I love saying ‘a grain, a green and a bean,’ when I’m asked what an optimally healthy meal is. Party because it rhymes and it’s rhythmic, and partly because it’s mostly true. You can use other starches (sweet potato/white potato/squashes) instead of (or as well as) the grain to nutritionally round-out a meal, and of course you can add plenty of other veg that aren’t green. But it’s just an easy, fun way to remember how to get a full complement of nutrients in a meal.
Of course you don’t have to eat the full trifecta for every single meal either. It’s just something to aim for on a reasonably consistent basis.
With this in mind, here are 6 great ways to utterly rock the holy trinity that is the gorgeous grain, the glorious green and the beauteous bean! 🙂 :
This recipe is from isachandra.com – Post Punk Kitchen that was. I remember watching Isa’s videos that she shot with her friend in her tiny apartment in Brooklyn, like, a million years ago. I’ve made several of her recipes and she knows her shit. Make.This.Now. Ooh, and serve it over brown rice!
I’ve used fatfreevegan.com several times, always with delicious, yummy success. Don’t forget to use wholewheat pasta! Also, Susan (the recipe creator) says you can use pinto or borlotti beans if you can’t find cranberry beans(phew – I’d never heard of these!)
I make a version of this, but to be honest, this recipe from emilieeats.com has a couple more flavours than mine. And Emilie is a Louisiana dude so knows what’s what when it comes to Cajun beans, so I’m using her recipe here. You can wilt a little spinach into it for your greens, or just have any steamed greens on the side.
Much like the blogger over at profoundhatredofmeat.com , Ethiopian food is easily my favourite. This year I discovered Shimbra Asa (pronounced ‘shimbrassa’), a dish I hadn’t yet tried in all my years of visiting Ethiopian restaurants, and it blew my teeny-tiny mind. It’s like a berbere stew with chickpea balls in it, and it is heaven. It’s soul food. When you eat shimbra asa, you know damn well you’ve been fed.
I haven’t yet tried to make it (I’m scared I’ll f**k it up) but this recipe looks legit. Your ‘grain’ is the highly nutritious teff used to make the injera bread, your ‘bean’ is the chickpea flour, and your green is the cabbage in the atakilt wat.
I know you already know this; but there are lots of Judgey McJudgeypants in the world.
I’m sure you’ve come up against some already, what with living amongst, like, people and shit.
Surprise! We have some Judgey McJudgeypants in the vegan community too!
They are in every space. No community gets away without having its fair share of Judgey McJudgeypants.
This particular vegan brand may think less of you if you don’t transition to vegan quick enough, for example; or if you appear to care too much about the health aspect or the environmental impacts of going vegan and don’t talk enough about the ethics.
They may think you should walk around wearing T-shirts with slaughterhouse images on, or that your every waking moment should be spent raising awareness of animal cruelty.
They may think you’re not vegan enough if you still have leather or wool products that you bought before you were vegan, but don’t want to throw away until they wear out because that would be wasteful.
Look – you can be judged for any darn thing you do in life, so –
PLEASE don’t let a judgey vegan put you off going or staying vegan!
You’ve gotta do you. Who else can you do?
If you need to transition slowly, that’s great! If you do it at YOUR pace you’re more likely to succeed.
If you’re not the sort of person that feels they can push slaughterhouse videos in front of other people’s faces every waking minute – don’t!! Once you get comfortable and confident with your lifestyle shift and feel you might want to share all the positive aspects of it with the wider world, there are a TON of different ways you can do this, and lots that would be a good fit for you.
If, right now, your concern is to better your health, lose weight or improve a specific health issue – fine! Focus on that right now (but I must warn you – you may find you’ve experienced a consciousness shift at some point in the future that connects you to the ethical side of veganism :))
I can give you a list of people as long as my arm who started out being plant-based in order to achieve better health and fitness, then a way down the line had a total expansion of consciousness where they saw animal agriculture for the horror it is; saw how blind society is to it, and started using the word ‘vegan’ proudly (me included!)
I’m not saying this happens to everyone, but I’ve heard enough stories of this happening to not judge or interfere when someone tells me they are going vegan primarily for health reasons. I just think to myself ‘mmmkay,’ and smile because I know the universe probably has other ideas for them.
And even if this doesn’t happen? Well, the world needs more healthy people, not more sick people. Healthy people use less resources.
The world also needs more people concerned with the environment, not fewer. And a healthier, cleaner planet helps animals too, so….
