Hello all! Since it has now been 5 years since I’ve changed my diet to being as plant based as possible, I wanted to share with you why and what lead up to it. Not to mention my pitfalls and temptations, and also a change in my blog coming in April. It might get long, but I’ll try not to add too many details.
I have always had a lot of intolerances and food allergies. I was put on allergy shots when I was in Kindergarten and continued until I was in 5th grade. Along with taking medications, and then constantly getting sinus, ear, chest, and throat infections. It would also effect my eczema, making it worse and painful, drying out my skin, or it would break out more. Allergies and and intolerances also cause emotional symptoms too – being overwhelmed, depression, anxiety, sadness, etc. Along with feeling run-down and exhausted. These were things I always dealt with as a kid. It would get irritating especially when I wasn’t allowed to go outside certain times, or dig into some of the foods I really wanted, but I never felt like I missed out on anything.
Just as an example, I was/am allergic to dairy, and soy. At that time the primary option to replace dairy was soy products. So then we discovered rice milk. Thank goodness! Then the trick was trying to find rice products, (like cereals, rice cakes , etc.) without corn – because I was allergic, and still am, to corn – or ingredients made by corn under a different name. And with as much information and documentaries out about corn now, you know it’s in EVERYTHING… if not corn, soy was there. So my mother would get creative. She even would make me homemade rice milk ice cream since there wasn’t any available, at least not widely available at that time. At school kids would have cookies and milk, I had 100% apple juice and rice cakes – and I made it look good! I never minded standing out or being different because it felt like I always did and not standing out would have been different. Speaking of, for dinners my mom would also make me a similar but separate meal if she needed to – sound familiar?
It is easier for me to tell you what I didn’t react to on the allergy test, then to tell you what did. My first allergy test was when I was 5, and because my back was so small they tested the back of my arms too. Then the reactions would react so harshly that they couldn’t tell what was what. And they had to do it in sections. One thing I have to say – modern medicine has it’s purpose, and I do not regret getting tested, or having to get allergy shots. Even being as young as 6 or 7, I could tell when I was due for an allergy shot and how it would help, especially emotionally. I would be upset about everything and then after getting my shot that afternoon, I was normal. By the time I was 12 and I was tested again, my allergies and reactions went down with just my main allergies still there. Although I am glad I don’t have to keep that routine and I’ve learned how to manage it with minimal medications, I’m glad I had it to help me. Now for the antihistamines and the nose sprays – hated them. But for emergencies they are there for a reason. And at that time, that was all we had or knew about that would help.
Now we get to when I was about 10/11 years old. Because of all of my intolerances and allergies, I started to deal with IBS. No, I’m not going to get into detail, don’t worry, but it was and is painful, and anyone who deals with IBS or IBD knows that even the most appealing and their most favorite foods, all the sudden become something you can’t even think of eating for fear of pain. It probably had to do with puberty, and the fact that it got worse certain times of the month. But I was also having dairy in small doses, along with other intolerances and I would just make sure I wasn’t overloading on them.
By the time I was 20/21 I was able to manage my allergies okay, and as for my IBS I just had to avoid certain foods and not go crazy with others and I was okay. But then it got to a point where it didn’t matter what I ate, it was painful. I even went back to my allergy diet when I was 6 and even making my own rice milk. Nothing seemed to help. When a fresh green salad or a non-dairy smoothie still makes you react and have pain, something was wrong.
So I started a food diary. I was still having low-fat meats, and I was having dairy here and there. I started to use dairy more as a seasoning or use smaller doses than a major part of a meal. And if I could take it off, I would. About a week into it, still having problems, I started to set up the rest of my food diary book, and while doing it I decided to watch Fork Over Knives since it kept popping up in my queue on Netflix. While watching it I decided – why not? I already started a food diary, and nothing else seems to be really helping, why not try a whole foods, plant based diet for at least 2 weeks.
Those two weeks I was still extremely restrictive – keeping my old allergy diet, and now not having animal products or processed food. Within the first week, the digestion pain was gone, and my sleep quality increased. By the second week, I had more energy and felt more motivated to do – anything! Then I decided, why not go for a month to 6 weeks?
After that I realized that this was helping, and it kept helping. I could do it, I didn’t truly miss anything, and since I was already 6 weeks in, why not keep going? Since then I was able to start testing out some of my plant-based food allergy and intolerances and found out I wasn’t having a reaction at all, or I was having less of a reaction. For instance, I was allergic to all beans. ALL BEANS. You should have seen the looks on peoples faces when I said I was going vegan, but not only vegan, whole food plant based, but not only that – not having soy or any other bean! Needless to say, I found quinoa early on and fell in love. But now I can have certain beans, certain fruits and veggies, and even some nuts that I would have reacted to before, I can digest them with ease and have no problem/reaction!
There were and still are hard times. I love coffee and I loved having half and half or even full on whipping cream in my coffee. Almond milk (which at first I didn’t try since I was intolerant to almonds when I was young) didn’t taste good to me in coffee, but I eventually got used to it. There was one day I ordered a coffee and all they had was half and half. I decided to have it, and I could taste every bit of dairy in it and it tasted sour to me and nothing like how I remembered it.
The other thing when I first started, James would always make mac n cheese and I told him I didn’t mind him eating it or making it, I just couldn’t make it, and he had to eat it in another room so I didn’t smell it.
Then slowly after about 1 year I started adding in more processed foods and more “vegan” foods that still wasn’t really nutritious. Like the vegan mayo, vegan cheeses, etc. Those items are great for a treat or as a quick meal, but for every day and every meal, not so much.
Then I started having dairy here and there and it wasn’t tasting as nasty to me as before. Then after having a little dairy I started craving other animal products. I realized having dairy was making me crave other things. So I slowly weaned myself back off which didn’t take long since I wasn’t having a lot anyway.
I’ve noticed that with eating more processed foods I didn’t feel the same. I started feeling run down again and started having more troubles with my IBS. With the dairy, I could tell that drainage would start and I would get a stuffy nose right away. No doubt I’m still allergic to it!
So now, even though some of my recipes do use processed ingredients, I’m trying my best to get back to a whole foods plant based diet as much as possible. Once I am done with sharing some of my recipes I’ve made over the past 5 years that I absolutely love, I am going to start getting back to a more whole foods, plant based, little oil/fat recipes. These recipes will be more for the use of what I want to have as part of my every day meals. I still will have fattening and decadent recipes too for those special moments or weekends that you just really want a bowl of creamy pasta or cheese fries, but I want to showcase more truly healthy recipes. Not saying that some of the recipes I’ve posted haven’t been healthy, but starting in April, most of the posts will be fitting into the whole food, plant based category.
There is a lot of confusion with things being labeled “vegan” and people assuming that it means that it’s healthy, and that’s not always the case. The only thing for sure with all vegan recipes is that it doesn’t have cholesterol. It can have just as much fat and processed ingredients as other recipes. So I don’t want to have people mistaken some of my more richer, fattening recipes as healthy, when they are really my vegan comfort foods. Not to mention I need to change my focus back on what I had originally started with – a truly whole foods plant based diet.
Starting in April I will still be doing “shared” recipes but I will have a section specifically with ONLY whole food, plant based (WFPB) recipes. To keep my “shared” recipes going, some will have a meat option – making it “clean” eating for your omnivores. The recipes will also be cataloged in my overall “Recipe Index”, but they will also be separated out and under a new menu tab “Whole Food Plant Based”!
I would love to hear your ideas or any recipes you’ve been looking for that you would like to see as a whole food plant based recipe. Leave a comment or contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org