Since I’ve started the path towards health by changing my food and drink intake, I’ve had to learn a whole new way to cook. Not just cook, but shop and think ahead for preparing meals. If I don’t prepare ahead, then when I’m hungry there’s nothing to eat except almonds. Which has been my default a few times.
My list of foods (sent to me by my Homeopath and his wife who is my nutritionist). After the heart attack I knew that my life was really going to change and starting with food, even though I’ve always thought I was a healthy eater. As I’m learning, nutritional rights and wrongs are changing and HAVE changed dramatically over the past 5-8 years. They healthy eating I’ve done all of my life was really based on what I’d learned 20-30 years ago. No meat, steamed and fresh veggies, recently no gluten, and limit sugar.
This is a different set of foods that I’m used to eating on a regular basis.
Some cooked, some raw, start with 50:50. Eat every 2 hours.
Dry beans – soak and cook
Rice, short grain organic
Raw sunflower seeds
Little bit of apple
Herbs, spices, and whole salt
Apple cider vinegar
Instead of your breakfast shake, soak gluten free rolled oats, sunflower seeds, and snipped prunes.
Sugar and sugar substitutes
If you could just see how teeny my kitchen is and then imagine me trying to chop, cook, wash beans and quinoa, yada yada yada…It’s been a challenge but I’m getting the swing of things.
It’s taken 3 weeks but now I know a bit more about how I eat, so I can prepare more efficiently and effectively. My goal is to not have to throw out ANY vegetables or food.
Since I’ve not eaten red meat for over 25 years, and consider meals an opportunity to have lots of ‘sides’, the transition isn’t painful. Regarding the list above, it focuses on more alkaline foods and eating what is in season. A former chiropractor that I worked with only ate local foods in season as he tried to heal his prostate cancer. It wasn’t as easy back then to accomplish this–Whole Foods Market didn’t exist yet. He was a trooper and is alive today.
PROS OF A VEGAN DIET
- Decrease in blood sugar levels: If you are diabetic, then this diet can help you decrease your blood sugar levels, thus lowering your need for insulin or other types of medication to control your diabetes. However it is also important to consult with your doctor first, and vegan diets have to be carefully planned to meet all your nutritional needs.
- Weight Loss: People who avoid eating meat and dairy tend to lose weight much easier. A higher intake of vegetables and fruit in your diet leaves you feeling satisfied, as your stomach is full from the roughage, but with fewer calories.
- Low cholesterol and saturated fats: By following a vegan diet, you will cut all the cholesterol and saturated fats you get from animal products, making your chances for heart disease very low. A person with high blood pressure can also benefit from this diet because it cuts trans and saturated fats, and replaces them with many of the good fats – omega-3s and omega-6s, in foods like nuts and seeds.
- Lower blood pressure: According to the American Dietetic Association, vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure and body weights. Proponents say that being vegan may also strengthens the immune system and fights off life-ending diseases such as cancer.
- Good for the environment: A large portion of the total volume of man-made greenhouse gases, about 18%, emitted into the atmosphere are from factories that slaughter and process animals. By being on a vegan diet, there are not only benefits for you but for the environment at large.
- Good for Animal Welfare: Many people find it difficult to continue to consume animal products after visiting the places that produce their food. It can be difficult to justify the practice of eating animal products after seeing the inhumane conditions in which they are raised. By going vegan you choose to not support these practises.
VEGAN DIET – THE NEED FOR SUPPLEMENTS
There are many health, animal welfare and environmental reasons to choose the vegan diet. However, like any diet, it requires diligence and planning, especially in getting the right nutrients and vitamins for your optimum health. With a vegan diet, you should strongly consider taking the following supplements:
- Vitamin B12s: vitamin B12 is found mostly in animal products, and so vegans are susceptible to a deficiency. Luckily there are several fortified foods that are high in vitamin B12, such as fortified nutritional yeast, some supermarket cereals, and fortified soy and rice milks as well as in some meat substitutes. A supplement of 10-12 µg of vitamin B12 daily is also recommended.
- Omega-3s: Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for heart, brain, skin, and joint health. Fortunately, you can consume Omega-3 fatty acids without eating fish and depleting the world’s oceans. Flax seeds, walnuts, and canola oil are good vegan sources of the omega-3 ALA. It’s also advisable to take vegan DHA capsules, 200-300 mg every 3 days if you’re under 60 years old; 200-300 mg every day if you’re over 60 years old. These contain omega-3s derived from algae, which is where the fish get it from.
- Iron: iron is required for the formation of healthy red blood cells – the lack of iron causes anemia. Iron is less readily absorbed through vegan diets; vegans will need to consume up to two times that consumed by those eating omnivorous diets. Iron-rich plant-based foods include spinach, beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, chickpeas, oatmeal, dried fruits, nuts, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, molasses, and grains such as quinoa and millet. Vitamin C helps increase iron absorption, so for optimal health benefits, eat extra vitamin C or choose foods that are rich in both nutrients, such as dark-green, leafy vegetables. It is also recommended that you consider an iron supplement: men should take 14 mg daily; women need more: 33mg daily below the age of 55, and 14 mg daily after the age of 55.
A vegan diet is low in saturated and trans fats, and because it necessitates you filling up on veggies it can help you lose weight. It is great for the prevention of heart disease, America’s number one killer, lowers blood pressure, and can help diabetics manage their blood sugar levels. If carefully planned, it can be not only better for you but for the environment at large and for animal rights concerns.
While it can be hard to cut out many of your favorite foods, the good news is that there are many non-dairy and non-meat substitutes. There are hundreds of delicious and healthy tofu recipes, quinoa recipes, and couscous recipes that can provide much of the protein and nutrients we ordinarily find in meat and dairy. Consider too taking vitamin supplements, especially if you are tired, or don’t have the same energy as before.
I’ve had more energy and I suspect more quickly than if I’d not changed my diet right after the heart attack. In my next post I’ll share my go to meals.