And seriously, why would it be so important to someone who is probably a stranger WHY you are no longer harming animals, as long as you AREN’T?
Equally, If your concern is ONLY about the ethics of a vegan lifestyle; if you are not interested in health and wellness and you want to eat vegan junk food all day, then much as it pains me to say it (being a nutritionist and always wanting to get all up in people’s faces about being healthy) – this is your business and your business only, too!
(Though please do try and substitute whole grains for white refined grains. Aaaaargh! I can’t help myself, it’s stronger than me! 🙂 )
When you make the decision to go vegan, do it YOUR way.
It’s a brilliant idea to join vegan communities, both in real life and online, and you will find great support and fellowship in this.
I am confident that you will gain so much more from a vegan community than the annoyance you may get from the odd judgey vegan – so I highly recommend you join one.
But, if anyone starts to make you feel that you’re not doing it right, or that you’re not vegan enough, or that your reasons and motivations aren’t as pure as theirs, I don’t know how to put this any other way than – SCREW THEM!
If someone persists in saying things that feel critical rather than helpful (don’t worry, your instinct will tell you which of these was their intent); then put boundaries between yourself and that person.
Look, you are going (or have gone) vegan. THIS IS AMAAAAAZING!!!!!
Keep an open mind; keep reading, talking, learning, listening (to those that are genuinely helpful), sharing information etc, and you’ll get to be exactly who and where you need to be.
A while back I posted responses to some of the comments and questions that vegans get; part 1 is here, part 2 here.
I was a little, shall we say, sarcastic with some of the responses back then because as a long time vegan, it can be hard hearing (or these days, reading on social media) the same silly things over and over again while the planet is deteriorating due to animal agriculture; and both non-human and human animals are needlessly dying – the non-human through our brutalising of them, and the human through heart disease, strokes, cancers and diabetes complications that occur through eating the non-human animals.
There are a few I didn’t cover back then, so I’ll tackle them now, and I’ll try and be kinder. Maybe.
1. But what if you found yourself on a desert island with a cow, and absolutely NO vegetation around and no chance of getting rescued. Would you eat the cow?
Answer: Probably. But that isn’t happening right now, so I’ll just continue to eat the abundance of plant food available to me and leave the animal products – which only HARM my body and the planet – well alone.
2. But if we didn’t eat cows, the world would be overrun with them.
Answer: No. Truly no. We would simply stop breeding them for food if nobody ate them.
3. Cont…But if we stopped breeding cows for food and milk, then there would be no more cows. I mean nobody would keep them as pets, so they would effectively become extinct.
Answer: Cows becoming extinct is preferable to them being bred to lead a miserable life in which they are raped, having their offspring instantly taken from them, only living a quarter of their natural lifespan and meeting an untimely, brutal (and in many, MANY cases) long, drawn-out death.
Besides, there are many species that have gone extinct that you never heard of. Did you cry over these?
4. But God said we have to eat meat.
Answer: To you? Personally? No, God didn’t. At least not in any religious text I know of. There are proscriptions for IF we eat meat, but that is not the same thing. In the three Abrahamic religious texts, for every verse you give me that you believe means it’s ok to eat meat, there are verses that suggest that meat-eating is against the spirit of the text as a whole. I wrote about religious texts and vegetarianism here if you are interested.
5. But I wouldn’t be as healthy as I am now if I went vegan.
Answer: As long as you eat enough calories and enough nutrients (which you should be concerned with if you are omni, too) you will thrive. In general, vegans get less sick than non-vegans, with both serious diseases, and minor ones.
6. But I wouldn’t know what to eat on a day-to-day basis.
Answer: Do you have access to Google? Can you type ‘vegan meal ideas’ into the search facility? There you go.
You can do one of two things. Both are great. You can eat EXACTLY as you eat now, but with the vegan versions of everything, or, discover a whole new world of vibrant, colourful foods from all around the world that are vegan by default, and discover how to make them yourself. You’ll have fun while learning, and very soon have a whole repertoire of go-to meals you can draw from each day.
7. But I don’t like vegan food.
Answer: You don’t like bananas? Apples? Sweet potato fries? Olives? Sweetcorn? Hummous? Popcorn? This list can go on for miles.
8. But eating too many vegetable foods makes me gassy.
Answer: Gross! I mean…If this happens (and assuming you don’t have medical issues with your stomach) then it’s just because your body isn’t sufficiently acquainted with fibre. The more vegetable matter you eat (veggies, beans, wholegrains etc), the more your body acclimates to digesting fibre and the fewer problems you will have with gas. Your body is INTENDED to eat fibre, so get chomping on those beans!
