Lessons from my 10 Days of Plant-Based Eating

My dad was a butcher and I grew up eating and loving meat, So, the plant-based challenge was definitely a challenge for me.I wanted to do it because it makes sense to me that eating a whole food plant based diet is a good way to eat. I love the science of nutrition and I like to “practice what I preach”. I did not consider this a “diet” but a lifestyle choice and I was hoping it would lead me to continuing with some new habits.

What we do know from repeated studies and concrete data is that eating a heavily plant based diet has many health benefits. It’s shown to reduce and or reverse heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, arthritis, auto-immune and more.

For this plant-based experience I had no meat, chicken, dairy, eggs, alcohol or processed food.

What I discovered was not what I expected. I assumed I would release weight as that is what I hear people do that go vegetarian or vegan or raw. That did not happen. In fact the days that I had extra grains like brown rice or quinoa, I gained weight.

Nuts and seeds are a go-to source of protein, but are quite calorie-dense. Good protein sources are lentils, with 18 grams of protein and 230 calories per cup or soft tofu with 16 grams of protein and 150 calories per cup of cubes. It is good to stir-fry, broil, steam or grill these protein options to avoid the extra calories that come from breading or frying. Flavor them with herbs, spices, soy sauce, canned tomatoes, vinegar and citrus, rather than with sugary sauces or fatty dressings.

Here are my personal take-ways so far from my plant-based experience.

    1. Every one has a unique metabolic blueprint and one way of eating does not work for everyone.
    2. Just because a particular food is vegan doesn’t mean it’s automatically healthful or low in calorie.( Soy ice cream, chips, pizza made with refined flour and vegan cheese, white bagels, vegan butter and cream cheese, vegan cookies and cakes are all as calorie-dense as non-vegan versions of these foods.)
    3. I personally do best on a low carbohydrate eating plan.
    4. To go plant based you have to be super organized with your protein sources (nuts, protein powder for shakes, vegetables)
    5. I can gain weight when my carbohydrate content goes higher.
    6. Plant based plans contain a lot of carbohydrates, so I had to choose low glycemic carbs and watch portion sizes.

I’ve always suggested that if we can be more present and aware- more mindful, so that we can become our own best nutritionist. There just isn’t any one diet that is the best and fits all. If I am present and aware, instead of eating unconsciously and in a hurry, then I can pay ore attention to how the food is nourishing me. Does the food you eat provide you energy, or deplete your energy? Do you have mental fogginess or feel more mentally clear? Is your mood more positive or negative? Do you feel normal or bloated? These are all signs… pay attention. If you’re loaded up on caffeine, that is also a sign.

So after this challenge I will definitely be more plant-based than I have been and that was one of my goals going in.

 

Why You Might Want to Soak Your Nuts

Nuts contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors that prevent them from being digested well and that can be detrimental to your health.

The answer to this problem is simple: soak your nuts and seeds

After a couple hours, much of the dust, residue and tannins from the skins are released into the water and the nut emerges with a smoother, more palatable flavor.

Benefits of Soaking

  • increased enzyme activity
  • greater absorption of the food’s nutrients by the body
  • increased digestibility

How to Soak Nuts

Soak your nuts and seeds anywhere from 20 minutes, to 2 to 3 hours, even overnight in the refrigerator. In general, harder nuts will take longer to soften. If your recipe calls for soaked nuts or seeds and you are low on time, try to squeeze in 20 minutes minimum, or just do a really good job rinsing them.

A god guide is to soak nuts according to the density of the type of nut. The harder a nut is, the longer it will need to soak. Soak almonds for 8 to 12 hours. Soak cashews for 2 to 3 hours. Soak flax seeds for 6 hours. Soak garbanzo beans for 12 to 48 hours. Soak walnuts for 4 hours.

 

Quick Tip #1 The soak water from nuts and seeds should always be discarded and never used as water in a recipe.

Quick tip #2 : Soaking nuts in plastic is generally not recommended as plastic can leach into the water and into your food.

 

PART 2 – Oral Wellness 101 – Your Daily Prevention Guide

  1. Don’t smoke
  2. Reduce both the quantity and the frequency of sugar intake. Snacks and drinks should be free of sugars (other than natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables). Sugar-containing foods should be consumed with meals. ideally followed by brushing. Even fruit juices can cause tooth erosion in children.
  3. Eat a low glycemic diet
  4. Reduce processed foods (have lots of sugar)
  5. Keep weight down
  6. Take a high quality cellular nutrition supplement and fish oil daily for cellular nutrition
  7. Have regular preventive dental visits. Periodontitis is a silent disease. Dentists now often perform Periodontal Screening and Recording (PSR) using a probe to measure gum pocket.
  8. Correct tooth brushing, mouth cleansing, and flossing should be everyone’s defense against periodontal disease. (However, good hygiene is probably not sufficient to prevent periodontal disease in many people. Regular visits to a dentist are extremely important, especially for high-risk individuals.)

Brushing Guidelines. The following are some recommendations for brushing:

  • Use a dry brush. One study reported that when people brushed their teeth without toothpaste first, using a soft dry brush, their plaque deposits were reduced by 67%, and gum bleeding dropped by 50%.
  • No brush of any size, shape, or gimmick is effective if it is incorrectly positioned in the mouth. Place the brush where the gum meets the tooth, with bristles resting along each tooth at a 45-degree angle.
  • Begin by dry brushing the inside the bottom row of teeth, then the inner top teeth, and last the outer surfaces.
  • Wiggle the brush back and forth so the bristles extend under the gum line.
  • Scrub the broad, biting surfaces of the back teeth.
  • Dry brushing should take about a minute and a half.
  • A paste is then applied, and the teeth should again be brushed in the same way.
  • The tongue should be scrubbed for a total of about 30 seconds. A tongue scraper used with an anti-bacterial mouthwash (such as Listerine) is more effective than a toothbrush in removing bacteria.
  • Rinse the toothbrush thoroughly and then tap it on the edge of the sink at least five times to get rid of debris.
  • Flossing should finish the process. A mouthwash may also be used.

If brushing after each meal is not possible, rinsing the mouth with water after eating can reduce bacteria by 30%.

Flossing Guidelines.

The use of dental floss, either waxed or unwaxed, is critical in cleaning between the teeth where the toothbrush bristles cannot reach. In spite of this, nearly two-thirds of people do not floss. To floss correctly, the following steps may be helpful:

  • Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around the middle finger of one hand and the rest around the other middle finger.
  • Hold the floss between the thumbs and forefingers and gently guide and rub it back and forth between the teeth.
  • When it reaches the gum line, the floss should be curved around each tooth and slid gently back and forth against the gum.
  • Finally, rub gently up and down against the tooth. Repeat with each tooth, including the outside of the back teeth.

Sources

  • Bensley L, VanEenwyk J, Ossiander EM. Associations of self-reported periodontal disease with metabolic syndrome and number of self-reported chronic conditions. Prev Chronic Disease 2011;8(3):A50. http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2011/may/10_0087.htm.
  • American Dental Association Website
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: “Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments.”
  • http://www.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/periodontitis

CLICK HERE TO READ – PART 1 – THE MOUTH-BODY CONNECTION