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#1 Old 04-06-2016, 12:20 PM
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New vegan after some advice please

My name is Julie, I am 36, living in the UK, married and I have 3 children (13, 12 & 10).

I ate a vegetarian diet most of last year, sometimes I ate fish. In December I had some blood work done as I was feeling unwell. It showed I was hypothyroid, high cholesterol (6.9) and my HBA1C which was done routinely was 40, the normal range is 20-41, 42-48 is pre diabetes and anything above that is diabetes. I was shocked because there is no diabetes in my family. I am slimish 115lbs and 5ft tall. So not over weight and I never eat any fast food or rubbish. My doctor said not to worry at all as I wasn’t diabetic, I was within normal range. He said my cholesterol is high but less than a 1% risk at my age. It is in my mums side, all my aunties, uncle and cousins are on statins, which concerns me as I never want to take statins. My Mum is hypothyroid so that wasn’t much of a shock, just devastated I will need thyroxine for life.

Anyway, all of this has led me to research cholesterol and I educated myself. I watched some documentaries, Forks & Knives and Vegucated being a couple of them. I did watch Food Inc last year which upset me so much that I went vegetarian and always hoped to one day be able to be vegan as I hate knowing what they do to the poor animals and I am a huge animal lover. I have a zoo of pets, dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits… 😉

Well a week ago I cut out all dairy and fish. I am also gluten free (4 months now), I am not coeliac but I have always had terrible IBS and stomach cramps after eating gluten that I cut it out and feel so much better for it.

I read up on cholesterol and how animal protein can raise cholesterol, so this was a big reason for me to once and for all go vegan. The only concern I have is that my carb intake is higher now, this doesn’t concern me from a weight perspective, more because carbs turn to sugar and with my HBA1C being the high end of normal I want to get that down into the 30s. I joined a Diabetes forum recently to ask about it, many said I click here was fine at 40 and to not worry but others said cutting out carbs a little in your diet will reduce your blood sugar and your risk of flipping over into the pre diabetic range. So is this going to be possible on a vegan diet? Here is a typical day of eating for me. Any advice much appreciated, I am new and learning ways to make my diet healthy as a vegan.

Breakfast – Oats (oats, chia seeds and flaxseeds) with almond milk. Sometimes oat, banana pancakes.
Lunch – Avocado on gluten free toast or i have a salad with vegan cheese sometimes, veggie stirfry…
Dinner – Sweet potato wedges with veggie burger and salad, vegan bean chilli, vegetable bolognese with zucchini spaghetti, brown rice pasta with veggies…
Snacks – Banana, orange, in the UK we have vegan natural bars called Nakd and I sometimes have 1 of them, medjool dates, smoothie with vegetables and fruits, homemade hummus with carrot sticks or hummus on a rice cake and I make my own energy balls with dates/seeds. I don’t like nuts as snacks so that’s a pain.

My calories have been a tad low, I have been keeping an eye on them using My Fitness Pal. Most days I am lucky to hit 1200 calories which is low.

I find my snacks are always carb rich. It’s not easy to have lower carb snacks. Should I just relax about the carb issue? I am just concerned with that HBA1C result being high end of normal and having a good diet/no family history.

Thank you.

Julie
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#2 Old 04-06-2016, 01:11 PM
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Hi Jue,

Last year, you stated that you were eating about 1600 calories per day, and that you were doing cardio exercise on most days (link to your post: https://www.veggieboards.com/forum/11...ing-wrong.html ). I was worried when I read this, because most calorie-needs calculators recommend more like 2,000 calories for a person of your height, weight, and activity-level: http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html

Now, when I read that you're only getting 1200 calories per day, I feel compelled to warn you that this is dangerously low.

I wouldn't advise anyone to get diabetes advice from a diabetes forum. Even people with diabetes may not be knowledgable about their disease. To find reliable information, you should consult reputable health organizations. For example, the reputable American Diabetes Association specifically recommends whole, carb-rich foods like beans, berries, and sweet potatoes: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fit...uperfoods.html

Yes, your cholesterol level sounds high. Dairy foods can be high in saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels. Certain plant foods (such as macadamia nuts, and coconut oil) are also high in saturated fat. The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association both recommend that people limit their saturated fat intake: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fit...-diabetes.html and http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Health...p#.VwVdzyz2Z9A .