The presenter talks about the upsurge in ‘clean eating’ blogs and personalities – some of whom I referred to in this post, and explores their correlation with an increase in orthorexia (orthorexia is a state of worrying about eating the ‘right’ things to the point that it impinges on quality of life).
There is a legitimate argument to be had here. No-one is denying this. But it becomes very clear, just a few short minutes into the show, that its main aims are to discredit veganism, and eating healthily.
There is no difference made in this programme between veganism, and those who are purely eating more plant-based for health reasons. In fact, some of the blogs mentioned aren’t even plant-based, espousing bone broth, eggs and ‘happy meat’ as they do.
How they can be lumped in with veganism when veganism is at core based on ethics and social justice is some lousy-ass journalism on the part of the researchers of this programme.
It happened continually throughout, however. The agenda was practically waving at you.
The presenter decides to try…well…I’m not sure whether she decides to try veganism, clean-eating, a plant-based diet or what.
At one point she pulled everything unhealthy out of her fridge, then whined that there was no ‘joy’ left in there.
The thing is, her fridge was full of crap. There was barely one unprocessed thing in that entire space. If her fridge had been full of fresh produce, great bread, yummy leftovers from the dinner she made the night before, cool dairy alternatives and homemade treats, that fridge would’ve still been full.
She then went to a branch of one of the most expensive health food shops in London (one at which, in 27 years as a vegan, I have NEVER purchased anything), pointed at a bag of £5 kale chips, and declared healthy eating to be expensive and for the middle classes.
Uh…I shop mainly at Asda. Since when did beans and rice cost more than meat and dairy???
A dietician is interviewed and leads us to believe that it’s unwise to cut out dairy as you’ll forgo a good source of calcium.
This in fact, is the science on dairy; and this page gives you lots of great plant-based calcium sources. Both these pages are run by doctors. If I know where to get this information as a humble nutritionist – why the hell doesn’t this dietician?
Talking of which, online nutritionists are of course disparaged. It’s pointed out that some of these bloggers became a nutritionist with online courses of just 20 hours.
The presenter then enrols in a course that costs just £29. Of COURSE this is a BS course. Twenty-nine pounds??? I only wish I’d found one that cheap when I did mine! This doesn’t mean all nutrition courses are BS.
And sure there are bad nutritionists; but there are bad doctors; bad lawyers; bad teachers etc, all of whom have studied for years. I’ve personally suffered the consequences of a string of bad doctors. I certainly suffered bad teachers. And bad dentists? How long ya got?
At some point near the beginning of the programme, a sentence that mixes veganism, plant-based eating and clean eating all together says that these diets are not based on science.
Why weren’t the plant-based doctors interviewed? Dr’s Greger, McDougall, Barnard, Klaper, Campbell etc. These guys would have told a totally different side.
No actual plant-based expert was interviewed at all. There was no balance or fair reporting on the health benefits of a whole food, vegan diet.
Nothing is mentioned of the fact that the prime way to stop all forms of environmental degradation is mass adoption of a plant-based diet. You’d think they’d stick this in somewhere wouldn’t ya?
The conclusion to this shambolic shit-fest came from a dietician who bleated, as you might expect, ‘…eat a little bit of what you fancy; eat in moderation; eat food that looks like food.’
How fuzzy and ambiguous is this advice? People fancy all sorts of unhealthy foods all the time. We know that moderation kills (I wrote about moderation here); and bacon looks like food to lots of people, yet it can do this.
A staff member at an eating disorder clinic said it was dangerous to cut out food groups, but never mentioned which ones! We know it’s actually optimal for health to avoid animal products and replace them with whole foods, but the positive side of eliminating certain foods was never mentioned.
I don’t even know which part of this programme was the most bullshizzy. Whoever in the BBC let this tripe go out must be absolutely TERRIFIED of vegans.
All I can say is this effort was manipulative, misleading, misrepresentative, biased, unbalanced, and seemingly went out of its way to be deliberately confusing.
Also, as Dr John McDougall says, people LOVE to hear good news about their bad habits, so I can imagine lots of people rubbing their hands together with glee after this programme aired.
It just worries me that because it’s the BBC, some people WILL believe this garbage to have credence.
