I am participating in this Whole30-like challenge with a bunch of people that I CrossFit with and my box. So you can imagine that the majority of them follow a paleo-like diet for the most part and are looking to clean up their diet. At the very least, they eat meat.
I believe I am the only non-fish eating vegetarian. At least I eat eggs, because if I did not, I would not be able to adhere to the no legumes rule as they are one of the richest sources of plant based proteins.
My CrossFit buddies and coaches are supportive. I went into this this challenge expecting more work on my part, but I am a bit surprised that there is very little known about meeting nutritional requirements based on vegetarian diet with regards to recipes and tricks. I do eat eggs, which I explain here, so that does give me more options than most vegetarian/vegans.
Everyday we log what we eat and when, and in my case I also log my sleep (or lack thereof), my workouts, my moods and my work day. That way when I look back, I have the context of the day and can start to notice trends.
After I submitted my food log to those guiding us, I was sure I would be told to eat some protein at night and perhaps eat more overall. But the only comment was not to eat a piece of fruit at night because of the sugar content (Dangnammit. I knew I would have to stop those frozen banana, almond butter, coconut and pistachio treats at night.)
I ate the sweet but healthy treat because I really wanted wine after work, but was told to try a square of dark chocolate with coconut butter instead. I can live with that. But really no comment on the rest of the food (or lack of it)?
I asked a friend about the comments to her log. And she said she got one comment.
Eat more meat.
I know that the comments are based on our individual eating patterns and energy needs throughout the day. Who knows how the comments will evolve over time. But to be honest, this has made me question this whole “eat a lot of meat but no legumes” lifestyle.
Yes I am particularly biased being a vegetarian, but I do feed my daughter meat outside our home at the houses of friends and family or restaurants with high quality ingredients. I do believe that diet is a personal choice and she should be exposed to different kinds of healthy food and decide when she is older what she would like to eat. I support farmers that raise animals humanely and have sustainable farms. I believe in butcher shops that source their meat locally and know their meat and am sad to know they are not easy to find. I am not against meat eating. I am against meat in my own diet.
I have mentioned in a previous post some of the dietary issues believed to be associated with legume consumption. I don’t believe these are conclusive enough to eliminate them from a person’s diet completely. For all the studies out there on legumes, there are just as many on animal derived protein diets. And just like legumes, there are studies that show meat is good and those that show that meat is bad for our health overall.
For example a study, reported by the Guardian found that “High levels of dietary animal protein in people under 65 years of age was linked to a fourfold increase in their risk of death from cancer or diabetes, and almost double the risk of dying from any cause over an 18-year period” and that risk was wiped out in those that ate protein from plant sources including legumes. Further more it found that cancer risk was higher in middle aged people on high protein diets than those on low protein diets and high animal protein diets were better in an older population.
Does this mean meat is bad for certain age groups? No. It just shows that the there is evidence out there for and against, similar to legumes and trends are seen but conclusions can’t be drawn. Don’t base your diet on these limited studies. Eating too much of anything is generally not good, including meat. We need to be thinking about long term health. Which means we need to eat a varied diet and know about the food we put into our bodies.
I won’t adopt a meat based diet, nor a paleo-like diet because I don’t believe it is right for me. I want a sustainable diet for my lifestyle. And that is exactly what our program (I believe) is trying to encourage – it is trying to help us make better choices in the food we eat. What this Whole30-like program is helping me do is recognize that there is a lot of sugar, chemicals and monounsaturated fats in processed food (even as simple as nut butters) and that I, despite my generally healthy lifestyle, have allowed them into my diet . Generally I cook as much as possible from scratch regularly, but it is true that I have eaten a lot of processed junk for some of my protein sources in the past years. And I have rarely thought about all that added sugar and junk when using store bought condiments.
And if you are an omnivore, please remember than not all meat is clean. Be aware of sugar and salt added to processed meats (ummm, bacon), and issues like slaughterhouse conditions that could result in you eating meat from diseased animals or mercury concentrations in seafood. As much as possible, we need to be conscious of where our food is coming from and make mindful decisions that we are OK with it or not. There are many issues with veggies as well, not just meat. Food and health are just not as simple as it once may have been, but at least we have choice.
