286. The Vegan Experiment

The Vegan Experiment | Ann Ning Learning How

This was a salad (with gorgeous peaches, blueberries and hazelnuts) Ai Ai made this summer.

My Vegan Experiment has hit a speed bump. Last week when I told you I had built my shopping list in Excel and was excited to get started on my new eating plan, I was focused on Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live”. Dr. F is that skinny MD guy on PBS who talks about nutrient density etc. He supports a way of eating that centers on ingesting a truckload of produce, a lot of cooked veggies, at least a cup of beans/legumes a day, some whole grains, and eschews added fat/oil. I was eager to try out a no-meat lifestyle since I’ve known for a while that my digestive strength isn’t fabulous and I wanted to give it a rest.

So after a week of eating this way I was excited to stick out my tongue for CMD’s inspection (this is how she gauges my digestive health). I actually volunteered it, leaning with my head tilted to the window so she could see the tongue in natural light. My tongue still has a thick white coating. I was like, “But I haven’t eaten meat since Sunday!” Apparently, the protein-richness of the beans is still too robust for my delicate digestive state.

So I came home and started searching that amazing source of medical information, the Internet. Eating lots of raw food might be hard on your digestive system. Oops. My bad. That truckload of produce was partly to blame for the stress on my system. It had been difficult for me to eat all that, anyway. I kept on flashing back to stuffing myself silly in the hospital, and then gave myself permission not to eat the volume of leafy greens recommended by Dr. Fuhrman (the high-volume of plant consumption is actually a great way to avoid hunger, FYI). Those I did eat I stuffed into my Vitamix to make a green smoothie – or a chocolate green smoothie (yum!) – so you would think that this would have aided in my digestion since all those greens were already liquefied, but I guess it wasn’t enough.

145.  Illness, Body Image, and Why I Eat the Way I Do.

145. Illness, Body Image, and Why I Eat the Way I Do.

I have a theory: My digestive system has been functioning at a low level since I got sick, but I’ve not known it since I do not exhibit any symptoms of gastric distress. I tolerate everything without a problem. I even soaked and cooked those beans in a way I had heard would make them easier to digest and have been drinking fennel tea and chewing on the seeds. I have not had any symptoms I’ve heard others undergo, e.g. the physical sensation (whether immediate or delayed) that your body simply cannot tolerate meat. If anything, I was concerned after my dairy and grain-free experiment this summer that if I ate a little gluten my GI tract would explode right then and there, but no – I can still eat gluten just fine, thanks.

So what happens to all that food I’m not digesting properly? I have no idea. Perhaps it has something to do with my astonishing change in body mass. (It’s astonishing to me, and this past week when I told CMD just how much it has changed, she was surprised, too.) I then cataloged my food from the day before and she said, Ok, that was breakfast – what about the rest of the day?

And I’m like, That was the rest of the day.

I was verbally unclear about listing my daily food diary, and CMD’s assumption that I had only told her about breakfast stemmed from the way I was speaking, not the quantity of food I mentioned. There is no way I’m starving myself – even if I wanted to do such a thing my parents would not countenance it. Poor Tanpo is disturbed enough that I’m not eating meat right now. (So if you see him, Shhhhh! don’t talk about eating, k? And don’t worry – I’m keeping tabs on my plant-based protein levels.) I’m consuming lots of good whole-food kind of stuff, and one of my favorite parts of Dr. Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” plan is that you enjoy a high volume of (heavily plant-based) food, but it’s simultaneously low-calorie and nutrient-dense.

Side note: Since I am abstaining from meat I have felt at greater liberty to enjoy some old favorites like oatmeal and quinoa (still only in ¼ c servings, whereas you’re allowed to consume 1 c on Dr. Fuhrman’s plan). My point is that I’ve already eliminated the obvious offenders from my dietary landscape so I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed with my Vegan Experiment.

So for now I’m dialing down the volume on my bean/legume and fresh produce consumption. This is hard bc I love salad and fresh fruit. If I eat a cooked fruit, my philosophy has been in the past, it had better be in a pie. But I guess I’m learning how to experiment with (conservatively, so as not to burn up all the nutrients) cooked salads and even fruit to ease digestion (I have to check with CMD – we didn’t discuss the cooked vs. raw issue).

My fond hope is that if I can eat in a way to improve my digestive strength (as indicated by the look of my tongue – a Traditional Chinese Medicine sort of thing), I’ll feel better in general – this is about overall health and taking a strong offensive stance against the many diseases that are all-too common in our society. I already had a major medical event – I’ll do what I can to bulk up nutritionally and avoid another. My goal is to eat like this at least until Thanksgiving. I’ll let you know how it pans out (but don’t worry – I will not be posting any pics of my tongue).

3 thoughts on “286. The Vegan Experiment

  1. So interesting, Ning… I would be very curious to hear what Dr. F (my “holistic pharmacist” friend) would say about all this, since he also has a TCM bent. It’s all so fascinating. Looking forward to the “panning out” of your experiment. 🙂 XO.

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