Let’s not forget. The BBC is publicly funded, so they want to keep their funders happy. Most of the public are not vegan. The BBC possibly figures that making vegans look wacky, extreme and unhinged will make the general public feel warm and fuzzy and better about NOT being vegan. They will then have positive associations with the BBC and keep funding it willingly.
As someone who doesn’t tolerate sexism or anti-vegan propaganda, I fell out of love with the BBC ages ago having witnessed both from them often. But it worries me that because it is widely believed that the BBC are trustworthy when it comes to presenting information, some people will suck this shit up.
I’m extremely proud to declare that not one single penny of mine funded this excuse for a programme.
I don’t care if it’s the BBC, NPR, PBS or whatever other ‘well-meaning,’ ‘educational,’ ‘impartial,’ channel. Always question; look for the peer-reviewed science, and do your own research.
Dr T Colin Campbell in his book ‘Whole’ talks about how PBS (a reputable American channel known as being educational and impartial) didn’t end up interviewing him about his findings on diet and cancer despite showing initial interest, because they probably realised how unpopular his views would be and didn’t want to risk a funding backlash.
It would seem that no mainstream media outlet, however supposedly ‘respectable,’ is immune to this.
Warning (in a good way): This recipe really is killer. It will impress non-vegans, and it’s great for a casual dinner party because it’s so damn simple – you’ll be able to chat easily to the annoying guest who stands in the kitchen talking to you while you’re cooking, instead of thinking ‘would you please go and chat with everyone else already!’ and feeling mean about doing so.
Ever fancy a big, juicy, burger with all the trimmings; something creamy and cheesy on the burger; a smokiness reminiscent of bonfires and barbecue, and where the burger juice seeps a little into the toasted bun and every moment of mastication is sheer heaven?
I did too, yesterday.
Now bean burgers are great, I love ’em.
And seitan patties – fantastic!
But when portobello mushrooms are just THE PERFECT shape and size already, and have a meaty texture when grilled (it’s almost like portobellos were invented PURPOSELY to be vegan burgers!!), I wanted to go this route instead.
Sometimes bean burgers can be dry (unless deep fried), and I definitely wanted a ‘juicy’ quality, without any frying action having taken place.
I love trying to ‘upgrade’ junk food. Junk is ok once in a while, but I figure we can have it MORE OFTEN (and still remain healthy) if we make a few switches, and just upgrade a few of the ingredients. What’s ace though, is that we lose none of the taste! Not a single bit!
Now this recipe DOES contain oil, but if you’re concerned about it you can always minimise the quantity, or just using water instead of oil may work too.
I don’t have chronic disease so I do include a little oil in my diet.
This recipe was inspired by the portobello burger recipe on veganvigilanteblog.com, but I’ve simplified it, and changed a couple of measurements and ingredients (adobo sauce is only sold online in the UK!) I wanted it to be accessible to all.
Also, the original recipe adds a layer of vegan cheese. I’ve excluded this; partly because we have no decent vegan melty cheese in the UK, but also because itreally isn’t needed. The cashew chipotle sauce is plenty cheesy. If you want that extra cheese factor, go ahead and add a layer of vegan cheese on the burger.
What you’ll need:
For the burger:
4 x wholewheat buns
4 x portobello mushrooms (remove stalks)
1x large sliced tomato
1 x red onion (thinly sliced)
For the marinade:
1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 x cloves garlic minced (or 2 tsp garlic powder)
1/2 tsp paprika powder
1 tsp dried basil
For the chipotle sauce:
3/4 cup plain cashews soaked in boiling water for 1 hour
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
1 x large clove garlic (or 1 tsp of garlic powder)
What you do:
Note: Put the cashews on to soak in boiling water for an hour first!!
For the marinade:
De-stalk your mushrooms, and I also recommend peeling them – I feel they absorb liquid better when peeled, as the skinned flesh has a more spongy texture.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic and spices.
Roll each mushroom in the marinade, making sure both sides are well coated. Use a spoon, basting brush, whatever it takes! Let sit for 15 minutes.
For the chipotle sauce:
Add drained cashews, water, lime juice, sea salt, garlic, chipotle flakes to food processor (I used my Magic Bullet).
Pulse until smooth consistency, then set aside.
Grilling and dressing the burgers:
Grill mushrooms for approximately 10 minutes on each side. They will reduce in size, that’s normal.
Remove from grill, and then the fun begins!
Lightly toast the cut side of your buns under the grill (under the broiler if you’re a US friend), and gather together your toppings.
Place a mushroom on one side of each bun, and add a generous dollop of the chipotle sauce. Remember, you’re not using cheese (unless you are!), so really, a GENEROUS dollop!
