As you may recall from my post on November 21st, I have been on a quest to increase my mineral intake in order to properly absorb the nutrients I am putting into my body. Since that time, I have made a conscious effort to include more animal proteins into my diet, mainly in the form of a homemade beef broth I try to have a cup of every day. I also have tried (TRIED, I say!) to eat mainly cooked, warm foods. This has been challenging for me, even though it’s frigid outside. I’m usually on the go and need little snacks to keep me going throughout the day so it’s much easier to have a small bag of nuts with me than it is a thermos of soup. However, with my main meals I have been attempting to accomplish this.
But I know you’re not interested in all that, the real question is have these dietary changes affected my feelings of lethargy, less than stellar digestion, and consistent aches and pains that never seem to fade? Overall, I do feel more energetic and I certainly notice the difference when I’m not as conscious about eating some animal proteins and good fats and mainly warm, cooked foods. There have been multiple instances where I have reverted back to my usual mainly vegan, cold and raw ways and it certainly wakes me up to the fact that these are not things my body needs right now. I feel an instant drop in energy, I have a harder time recovering after a tough week of dancing or other exercising and my digestion is rather unhappy. I keep trying to remind myself of these feelings when I pick up that celery and almond butter snack, not that I always listen to myself, but when I do I feel much better. I am still working to differentiate between eating the foods that make me feel good and the foods that I associate with eating healthy and at my ideal weight. For now, I have plenty of beef broth stored in my freezer and will continue to incorporate it daily, or every other day, and try to increase the volume on my inner voice a little more. The journey continues!
I have been pretty vocal and open about these changes with friends and relatives and enjoy having the discussion with them about how the food choices we make affect how we feel and that sometimes what we used to believe and always held to be true perhaps might not be best for us. Whenever I’d be at a restaurant with friends and would order something that was either vegetarian or vegan, also knowing that I am a health coach, they would ask, “Are you vegan?”. How simple it would be to just say yes, to just use one word to tie up all of your dietary choices and principles in a neat little package! Sadly, I cannot honestly call myself a vegan- I have a mainly plant-based diet that includes good-quality animal proteins. What a mouthful! Can’t we boil that down into one word and call it a day? I suppose if you think about it there is a word out there for this dietary regimen:
Real food. Vegetables and grains that come from the earth and animal products that come from humanely-raised, organic farms. I won’t pretend that I don’t eat any processed foods- I do like a good Fage Greek yogurt or KIND bar now and again, but I try to have the majority of my food come from whole, real sources. Anyway, back to the whole “are you vegan?” thing…when out at a restaurant I do tend to order more vegan-friendly dishes, because they tend to have more of the stuff I like to eat. Plus, they’re usually prepared with a strong focus on freshness and quality ingredients. I have huge respect for people who have decided to become vegan for either dietary or ethical reasons and wholeheartedly believe that is what’s right for them. I do wonder, however, if some people who claim to be vegan have really evaluated what works best for their body. Any time you identify yourself with a particular lifestyle (vegan, paleo, vegetarian, etc.) it immediately limits you. By taking things out of your diet (such as a whole food group, like carbohydrates) you may actually be doing more harm to your body than good. Case and point, my current predicament: I had the idea in my head, from the media and various studies, that eating tons of vegetables and mainly raw foods with little carbohydrates and almost zero animal protein was the right way to stay fit and healthy. People complimented me on my shape and were impressed with my “willpower” in maintaining this kind of diet. However, inside my body was a wreck (as discussed in my post when I first decided to make these changes) and despite all the claims from other people touting this perfect diet, it wasn’t necessarily right for me. I needed some of these foods I was eliminating in order to feel my best and support the functions in my body. The attractive outside that people were complimenting was actually a malnourished body.
Once I began adding these changes in, I gained some weight rather quickly. This really freaked me out! I had prided myself on maintaining a low weight and always felt a sense of accomplishment when someone told me I was thin, so the idea of gaining weight felt like a failure or a loss of that much-praised willpower. However, gaining weight was my body’s way of saying thank you. Once these foods were re-introduced into my diet, my body latched onto the nutrients it was being given and didn’t want to let go of this new, nourishing goodness! Gaining weight is still a bit of a mental struggle for me, going against everything I thought was right, but now I understand that this bit of weight is necessary for me. I’m not saying I’m going wild and crazy and not worrying about gaining 20 pounds, that would be unhealthy for my frame and would keep me from living the active life that I love. If I find I have gained some weight, I look at what I have been eating and determine if it’s “good” weight, coming from the good fats I’m eating, or if I’ve just been indulging in too much chocolate and need to temper the amount of sugar I’m eating (because it is my weak spot!).
A lot of times we, I’m including myself in this, listen to the testimonies of people we admire and try to follow exactly what they say in order to look or feel the way that they do. We’re promised weight loss, beautiful skin, better sleep, more energy, etc. with each dietary theory, but often we are disappointed with the results. While taking advice from reputable sources is helpful (otherwise I wouldn’t have a job!) it is most important to take the time and figure out what works best for you individually. Working with a trained practitioner (such as a Holistic Health Coach!! :)) can help you determine which foods, and in what quantities and ratios, are the most nourishing to your body. I can’t simply sit you down and give you a diet plan and tell you to eat exactly what’s on the page without knowing anything about you and what your unique needs are. The easiest way to begin doing this on your own is to keep a detailed food diary with exactly what you’re eating, the quantity, the time of day and, most importantly, how you feel after eating. Keep this journal for at least two weeks so you can clearly see the patterns and the correlation between what you’re eating and how you’re feeling. If you are looking to feel your absolute best, but need a little help getting there, I’m here to support you. Contact me today to get started!