There are well-defined dietary approaches to lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. However, consulting online forums probably isn't the best way to get this information. Please consider making an appointment with a Registered Dietitian that specializes in vegetarian diets and cardiovascular health. In the UK, you can find a local R.D. through the website of the Association of UK Dietitians: http://www.freelancedietitians.org/d...vate-practice/

Good health, and let us know how it goes!


.

_________

Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/

Last edited by David3; 04-06-2016 at 01:17 PM.
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#3 Old 04-06-2016, 01:38 PM
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Thank you for your reply.

Yes last year I was exercising alot. I am not exercising now, maybe yoga a few times s week but I had to stop exercise when I felt unwell with my hypothyroidism.

I have spoken to my doctor about my test results and he said to reduce my fat intake to help the cholesterol and to eat lower carb to reduce the sugar on the hba1c test.

My GP did not mention a referral to a dietcian.

I have only been following vegan for a week, I tried it last year but found it hard. I stayed mainly veggie. Now I am trying to give vegan another shot and I want to stick at it. Prior to this week I was eating about 1700-1800 calories which is fine for someone of my size and activity. The drop has only been since following a vegan diet, I guess due to eating no dairy products.

Thanks again

Ju
Quote:
Originally Posted by David3 View Post
Hi Jue,

Last year, you stated that you were eating about 1600 calories per day, and that you were doing cardio exercise on most days (link to your post: https://www.veggieboards.com/forum/11...ing-wrong.html ). I was worried when I read this, because most calorie-needs calculators recommend more like 2,000 calories for a person of your height, weight, and activity-level: http://www.calculator.net/calorie-calculator.html

Now, when I read that you're only getting 1200 calories per day, I feel compelled to warn you that this is dangerously low.

I wouldn't advise anyone to get diabetes advice from a diabetes forum. Even people with diabetes may not be knowledgable about their disease. To find reliable information, you should consult reputable health organizations. For example, the reputable American Diabetes Association specifically recommends whole, carb-rich foods like beans, berries, and sweet potatoes: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fit...uperfoods.html

Yes, your cholesterol level sounds high. Dairy foods can be high in saturated fat, which raises cholesterol levels. Certain plant foods (such as macadamia nuts, and coconut oil) are also high in saturated fat. The American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association both recommend that people limit their saturated fat intake: http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fit...-diabetes.html and http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Health...p#.VwVdzyz2Z9A .

There are well-defined dietary approaches to lowering cholesterol and blood sugar. However, consulting online forums probably isn't the best way to get this information. Please consider making an appointment with a Registered Dietitian that specializes in vegetarian diets and cardiovascular health. In the UK, you can find a local R.D. through the website of the Association of UK Dietitians: http://www.freelancedietitians.org/d...vate-practice/

Good health, and let us know how it goes!


.
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#4 Old 04-06-2016, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jue35 View Post
I have spoken to my doctor about my test results and he said to reduce my fat intake to help the cholesterol and to eat lower carb to reduce the sugar on the hba1c test.

My GP did not mention a referral to a dietcian.


Your physician has given you an impractical recommendation. He/she has instructed you to reduce your fat intake AND reduce your carbohydrate intake (yet still consume enough calories to maintain your energy and health). Jue, the only other source of calories is protein - plant foods contain protein, of course, but always with the generous accompaniment of carbohydrates and/or fat.

In the United States, Kaiser Permanente (one of our largest health insurance companies) recommends a low-fat, high-carbohydrate, whole-foods vegan diet for the prevention/treatment of type 2 diabetes: http://share.kaiserpermanente.org/wp...et-booklet.pdf

I don't think your GP is knowledgable about nutrition; physicians receive almost no nutrition training in medical school. The Journal of the American Medical Association has commented on this: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/arti...icleid=1860501 . My best friend, a physician, confirms that his education included almost no nutrition training.

Even though your GP didn't refer you to a dietitian, it's advisable for you to contact one (I provided a website in my previous post).

