Feeling bad and not knowing what to do...
I just registered on VB, primarily to get some help/advice because I don't know what to do and am starting to consider getting some animal products back into my diet.... Please be kind and do not judge me, I'm really, really struggling a lot.
I'm currently 25. From 18 to 20 I was mainly flexitarian, I became vegetarian as soon as I got to cook my own meals. After six months of vegetarianism I got convinced by the ethics of veganism and enthusiastically jumped into it. This time was hard because I had issues with my studies and was generally depressed and bulimic. I gained 20 pounds as a result of it plus taking the pill for my PCOS (I'll come back to this later). I reverted to vegetarianism for convenience during some weeks I spent abroad in Romania, and when I got back I decided to get my health back and stumbled into raw veganism and fruitarianism. I lasted only five weeks and I think it's a good thing, raw veganism would have destroyed me after some time.
Since that time (3 years ago), I'm constantly trying to stick to veganism, with some omnivorous relapses when I feel too much fatigued.
As for my health background, I've been diagnosed with PCOS at 20. I'm not overweight but could afford to lose some pounds I gained with bulimia and the pill. There was a period when doctors thought I also had fibromyalgia, but it turned out to be posture problems (my jaws have been operated in 2012) leading to the inability to do intense movements - I'm working on those. I'm also very tired, I need to sleep a lot although I never was a big sleeper. I feel my nervous system is completely down, last years have been tough (studies...), I don't sleep well (partly because of the neighbour upstairs), I'm generally happy but frustrated with my current job and city. I 'm also tired of constantly wondering if I'll be able to stay vegan or not. Oh, and my teeth are kind of slowly but surely decaying. These last weeks, I also got migraines almost every day.
My bloodwork is fine - thyroid great, no anemia, no blood sugar issues. I've even been tested - negatively - for lupus, Epstein-Barr, Lyme disease... My menstrual cycles are kind of messed up because of PCOS. When I stopped taking the pill I had amenorrhea for two years straight, now my ovaries seem to start working again with acupuncture and phytotherapy.
Let me be clear : I don't blame all this on veganism. My problem is, I'm not sure it's a good thing to be a vegan with all these problems. My acupuncturist is very kind and respectful, but he clearly stated it's not according to Chinese medicine. Now, I know a lot of people think this is bull****, but I don't (I've seen it working many times) - and arguing about it is not the point of this topic. I've done lots of research online, and it seems there are definitely some people who did everything right and still failed to thrive as vegans.
I'm not a junk food vegan, I eat lots of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, spices... I take my B12 supplement religiously, along with spirulina, magnesium and other B vitamins. The magnesium seems to help with my fatigue.
Every time I started eating some animal products again, I felt better during a few days. I don't know why. My digestion, which isn't usually good, is far better with meat, fish or eggs (again, according to Chinese medicine teachings, it totally makes sense...
These last few weeks I've had trouble eating well and enough. Everything "healthy" disgusts me, I can eat cakes or chocolate, bread and fruits also, but I must forcefeed myself for everything else. Everything makes me bloat, like a lot, and I rapidly feel nauseous when eating.
I'm sorry for the long rant but I need to speak about these problems, I don't feel like I'm 25 at all. I have a healthier lifestyle than most people around me, yet I'm the most tired and unhealthy. I'm fed up physically and psychologically, and I just long for things to be simple, easy. From what I remember, the diet I ate that most suited me was a vegetarian/flexitarian pattern, with no gluten, no added sugar and no dairy (apart from some fresh goat cheese, but not on a daily basis) - I lost a lot a weight while eating like this, and I was following the advice of my acupuncturist.
I don't want to go back - again ! - to vegetarianism or, worst, omnivorism. But I can't live like that forever, either. I try to eat enough, but my digestive system isn't happy with the quantities I must eat to do so. I know that animal products pack a lot more calories and nutrients in smaller portions... and I digest them really, really well.
Again, sorry for the length of this message, I realize it sounds kind of confuse but eh... this mess is my head right now. If anyone has had the same problems, or knows about a possible solution, I'd be really glad to hear about it.
[English mistakes not intended, I'm French]
When you say 'vegan', vegetarian', 'omni', you're only specifying broad categories of food types. There's nothing inherently healthy or not healthy in any particular category.
