Making Healthy Changes: My Experience

Thought I would do a little update post to let everyone know what I’ve been up to food-wise lately. You may be aware from reading my previous posts, especially my post in June about making the transition to veganism that I haven’t ever been fully vegan. I’ve followed a diet that excludes meat, fish, and fermented dairy for the past two years, but have almost always made room for things like honey, milk in my tea, eggs, and sweets made with non-vegan ingredients. Recently, however, I was presented the opportunity to do an 8 week health and lifestyle challenge that requires a fully vegan diet. Along with no meat or animal products, I’ve eliminated added salt, refined sugar, “white carbs” and excess fats from my diet. And what a ride it has been so far! I’m only two weeks in and have already noticed changes in my body. Have I been perfect? No. But I’ve been making a really conscious effort towards sticking to veganism. I want to have an accurate picture at the end of the 8 weeks of whether or not full veganism is for me. I’ve never really believed in limitations – I have always liked a bit of wiggle room in every area of my life. But I’m actually really loving the way I’ve been eating now. I thought I would share with you some of the things I’ve struggled with and the things I’ve loved about the new changes in my eating. Read on, curious readers!

First of all, the struggles. The first two days of my diet were ROUGH. I had splitting headaches and felt constantly starving. I know now that my body needed to do that to re-adjust and allow for the changes I was introducing. After those days I have felt great ever since! My difficulties with the diet have from then on have only been about the restrictions. I have no problem avoiding dairy and eggs. Especially with great documentaries out there that expose the truth behind the animal product industries – if I’m ever craving those things I can tune into Netflix and put myself off of the idea pretty quickly. Yes, they may be delicious, but they are also unnecessary for survival and cause a lot of pain and suffering for innocent creatures. I can be perfectly healthy without eating dairy or eggs. The other restrictions of my new eating plan have been harder to swallow (or not swallow in this case). White potatoes are my favourite food in the world. In the WHOLE WORLD. Before this challenge, if I was to eat out, I would have potatoes, every single time. Deep fried as hot chips, roasted and covered in butter or duck fat, mashed with salt and cream… they are delicious every way you serve them! So, while I haven’t had a problem staying away from white rice or pasta, potatoes are the true love of my life and I seriously, seriously miss them. Another thing I’ve really struggled with is reducing my fat intake. I LOVE my healthy fats. Avocados, nuts and seeds, peanut butter, coconut oil, olive oils (especially the infused flavour ones… oh boy). I know that fats are important part of a healthy diet, but I know that I was having more than my needed daily intake before starting my 8 week challenge. If I’ve cheated on my diet at all over the past two weeks, it’s always been with the fats. I’m still struggling, but as it’s Sunday today I know that it’s the perfect day to turn a new leaf and make a better effort not to over indulge this week on the fats. I’ve been fine with cutting out refined sugar because I’m pretty good at whipping up my own goodies using agave if I’m really craving something. I also have access to an amazing store in Loughton, Essex called Organico (you check out their Facebook page here) that has heaps of healthy sweets that fall into the guidelines of my diet. I don’t resort to these sweets often but I know it’s there if I need to indulge a bit. Salt, however, has been another story. I find myself really missing it! I never realised how much I relied on salt to add flavour to my foods. I’ve been able to cut it out for most meals but I do sometime find myself sprinkling a tiny bit into dinners. Does anyone have advice on how to 100% eliminate salt from your diet but still have that yummy flavour in your cooking? It’s a great mystery to me at the minute. I’m going to continue experimenting and hopefully find a solution soon!

Now, the positives!! Where do I even begin? Our coach recommended to us that we keep our breakfasts raw – mainly fruit first thing in the morning. She explained to us that fruit is the perfect food to balance your body’s pH – eating it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning is great for your body. I began by eating fruit, plain and cut up into pieces. But I was only about three days in when I became bored… really bored. I needed to shake things up. So I decided to blend it up instead and that made a HUGE difference for me! I start every day now with a smoothie. The possibilities of what to add seem totally endless and it’s ALWAYS tasty. Plus smoothies have been an amazing way for me to sneak in a LOT of spinach and get those nutrients in. I seriously find myself getting out of bed early in the morning just to have my smoothie! I’m in love. If any of you follow my on instagram or snapchat you’ll know this because I don’t shut up about my yummy smoothies. I’m a smoothie queen. I’ve just been blending my selection of fresh or frozen fruit (400g) and topping with almond milk. Always delicious. ALWAYS. Another thing I noticed right away is that my digestion was changing a lot. The first few days my little tummy was really noisy. It was making all kinds of weird sounds, probably because it was used to lots of fats and carbohydrates in the morning (my usual breakfast would have been porridge with peanut butter or eggs with veggies and avocado). After a few days though all of the grunting and groaning subsided and my body has been feeling great and everything is moving along really well. I also have way more energy! And I’ve noticed that if I do over-eat my fats for the day I immediately feel sluggish and lethargic. But as long as I follow the guidelines, I’ve been feeling amazing, refreshed and light and healthy! It’s a really awesome feeling. The portion sizes of the plan took a bit of getting used to (lunch is the biggest meal of the day with a smaller dinner), but I haven’t been feeling hungry or deprived at all. My body is taking really well to the change in portions. I’ve been sleeping better at night. My stomach had gotten much flatter (not that I’m doing this challenge for aesthetic but it’s a nice addition) and I haven’t felt or looked bloated after my meals. I notice my body getting generally leaner from the change in eating. If there’s been an evening where I add a sprinkle of salt to my food the bloat is very evident in the way I look and feel. And my skin has been lovely and clear and glow-y! I wake up looking and feeling good. The picture at the top of this page is me drinking my morning smoothie, just after I’ve woken up. Someone commented on how bright my eyes look in that photo and I do believe that when you fill your body with nutritious foods, you look great on the outside. 🙂 The new diet is also allowing me to be really creative with my salads, lunches and general meals. I’m exploring new flavour combinations and getting to know my food on a deeper level. 🙂 When I eat out, it’s allowing me to try things on the menu I might not have before (because I would normally go straight for the potatoes). I’ve had some really amazing salads and juices and things like that since making the switch. 🙂

All in all, there have been moments of struggle or weakness, but so far I’ve really enjoyed the past two weeks and I’m LOVING the effect that these changes have had on my body. I’m making a positive change for my body and teaching myself to love healthy foods again. I cracked for a while this summer and was eating a lots of chocolate, sweets, breads and quick fix foods. I only have one body to live my life in and I was to make sure it is nourished and cared for. Being truly healthy feels great. It’s worth skipping the McDonald’s, the cocktails, the deep fried hot chips, when I know that my body is healthy inside and out and that I’m truly feeling my best. A huge part of loving myself is treating my body with respect, and I truly feel that I’ve been respecting my body by following this vegan plan. Will it continue? Who knows! But I do know that I’m learning a lot and that this 8 weeks are going to benefit me in so many ways.

Have you ever made a really positive life change? Are you in the midst of one right now? Share your stories, I would love to hear from you! Don’t forget to like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram to keep up with my food and life adventures!

See you soon! – Quail xo

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