Sunday, January 22, 2012

Eat (some of) the vegetables

Ok - my 'Eat ALL the vegetables' vegan experiment was interesting if not especially successful.

Day one:
I hadn't actually cooked anything yet, so despite eating some nuts, fruit, veggies, and fruit juice, I was starving until about noon.  Then I wasn't so much 'full' as full of fiber, and I will spare you the details.

I also experienced a pretty intense caffeine-withdrawal headache.  God bless aspirin is what I have to say about that!

The other challenge I faced was a last minute call from a friend who was visiting from out of town.  She wanted to meet up for dinner at Red Robin.  Oh lordy!  Talk about temptation, I LOVE burgers!!!  On the one hand, I showed a lot of restraint by ordering a Gardenburger, with no cheese, and had unsweetened iced tea.  But I also took full advantage of the bottomless fries.... and in the interest of full disclosure - there was ranch dip involved.

So on the one hand, I was successfully vegetarian for a full day.  Only a few dips of ranch dressing away from being vegan in fact.  On the other hand I was gassy, bloated, tired, starving, and headachy for most of the day.  I got a lot of cooking done (and ran like three loads of dishes through the dishwasher).  But beyond that all I did was lounge on the couch all day feeling crummy.

Day two:  
I woke up starving and started the day eating a whole wheat roll with some hummus, and a bunch of veggies and veggie/fruit juice.   Again, lots of fiber had the predictable results.

By noon, I was not only simultaneously hungry and bloated, but feeling tired and weak as well.   I had made the mistake of doing some weight lifting the night before, something I do regularly, nothing especially strenuous.  But instead of my arms feeling 'post work out sore' they felt like limp noodles, trembly and weak.  I had no energy or motivation to do anything other than lay on the couch.  But this was a three day weekend and I didn't want to waste it.  I had things I needed to get done.

Forget it.  Experiment over.  I went out for sushi and felt better almost immediately.

I really can't say if it was the lack of protein or the lack of total calories that was wiping me out, but it was pretty clear that the vegan thing was just not for me.  I didn't want to completely give up, so I adjusted.  No meat or dairy for breakfast or dinner... but I could eat a normal cafeteria lunch for the rest of the week.  Friday however turned out to be all around crappy and any notion of a diet or experiment went out the window.

So what were the end results of this experiment?  I think my weight fluctuated a bit in the downward direction, but by today, I'm back exactly where I was when I started.  I certainly did NOT feel like my energy or overall health improved much... although I did notice that my skin felt really good the first two days.  And by eliminating meat and dairy from two of my meals, I did increase my overall fruit and vegetable intake from an average of 2-3 servings a day to a consistent 5 or more.  That can't be a bad thing.

Going forward I think I'm going to focus on the much more realistic goal of eating 5 fruits and vegetables a day, and eliminating most dairy from my diet.  I'll see how that goes for the rest of the month.


Kaye said...

Yeah who is it, Mark Bitman who will only eat meat after 5pm each day? So basically no meat for breakfast or lunch.
I'm confident you'll find something that fits into your groove.

Stariel said...

I'd guess that it was a combination of too few calories / too little protein.

I did vegan week with a friend and it went really well for me, but I have the advantage of already being a vegetarian and hating eggs and milk, so I'm often mostly vegan anyway. It wasn't a huge change for me.

If you want to try more vegan / vegetarian meals, I'd suggest veggies sauteed with tofu - or if you want to get fancy some of those soy / gluten fake "meats" you can buy.

I also have some great recipes for soups and chili that I like a lot - full of veggies but with beans for protein too. Also, I sometimes use the TVP crumble stuff which is sold as fake beef - it's not much on its own, but it works in chili or soup.

Sorry to hear your experiment wasn't successful, but eating more fruits and veggies is always a plus!