Please keep us updated.


.

_________

Specific recommendations for a healthy diet include: eating more fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and grains; cutting down on salt, sugar and fats. It is also advisable to choose unsaturated fats, instead of saturated fats and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids."
- United Nations' World Health Organization
http://www.who.int/topics/diet/en/

Last edited by David3; 04-06-2016 at 05:36 PM.
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#5 Old 04-06-2016, 03:23 PM
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I think there's a possibility that your lunches are too light and you could potentially add some calories there. I'm fairly sure that the reason you had raised cholesterol as a mostly vegetarian pescetarian is from over-doing cheese or eggs.

As long as your carbs are whole grains and you aren't filling up on refined sugar, I doubt you will develop diabetes.

You might want to consider snacking on some nuts, to add calories, if you are looking for something with more calories and healthy fats, but no cholesterol.
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#6 Old 04-06-2016, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jue35 View Post
My name is Julie, I am 36, living in the UK, married and I have 3 children (13, 12 & 10).

I ate a vegetarian diet most of last year, sometimes I ate fish. In December I had some blood work done as I was feeling unwell. It showed I was hypothyroid, high cholesterol (6.9) and my HBA1C which was done routinely was 40, the normal range is 20-41, 42-48 is pre diabetes and anything above that is diabetes. I was shocked because there is no diabetes in my family. I am slimish 115lbs and 5ft tall. So not over weight and I never eat any fast food or rubbish. My doctor said not to worry at all as I wasn’t diabetic, I was within normal range. He said my cholesterol is high but less than a 1% risk at my age. It is in my mums side, all my aunties, uncle and cousins are on statins, which concerns me as I never want to take statins. My Mum is hypothyroid so that wasn’t much of a shock, just devastated I will need thyroxine for life.

Anyway, all of this has led me to research cholesterol and I educated myself. I watched some documentaries, Forks & Knives and Vegucated being a couple of them. I did watch Food Inc last year which upset me so much that I went vegetarian and always hoped to one day be able to be vegan as I hate knowing what they do to the poor animals and I am a huge animal lover. I have a zoo of pets, dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits… 😉

Well a week ago I cut out all dairy and fish. I am also gluten free (4 months now), I am not coeliac but I have always had terrible IBS and stomach cramps after eating gluten that I cut it out and feel so much better for it.

I read up on cholesterol and how animal protein can raise cholesterol, so this was a big reason for me to once and for all go vegan. The only concern I have is that my carb intake is higher now, this doesn’t concern me from a weight perspective, more because carbs turn to sugar and with my HBA1C being the high end of normal I want to get that down into the 30s. I joined a Diabetes forum recently to ask about it, many said I click here was fine at 40 and to not worry but others said cutting out carbs a little in your diet will reduce your blood sugar and your risk of flipping over into the pre diabetic range. So is this going to be possible on a vegan diet? Here is a typical day of eating for me. Any advice much appreciated, I am new and learning ways to make my diet healthy as a vegan.

Breakfast – Oats (oats, chia seeds and flaxseeds) with almond milk. Sometimes oat, banana pancakes.
Lunch – Avocado on gluten free toast or i have a salad with vegan cheese sometimes, veggie stirfry…
Dinner – Sweet potato wedges with veggie burger and salad, vegan bean chilli, vegetable bolognese with zucchini spaghetti, brown rice pasta with veggies…
Snacks – Banana, orange, in the UK we have vegan natural bars called Nakd and I sometimes have 1 of them, medjool dates, smoothie with vegetables and fruits, homemade hummus with carrot sticks or hummus on a rice cake and I make my own energy balls with dates/seeds. I don’t like nuts as snacks so that’s a pain.

My calories have been a tad low, I have been keeping an eye on them using My Fitness Pal. Most days I am lucky to hit 1200 calories which is low.

I find my snacks are always carb rich. It’s not easy to have lower carb snacks. Should I just relax about the carb issue? I am just concerned with that HBA1C result being high end of normal and having a good diet/no family history.

Thank you.

Julie
Hi Jue35

That is a tiny amount of calories per day. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but people with a history of restricting food type eating disorders often have very high cholesterol levels and low thyroid. If this is true for you, tell your doctor because they will want to do liver tests, etc.