While you're giving a lot of bits of information, there's nothing diet specific to indicate a problem. You've mentioned depression, bulimia- that puts such strain on your body, on your gut flora, everything.
For many people going back to eating meat, or dairy or eggs, gives the suggested feeling of being better, but it's more a feeling of how they're used to feeling. . You haven't suggested how long you've ever been without meat, but considering how long meat takes to digest, it isn't likely that you digest it any better. You speak of Chinese medicine, but it sounds as if you're overreaching when you should be focused on nutrition and science. You're far removed from the lifestyle that traditional Chinese medicine is formulated.
You say you eat a healthy vegan diet- but you also say you struggle to eat healthy foods, and eat cake and junk food
Do you have access to a good dietitian, who's open to plant based diets?
Please do your research on nutrition. Plant based diets have truly changed peoples lives for the better, but only when properly understood.
Thx for the response.
I know my OP wasn't very clear.
The longest I've been without meat was six months.
When I say I eat healthy, I mean in general. By no way am I eating only cakes or chocolate, but I've been eating a lot more than I should these past weeks, mostly because of eating out with friends and family a lot.
A typical day for me would be :
Breakfast : oats or spelt flakes with rice milk (calcium-enriched), cinnamon, dried fruits (figs, prunes...), with herbal or spicy tea. I don't weigh the cereal but it's quite a lot, my bowl is full.
Lunch : brown rice or other grain (generally gluten-free) or roasted sweet potatoes with vegetables and beans or tofu. If I'm home I add miso soup with turmeric and black pepper, it helps my digestion.
Snack : usually a piece of fresh fruit, sometimes nuts if I'm very hungry.
Dinner : quite the same as lunch, minus the beans generally. Or buckwheat crepes with avocado, fresh tomatoes, basil...
I'm globally "McDougalling". Everything organic. I don't smoke, I don't drink alcohol.
I'm not bulimic anymore, but it's true it was a strain on my body, along with depression. However, my digestion was so much better for some time after I got better, and now it's all messed up again. It's like I can't eat anything, be it healthy or not, without getting gas.
I read a lot about nutrition, I have books by Ginny Messina, Jack Norris, McDougall, etc. I follow Dr. Greger on Nutrition Facts and some Youtube channels.
I don't see how I'm "overreaching" by using Chinese dietetics. It's really accurrate, and when I stick to it (even as a vegan) I definitely feel better. I have nothing against nutrition science, but it has its limits (think about all the nutrients we haven't discovered yet !).
As for meat and digestion, my sister is mainly vegetarian (she lives in a Buddhist centre) but when she's at our parents', she usually eats a bit of meat. Every time, she mentions that her digestion is better.
Learning more about food combining and mucus forming foods helped me better sculpt my eating habits after switching to vegan eating. Eating fruit after other foods creates a gut grenade due to the fruit digesting at a faster rate. It gets stuck behind traffic, so to speak. Even combining fruits of different varieties can wreak some havoc in the gut. I had no clue.
Mixing all the different seeds and nuts in with morning smoothies, when I first started out, to have them pack the most powerful punch all at once taught me fairly swiftly how important food combining is. I made myself miserable.
Learning to not drink with my meals and learning to chew very well, because our bellies don't have teeth to finish chewing what we woof down in a hurry, were two more nuggets of wisdom that really helped move things along more comfortably.
Learning to pay attention to how well food eliminates once I eat it was another key thing I'd never thought of. And I never pass up the chance to use the restroom. When you let things settle and later lose the urge, where do you think all that waste goes? I used to be a die hard only use the potty at home kind of person. But things come out much smoother now, so it's no longer inconvenient.
I'm a 49 year old female who ate the full blown worst versions of the Standard American Diet for 47.5 of those years. I switched to vegan overnight because of an emergency room visit for gall bladder issues. I had previously already switched to local meats, local dairy, and local eggs thinking that was the healthiest option. I continued to struggle with brain fog, mood swings, inflammation, body aches, insomnia, weighing over 300 lbs., etc.
I had been diagnosed with severe fibromyalgia, severe osteoarthritis, severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome, severe nervous stomach, severe depression, severe anxiety, severe adhd, insomnia, repeated respiratory issues, peri-menopause, and other muscular and skeletal issues and had been repeatedly told I just had to learn to deal with it through medication and various specialists and such since it was just a consequence of aging.
