If I had eight arms and hands I would write about every single individual day on this experience. Knowing that I don’t I just mashed it all up into one large food diary of what I ate and how I felt afterwards during my plant-based experiment! I went through both a lot of ups and downs but ended up learning a great deal. It was basically like trying out the keto diet, which didn’t last long since I love sweet potatoes too much! However, you’ll see I went through a bit of a fiasco here too! Well anyways, I captured all of my breakfasts and lunches on this diet to show all of you to share some inspiration and insight of how I ate. My breakfasts usually followed a long two or more hour workout for reasons I’ll list below, but first awe on the food!
BONUS: Vegan Chocolate and Blueberry Sorbet!
What were the best parts about being plant-based? Knowing that what I ate was good for the environment, required no factory-farming cruelty and was nourishing for my body. In general it wasn’t hard to find a vegan option whenever out and about, which includes the pretty darn indulgent-but-so-worth-it chocolate and blueberry gelato! (Hey, ’twas good for the soul.) While I didn’t feel magnificently different, I happily enjoyed eating more carbs from starches and fruit, not worrying too much about getting in enough protein, and obviously, eating plant foods in abundance.
On the other hand, the worst parts were metabolic damage, fear and restriction. Firstly, let’s tackle what whacked my body up. I ate my first white potato one night and boom–got a few zits and a giant whitehead the next morning. Okay, not so bad, since I knew white carbs don’t agree with my skin in the first place. But I also gained three legit belly fat pounds (proof they’re fat because I weighed myself even after working out). After some research as to why I gained weight, I decided to reduce my fat and protein intake and go a bit more high-carb-low-fat (almost 80/10/10) which is what most plant-based people recommend for optimal health and weight loss. I thought I would love it, but it turned out to be the complete opposite…
I never felt full after my protein-less/fat-free salads and fruity smoothies, but worst of all I felt pretty restricted. Nut butters and chocolate are my kryptonite, and it was so hard to refuse them when they were around. I felt quite orthorexic actually when obsessing over what I’d eat, if my mother cooked with olive oil I’d freak, what the fat would do to me when combined with the carbs, and how much of an “effing failure I’d be if I gained any more weight”. I tried to suck it up for one more day but just got crankier and crankier. The more I got caught up in trying to follow everything precisely, the more vain and less ethical my motives became. I no longer thought of the animals and environment but thought of bikinis.
After searching up stories of weight gain, hair loss, eating disorders and other terrible vices from the HCLFers, I realized that I had to set things back the way they were pre-plant-based. I followed a more moderate carb, moderate fat and moderate protein ratio and felt so much better. My bloating reduced, my body fat shed, my skin cleared up, I stopped obsessing over my next meal, my teeth stopped hurting, and mentally I felt free. The sugars from the fruit probably caught up and didn’t burn off as quickly had I not been more active–but then again who has time for more than three hours at the gym?!
To make a long story short, a plant-based lifestyle or a normal life with a vegan diet is for me, and anything more extreme whether that may be HCLF, fruitarian, raw till 4, or starch solution is not. I apologize in advance for all 80/10/10 and HCLF peeps out there who wished me luck on this lifestyle and hoped that I would join them. But I can’t be like one of those girls with tanned and toned bodies that can have sugary fruits, avocado rolls and white potatoes 24/7. I just can’t. I’m sorry.
As disappointing as it seemed to not be like the popular HCLF models/gurus, I realized that I should be grateful of that. It made me more trusting and accepting of my body. Knowing it was time to change, I implemented more fats and protein into my diet while moderating but not restricting my carbs and sugars–for instance, instead of an entire bag of frozen fruit I’d stick to only a few servings and some protein powder and healthy fats to balance. I cannot describe to you how much better I felt and looked. I could eat Justin’s again! Yes, this transition took a bit of a toll on me too, since I worried I’d make some HCLF followers angry. But in fact, I discovered even more people following my lifestyle. I felt more in place and more comfortable being around girls who shared the same interest in Quest bars, Greek yogurt and eggs on toast as me!
My best advice for anyone trying this lifestyle is to do wise research, trust your gut, give it time and never lose sight of what’s important. Really know your resources and look at critiques of them (trust me, I read more China Study rebuttals than I can count!). Listen to your body, and when it doesn’t feel good you know you did it wrong. Don’t be scared if you experience bloating and such since the fibers from the plants take a while to digest; for personal reasons I had to stop after a week but I would’ve stuck to it longer if I could. And lastly, don’t be fooled by selfish motives. Despite the fact I did benefit the animals and the environment I started to think less of them when I look my diet too extreme for my health.
I would have to say that my experience was overall pretty positive. I learned a lot, ate awesome food and took some time to enjoy cruelty-free living! After watching Vegucated, Fed Up and Cowspiracy, I can conclude that after graduation I’ll start ovo-vegetarianism for the benefit of my health, the environment and the animals, but since it’s scientifically true that there are necessary nutrients found in only animal products that plant products do not contain such as carnosine, Vitamin B12 and creatine, (and vice versa, i.e. Vitamin C and phytochemicals) I have a definite health reason to consume organic pasture-raised eggs and rBST-free dairy.
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