Dress with lettuce, tomato and red onion slices and serve!
Feeling virtuous? Serve with corn on the cob and steamed greens.
There was an article in The Times recently about how the ‘clean eating’ blogs and websites (there are a couple of big ones in the UK – I’m sure the US has its own fair share) have fed into eating disorders, and only served to encourage those that suffer from them to stress even more over the food they eat. It suggested that they play into ‘orthorexia’; a condition where you become so obsessed with eating ‘right’ that it impinges on your quality of life.
I guess I can see how this might happen.
What really irked me about the article however is that it didn’t seem to be too concerned about mentioning veganism in the same breath as the ‘clean-eating’ phenomenon, thereby associating it with the harmful effects that these blogs can have.
You need to know that these blogs have ZERO to do with being vegan. In some cases the ‘diets’ espoused aren’t even 100% plant-based.
Veganism is about not exploiting animals for our use; and in broader terms it’s a foundation for exposing all oppressions, about guardianship of the planet, and giving our bodies what they need and not what they don’t so that we have the energy, will, and spirit to do this.
These ‘clean-eating’ blogs seem to be about looking cool AF while slurping on a smoothie full of ingredients from the peaks of the Peruvian Andes (hello? What happened to shopping locally?)
You also need to know that the foods these blogs showcase are not the only path to great health.
My thoughts were very conflicted when these fancy, high-end ‘clean eating’ food blogs forced their way across my radar a few years ago.
My VERY first thoughts on discovering Deliciously Ella (famous UK ‘clean eating’ blogger), quite honestly, were jealous ones that I’m not proud of.
How does a 23 year old afford a house with a kitchen like THAT??? How does she afford a fancy website like that?? How does she have the time to compose those pictures and write text and recipes every day??
When I found out it was because she was born rich, that didn’t help my jealousy any.
But then I got over myself and thought about it some more.
My next thoughts were in fact about how positive it could be if lots of people were introduced to plant-based eating this way.
As I said, these websites are all about health and style. They are not about ethics, or about the impact of diet on the environment.
But MY initial main motivation for eating plant-based was health, which eventually grew into something much bigger and all-encompassing.
If I grew to embrace veganism and all it entails through seeking health, surely it could happen to others this way?
Upon further exploration of these websites, I became disheartened. Far too many of the recipes contained ingredients that I knew to be expensive, hard for lots of people to find, and questionable in terms of whether they really deliver benefits in proportion to the price they cost.
If you have the money to afford chia, baobab and cacao by the bucket load, then good for you.
However, veganism and plant-based eating are ALREADY erroneously perceived as being expensive and elitist by many people looking for an excuse to never try it.
These ‘clean-eating’ blogs only reinforce this perception.
I explored the reasons why veganism isn’t elitist here.
I also wrote an article for Mind Body Green with 8 tips on how to eat vegan inexpensively, find it here.
Health does not = smoothies with exclusive ingredients in a vintage mason jar on a photogenic piece of distressed wood.
The much less glamourous (but also less expensive, YAY!) route to health is this:
Eat your wholegrains. Lots of ’em.
Potatoes too, both sweet and regular.
Root veg like carrots and beets rule for their bright colours and the nutrients they bring.
Beans and lentils may not sound sexy, but they are where amazing energy is at.
Don’t forget your leafy greens of all persuasions, your nuts and seeds, and fruits of all varieties.
Add all the herbs and spices and condiments the earth offers and you not only have the wherewithal to eat deliciously for the rest of your life, but a great foundation for your best health ever.
I’m interested to know, what do YOU think of these websites? Please let me know in the comments!
The main source of vitamin D for everyone is sunlight (aim to get 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your face, legs or arms every day between 10am-3pm. Go for the full 15 minutes if you have darker skin). It’s also found in fatty fish and eggs, but even omnivores don’t eat fatty fish and eggs every day, so, as with most deficiencies, vitamin D deficiency isn’t just a potential vegan problem, but a potential ‘everyone’ problem.
Depending on where we are in the world, or whether you work outside or not; we all have different exposure to sunlight. If you’re in southern California or some tropical paradise; or you are always outside during daylight hours – you’re likely getting enough. Those in more northerly regions or who aren’t often outside at prime sunlight times may not be.
What to do if you feel you are deficient
If you feel you MAY be deficient in Vitamin D, the first thing you should do is have your blood tested by a doctor.
