to see the bigger picture. There’s always an excuse. Always a birthday or a vacation or whatever. But the better thing is that I’m finally starting to stand by my change in eating habits which makes it much easier during awkward moments. And I love the food I do eat so I really don’t feel like I’m missing out.
I had an interesting thought this weekend about lifestyles and social interactions. I went hiking with a friend and a few of his buddies I didn’t know on Sunday. After our hike, we went to Devil’s Backbone for lunch. I was pleasantly surprised to see more than one vegan option on the menu as most local breweries only have food options that are laden with meat and dairy products. Markus mentioned to the group that I am vegan now and someone inevitably asked me where I got my protein from. It made me giggle since that’s the first time someone has actually asked me that and of course, that seems to be the go to vegan question. I didn’t really have time to answer the question as the conversation steered elsewhere but my hesitation made me think about how many people stereotype vegans as being overly aggressive or pushy in their beliefs and how to address the question without coming off like I was trying to convert the masses. I also hesitate to call myself a “vegan” since I identify more with the whole foods plant based diet than I do with the ethics of the vegan movement but I also don’t eat only whole foods 100% of the time (looking at you, Trader Joe’s vegan snacks).
Seeing things from the opposite perspective makes me realize that when you live in a world where your wants/needs/values aren’t the norm it can be stressful. Obviously my food choices are not the end of the world in the grand scheme of “marginalized” or minority groups. However, it is an exercise in compassion for other groups of people that may not have the luxuries I have had. As a white, middle class person I’ve always enjoyed a pretty comfortable existence. I’m beginning to get a small appreciation for other groups of people who face very real and much worse stereotypes. And I’ve only been eating this way for a month!
I’m excited that this new journey has already started to stretch me into new territories both mentally and physically. I will be doing a post soon about the physical changes I’ve experienced in the last 30 days. I can’t wait to see what next month brings!