Get and Stay Healthy

7 Feb

My metabolism would lose a race against a snail, no question. I grow noticeably heavier the morning after indulging in a milkshake, so there’s no hiding my sins. When I started dabbling in veganism, I was kind of bummed that the pounds didn’t just melt off like so many people claimed. In fact, I gained weight!! But that’s me, and everyone’s different. My wedding is next year, so I’ve come up with a few easy ways to enjoy eating vegan while losing the excess pounds. I’m not looking for a body swap – I’ve always been curvy and that’s not going to change. I’m here to be healthy and balanced, and these are my tools.

1. MyFitnessPal
This iPhone application helps me keep track of what I eat and what nutrients I’m getting. I hate calorie counting, but bringing awareness to what I put into my body helps me make smarter choices. Low on Vitamin A? I’ll make sure to have a romaine salad with dinner. Went a little overboard with the french fries at The Counter? Whoops, that’s more fat than I should get in a day, won’t do that again! Keeping a food and exercise diary makes me accountable and helps me keep my portions in check.

2. Shake up the carbs, lower the wheat
I freakin’ LOVE carbs. My parents used to call me a pastaholic when I was a kid. But too much of anything tends to leave me feeling unbalanced and bloated, and too much gluten is like eating paste, clogging up the works. While I’ll never be gluten-free, I control the amount of conventional wheat I consume at home to a bare minimum, so I don’t have to worry about it when I eat outside. My flour of choice is spelt, an ancient form of wheat that is much easier to digest and doesn’t leave me in a carb-coma. I’ve never had a problem using it 1:1 in recipes for all-purpose flour, except in pancakes, in which case I almost always needed to add more spelt no matter the recipe. I also keep gluten-free flours around for recipes that call for them. I use Rudi’s “Ancient Grain” spelt bread exclusively, and it is the best bread I have ever had from a bag. For pasta, I really enjoy Tinkyada’s brown rice noodles – earthy, but never mushy. While I love seitan, I don’t center my diet around it, and I’m way more likely to make tempeh than seitan.  My carby grains of choice are quinoa, millet, and black rice. With options this good, who needs modern wheat?

3. Go easy on the processed soy
Again, I’m not on the anti-soy boat, but variety is beautiful! Unfortunately, soy comes in so many different forms, you might think your diet is varied when it’s not. I don’t turn my nose to the occasional soy latte, but in my fridge, I’m all about 365 unsweetened almondmilk. I almost always avoid fake meat products at home (I save those for treats at Veggie Grill, Native Foods, and Doomie’s), but I’m not scared of tempeh, edamame, and miso. I’m pretty cool with tofu, too, just not every day. For a sweet treat, I reach for Coconut Bliss – soy-free, and it’s the Häagen-Dazs of vegan ice cream! Switch up your soy for other alternatives, and you’ll quickly get out of your rut without missing a beat.

4. Cooking low-fat
I’m almost positive that the initial weight I gained when I went vegan was from the increase of oil in my diet. Fat makes food filling and delicious, perfect if you’re entertaining skeptics, but a little too heavy for everyday eating. My favorite cookbooks right now that emphasize low-oil cooking are Appetite for Reduction, Color Me Vegan, Blissful Bites, The Happy Herbivore, and The Beauty Detox Solution. All of these books are very “gluten-free/overly processed soy-free” friendly as well, which is great!  Now, If I’m bringing treats to a party, I’ll opt for the chocolate chip cookies from Vegan with a Vengeance, but if I just want to munch at home, Blissful Bites‘ gluten-free peanut butter cookies are perfect for me. Sauté with water, cook with coconut oil, bake with applesauce, and your body will find its balance.

The beauty of veganism is that you are already well on your way to being your healthiest self.  It only takes a few tweaks here and there to make sure you’re getting everything you need, and not too much of stuff you don’t.

What struggles do you have to stay healthy? What are your tools?

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