If the test shows you ARE indeed low, then unless you can escape to sunnier climes pronto – supplementation is probably the way to go.
It used to be that Vitamin D3 was purely animal-based (from the lanolin in sheep’s wool), and vitamin D2 was plant-based (from yeast and fungi); but I hear that now it’s possible to get vegan vitamin D3 supplements, so either D2 or vegan D3 is what you’ll want to look for.
Some would argue that Vitamin D3 is more effective than vitamin D2. However, I had low levels of vitamin D which manifested each year as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I started taking 1000 IU of vitamin D2 (1 capsule daily), and I no longer suffer from this each winter, so I personally found it to be effective.
Several foodstuffs constitute sugar; that’s to say, they act the same as sugar would once inside your body; but to keep it simple, I’m just gonna talk about plain ol’ sugar here. Sugar that is sugar before it goes in your body; sugar once inside.
Now I know YOU KNOW this post is not gonna be good news about sugar; but before sugar, the absolute best first thing you can do for yourself in terms of all aspects of your health is to stop eating animal products. This is the most important dietary change you can make.
I want to talk about sugar however, because it too has some extremely egregious health effects you need to be aware of.
Harmful effects of sugar
OK, so I’m pretty sure you know about the link between sugar and tooth decay. (My mouth wishes I’d known sooner).
And you probably have a good grasp on the whole ‘sugar spikes your blood’ dealie. We know that sugar causes energy rushes that soon turn to crashes – not the best way of achieving consistent, long-lasting energy.
So far so blah.
But one of the worst effects in my experience (because I and many others I know have lived through this), is that sugar is candida food.
If you don’t know, candida is a yeast that lives in your gut naturally. Due to various influences disrupting the balance of gut flora (antibiotics* being one, but there are MANY others), it can multiply and proliferate and cause a whole host of awful symptoms.
Sugar, which is candida food, helps this beast grow out of control.
Why is candida so bad? What’s the big deal?
Candida is linked to soooo many diseases and conditions.
You may be surprised to know that candida is even linked to mental health – YES, that’s mental health – the extent to which we are only just learning.
There is also a connection between candida and cystic fibrosis, though this link needs to be investigated more.
It is linked to lots of cancers indirectly, as candida suppresses the immune system – an ideal situation for cancer to develop; but it is also thought to be linked to lots of cancers in a more direct way, though there isn’t enough scientific evidence as yet to prove the links conclusively.
There are many more diseases that candida is thought to be linked to, but there haven’t been enough studies carried out as yet to prove this without doubt.
There seems to be a lack of will to fund studies. Possibly this is because candida can be cured with cheap remedies and a change of diet. Therefore, it wouldn’t be accurate to think that just because there isn’t sufficient evidence, that there isn’t a link between a disease and candida.
Bottom line – Stop feeding the candida beast!
Don’t forget that sugar has addictive properties similar to those found in street drugs. It’s all the more surprising then (or is it?), that food manufacturers want to feed our addiction!
How do I avoid sugar?
We KNOW there’s gonna be sugar in cookies and candy etc. But where are all the hidden sneaky places sugar can be found?
You’re not going to like this – it’s blinking everywhere!
Plant-based yoghurts (even plain ones!)
Chilli sauces (except Tabasco and Cholula, woohoo!)
Indian restaurant food
Chinese restaurant food
Cans of baked beans, refried beans etc
Plant milks (One popular brand I just looked at had sugar as the second ingredient – before the almonds even!!!)
Soft beverages in bottles, cans or cartons (including most healthy-looking ones)
You can very easily see how over the course of a day your sugar intake can creep up – and that’s without you even knowingly USING sugar.
It’s worth noting none of these foods NEED sugar to taste good, or as a preservative. It’s almost as if it’s in someone’s interest to keep us full of candida-fuelling sugar!!
What can you do?
Though the ideal solution is to completely eliminate sugar from every source, it’s very difficult seeing as how we clearly live in a sugar-saturated world.
The best thing you can do is just KNOW when you are eating something containing sugar. That way you can monitor your intake and make sure it is minimal.
Make your own food as much as possible of course; but when you DO buy pre-made products, just take an extra second to scan the ingredients list on the label. If you’re vegan you’ll be checking to see if there are animal products anyway, so just take an extra second to check for sugar. If the product contains sugar – pick a brand that doesn’t contain it.
It may be a pain in the butt initially, but you’ll quickly get to remember which products contain sugar and which don’t.
