So this post - it's been a couple of weeks in the making and it's high time to just get it out there.
I was hesitant about writing it, but after talking to some of my favorite trainer and nutritionist friends, I decided it was high time to share my thoughts.
The Great Vegan Adventure has, after 2 solid months, officially ended.
I know. I feel the same way.
Truth be told I loved following a plant-based diet. 100%. I didn't crave meat. I didn't even really think about it. I felt really good, I had a ton of energy, my workouts were on point, I was sleeping soundly, and my skin and hair looked amazing.
Until I didn't feel good. At all.
It was right around the beginning of January and suddenly my stomach and my digestion were both a hot mess. I'll spare you the details, but let's just say that clearly the way I was eating had time to finally sink in - and it was wreaking havoc on my insides. Also? I was hungry (STARVING) all the time. I couldn't get full.
Apparently, I'm not alone and it can take a couple of months for anti-nutrients to hit your system and really affect it. In my case, I was upping the grains, beans and legumes a LOT (and um, loving my life). But still, I had probably doubled or tripled my consumption of them - which can be a shock to the system.
Whoa Whoa - back up - ANTI-NUTRIENTS?
Antinutrients are compounds that are produced by plants as part of their defense mechanism.2These compounds that protect plants from pesticides and chemicals in the soil, have a damaging effect to our gut, since we are unable to digest them.
All caught up? Okay, solid.
There's this substance called Phytic Acid.
Phytic acid (aka phytate) is a substance found in many types of plant foods, such as grains, legumes (including peanuts and soybeans), nuts, and seeds.
It turns out that phytic acid is found predominantly (about 80% of it) in the bran, or outermost shell, of whole grains. In legumes and seeds, phytic acid resides almost entirely in the endosperm. This is significant when you consider that most whole grain and high-fiber food products include all of the phytic acid
Basically, as I was upping my grains (quinoa, sprouted grains, rice, oats) and legumes (beans, lentils, etc), I was upping my consumption of Phytic Acid - and as such, not being able to properly digest all that I was consuming.
Leading to some... unpleasantness.
So I started to add things back in:
Locally Sourced and Humanely Treated Meat
And reduce (but not cut out) my consumption of other things:
And that's where we've landed today.
Whole Foods. A bit of (almost) everything. Including meat.
**Dairy is the one thing I just cannot tolerate.
Life in moderation feels pretty good.
Not to say I didn't feel like a failure when I realized that going vegan wasn't working. I was disappointed honestly. I liked how I felt initially and I liked what I was doing for the planet, for myself and more importantly, the animals.
So I committed to the fact that if I'm introducing meat back into my diet it's going to be local, and humanely raised, and grass-fed - and eaten in moderation. I'm thankful to live in an area where that's not hard to do and so it's been working well for me. But quite honestly, I still gravitate towards a mostly plant-based diet.
I'm mindful to follow Michael Pollan's advice too - "Eat real food. Mostly plants. Not too much."
Whatever lifestyle or diet you follow - just do what's right for you. Following Paleo principles isn't for everyone. Going vegan isn't either. I'd encourage you to try a plant-based diet. See if it works for you. Maybe don't cut meat out completely, maybe just a bit. Or maybe do a Meatless Monday every week. Just be aware of where your food comes from - because a lot of it has a not-so-great back story and really, you don't want to be putting that into your bod.
But you've got to listen to what your body wants and needs. And give it that.
And what my body wants and also needs right now is a massive salad from BlueBarn to go along with the 75 degree weather happening outside.
Have a great President's Day!