Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Breaking News

I said I was going to update you as I did that Body & Soul Challenge from the Martha Steward people. Obviously, I haven't. The experiment went a little off-track and I didn't want to go public with my plan until I was sure what that would be. I may get a lot of slack for this, because I know many people do, but here it is:

I'm going to try becoming a vegan.

Ish. That is, I'm going to try out a mostly vegan lifestyle, but I'm not going to be super-strict about it. I am doing it for both health and weight-loss reasons. It feels more health-motivated at a gut level, but I also don't think there's much chance I'll stick with it if it doesn't also result in some significant weight loss, so I'm not sure what that says about the impetus.

I don't much like meat. Never have. Sure, I enjoy a good burger once in a while, but not like other people do. I barely like steak at all. I do like turkey at Thanksgiving, but would be fine without it as long as I made an exception for gravy. I'll miss bacon, but I rarely ate that anyway, so maybe I won't miss it much after all. Cheese is a slight issue. If it's in front of me, I'm going to want it. But on a normal, daily basis, no biggie.

What will be a biggie for me has nothing to do with veganism at all. I plan to attempt to severely limit refined carbohydrates.

I've come to the conclusion, after a lifetime of struggling with weight issues and eating problems, that I think I have an honest-to-goodness addiction to sugar. I don't use that word lightly. Addictions are real, nasty things and it's not a term to throw around. Alcohol, drug, gambling...these addictions ruin lives. My life is not in ruin. Nowhere near. But how else do you explain a near pathological (maybe not near, maybe actual) tendency to binge on one kind of food: refined carbs, especially sugars. I can't guess at the number of times I've eaten a whole carton of ice cream, box of cookies, pan of brownies in one sitting. I know, most people have done that at times, and will again. But it's not normal how often I do this. How overwhelming the urge is. I used to think I just had weak will power, but anyone who knew me as an athlete knows that's not it. I crave sugar on a level that seems different from other people's. This was the main reason I did that detox week through the Body & Soul program.

And you know what? I kicked the sugar addiction. And it was easy. I just never knew how to do it before. I just ate a bunch of veggies, oatmeal, fruit, legumes, and brown rice. I was never hungry. Not too bored either.

Now I'm reading Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD. I won't try to review the book here. Head to Amazon if you're interested. The gist of it is nothing new: Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much. Limit your animal proteins. Make salads the main meal. Get educated about nutrition.

So tomorrow I start the six-week plan, which is a much stricter version of what the book ultimately advises you to do long-term. I think the point of the initial rigidity is just to jump start the weight loss, keep you motivated, keep things simple while you get the hang of new food prep habits. I'll be attempting to subsist on a ton of veggies, lots of fruit, some beans, legumes, tofu, and limited amounts of grains, starchy veggies, nuts. No animal proteins. No dairy. No juice or dried fruit. Obviously no refined carbs.

Wish me luck! We'll see how it goes. If I hate it, I'll quit. But it's not so different from what I've been doing, with very little effort, so I think I've got a good shot at sucess. I'll keep you posted...


Sarah Berry said...

Since you're new to this, you should have a long email or phone exchange with G - she and Beau have mastered the art of being vegan and gluten-free and manage to cook every night of the week very successfully. So much so that she's putting together a little cookbook. Also, there are TONS of food substitutes that they use that most people don't even know about - they still eat their own versions of milk, butter, cream cheese, bacon, mayo, etc. It's just that it's all made from alternative ingredients.

She and I just had a great discussion about alternative sweeteners b/c I'm trying to switch from white sugar to other stuff - my latest swap was using Agave Syrup and it's awesome, can't tell the difference at all, it's easier for the body to absorb, and has a lower glycemic index.

die Frau said...

I am impressed--I couldn't do it. There are so many good cookbooks out there for vegans now, and Scarlet's right: So many substitutes exist that actually taste good.

Go back to my site and check out that smoothie I listed--I'm drinking it right now, and it's soy milk, tofu, unsweetened cocoa powder, a frozen banana, and honey. I think that should work for you.

A suggestion? Perhaps not go cold turkey all at once? Drop all soft cheeses first or something. I'm sure you've researched how best to do this. If you get a chance to come visit, I'll take you to this new awesome restaurant that's vegetarian and vegan. Everything is delicious!

Good luck!