*I am not against antibiotics when they are truly needed; just against the over-prescription of them.
I see so many people trying to lose weight (especially now it’s nearly summer and all the hideous ‘get your bikini bod so the menz on the beach don’t find you disgusting‘ ads are everywhere) and my heart goes out to them.
Seemingly each month a new diet trend comes out. Each frickin’ day there is this green smoothie weight loss challenge or that juicing weight loss challenge.
Even if people want to lose weight because THEY want to – rather than because society is pressuring them to; so much contradictory information is out there about weight loss it can be hard to know which route to take.
How is anyone meant to know what is effective and what’s not? And even if it’s effective – is it healthy? Is it sustainable? Will the weight just pack all back on at the end of the challenge or will the weight loss last this time?
I personally couldn’t give a crap what someone looks like – but in terms of health, wellness and longevity; a weight that suits our frame is ideal.
I’ve been overweight – not massively so, but enough that I know what it is to feel heavy, unfit and lethargic. The joy I get now in moving my body and having it work optimally for me is priceless (I do handstands every day, and love hiking and climbing), and it’s worth it for me to maintain a healthy weight.
The good news is that this is easier than we’re led to believe.
I’ve already written about how a whole foods, plant-based diet is the healthiest and most sustainable way to lose weight. But, just to recap, this means 100% plant-based (no animal products); whole foods (no refined foods like sugar, white flour, white rice etc, but the whole versions); minimal added oils (because these are processed, extracted fats); and minimal processed foods.
To get an idea of what whole food, plant-based meals look like – I highly recommend the Forks Over Knives Recipe resource.
Exercise is also part of any weight loss plan obvs, but I’m gonna stick to talking about the food here, as that’s my bag.
Here are my FIVE KEY components for successful weight loss:
1. Enjoyment of your food
For the love of all that’s holy, you NEED to enjoy your meals…I was gonna say even if you’re losing weight, but you need to enjoy your food ESPECIALLY if you are losing weight. How else will your new habits be sustainable?
If you delight in your food you won’t feel deprived and like you’re being punished. If you see what you’re doing as a delicious permanent lifestyle shift rather than as a temporary diet, you’re more likely to be successful.
If you’re on a diet where you’re drinking shakes or smoothies instead of having meals; I mean, really? Even if the shake tastes ok, you really want one for every meal?
If you are used to eating refined or greasy foods, you may notice a difference in taste eating whole food plant-based – but you’ll lose NONE of the flavour. And, after a while your taste buds will adjust and PREFER the whole, lower fat food.
If you’ve made the change from omnivore to vegan, you’ve already experienced your taste buds acclimating to plant foods from animal foods – it’s the same thing here but you’re adjusting to whole foods.
Get cooking and get creative.
If you are like me, you need to feel satisfied at the end of a meal. I like my stomach to KNOW it’s been fed, not in a ‘aaarrrrghhhh I feel so gross and bloated’ kind of a way; just in a warm, cosy, pleasantly satiated kind of a way. A green smoothie for dinner ain’t gonna cut it. Don’t kid yourself. Even if you do this for a few days, it’s not sustainable.
Foods that fill you up (like whole grains and beans) will STOP you reaching for crap later, or stop you dreaming of crap. And who’s got time to dream of crap food all day long?
If you’re full of beans and grains – there just ain’t room for anything else! Your belly and your brain are content!
3. Stop counting stuff
I don’t believe food and its components should ever be counted (unless you have a condition where your doctor has recommended you count measurements of foods etc).
Some people think vegans are no fun – but don’t seem to question the funlessness of counting calories, ‘syns,’ fat content etc etc.
On a whole food, plant-based diet (and if you’re conservative with the ol’ added oils) NO COUNTING IS NEEDED.
4. Consistency in the day to day is key (rather than sporadic detoxes, crash diets, or ‘challenges’)
Forget the detox and the challenges. What’s the point of a detox or a challenge, only to go back to old habits and have to do another detox a few weeks or months down the line?
No one is suggesting you should never eat vegan junk food again as long as you live; but on a daily basis consistently choosing tasty, whole food dishes will stop you wanting the junk regularly.
Make the junk an occasional treat. Junk always tastes better if you feel it’s a cheeky treat 🙂
If you’re a busy bee, prepare as much as you can in advance. It’s all about putting measures in place to prevent making less than great food choices.
Slow cookers are great for having a meal ready when you walk in the door; you can make extra soup and stews and freeze what you don’t eat for later in the week.
