Wednesday, January 5, 2011

January Challenge: NOT On a Diet

... But I am going to change my diet.

At this point in life, I think I'm pretty much done with "diets", so don't read this as a New Year's resolution to lose x number of pounds. In fact, I'm not making this change in my lifestyle to lose weight at all.

Back in high school/college, I was a vegetarian for two or three years. At that time, though, it was about the ethics of eating animals. I don't remember a whole lot about it, except that I ate a lot of Gardenburgers.

This time I won't be eating Gardenburgers, (Why? Because they're processed and contain lots of things I can't pronounce.) but I am going to pursue veganism

My friend Chris recommended The China Study to me, and reading it has proven to be the tipping point for me. I do quite a bit of food reading, and in concert with other books I've read that warn about the health consequences of eating a Western diet and its (lack of) sustainability, The China Study has convinced me to give up animal protein altogether.

Here's what I'm hoping to gain from adopting a vegan diet:
  • Preventing Type-2 Diabetes - I've mentioned before that I have an insulin resistance problem. It's part of the joy of PCOS, but it would be nice to prevent if from becoming full-blown diabetes. Really nice.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight - Thanks to breastfeeding, my last glucose tolerance test was within normal limits, and feeding two babies helped me reach a healthy post-pregnancy weight. I have a not unfounded fear that weaning will mean the return of IR and consequently the return of unwanted pounds.
  • Preventing breast (and other cancers) - Consuming animal protein contributes to the initiation and progression of cancer.
  • Preventing a whole other list of ailments - including autoimmune diseases, Alzheimer's, and deterioration associated with aging, to name a few.
This month is the fact-gathering month. February will be the actual diet change month. This month I'm generating a list of go-to recipes and looking for answers to a couple of big questions I have:
  1. How much soy is safe? My mother, a breast cancer survivor, was told to avoid soy because her cancer was estrogen-sensitive. Given my family history, should I also be avoiding soy? I've yet to find a doctor who could answer that one with anything more than a guess. How much soy is safe for my little ones to eat?
  2. Should the tots be vegan as well? Or should they be vegetarian?
Back to that list of recipes... easier said than done. I made a trip to the library to check out vegan cookbooks. Just a few of the hundreds of recipes I found that won't work for us:
Beet Ravioli with Balsamic Pickled Figs and Green Garlic Oil
Ponzu-Glazed Tofu Crystal Rolls
Black Soybean and Kabocha Squash Stew

To say nothing of the long list of ingredients I've never heard of. And I say that as a person who could identify more ingredients than any of the contestants on Master Chef. I LOVE food, and I would likely order any of those out, but right now I need practical, quick-fix stuff. Verily, this is a challenge.
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  1. Brian has put some things on His pesto-ghetti recipe is there, along with a list of ingredients you actually HAVE heard of. He posted it for his sister-in-law and it's not really a "site" just yet, but it will give you some information.
    I, too, wonder about soy. We use tofu a few times a week; it's really easy to make do with just vegetables, though. I suffered from hypoglycemia and its sugar highs and lows for years; since we've started this way of eating, I've yet to have a blood-sugar drop!

  2. Good luck with you new vegan diet!

    On the soy question, I would recommend limiting it as much as possible for yourself and your kids. My husband has a PhD in Neuroscience and his doctoral studies were focused on the effects of Estrogen on stress and anxiety. Since testosterone is converted to estrogen in the brain this equally effects males and females. His opinion on the soy topic after four years of dedicated research was that soy can contribute to stress, cancer risks and feminization in developing males. The only time he thinks anyone should be eating soy is post menopausal women who don't have predisposition for cancer.

    It turns out that Kylie is sensitive to both dairy and soy and since I'm nursing that means I'm off of both dairy and soy too. I've been shocked at how much soybean oil is used to preserve foods. Soy is a very hard food to avoid, even harder than dairy.

  3. Best of luck! I'm impressed. I can't imagine starting a big change at this point. I'm excited just to get any kind of dinner on the table right now. I will put this idea in my "someday" file. The someday file will be reopened when Isabella is potty-trained.

    I wouldn't stress too much about the post-BFing weight gain. In my case, my appetite decreased. Isabella gradually required/desired smaller and smaller amounts of breast milk as I began to supplement with organic whole milk. I'm not sure how weaning works with twins. Will one self-wean while the other still wants to nurse? Hmmm. I continued to run while pregnant and nursing and as we weaned, I kept up my weekly mileage. Gotta love sunny days and the jogging stroller! The one thing I did notice was a pretty significant hormonal shift in the few months after we weaned. My skin was oilier and I felt like crying a lot. There were some positive changes, too. I finally felt like I had my pre-pregnancy body back and Bill and I became, ummm, closer.

    I'm looking forward to hearing about your progress!

  4. Chris, thanks for all of your help. And I'm encouraged by what you say about your hypoglycemia!

    someday, thanks! We were lucky to not have any sensitivities. Whew - sounds like a lot of trouble! And thanks for sharing your hubby's research with me.

    Michelle, not sure how it will go with weaning twins. I'll just play it by ear. It's hard to imagine it at this point, though, because they're still pretty enthusiastic about it. I got a BOB Duallie for Christmas... pretty excited about it! Unfortunately, my inhaler and shoes are 1,400 miles away. Boo!


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