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I hope some of y'all have experienced the full process of switching to vegan and ultimately superhero status, because I am in some serious need of support! Mostly, I have NO idea what is going on with me and my body. I feel like a crazy person! I've been vegan for two months and a couple weeks, with a few transitional slip ups. What I found from the slip ups (a few weeks ago i ate some cheese, and in july I ate my favorite cookie from the local coffee shop on a couple occasions (they are sugar cookies and have vanilla icing on them, lots of sugar)) is that the foods I was giving up - sugar and dairy - were SUPER addictive for me. Like a drug almost, after eating both i felt high as a kite! So anyway, I am committed to moving forward and have made sure I didn't slip up again, but in the meantime I feel like a crazy person with cravings for sugar and wheat, and even cravings to drink wine when I've never been a heavy drinker.
I also feel extremely frustrated because I'm gaining weight and I don't know why or how to stop. I think maybe its because the cravings are making me want to eat larger quantities, but my food is so much healthier that it seems like it should be okay. None of this happened for me in the first month, by the way. It's only at this point that I'm feeling nutso. I am hating what's happening though because I previously had a pretty healthy relationship with my food - not too much, not too little, indulgence when I felt like it, but generally I didn't feel like it much, only ate when I was super hungry, etc. Now, I just can't handle my own body. I was worried about my weight gain so i started to put my food in a calorie counter, which showed me very clearly that there aren't really any vegan protein sources that are lean-they either have lots of carbs (beans) or fat (like nuts). It says I don't get enough protein a day on the calorie counter, but I wondered if the requirements are skewed to a meat eater's diet. So that's been confusing, and after a week of using it I still apparently gained more weight (the scale said 5 lbs??! is that possible??!). I'm also super bloated so maybe that has something to do with it. Anyway, any support at all will help. Please let me know if any of this has happened to anyone else! Mostly I really want to make sure I lose this weight, because I'm feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I am at the point where I feel like I should eat brown rice for six days and see if that balances me out. Thank you all!!
much vegan love,
Poor Lauren, i'm sorry to hear about what's going on with your body. I have been Vegan for almost 2yrs now, and can honestly say i have never craved anything that isnt vegan and i think it's because my mind is set on being vegan. The weight gain may be from whatever you are eating, i am not an expert so i don't want to give too much advice. Could some of the bloating be from beans? Are you eating too much bread, that can cause the wt. gain, it's like we new vegans try to supplement for what we arent getting and end up eating too much of the bad things..I would suggest more veggies and cut back on the carbs, cause they may be what's causing the wt. gain. For your sugar fix, try more fruits, i find dried cranberries to be a good sweet treat. I'm sure this isnt much help, but i hope you get it under control and keep your sanity, this is a big transition, and the longer you do it, the better you get at doing it, so don't give up on your veganism, it's for your health and animal kind!! Peace and carrot sticks!! And good luck, keep on truckin sister!!
Like Lauren, I have only been vegan for a short time now, maybe 3 weeks. I know my body pretty well and I know what to eat to be the size I want when eating meat. But now that I have eliminated meat and dairy, my weight is fluctuating and I have even gained a few lbs. I know there must be a certain formula when eating vegan to get to your ideal weight and size, but I haven't found it yet. I was hoping someone might post about this problem. Is it too many carbs? I am really trying to watch the nuts and grains intake but I need some satisfaction and feelings of satiety in the day or I won't stay with it. Any advice is appreciated!
I've been on a vegan diet for over a year now, and while it was the BEST decision I've ever made, I definitely had some emotional/craving ups and downs in the beginning. Changing my diet also made me reconsider my whole approach to health. I started seeing a naturopathic doctor because I knew I had a tendency to be anemic and wanted to monitor iron and things more closely. It turns out I also have a hypo active thyroid, along with some hormone imbalances. So, Laurwe, I highly recommend going to see an ND and getting your blood checked for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Small tweaks to your diet and maybe some vegan-friendly supplements could be the answer. Every body is different and one of the greatest things about going plant-based is that you can definitely get more in tune with your own nutritional needs (e.g. my husband is sensitive to too much pasta, and I have to eat greens constantly to feel my best).
