New Vegan — Is Tough Digestion Normal? - VeggieBoards

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#1 Old 12-08-2015, 10:28 PM
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Angry New Vegan — Is Tough Digestion Normal?

Hey all — I'm glad this community exists because I wouldn't be sure where else to turn with this question than people who may have experienced this before, when they were new.

I am a week and a half into veganism, and I've gained six pounds. I need to lose weight, not gain it.

I've been eating 2/3s of my day raw and am sticking with primarily whole foods.

Before switching my diet, I'd been Paleo for years — except without any dairy but butter. Now I'm eating fruits for the first time in so long and some bread.

What's up with the weight gain? I don't know what to do, but I'm hoping it's not the fruit or bread that are causing me to gain weight. I'm not used to them, so I still am worried they'll make me keep gaining weight.

My digestion is also totally messed up — I'm bloated and have a lot of gas and am not having bowel movements every day, anymore.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Is this normal?? When will the madness stop?!
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#2 Old 12-09-2015, 02:05 AM
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Hi musicalpeanuts and welcome!

That six lbs you gained is more than likely water weight or extra roughage/volume that hasn't digested yet. Unless you eat a TON of food every day or very high calorie/high fat it is not likely you could gain that much body weight in such a short time. It takes 3500 calories above and beyond what you need to maintain to gain an extra lb of true body fat. However, daily fluctuations in weight of 5 to 6 lbs isn't that uncommon depending on the volume/weight of food you ate and other factors.

Did you eat a lot of vegetables before? Do you eat beans now? Sometimes the increased plant fiber in a plant based diet can take a while for the body to get used to. Vegans and vegetarians have different gut flora than omnivores over time. A lot of people complain of gas and discomfort early on, especially if used to eating a more low residue diet before, but over time it gets much better. I rarely if ever have gas now and I consume anywhere from four to seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and usually two servings on average of beans each day. I added beans to my diet as a staple gradually over a number of years starting in 2007 as opposed to overnight so the transition wasn't as traumatic for me. I remember though, I tried all strictly raw vegan for several weeks a few years ago and suddenly I was eating ten to fifteen servings of whole fruit/vegetables every day to make up my diet and I was going to the bathroom up to ten times a day. I think a much more gradual approach would have sufficed. Going from one extreme to another in diet is going to be hard on the body and take time to get used to.

If you came from a paleo diet before, maybe you could try gradually easing into eating grains and fruit and focus more on nuts, seeds, nut/seed butters and root vegetables and legumes like turnips, sweet potato, rutabagas etc. Those might be easier on your digestion while you transition. Bread is not the healthiest food or easiest to digest (though making your own is healthier and easier to avoid a lot of processed preservatives etc), but there are a number of whole grains like oats, millet, quinoa, brown or wild rice, Bulgar wheat, barley flakes etc that are much healthier, higher in fiber and better for your digestion.

Also, about the constipation. If you are trying to cut out fat or drastically reduce it too much, this can lead to constipation. Under eating can also. Make sure to include some healthy fat in your diet each day, as both a source of nutrition (think omega 3s and stuff like flaxseeds or chia or walnuts or avocado) and satiety. For me personally, if I go too low on fat intake (less than 10-12%) I don't poop as much, though I have been very regular in the years I have been vegan. Everyone is different, but I definitely find that a serving or two of healthy fat helps move things along. Fruits like bananas can be binding for me but I have heard others say the opposite. Higher fiber fruits like apples, plums etc can also help move things along. And be sure to drink plenty of water or other hydrating liquids each day too!

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#3 Old 12-09-2015, 07:21 AM
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Do make sure you're drinking enough water or whatever you like. Fibre requires water to pass through your system properly
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#4 Old 12-09-2015, 07:53 AM
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You may want to try a probiotic. You may lack the correct flora and fauna to digest such a drastically different diet. It will take some time to rebuild a fruit/veggie/carb loving bacterial community, but a probiotic could start you off in the right direction.
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#5 Old 12-09-2015, 12:28 PM
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The "Paleo diet" doesn't require abstinence from fruit: https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic_diet .

There is nothing unhealthy about whole food carbohydrates. Low-fat vegan diets usually include at least 60% of their calories from carbohydrates, yet this type of diet is recommended by the American Diabetes Association: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/planning-meals/meal-planning-for-vegetarians/ .

Kaiser Permanente - one of the largest health insurance companies in the United States - has even published its own Plant-Based Diet Guide (completely vegan): http://www.kphealthyme.com/Healthy-Eating-Active-Living-Programs/Education-libraries/Plant-Based-Diet.aspx . They recommend low-fat plant-based diets for the prevention of type 2 diabetes, as well.

That aside, if you were abstaining from fruit, grains, and legumes, then your carbohydrate intake was probably close to zero. Now you are eating carbohydrates for the first time in years. The U.S. National Library of Medicine has published at least one study which concluded that a low carbohydrate, high fat diet causes a reduced glucose (sugar) tolerance: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1146728 . That is to say: By eating a low-carb, high-fat diet, you may have temporarily reduced your ability to digest sugar.

You might find it useful to consult with a Registered Dietitian - a university-degreed expert in human nutrition. In the United States, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics website. Just click on the red "Find An Expert" button on the upper-right hand portion of their site: http://www.eatright.org/ . They can work with you (and with your physician) to plan a diet that supports your health.
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_________

“Under the twinkling trees was a table covered with Guatemalan fabric, roses in juice jars, wax rose candles from Tijuana and plates of food — Weetzie's Vegetable Love-Rice, My Secret Agent Lover Man's guacamole, Dirk's homemade pizza, Duck's fig and berry salad and Surfer Surprise Protein Punch, Brandy-Lynn's pink macaroni, Coyote's cornmeal cakes, Ping's mushu plum crepes and Valentine's Jamaican plantain pie."

from Witch Baby, Francesca Lia Block, 1991

Last edited by David3; 12-09-2015 at 12:32 PM.
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#6 Old 12-09-2015, 05:02 PM
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Ditto on the probiotics. You may be lacking some of the flora you need. It's very natural for there to be reactions to a major diet change. It takes time to tailor your diet to suit your individual needs. Keep a positive outlook!

"There is more wisdom in the song of a bird, than in the speech of a philosopher...." -Oahspe
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Last edited by Capstan; 12-09-2015 at 05:05 PM.
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#7 Old 12-12-2015, 07:15 AM
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A functional health professional might also be able to health. Helped me a TON a few years ago with irregular periods
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