Well, almost Vegan. Sometimes Vegan. Mainly I don't have all the agendas. I love all foods including dairy and animal proteins. I don't have an agenda against other food sources.
Oh, not only Vegan, but gluten free and caffeine free. Who would have thought?
But this is a season when I've had to give up so much for my health.
How it all started
It all started with my hips and shoulder hurting earlier last year. I hurt so much all year. I knew I had arthritis in my hips over 10 years ago. I've only recently learned that I have severe artritis in my lower back, hips, and a couple places in my shoulder. It's a couple different types of arthritis and my lumbar involves a defect I was possibly born with.
I did some research and many people I know with severe arthritis said giving up gluten seemed to help. It was worth a try.
Within two weeks I stopped limping. It didn't fix the problem, but my quality of life improved.
It could be the gluten itself, or the additives in modern wheat product manufacturing. Whatever it is, I like walking without a limp and the associated pain so I have no desire to go back to it.
I finally went to the doctor and we've been delving into all aspects of my health. It's like a myriad of problems to solve, mostly one at a time with the PT.
My PT said that likely the gluten was causing inflammation in my stomach and intestines, which put pressure on my lower back, which for me, pinches the sciatic nerve and causes my leg pain.
I gave up caffeine. I had my last cup on Christmas morning, so I'm starting to feel pretty good right now and getting my normal energy level back. I gave it up because it's hard on the stomach and I'm taking a perscription NSAID to help manage the pain which is also hard on the stomach. I hate that I have to take it, but at some point quality of life becomes a priority. To help with my immune system and coat the intestinal lining I take Glutamine with my Greens in the morning, with at least 16 ounces of water. The greens help with digestion too.
Then there is my cholesterol, the LDL is over 200, so that's where the plant based diet comes in.
Problems with all Vegan
I've been trying to go full Vegan but there are some problems with that, mainly that it's hard to get the recommended and needed .8 - 1.2 grams of protein per LBM or goal body weight.
It seems that Vegan products don't have much regard for either protein or calories. I absolutely love the taste and texture of many products, but calories, carbs, and fats are sometimes sky high, especially for a 5 foot nothing female.
Some of my Vegan friends say calories don't matter. They say that your metabolism is better running on plant based foods. Well, my body weight scale begs to differ. When I eat over my TDEE my weight goes up whether it's all Vegan or however magically healthy the food energy is that I'm consuming.
Calories always matter. Protein matters. And all the micro nutrients matter.
Here's some examples:
1/2 cup of chick peas is 134 calories and only 7 grams of protein. It has 22 grams of carbs. It's a carb source with a bit of protein, and only 2 grams of fat.
1/2 cup dry sprouted bean trio is 160 calories with 11 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of fat.
3 ounces of Indonesian Style Tempeh is 170 calories with 15 grams of protein, 13 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of fat. It's a little better but no where near what I was able to get out of egg whites and ground turkey.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Your body constantly breaks down protein into amino acids, sheds the old, and grabs new amino acids to rebuild. This is called protein turnover in the body. We need approximately 1 gram per lean body mass weight in pounds to keep up with protein turnover.
Most Vegan protein sources are much lower on the PDCAA score, which means it's like eating only half the grams of protein listed on the label. Most people wouldn't know about this. On my Vegan days I supplement with BCAA's and Essential Amino Acids to compensate for this. Even if I don't take it directly with that meal, if I get these amino acids in it brings up the score for the day. These are also Vegan Friendly products.
I decided to continue taking the Collagen even though it's not Vegan. There's just too many health benefits with the collagen and amnio acids skip it, and I might still be able to achieve my goal.
The Vegan Pro is my friend and I'll likely need two servings daily on my Vegan days in order to get my protein up to par and keep my calories capped accordingly for my TDEE. The Vegan Pro has 19 grams of protein in only 100 calories. Now, that's getting somewhere with this Vegan thing!
The Vegan pro has a complete amino acid profile. It has an additional vitamin superfood, plant enzymes for good digestion, and a high ORAC fruit blend. High ORAC foods are anti aging, and that's why I still take the collagen. If you didn't know, the 1st Phorm collagen has all 5 types of collagen in it and it's another quality anti aging product.
See, I got goal hijacked with Vegan thing. The goal was to lower my cholesterol, not become a Vegan. I can still have many successful Vegan days, but I also have a list of things that I can do to achieve my goal yet not give up so many nutritional needs, more on that list later.
Then there is the problem of Vegan Omega-3 which is actually LNA that must be converted to EPA for the body to get the health benefits. It turns out that the human body doesn't convert this much and the amount is not significant.
Cheap fish oils at big box stores are very low in EPA and DHA, which is why I stick with Full-Mega. Always check the label for the amount of EPA and DHA. This is not only good for our brain function, but reducing inflammation (which I need for my arthritis), and increasing HDL (which helps with my cholesterol problem).
The bottom line is I was starting to get goal hijacked with going ALL Vegan. It doesn't have to be all or nothing. I don't have an agenda against animal foods, I just have health goals.
I'll still continue to have more Vegan and plant based meals. I'm learning to have fun with many new foods and had been stuck in a rut with the foods I'd been eating for many years. I loved all the healthy foods I've been eating all along, but now I can switch it up with some new things that might help me out.
I'm absolutely loving the Vegan cheeses:
Cultured Vegan Butter by Miyoko's Creamery
Almond Milk Cream Cheese by kite hill
just like Smoked Provolone slices by Violife
Cultured Vegan Mozz by Miyoko's Creamery
I love the Veggie Chorizo Crumbles by Morning Star and I ordered an Vegan egg replacement (with almost no protein content!) as well as Nutritional Yeast (which does contain protein!)
Here's a list I need to continue to be focused on for lowering cholesterol:
Exercise helps improve cholesterol
Keep my body weight down. Boy is this hard, portions portions portions. A reduction of 5% in body weight can improve cholesterol significantly
Limit foods high in saturated fats and trans fats.
Eat more soluble fiber. My plant based meals will help accomplish that
Eat more fruits and vegetables
Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids or take my Full-Mega consistently. This helps reduce inflammation as well as raise HDL.
While at the same time I must be mindful of my TDEE at 5 foot tall and kid size. Under TDEE to lose body fat, right at TDEE to maintain.
So that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
What's your list for the new year?