Hello Lauren and everyone - I think it best to be patient, we are all different with different constitutions, genetic make-up, so while some people do well on grains/soy products, other like me, need more vegetables/salads, fruit. I did poorly on a macrobiotic diet, as I am a Blood Type O, and 'Hunter" genotype - this relates to Peter D'adamo's work on the Blood type diet and Genotype diets. I find it very hard to digest grains/corn. But as Peter mentions in his books, quinoa, amaranth and an occasional piece of sprouted wheat bread is ok. I also don't deal well with most legumes or tofu, but as Peter says, my body is fine with azuki beans or some black-eye beans, plus I eat green beans, peas, snow peas. With much experimention over the last 4 years, I am finding I do best with a green smoothie for breakfast, a large salad for lunch with some whole food fat ie 2 or 3 olives, or avocado, or some soaked walnut/macadamia nut/chia seeds as my source of healthy fat to help digest the leafy greens in the salad. I now do a raw vegetable juice mid afternoon, and then I have a small salad at night followed by cooked quinoa with some beans at night. I think fruits/seeds for morning,nuts around lunch as nuts can be hard to digest, and vege/grain/beans for evening. I am trying to be about 80% raw food and 20% cooked food. The more alkaline a diet is, the more the cells respond I think, and the most alkaline foods are vegetables, salad, fruit and a little alkaline grain ie (quinoa, amaranth, millet for some people, sprouted grains or grain bread if one wants). Remember, most grains, nuts are acidic in body. I also had a omega 3,6 9, imbalance which relates to essential fatty acids, due to my large intake of almonds/sesame seeds, chick peas and carrot, and not enough GREENS, chia or hemp seeds, or raw salad greens. Many people can get an imbalance, also I had to do some detox, cleansing due to long-term. digestive issues, and am still taking herbs to tone up my weak liver. Beware of oils/sweeteners which stress out the liver. I no longer have any oils/fats or sweeteners unless they are in whole food forms, most foods have enough fat/oil. all for now. from, Amanda
Thank you all so much for your help. I haven't given up yet, and am taking much of your advice to heart. I think it is true that one must figure out exactly what works for their body. I think I was craving sugar because I hadn't been eating enough greens or lean protein (thank GOD that I just discovered seitan). Detoxing can be a challenge as well - but I stumbled across an amazing book called Healing With Whole Foods that has eased the detox discomfort. If anyone is interested, the book addresses the vegan macro lifestyle super specifically, even going down to each nutrient, and describing lots of detoxing issues, etc. Phew, changing your diet is SOOO hard!!! Thank you all for your support though, I do finally feel like I am just at a difficult stage in the journey!
The bloating thing I think is pretty normal for the first month or two. I went through it and I was recently talking to another new vegan on here who was going through it as well. As far as craving sugar, cheese and other things like they were drugs? They are drugs. Especially dairy and sugar. I was just watching a lecture about how there is something in dairy that creates a calming effect on the brain - which is why babies almost immediately calm down when fed. Here's a quote from a website with a similar tone:
"Opiates hide inside casein, the main dairy protein. As casein molecules are digested, they break apart to release tiny opiate molecules, called casomorphins. One of these compounds has about one-tenth the opiate strength of morphine. The especially addicting power of cheese may be due to the fact that the process of cheese-making removes water, lactose and whey proteins so that casein is concentrated."—healthdiaries.com
Also, sugar is absolutely addictive...ask anyone who drinks several sodas a day or lives for chocolate or other candy. So you're not crazy, you're going through withdrawals. It's no fun, but you'll get to the other side a stronger person. I'm so jealous of some of the people here who apparently didn't have to go through this - they don't know how lucky they (and their families) are. Because when I went through it I was no fun for anybody for like a week. And then the worst was over, though the random cravings remained for a while. I'm 10 months in and MOST of the cravings are gone now but every once in a while one will rear it's head. I've found substitute items to eat when I have my cravings. If I want sugar, I'll eat fruit (which has sugar, of course, but natural sugar and not white sugar). If I'm craving cheese, I eat hummus - which is so yummy it always makes me feel like I'm cheating even though I'm not.
I have taken digestive enzymes on and off - I can feel when my body needs them. They are natural and help you safely and easily process all kinds of foods, especially the fiber and polysaccharides from beans, leafy greens, and complex carbs. Digestive enzymes are not necessarily sold in regular drugstores or the vitamin row of the grocery store BUT they are easily available at Vitamin Shoppe or a health food store. I also regularly take probiotics, and mix up the types or strains. These things really help (Beano has only one of the helpful enzymes, by the way, and not always enough - also branding means it is pricey, but it might help).
