Thoughts on the world, homeopathy, mindfulness and food...
A collection of blog posts - feel free to respond with your thoughts and comments - I love to have feedback - thank you!
Go! But how? With what? If you're not eating milk, cheese, eggs, meat, fish, and maybe even looking at eliminating oils, salt and gluten - then what's really left?!?
It was great to get so many comments and remarks following my last blog, and consistently the how? what? when? questions seem to be the most common. I find it pretty easy now sorting out my diet but it's still evolving, not perfect and, well I'm not sure the journey would be all that great if it was always perfect all the time.
My own transition was pretty gradual from full time veggie last September (from reluctant and occasional meat eater) to badly done vegan in November (so many excuses) to high carb, low fat raw vegan in February. In the last few months, I've spent time in France, Germany and Italy as well as going camping several times and I've managed to maintain eating that way (with some slight fluctuations but always eating a vegan diet).
To use a metaphor I thought that adopting a raw diet was like going through a door into another room and what I found was that I went through the door and into a hotel - I could go through loads of other rooms and choose lots of different styles. To get back to food though two of the main options were high protein/fat or high carb/low fat. I feel that moving onto a vegan diet is very similar. There's loads of options, choices and routes to take and how to know you're choosing the right one? Is there a right one? To a high degree I believe we do all need to find the right thing for ourselves, however for optimal nutrition and physical health high carb/low fat makes most sense to me.
I read Doug Graham's The 80-10-10 Diet which I would recommend to everyone regardless of whether raw food was a consideration or not. Doug recommends raw foods but the ratios that he discusses (80%+ of calories coming from carbohydrates and a maximum of 10% coming from proteins and fats) fit in line with several other things I've read. In particular this co-incides with the ratios that come through as beneficial for health in The China Study book and can be adopted for cooked foods as well as used for raw foods.
My most frequently asked questions -
What do you eat?
Fruits and vegetables with a small amount of nuts and seeds. However if I was adopting a cooked vegan diet following a similar ratio (which Dr Doug Graham (along with many athletes) believes as optimal for physical performance) I would include whole grains such as quinoa, oats, amaranth, wild and brown rice, polenta, barley as well as beans, legumes and non-dairy milks too.
But where do you get your protein from?
My fruits and vegetables, and a small amount of nuts and seeds. I feel it could be important to share here that the protein required by the body to replace excreted proteins (relative to total calorie intake) is 5-6%. The RDA is set at 9-10%, allowing for individual variation. The majority of people way exceed this level. My mum made up a fruit salad the other day which contained mango, blueberries, grapes, pineapple and bananas and this contained 4.3% protein and 3% fat. There is more protein out there than you think. And - where does the meat you've been eating til now get it's protein from? If it was lucky then grass, if not then largely plant based foods.
What books would you recommend to read to start with?
The China Study T.Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell
The 80-10-10 Diet Dr Doug Graham
Forks over Knives Gene Stone
And for cooking from?
You'll have to bear with me a teeny bit as I've been not cooking my foods since February but have had a keen interest for helping others on this route so my favourites so far are:
The China Study Cookbook
Forks over Knives The Cookbook
Both of these fit with the low fat approach, unlike many vegan recipes which can be very high in fat with added oils and nuts.
And the man I can credit with the start of my journey last year - I would love everyone to read Scott Jurek's Eat and Run. Scott discovered he recovered better, was all round healthier and was able to train harder on a vegan diet. He did experiment with raw foods and in the end went back to cooked vegan. It's a great read for inspiration as well as recipes and ideas. His granola is the best I've had too!
How am I best to get started?
I always try to plan my menus ahead of time - so I can shop for the week instead of keeping running into the market. Personally I have a big fruit breakfast (my current favourite is a watermelon), a bowl of fruit or green smoothie for lunch, and for dinner often have a fruit starter then a load of veggies (in maybe a raw pasta dish/salad wraps/huge salad with a yummy fruit based dressing). The books I've listed have lots of ideas for non-raw meals though and it's worth a look through then plan for the week.
How quickly should I make the change?
It's really up to you. We can change overnight should we desire to and the hardest part is often in our heads. Change can be immediate. However it doesn't have to be. It can be a gradual journey like, for example the one I undertook, or really whatever speed suits you. Once you're aware of unhealthy practices and unhelpful eating habits it may be harder to hang onto them than you think.
Will I be getting enough nutrients/calories?
One of the biggest mistakes people can make when adopting a raw food/vegan diet is not eating enough. When you're too busy on concentrating on what you're not to have it's easy not to eat enough. Tools such as CRON-O-Meter can be great at checking on this (as well as intriguing to see just how much protein or fat is in foods where you'd never expect it). Not getting enough calories will make it harder to maintain this lifestyle. It really isn't one of denial and if you're not eating abundantly and enjoying it then it's going to be hard work.
Would you like more help?
I've more blogs planned around getting started, as well as the whys of plant based eating, I've a 5 day fully raw plan to share soon and lots more. However if you'd like more information or help right now then just get in touch - I'm more than happy to help with wherever I can guide you on your journey.
I'm a Homeopath working in the Skipton (North Yorkshire) area. I am also able to offer food intolerance testing using Kinesiology and advice around diet and lifestyle.