Clean Monday = Vegan Monday

19 Mar

 

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No, I have not completely lost my mind. Actually, that’s debatable at this point, but in terms of my food, I’m trying to switch things up a little. Thanks to a certain someone, I watched a documentary called Forks over Knives, and ever since then I have been paying attention to what I eat, and how much of it is actually healthy, and how much of it is garbage. As a dietitian, I tend to give myself quite a bit of leeway because I happen to like healthy food. But liking/knowing of healthy food, and consuming healthy food are not the same. While this is an obvious fact, I some times behave as though buying healthy food and being in its proximity will somehow cause an osmotic reaction to occur. Not a whole lot of scientific evidence to back that up unfortunately. After paying close attention and doing a quick recap of my eating habits since I moved to DC, it became clear to me that I needed to change. It will take more studies and evidence to convince me that a vegan lifestyle is the only fool-proof option to avoid cardiac disease, but I do believe that the majority of people in this country could benefit from a decrease in animal product consumption. I am included in that majority, and my co-worker felt the same way. In short, we decided to make, not just an effort, but a commitment to eat a more plant-based diet.

She (Alison), had already flirted with this lifestyle before, and so she had some resources. For instance, she knew of a raw, vegan juice bar right near where we work and so we went there for lunch. I’ve never been very interested in that kind of “granola” lifestyle, but the food was delicious. Avocado, plantains, cauliflower, lots of greens; it was wonderful and so filling. It was also incredibly spicy and garlic-laden. I had indigestion the rest of the night, and vowed to eat about half as much next time we went.

On top of relying more on plants, I want to gradually exclude non-natural ingredients. Again, this is not something I’ve given that much thought to previously, even as a dietitian. A part of me feels that we could spend our whole life obsessing over whether or not the government is poisoning us with additives, or giving us cancer through high fructose corn syrup, or whatever is the next buzz topic, but what kind of life is that? The truth is we don’t know exactly what effect, if any, the “fake” food has on our bodies/health, and the point of life is to enjoy it while we’ve got it. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized: it doesn’t have to be an obsessive-compulsive life change, involving expensive trips to special food markets. If I buy mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, there are no labels to check. Ergo, if I make meals mostly around those fresh items, I will naturally cut most of the “fake” food away. And since I’ve made the decision to enjoy my life and not obsess, the few times I want to enjoy something not fresh or whole, I’ll eat it and just accept that it may have some of those nasty factory made ingredients in it. The key, for me, is to DRAMATICALLY reduce the amount of factory made food I am eating. I have the help of an equally committed coworker, and together we are navigating the vegan/vegetarianish waters, and so far I’m loving the results. Hydration and fiber are my friends, and we are getting along wonderfully. I have indulged on the weekends, but my fruit/vegetable intake is higher than ever. I used to make the excuse that without meat/dairy, I would feel sluggish and run down. So far, no sign of that. I’m taking care to include quite a bit of beans and nuts in my day, and I feel as rested as ever…. when I actually get the right amount of sleep! I’m excited to be on this new journey, and it will be interesting to see how I keep up this lifestyle long-term. For now, what a perfect kick-off to the Lenten season!

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