I also had major cravings as I worked through a bunch of things post-vegan change (from a vegetarian diet). Many corresponded to what was depleted and needed in my body. I went nuts for sushi (seaweed has iodine, good for thyroid and glands), sour things like sauerkraut and pickles (fermented foods are great for digestion), and avocadoes (magnesium, depleted when you're stressed). I took GABA and glutamine (amino acids) for sugar cravings - miraculously helpful. Now my food interests seem more balanced and manageable.
I have a simlilar problem. I was on a mostly meat and cheese diet for years and could lose 2 lbs a week with 1500 calories when I needed to. I again need to shed about 15 lbs., but now that my diet is plant based I can eat 1000 calories and nothing happens. I think it's the carbohydrates, mostly in fruit juice in veggie smoothies that I drink daily??? I try to cut the carbs but it's hard with plants. I am going to try the veggie smoothie without fruit juice, or with as little as possible, but it may be harder to get down without it. I think I'd rather keep my extra 15 pounds and be vegan but ideally I want both. If I actually gain weight at this low of a calorie intake then I will be very sad, not to mention hungry.
It's been a bit since I wrote this post, and by now I've (thankfully!) totally figured out what works for me. I'll just fill you in, and maybe some of these things might work for you too!
First of all, I found out I have an allergy to gluten, hence the (literal) craziness i was feeling--as part of my reaction, it would often make me feel panicked and anxious after eating it (weird, right?!), plus it was swinging me up and down with sugar cravings since it often goes hand in hand with high sugar foods, or foods that are processed like sugar in your body. So now I'm gluten free vegan, which means I cook most of my food and am much healthier for it. I hadn't eaten much bread before I switched to vegan, and I didn't realize it had become a natural substitute for me since going out often demands that you eat what's available rather than what is healthy for you. Cue the weight gain!
I also found that many of the foods I started eating when I went vegan were super high in sugar, despite the fact that they seemed healthy to me. Smoothies can be great, but they can also pack a ton of calories and sugar--I suggest trying VEGA smoothies for a change, and maybe only adding one banana in if you need it, using unsweetened almond milk and ice, and throwing in some flax or hemp seed for omega threes. I love the vanilla chai! It's good for me personally to try to eat only one piece of fruit a day to keep the sugar down, if that, but everyone has to figure out what works for them. I also used to drink lattes for a healthy indulgence, but it turns out that soy milk is actually very high in sugar and shouldn't be consumed every day. Skim milk is nutritionally and calorically alright as a daily treat if you skip the sugar syrups at your coffee place (obvi. the issues are with antibiotics and impact to the cows there, so i still think "ick" when i'm tempted), but my traditional treat turned out to really contribute to my weight gain when I switched over to vegan. Now I drink unsweetened almond milk at home (Silk makes a delish vanilla unsweetened) and get Americanos when I feel like a caffeine treat. I know most people don't think coffee's good for you, but look, we're human!
Anyway, I don't want to take up too much space here, but what I ultimately found was that I feel amazing when I eat a very high veggie diet - with supplements of tofu, nuts, soy tempeh, beans or legumes for protein (no evil seitan--it's pure gluten!). My allergist recently tested me for the blood type diet and I ended up falling in the category of people whose body works best with a lot of vegetables and small portions of protein and healthy fats on the side, which is exactly what I do now! Don't get me wrong, I love my brown and basmati rice, but I don't make it a main feature because my body doesn't crave it like it does veggies and protein. I'm also into morning and afternoon green juice as well, which makes me feel super energized and fantastic (but I only put one organic piece of fruit in the two serving batch I make in the a.m.).
I also really recommend the Quantum Wellness Cleanse by Kathy Freston. After I spent some time figuring out gluten free, I did the cleanse and it absolutely did wonders to help me understand what I was eating and how it affected my body. I slimmed down back to my normal self and found out how to make vegan work for me. It was SO hard to give up sugar at the beginning, but I don't even eat it anymore because I realized it was an addiction craving, not a real craving from my body.
Send me a message if you have more questions, I hope this helped!
Best of luck to you--trust me, I can really relate to what it feels like to be in the challenging part of the transition, you can definitely get through though!!