Even if you can’t prep a whole meal in advance you can chop veg once you’ve bought it and keep it in the veg box or freezer.
Do you feel like you have little energy and often feel fatigued?
Assuming there is no underlying problem (which, of course you’ll already have checked out at your doctors, right?), then this post can help you get back to being the perky, peppy, zestful YOU.
So, there’s not a list of energy foods for meat eaters and another for vegans – it’s all the same for everyone.
Meat eaters, this is for you because you may find that what you thought to be the best energy food actually isn’t.
And vegans – its ace that you’re vegan, but vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy and full of energy, so this is for you, too.
Let’s bust a few myths first shall we?
The best source of energy is CARBOHYDRATES.
Where are carbs NOT found?
Not in meat
Meat contains very little carbohydrate, so is NOT the best energy food. If anything, it can weigh you down and make you feel sluggish.
Our bodies have a hard time digesting it what with us not having the stomach acids to properly break it down, and what with it containing ZERO fibre, and what with us having really long intestines reminiscent of a herbivores. If our bodies are trying to digest meat, our energy is being used up for this.
However, because our bodies can digest plants easily without all the extra effort, when we eat plants we get energy from them.
Not in dairy products
The only carbohydrate in dairy is in the lactose. Only a very small percentage of the world’s population can digest lactose. If you can’t (which is most of us!) your body cannot utilise the carbohydrate in dairy for energy.
Not from green leafy veg
Now don’t get me wrong, green leafy veg are vital to our diets for lots of nutrients – but not to give us energy. They do not contain enough calories to be efficient energy givers.
Green leafy veg are the side to a dish, or a PART of a stew/soup/salad/stir-fry/curry/chilli/pasta dish. They are NOT the main event.
Not from nuts
Nuts are healthy fats and are another vital part of our diet for lots of reasons. A couple a day when we’re peckish can help BOOST our energy, but they should not be the main source of our energy – you’d have to eat too many, and they are too fatty to eat them in bigger quantities.
legumes (pulses in the UK) – chick peas, red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lima beans, cannellini beans, peas, lentils (all varieties), black beans, pinto beans, fava (broad) beans etc
Fruits as dessert are fantastic, but should not be the main dish; regardless of what some YouTubers would have you believe.
2. Eat breakfast
Well duh! I hear you say, and you’d be right – but you’d be surprised how many people don’t.
A breakfast containing whole grains (oatmeal, wholewheat toast, wholewheat bagel, brown rice) will set you up for great energy all morning.
3. Limit sugar and caffeine
By sugar I mean actual sugar; and white refined carbs (white bread, buns, bagels etc; white pasta and white rice).
Though both sugar and caffeine give us energy in the short term, it’s not really worth it for the energy slump that ensues.
Let’s be realistic. Even though it’s possible to eliminate caffeine from our lives, we might not all want to do that – me included. I have two cups of green tea per day and my energy is great. But when I have more than that, it’s definitely negatively affected in the long run. Have one or two cups of whatever caffeinated beverage you love per day, maybe one if it’s coffee, or two if it’s tea (tea has less caffeine).
Similarly, with sugar, I’m not suggesting you eliminate all sugar from your diet, but rather:
– Choose whole grains over refined white starches, and minimise actual white sugar as much as possible. Pay attention to where it could be lurking – ketchups, chilli sauces, relishes, shop bought pasta sauces etc. You may not think this is a big deal, but sugar adds up over the course of a day.
– Try and buy products that don’t contain sugar. You have to practise label scanning, but you WILL find brands that don’t use sugar, and then you’ll remember them for next time.
– Use agave and maple syrup to sweeten things. They are not a health food either, but they don’t spike your blood as much as sugar.
It sounds like it wouldn’t work but it does. Sometime you gotta expend energy to GET energy! Ever laid in bed for longer than you should and just got tireder? Exactly!
If you do nothing else, a brisk half an hour walk every day is a great, easy inclusion into your daily routine. It’ll get the blood flowing round the body, increase your heart rate and (if you are following the other tips) set you up for great energy for the rest of the day.
Dehydration is such a common problem.
While water in and of itself doesn’t give you energy, dehydration can leave you feeling drained (Literally! Geddit?) and weary.
While you don’t necessarily need to rigidly drink eight glasses a day if you are eating a whole food, plant-based diet (as much of your food will have a high water content); listen to your body and drink water as soon as you feel thirsty. If your pee is almost clear with just a touch of colour – you’re good. If it’s darker, get your H2o on!