Vegan. Or Carb Overload?

Posted on December 8, 2012

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2012-12-03 18.28.10Maybe I’m just into experimenting with food until I determine what works best for my body.  Paloe, while amazing and absolutely provided unbelievable benefits, killed my desire to eat animal protein (which at the time, only consisted of fish).  And so, while one side of me was leaning towards introducing good old fashioned meat back in to create variety, I instead did the exact opposite.  Vegan.

About a year ago, a good friend of mine sent me Thrive, The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life, a book written by vegan triathlete, Brendon Braizer.  While I’ve always toyed with the idea, most of my trainers talked me out of it, telling me I had to keep chicken and fish in my diet to achieve my goals.  I read the book, intrigued, while overwhelmed and confused.  Hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, swiss chard?  What is all this stuff?

Thanks to the support of you, my readers, this blog has kept me experimenting with new ingredients.  As I’ve allowed my palate to expand, a quick review of the 12-week vegan plan, and I realized more than half the ingredients were part of my regular diet and in my kitchen. It’s time.  I made the decision and became vegan on Sunday.

Two days of meals took me two hours to create a shopping list for.  The book does not have a user friendly layout if you’re using it for the first time.  About another hour plus at the grocery store, and by the time I got home, I was too exhausted to cook.  I already talked myself out of eating fish anymore, so I went straight to the can of pinto beans for dinner.  I missed beans so much during the paleo challenge.  They are delicious and with each bite, I couldn’t wait to incorporate them into my daily routine.  When you don’t eat meat, grains and beans become your meat.  I ended that day satisfied, inspired, and ready to hit the kitchen the following morning.

2012-12-03 18.25.12I’m messy in the kitchen to begin with, but throw a bunch of new techniques at me, and forget it.  Grinding flaxseed, sesame seeds, almonds; I had more food on the floor and under my feet then in the bowls.  It wasn’t until I pounded these random ingredients into the shape of a burger, that I realized the awesome reality of this diet.  Almonds, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, hemp oil, balsamic vinegar, and a dash of sea salt, followed by option to eat it raw, bake it in the oven, or pan “fry” it.  Oh yes, I am vegan.

In an order to incorporate what I already know about healthy eating and goals, I opted out of the wheat bun, and served the Almond Flaxseed “Burger” atop a bed of baby spinach.  Oh wait, it gets better.  In addition, I whipped up a red bell pepper, basil, garlic dressing, which included a nutritional yeast/sesame seed mixture.  Nutritional yeast has amazing healthy benefits including one of the only non-animal sources of B-12 and amino acids, and also has a cheesy flavor to it (and makes for a great topping on kale chips).

2012-12-03 18.26.20As I took my first bite, I felt my eyes widen; oh yes, I am vegan.  The feeling didn’t go away at the second or third bite.  It wasn’t until I was getting to the end that I realized I hadn’t portioned the meal for me (so surely it was double, if not more).  A TON of almonds, seeds, oh my gosh… “woops”, I though… as I finished my last bite.   The more I thought about what I had just done, the more I realized the meals I was preparing were for a male triathlete.  Sure, I know some of you are comparing my workouts to such, but even if it seems like all I do is work out, I DO NOT work out enough to be eating cups of nuts, dates, seeds, and oil, on top of quinoa and beans.  The one thing I have learned through my couple of years of trying to figure this out is that if it tastes too good to be true, I shouldn’t be eating it.

Two days pass, three days pass, on the fourth day, I realized I was feeling bloated and confused by this diet.  A quick conversation later, thanks Coach Sarina, and I realize I’m in carb overload.  I went from no carbs to regularly eating way too many carbs in one day.  Great, so here I am, a confused vegan.  Vegan sounds awesome when you think about the nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans you get to eat.  Take those out of the equation and you’re left with vegetables and fruit.  Sounds a little less amazing.  Maybe this is just what I need to let the cow back into my life. Maybe.

2012-12-03 18.22.44

I’m not ready to give up yet, after all, I’ve talked myself out of animal protein, and therefore, I haven’t got much of a choice. Besides here I am bragging out being vegan while rubbing Emu oil on my broken wing (thanks, Doug). I’ve got a big task ahead of me and a lot to learn, but I’m convinced I’ll eventually find the right formula that assists me in reaching my goals.  In the meantime, I’m taking it one day at a time, feeling guilty every time I select the carb loaded ingredient to fuel my body, and hoping the guilt is enough to help me balance appropriately without sabotaging my progress thus far.

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To end this entry, I tried to find a clever quote about veganism; however, they seem all to be related to the kindness of animals.  While that’s so great, it has absolutely nothing to do with why I’ve chosen to explore this path, which is probably a good thing, since the more I’m feeling deprived, the more I’m thinking about a big juicy steak for dinner.

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Posted in: The Experiment