I know I’ve been AWOL lately and I apologize to my avid readers (all three of you) for being away. I have had a lot going on in my life lately and have felt either unmotivated or too stressed to write. I am still sorting the situation out, but I am not going to let it keep me from writing.
My birthday was three weeks ago (Jan. 7th) and I am now 24. It seems so odd to me that I am almost 25 (quarterlife crisis anyone?). For my birthday I drove down to Bloomington to see my friend and go partying. We went out Friday and I drank hard cider and hard liquor. I didn’t get terribly drunk, but I did have quite a hangover on my birthday (Saturday).
That night we went out and I drank again. After partying for quite a few hours I decided I wanted breadsticks, and damn it! it was my birthday so I was going to have gluten. So I got myself an order of 10” cheesesticks at Papa Johns and proceeded to eat the whole thing. It was delicious; the melted cheese covered dough dipped in hot nacho cheese…mmm. So good.
But like other decisions made while drinking, it seemed like a much better idea at the time than it did in the morning. I woke up feeling warm all over my body. It was akin to the flush I felt when I reintroduced bread after I finished my Clean Diet, but it was much more intense. More of a whole-body experience. I also experienced constipation and floating stools, which my doctor friend tells me is a symptom of malabsorption. So while the food was delicious going down, this is not an experience I am looking to repeat any time soon.
So today I decide to try low-fat raw vegan, or the 80/10/10 raw vegan diet promoted by Dr. Douglas Graham. I did not follow the diet completely, but I followed the basic tenets: consume 80% of your calories in carbohydrates from raw fruits and vegetables, consume 10% of your calories in fats (nuts, avocados, seeds, other high fat veggies all raw of course) and consume 10% of your calories in proteins (from raw veggies).
This diet is similar to the Paleo diet in that it eschews similar foods (the major difference being that LFRV eschews meat, eggs and dairy as well). Legumes and grains are excluded from this diet as well as they cannot be eaten in their raw form. Also roots are excluded because they would not have been a readily consumed food source by our ancestors when they were foraging for food. Instead our ancestors would have consumed the readily available vegetables and fruits that grow above ground and are easy to procure.
Basically if you can eat a food raw and would be able to enjoy eating only that food for a whole meal (what LFRVs call mono-meals) then it is acceptable to eat. This means that foods like garlic and onions would not be acceptable, unfortunately (Don’t agree? Try eating a bulb of garlic for a meal, or a bunch of onions. It’s not a pleasant thought.)
Over the past few days I’ve been doing research into both the Paleo and Clean diets. They are very similar. Both eschew the consumption of processed foods, promote consuming whole foods that can be found in nature and promote the consumption of meat (with Clean, all meats –preferably grain fed—are allowed after the detox, only some are allowed during the detox – see this post for more information).
There is however, one major difference between the two diets. Clean allows the consumption of grains (except gluten-containing or gluten –contaminated grains) and legumes and Paleo excludes them. The reasoning behind this is that human beings have only been consuming grains and legumes (like other agriculturally derived foods) for the past 10,000 years which is hardly enough time for humans to have evolved to digest them properly
Grains and legumes contain anti-nutrients like lectin and phytic acid. Phytic acid reduces the absorption of minerals including calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium. Lectins damage the body and cause leaky gut syndrome which causes undigested food particles to enter the blood stream. Lectins also cause inflammation.
The basis of the Paleo diet is to eat foods that our Paleolithic ancestors would have eaten. The Paleolithic era lasted around 2.5 million years and ended about 10,000 years ago with advent of agriculture. The idea is that our genetics have not had enough time to evolve to be able to easily consume foods like grains and legumes.
The Paleo diet consists exclusively of foods that would have been available to cavemen. These include free range meat, eggs, fresh vegetables and fruits. Some groups of Paleo followers encourage a lean meat diet. However, others claim that our ancestors would have consumed animals that were high in fat content and that those who are bemoaning saturated fat are buying into Ancel Keys’ false (as Paleo followers claim) study.
With the end of August quickly approaching, it is time for me to decide what I do next. I made the goal to go macrobiotic for the month. I am on track to meet this goal (only three days remain). The question is, do I continue being macro after the month ends or do I try something new?
August: A Synopsis
For the month of August, I gave up alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, processed foods, added sugar, dairy and eggs. Basically I decided to follow a vegan Macrobiotic diet. The reasoning behind this choice was two-fold: I wanted to rid myself of my addictive (tobacco and caffeine) and destructive (alcohol to excess and tobacco) vices, and I wanted to see if I could rid myself of my constipation and cramping by excluding dairy and eggs from my diet.
By far the hardest thing to give up was the caffeine. I had caffeine migraines for a week and a half after I drank my last diet soda. I didn’t have much nicotine withdrawal (or at least not that I could separate from the effects of the caffeine withdrawal) and giving up alcohol was easy (see yesterday’s post for more details).
I have been a vegetarian since I was 12 years old, and I became a vegetarian for the noblest of reasons: to spite my mother. As any pre-adolescent is prone to do I rebelled from my mother’s insistence that I eat steak for dinner. She had made it and I was going to eat it, darn it! I loathed steak. The texture, the smell, the taste, the fact that it was usually pink inside and looked far too much like human flesh. It disgusted me. So I told her I wasn’t going to eat it, not thoroughly convinced I could follow through with this claim but boldly stating it anyway.
This is where my mother made her first mistake. She told me that I had to eat the steak unless I became a vegetarian. I saw an out. A free pass from ever having to eat steak again. I could just not eat any meat! It was brilliant. So I looked her in the eye, hands on my hips in defiance, and said “fine, I’m a vegetarian.” I’m not sure what she was expecting, but it wasn’t that. Once she recovered from the initial shock, she made her second mistake. “You’ll never last,” she said. So, of course, I had to.
Fast forward to 11 years later. At 23 I was still going strong on my lacto- ovo- vegetarian diet. Aside from some misunderstandings about what exactly was in Caesar dressing (anchovy paste? is that even food?) and the fact that crab rangoons contain crab (who would have thought, I know, though I was probably 13 when this happened, so some forgiveness, please?) I have not deviated from this lifestyle (suck it, Mom).
Being a vegetarian has never really been a challenge for me. I don’t think of meat as food anymore. I realize other people eat it, but I don’t always remember that they do. The idea just seems so foreign. I didn’t even miss much meat when I initially became vegetarian. Aside from bacon, liver sausage and liver dumplings (don’t ask, I’m Czech, this is what we eat) I didn’t miss meat at all.