Saturday, July 31, 2010

What I do and don't eat

I'll start posting something more practical tomorrow. But I thought it would be necessary to let you know what I do and don't eat.

Here's what I don't eat:
  • meat (any animal)
  • dairy products
  • eggs
Here's what I try to avoid if I can:
  • soy products
  • processed food
  • white grains
  • fish that tend to have higher mercury contents
Here's what I try to eat as much as I can:
  • fruits and veggies
  • herbs
  • nuts and seeds
  • beans
  • whole grains
  • good fish (such as wild salmon)

I'm not a nutritional specialist by any means. My common sensical approach is to eat as many variety of foods as possible to get balanced nutrition. I used to have this image of "vegan" being skinny pale people. (Sorry.) But as I read about a vegan bodybuilder, a vegan triathlete, and other super active people who adhere to a pure vegan diet, I'm more convinced that I can get enough nutrition from my diet.

If you decide to go completely away from eating any animals, Vitamin B12 is hard to get from a pure vegan diet. I read many vegan resource recommending to supplementing it. However, fish is a great source of Vitamin B12, so I'm okay.

Other unique thing about my diet is that I avoid soy products as much as I can. This is because I have a history of breast cancer. I've been cancer-free for 7 years. I was diagnosed with a breast cancer when I was 26. (It's highly unusual, but don't assume this is a older woman's disease.) I had undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. I'll probably write another post specifically about my thoughts on soy products. At this point, I'm careful not to eat too many soy products so as to keep my hormone balanced. Many vegan cheese-like, meat-like products use soy since it's a good source of protein. I think it's healthier option than actual meat and cheese, but remember that they are still processed foods.

Okay, that's enough of me talking about myself. I'll start posting more practical and interesting stuff tomorrow. I hope I haven't bored you with too much about "Antidisestablishment Vegetarianism. " I hope I'll see you again tomorrow!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Anti...Veg..., what?

You may be wondering, "What is Antidisestablishment Vegetarianism?"

As I ventured into this new way of eating, I faced a dilemma. I quickly learned that I can't use most vegetarian recipes or products. What is labeled as "vegetarian" often uses dairy products which contain a lot of animal fat. So, I started to look into "vegan" diet. I learned that "veganism" is not just about avoiding to eat animal products. It's a way of life. After learning much about "veganism", it was pretty clear to me that it was a bit further than I was willing to go. I'm not denying the possibility that I may become vegan one day, but not now.

I thought about calling myself a "flexible vegan." Then I learned that it's kind of offensive to real vegans. You are either vegan or you are not. I decided not call myself "vegan" in any form. I respect people who can adhere to pure veganism. But honestly..., some of the stuff I read from "vegan" sources are a bit extreme and a turn-off for me. I'm going to lose my mind and maybe some of my friends if I go that far.

Eating healthy and taking good care of myself is very important to me. But it will never be the number one priority in my life. I do think the "all or nothing" approach to healthy diet is kind of unhealthy. Healthy eating should be approachable and attainable. It is not any kind of sacred act. It shouldn't be separated from regular folks like us with average income and busy life.

"Antidisestablishment Vegetarianism" is a made up phrase which I define as; healthy eating without all the fanaticism. It's my way of saying, "I know you can do this! You just need a little room to be flexible." What you actually let yourself eat is probably different from one person to the other. That's the beauty of it. We are all different and that makes the world more interesting place.

I started this blog in the hope that someone else may benefit from my experience. I hope you'll come back again.

See you tomorrow!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

How it all began

Three months had passed and my appointment day had come. I had too many doctor's appointments in the past. Some good, some not so good. They always make me nervous. Am I going to get a good news or bad news?

My voodoo doctor (that's what I call her anyway) spent about an hour with me asking about my past and current issues, taking a lot of notes and doing some exams. She ordered several tests for me and asked me to come back in 3 weeks or so when all the results were in. Okay, that wasn't bad at all. Nothing painful. Nothing uncomfortable.

Three weeks later, I was back in her office. She explained to me the results from the tests and what seemed to be the root cause of some of my issues. And she told me,

"Well, you shouldn't be eating any meat. Switch to a vegetarian diet."

I could not believe what I was hearing. Then she said as she went over more results,

"Hmmm, you really shouldn't be eating any animal fat. It's toxic for you. You need to eat a Vegan diet. No eggs, no milk, no cheese, no dairy."

I think I heard Beethoven's Symphony 5 in my head at this point. My heart rate went up a bit.