It's been one year and seven months since my gall bladder scare that prompted my switch to veganism and I've since lost 110 lbs., no longer take any prescription meds, sleep like a baby, and feel better than I thought I ever could again. I still have crappy days, but the bounce back time improves with each new lesson I learn. Wishing you well in your journey to wellville. All those forks in the road.............and we get to choose what's on the end of ours. :)
I encourage people to focus on how you can enrich your life by adding more of the cleaner versions of stuff more so than what you'll be lacking in no longer buying and eating what you're used to in the meat, dairy, egg arenas. It helped me big time.
I don't know a ton about Chinese medicine/dietetics, but what I do know is that the emphasis on meat is far less than the emphasis on eating nourishing soups, often using herbal ingredients to balance the hot/cold nature of the body. I am pretty certain that most of these soups can be made without the use of animal products. Concerning meat digestion - @silva is 100% right; it takes the body so long to digest meat that I highly doubt consuming it is improving your digestion at all. If your diet is changing frequently, it could be that your gut flora is struggling to try and keep up and you're experiencing some discomfort as a result. Maybe try and be consistent as much as possible with your diet, and check out some plant based digestive enzymes to help ease the transition? Ginger is also a wonderful herb for digestion, and can be made into a soup or a tea, depending on what is most convenient for you. I wish you the best of luck finding a balance that's right for you :)
Because of your multiple health issues, I really want to encourage you to make an appointment with a Registered Dietitian (RD). A Registered Dietitian can do a detailed, objective analysis of your diet, and identify any deficiencies. They can then work with you and your physician to adjust your diet in a way that addresses your health needs.
In France, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through the annuaire des dieteticiens: http://www.annuaire-des-dieteticiens.fr/
In the United States, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through this website: http://www.eatright.org . Just click on the "Find an Expert" button, located in the upper-right-hand portion of the webpage.
In the U.K., you can find a local Registered Dietitian on the Freelance Dietitians website: http://www.freelancedietitians.org/
In New Zealand, you can find a local Registered Dietitian through the Dietitians New Zealand website: http://dietitians.org.nz/find-a-dietitian/
In Canada, you can find a local Registered Dietitian at the Dietitians of Canada website: http://www.dietitians.ca/Find-a-Dietitian.aspx .
Thank you all for your replies and support, I really appreciate it !
It's true that I should eat more soups with warming ingredients, I'm gonna buy a special thermos for that so that I can bring them to my workplace. And some ginger tea can't hurt ;).
As for chewing, I tend to eat too quickly since I was a child, and as my jaws have been operated it's sometimes uncomfortable to slow down or to switch sides when masticating. I'm gonna try and eat more and more slowly, if it's progressive my muscles should adapt to it.
I know about food combining and avoid eating fruits with something else or after it. I've been quite surprised yesterday, as I didn't have time to cook something I bought the vegan sandwich at the cafeteria, which has bread (gluten) and some raw apple quarters (yeah, pretty suprising combination with sundried tomatoes !), and then I ate an apple because I was still hungry and had nothing else... and I had no digestion problem whatsoever. Go figure !
I already thought about digestive enzymes but I don't know much about them. I'm in France but I sometimes order products from the other side of the Atlantic, so if anyone knows a good brand ? I already ordered Now ! vegan probiotics.
I hope that with all those things, bad digestion (and fatigue) will be gone.
Digestion seems so individual! I tried tried the whole food combining theory of eating certain foods by themselves and felt no effect whatsoever. I eat fruit with everything else just fine. No problem with any beans, but too many raw vegetables feel like they're gonna kill me!
Meat- I didn't realize how awful that was until I stopped eating it! I remember how weighty my lower abdomen would feel, even though I never noticibly bloated, I sure felt it, giving it up I felt so much better. I've never heard anyone say meat digested better, unless they have an allergy or sensitivity to the foods they switch to. Naturally it would be better if you switch to foods you don't process well.
Have you gone through a supervised elimination diet? I agree with David about seeing a good dietitian
The issues I have with Chinese medicine is how much variance there is today. I mean traditional Chinese medicine also involves some of the most horrid of animal abuses
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