Protein and fat rich diets help us stay trim by keeping us satiated for longer periods of time with less food. Upping my saturated fat and protein intake has caused me to eat a lot less than I normally do. I was burning through the carbs based on my daily activity and needed something more to stabilize me. However carbs are essential and can provide benefits eaten in the right amounts at the right times. One thing I am for certain of, I am much better off without dairy. I miss butter, yogurt and cheese but not having milk solids in my diet for these past two weeks has reduced my mucus production and allergic reactions. I am attributing it to dairy, but really it could be due to my overall clean diet.
I do worry about my large consumption of eggs and nuts for protein and what that will do to my body and its different organs and systems over time. I am eating a lot of veg that has protein, but I don’t have a stomach big enough to be able to eat all the veg that would be required to meet my protein needs. I will need to incorporate other plant based proteins over time. I want to avoid legumes and quinoa as key sources for another week or so and then reintroduce them slowly – I want to pay attention to my body and how it reacts. No matter what scientific studies show, the real conclusive evidence – for me, myself and I – will come from direct testing and experience.
However, as of today, I have returned to my protein powder. I mentioned a hemp seed powder which I have started to add to my chia pudding breakfasts, but I will also start to reincorporate my favorite vegan protein powder that free of GMOs, solvents, radiation, artificial flavors, artificial preservatives, artificial colors, soy, yeast, wheat, gluten or added sugars.
No it is not easy as a vegetarian with limited sources of protein- especially when the sample meal plans given to us call for meat five times a day, but I am learning to adapt. So I will post a few days of my log. I know others would probably require more food that me, but this is how my days have panned out. I average about 4-5 hours sleep/night and am hungrier in the earlier part of the day. All I can tell you is that I feel great, full of energy, have a clear mind, feel focused, and full. But, looking through my log, I do think I need to eat more and eat something with less sugar than fruit at night. I will likely start to incorporate a consomme or a miso broth in the future to have some added nutrition without the sugar or bulk in the evening. I will post my food/exercise log again in the future to show how this has evolved.
(Note I drink about 800 oz of water throughout the day)
Example Day 1
- 5 AM- Banana
- 5:30 AM – CrossFit Workout
- 7 AM – 2 eggs over easy with sauteed kale, broccoli, shallots, and tomato, and a sweet potato hashbrown cooked in ghee and 8oz of bulletproof coffee
- 10 AM: 1 small apple and about a handful of almonds
- 2 PM: Veggie patties made with a lot egg, and leafy greens, sweet potato and cauliflower, eaten with an avocado topping and a side of brussel sprouts
- 6-8 PM: This is where a normal person would incorporate dinner. I had a frozen banana topped with almond butter, coconut and pistachio.
Example Day 2
- 5 AM- Orange
- 5:30 AM – CrossFit Workout
- 7 AM – Smoothie with 2 scoops SunWarrior Protein powder, hemp protein powder, 3 leaves chard, 2 leaves collard green, 1 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1 tsp almond butter, 1/4 cup coconut milk from can, vanilla powder, water. This made about 24 oz, I drank 12 oz and my family drank the other 12oz.
- 10 AM – 2 hardboiled eggs topped with guacamole and pico de gallo topped with coconut bacon, a side of kalettes, sweet potato and fresh sprouts
- 2 PM: bowl of curried butternut squash coconut soup and a side vadouvan coconut cauliflower, walnuts on the side
- 5 -8 PM: 1 Apple. This is where a normal person would incorporate dinner.
Example Day 3
- 7:30 AM – 2 eggs with tomato, mushrooms, spinach and jalepeno
- 10 AM – a bunch of radishes, a few almonds
- 2 PM – cauliflower rice stirfried with egg and veg, eaten with seaweed
- 4 PM: 1 large cucumber
- 6:30 PM: Yoga
- 8 PM: 1 Avocado + 1 Banana + 1 date + cocao powder pureed into a pudding This is where a normal person would incorporate dinner.
Example Day 4
- 6 AM- 1 hardboiled egg, bulletproof coffee
- 10 AM – 4 oz chia seed pudding in full fat coconut milk, with shredded coconut and raspberries
- 2 PM – cauliflower rice stirfried with egg and veg, eaten with seaweed
- 4 PM: radishes, celery sticks and almond butter
- 5-8 PM: This is where a normal person would incorporate dinner. I had an apple, 2 dates, a banana and tea.