Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Food is My Favorite "F" Word

Part two of the Eat. Move, Love series is about getting educated about food without falling for the hype.

As you know, I am a vegan.

People ask me if I chose to be a vegan in order to lose weight. The answer to that- yes and no. I decided to follow a plant based diet after months of food journaling (all while I was losing weight ‘normally’, mind you) showed me that this would be a good switch for my body. I thought it would probably be a temporary thing…more like an experiment. But I listened to my body, found what worked for me, and haven’t looked back.

But just because I opt to follow a plant based diet doesn’t automatically mean I am healthy. I could live off of pancakes and French fries and still be eating a plant-based diet but I would be far from healthy. Vegan doesn’t necessarily equate to healthy. Although it can.

Really, any diet can be healthy. I am not saying how I eat is the way to go.

On the contrary, as much as I love being a vegan and have learned so much since I made the change, rarely will I force my opinion onto others. At least not unless I am asked first.

You see I think there are many ways to eat that support healthy living. My way (when I follow a whole foods, plant-based diet- not an all cupcake all the time diet) is just one of them. What works best for you, your physical and mental wellbeing, well that is for you to determine.

But if you want my advice I would say start big. Pick a few broad food rules that you can live by and start from there. Make it easy on yourself to form healthy and sustainable habits. Don’t deprive yourself. Your body needs food to live. And even more so, good food to thrive.

So maybe start there…

Eat real food. You can’t go wrong with this one. Try to incorporate more whole foods and pair back the processed stuff. Eat some fruit, some veggies, some nuts and seeds. Eat things that give your body the micro (vitamins, minerals, amino acids) and macro nutrients (fat, protein, carbs – yes you need all three) it needs to survive.  

There are so many food fads and trends out there (some would even categorize veganism as one) and I feel that some days it’s all a bit much. But what are these fads doing for your body? Can you sustain that lifestyle? Would you even want to?

I am not saying that all food trends are bad and that you should stay away from them. What I would like to say is this- do some research, talk to a doctor or, even better, an RD or a nutritionist, see what information you can find about food and determine what your body needs. If you choose to cut out certain micros or macros what will your body be missing out on? Will you need to take supplements? Etc….

I am so lucky that this rarely happens to me but the big question most vegans are posed with is ‘where do you get your protein?’ or the usually overly critical statement of ‘you aren’t eating enough protein’. Don’t worry- I am good on protein intake. I’ve got that covered. BUT here is something my nutritionist taught me about a few years ago. I needed to watch my fat intake. Not because it was too high but because it was too low. It is easy for someone following a whole foods plant-based diet to not get enough fat – there is not much, if any, fat in plants. But my body needs fat in order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K. A low fat intake could lead to vitamin deficiency. These vitamins help to regulate blood pressure, heart rate and the nervous system as well as a whole bunch of vital bodily functions. So, lesson learned. I needed to eat more fats!

And that really is the point of all this. Don’t take anything at face value. Do some research. Educate yourself. Find what works best for your body but also be ok with tweaking and changing as needed. I eat more avocado now. Flax seeds (and oil) and nuts are my friends. I track my macros because I want to make sure the diet I am choosing for my body is giving it what it needs. Am I perfect about this? No. Am I aware and educated about this? I certainly try to be.

Love and hugs,