Tag Archives: plant-based diet

From Carnivore to Herbivore (a Q & A)

Per yesterday’s post I promised to answer any and all questions about my recent 28-day Engine 2 Diet Challenge with Whole Foods.

Why did you do it?

Initially, because Whole Foods contacted me to do it and I thought it would be interesting for my blog. I had never considered vegetarianism (much less veganism) so I was curious how my body would react. I am always open to trying new things to improve my health so I really went into it thinking “why not?’. What started as a curious experiment turned into so much more.

Did you lose weight?

To be honest, I don’t know. It feels like I did but I don’t own a scale so I don’t know for sure. I have never been a numbers person (weight, math or otherwise) and generally just go by the way I feel and how my clothes fit to determine if I am at a healthy weight. I would attribute any weight loss to eating less processed foods and dairy than from omitting meat. This was never about losing weight for me, it was about finding what works for my body and discovering new ways to improve my overall health.

If you weren’t eating meat then were you getting enough protein?

Not only did I get plenty of protein, for the first time I was eating all good quality, plant-based protein from foods like quinoa, beans, spinach and oatmeal. Americans on average actually eat more protein than our bodies need, most likely due to the excess in meat-based meals. If you think about it, elephants don’t eat meat and I’m pretty sure they are not deficient in protein. Your body cannot store protein like it can store carbohydrates and fats so when you have an excess of protein, your liver and kidneys become overburdened. You will start leaching calcium from your bones to neutralize the excess animal protein that becomes acidic in the human body. Which makes me think of the kidney stones I got just a few months ago….(Kidney stones are a result of a buildup of excess calcium that your body can’t naturally break up) According to the World Health Organization, the healthy amount of protein is in the low 20’s (grams) for a 2,000 calorie a day diet.

Wasn’t it super expensive with all that produce?

Surprisingly no! Not only was it not expensive, we actually saved over $100 this month on our grocery bills. If you are a smart shopper, you can really take advantage of specials and coupons and actually save money on this diet.

What was the most challenging part?

What I feared would be the hardest part ended up being no big deal at all. I thought going out to dinner would be miserable but I found that there is always something on the menu and most servers/chef’s are really great about helping you fit your dietary needs. I ended up ordering things I otherwise wouldn’t have and really enjoying it! So I guess the most challenging was having to avoid pizza when it was ordered for a large group. In all honesty, after about three days in, sticking to the diet was a breeze.

What surprised you the most?

My energy level increasing! I expected my body to react (i.e digestive, weight, etc.) but I had no idea how much it would affect me mentally. It really has improved my mood, energy and productivity at work. It is a kind of natural energy you can’t get with coffee and 5-hour-energy shots. I was also surprised to see my cravings vanish. Just prior to starting this diet I was having insane sugar and salt cravings at night. Not only do not crave those as much anymore, one small bite of something sweet is enough to satisfy me inevitably saving me countless unnecessary calories.

And the biggie – are you going to stick with it?

I’m not sure. Certainly not as strict (I will start to slowly incorporate dairy and oil) but it is hard for me to rationalize why I would go back when I have enjoyed how my body feels so much. I may incorporate some meat every once in a while but now that I know how to cook without relying on it, it’s not so challenging. I will tell you that since this ended I have not eaten (or had the urge to eat) anything that I haven’t been able to eat the last 28 days.

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Hopefully that answers all of your questions, if I missed something please don’t hesitate to ask or email me. Thank you to all of you for your continued support and encouragement throughout this journey. It has been so fun sharing my experience with you and hearing your stories as well. I have the best readers 🙂

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DAY 28 and Vegan Date Macaroons!

Today was the last day of my 28-day Engine 2 diet Whole Foods challenge! What a journey it has been. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I embarked on plant-based/veganish challenge for the past month. I was to stay away from all animal bi-products, dairy and oil. Going into it I swore up and down I would never/could never be a vegetarian, let alone a vegan! I was looking forward to experimenting with new health foods and ways to prepare food, and to see how my body would react but it didn’t come without fears, doubts, and skepticism. To bring you up to speed here is a short timeline:
Week 1

Corey and I were feasting on meat-based meals every night so naturally, I expected my body to react to the drastic change from carnivore to meat-no-more. (Day 1) After the first couple days I began to experience withdrawal-like symptoms, which after asking Beck, our Whole Foods health expert for the challenge, is actually pretty normal. I was tired, felt kind off, had a heandache, etc.

Week 2 (Update post)

I was feeling fantastic. The withdrawals had come and gone and I was on the up! I had more energy (even though I was omitting my daily coffee), I was in a good mood all day, I was productive at work and my cravings for salt, sugar and processed foods were almost non-existent.
Week 3

I was beginning to really enjoy learning how to cook without using oil, cook meals not centered around meat, and I was certainly enjoying the health benefits. Some of my favorite recipes were Green Goddess Soup, Rip’s Sweet Potato Bowl, and “creamy” artichoke and green bean rotini. All of my fears of not being able to find something to eat and fill me up had surpassed and better yet, my grocery bills were down at least $100!

Week 4 (Update 2)

By now I had gone out to dinner and successfully stayed on my diet, made plenty of meals to realize you can eat a lot without using meat or dairy and I had realized how great my body can feel by incorporating more fruits and vegetables. I was surprised how easy it was to eat out at a restaurant and stick to the (what I consider) strict guidelines. When my parents came into town for Memorial Day weekend they kind of gave me crap about it but my mom was happy to hear my digestive issues were pretty much solved (something I had been suffering from for years). Yet they encouraged me to “live a little” the last night when they took Corey and I out to our favorite restaurant in Chicago, Carnival. I may have taken it to the extreme by eating a smorgasbord of ceviche, beef, chicken, fish but needless to say, the next day I had never felt so sick in my life! It took several days for me to feel normal again which really made me think – my body is rejecting this food for a reason.

The Last Supper (or is it….)

All the bloggers (or what was left of us….not nearly as many as the number that started) got together tonight to share our stories and enjoy some good food! It was amazing to hear everyone’s stories of overcoming sugar cravings, losing weight, feeling better (“cleaner” as one blogger put it) and just the overall positive experience that everyone had. Natalie, who blogs over at Bake and Destroy, said the most rewarding thing was to watch her husband reap the health benefits of this diet and was relived of knee pain he had been suffering from previously. Anyways, I’m so glad I did this and stuck with it. Huge thanks to Becky for all of her hard work and for answering all my millions of questions!

For our last supper we had a veggie lasagna, salad and for dessert we had fresh strawberries and kiwi and vegan date macaroons (recipe below). These were so simple and so delicious, I was shocked! And with so few ingredients, you can whip these up anytime!

Vegan Date Macaroons

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium sized dates, pitted
  • 1 banana
  • 1 & 1/2 cups coconut flakes

Directions:

1. Preheat your over to 350. Place ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth. Depending on the size of the dates and ripeness of the banana, you may need to add more or less coconut to get the right consistency. Mixture should be moist, but not gooey.

2. Scoop tablespoons of the mixture onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 mins, until done. Cookies will be soft, but should cook enough to have a golden brown bottom and hold together well.

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I have had a lot of questions about this challenge, this diet, my experience, etc. which I plan on answering in tomorrows post. Do you have any questions for me? Ask away, I’m not shy! If you don’t feel comfortable asking here, you can email me and I will keep your question anonymous : dishnutrish@gmail.com