"You can still eat fish for your protein, but not too much soy."

I probably gave her a stunned deer in the headlight look... She said,

"Try for a month and come back and tell me if you feel any differently."

This is how it all began. I convinced myself that I can do this for a month. I was secretly hoping that she'll let me get back on eating some of the stuff after a month. Most of my friends' food restrictions have been lifted as soon as their issue had resolved, unless it's the case of severe allergy.

It didn't take me long time to realize that the change I made was worth keeping. I experienced significant change in my energy level in a week or so. (Check my previous post for more detail.) Within few more weeks, my skin got really nice and soft. And friends who see me regularly started asking me, "What have you been doing? You look great." I used to have really dry flaky skin. My weight hasn't changed but my pants feels loose. As I write this post, it has been almost three months since I started my new diet. I feel so much healthier not only physically but emotionally as well. I feel whole.

My experience is not uncommon. I read so many people experience the same sort of thing as they give up eating animal products. Increased energy level, better skin, weight loss, better digestive system, lower cholesterol, etc. I realized that this is probably the easiest, the most simple and inexpensive way to the better health. A lot of people actually have much more strict guideline for their diet. My approach is pretty laid back, hence I decided to call it "Antidisestablishment Vegetarianism." (I'll explain more on my next post.)

Thank you for reading!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Before and After

Around 9:00pm, I was done. All my energy had been spent. With sheer mental strength, I would get myself ready for bed.... At 7:00am the next morning, my alarm clock went off. I hit snooze button. I hit it again five minutes later, then again and again. I drag myself out of bed, took hot shower, then grabbed my first cup of coffee. Finally, I was ready to start my working day with foggy brain.

My life looked something like this before I changed the way I eat. I think most people out there have more energy than me to begin with. I have some medical issues (I may talk about it in my later posts) that still cause me to have a lower energy level when I compare myself to others. But haven't you ever asked yourself "Gee, I used to be able to get away with less sleep...", "I should be able to do more...","Why do I feel so tired....?", "Is that what getting older feels like...?", "How am I going to be able to achieve my dreams...?", etc.

I didn't know what to do. I told myself, "Well, given the medical issues I had in the past and I still deal with, maybe that's how it is going to be for me." I'm still in my early 30's. It was kinda depressing to imagine that my life would look like this and probably worse as you get older. Fortunately, I have several friends who recommended me to start seeing a naturopathic doctor, actually a particular one. I put off that idea for a long time. Because I've seen my friends having to avoid particular food items for certain amount of time. No way! I can't live without cheese! Oh no, don't even mention about eggs! How am I supposed to cook without meat?

Desperation > Procrastination = Point of action.

That's the only reason I picked up the phone to make an appointment with the doctor. (Yes, I made sure to wait till it was after Thanksgiving and Christmas.) The earliest she could see me was three months from then. I was disappointed and glad. I'll talk about the specific from my appointments with my doctor, but this is my life looks like now.

A little after 10:00pm, I start to wine down my activities. I feel like I can stay up all night, but I tell myself that's probably not a good idea. I try to be in bed by 11:00pm. My alarm clock is set for 5:30am the next morning. I wake up and look at my alarm clock, oh it's still 5:00am... Hmmm...., I'm wide awake and feel fully refreshed. Well, I may as well get up and spend a little extra time working towards my dreams. My brain feels as clear as when I was in college without a cup of coffee.

Of course I have my ups and downs, don't get me wrong. But do you see the amazing difference? I don't want to sound like a cheesy sales person here, but I'm not getting paid to write this blog. (Although, it would be quite nice.) I'm just happy and excited about my own transformation. So I decided to create this blog hoping, somewhere, someone may benefit from what I'm learning. I'm not an expert. There is actually an overwhelming amount of information from experts and professionals available out there. Some conflict with others, unfortunately.. I can only speak from my experience and my effort to keep eating healthy.

I'm going to indulge myself with a few more posts introducing myself and the concept of my blog. I believe it's important for my readers know where I come from and where I stand. If you decide this blog is something that is worth your time, please "follow" me. I'm a human being, I need some encouragement and feedback to keep going. In my future posts, I'm planning on publishing easy recipes, reviews on health food products, options when you are eating out, good deals I find for healthy grocery items, interesting facts about food, small changes you can make if you are not ready for big one, etc. These are just some sample ideas, I'm sure there will be more interesting topics as I keep learning more.

Thank you for your time. I hope reading this blog will be a small step toward becoming healthier you!