Last edited by LedBoots; 04-06-2016 at 07:01 PM.
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#7 Old 04-07-2016, 03:24 AM
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Thank you David

Yes I read through the links you sent, very helpful thank you.

Yes I have been confused about my GP's advice because you cannot cut our fat and carbs as that leaves you with just protein. If you reduce carbs you increase fat for energy and vice versa. IT's ridiclious advice.

That is reassuring about the higher carb, low fat diet I shall read that link now.

In the NHS it's pretty useless to get nutrition advice, even NHS dieticians aren't the best, I know as my son had to see one years ago.

I shall look into speaking to a dietician myself. Thank you.

Julie
Quote:
Originally Posted by David3 View Post
Your physician has given you an impractical recommendation. He/she has instructed you to reduce your fat intake AND reduce your carbohydrate intake (yet still consume enough calories to maintain your energy and health). Jue, the only other source of calories is protein - plant foods contain protein, of course, but always with the generous accompaniment of carbohydrates and/or fat.

In the United States, Kaiser Permanente (one of our largest health insurance companies) recommends a low-fat, high-carbohydrate, whole-foods vegan diet for the prevention/treatment of type 2 diabetes: http://share.kaiserpermanente.org/wp...et-booklet.pdf

I don't think your GP is knowledgable about nutrition; physicians receive almost no nutrition training in medical school. The Journal of the American Medical Association has commented on this: http://archinte.jamanetwork.com/arti...icleid=1860501 . My best friend, a physician, confirms that his education included almost no nutrition training.

Even though your GP didn't refer you to a dietitian, it's advisable for you to contact one (I provided a website in my previous post).

Please keep us updated.


.
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#8 Old 04-07-2016, 03:26 AM
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Thank you.

I like nut milk but I am not a lover of nuts. I will eat Nakd bars though that contain nuts, they are vegan.

I do think my lunches are far too light and I guess it's because I am afraid of the carbs after being told they cause diabetes numbers to be high.I am not even diabetic and concerned.

Jue

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalassa4 View Post
I think there's a possibility that your lunches are too light and you could potentially add some calories there. I'm fairly sure that the reason you had raised cholesterol as a mostly vegetarian pescetarian is from over-doing cheese or eggs.

As long as your carbs are whole grains and you aren't filling up on refined sugar, I doubt you will develop diabetes.

You might want to consider snacking on some nuts, to add calories, if you are looking for something with more calories and healthy fats, but no cholesterol.
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#9 Old 04-07-2016, 03:30 AM
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Thank you.

I have had a full panel of bloods done recently and all are normal, including my liver.

I have never had an eating disorder. I do not restrict calories intentionally. I have only been plotting my food into MFP to make sure i am eating enough, and been concerned at my calories being low as a vegan. That is why I posted because it concerned me. I usually eat up to 1800 a day maybe even more and it doesn't bother me, I never calorie count. I only cut out wheat as my GP said it could well be why my IBS was so bad and it resolved that.

As a meat eater I was eating enough, with dairy included, i never really calorie counted until I changed my diet to vegeterian, and i counted the first few weeks to make sure i was getting enough protein etc.. and then this last week I counted my calories as I changed to vegan as I wanted to make sure I wasn't lacking in calories because obviously plant based food is very low in calories.

Thank you

Julie

Quote:
Originally Posted by LedBoots View Post
Hi Jue35

That is a tiny amount of calories per day. I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but people with a history of restricting food type eating disorders often have very high cholesterol levels and low thyroid. If this is true for you, tell your doctor because they will want to do liver tests, etc.
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#10 Old 04-07-2016, 04:13 AM
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Hi Julie!

I also have hypothyroidism and have for 27 years (diagnosed 1989 when I was 16). Though my cholesterol was healthy in 2010 when I had it tested (a year before going vegan....numbers were 155 total and 62 HDL), my numbers improved even more when I went vegan. I had the whole panel done in late 2012 and total cholesterol went down to 125, LDL was 67, HDL 57. I might add I am in my 40s and in surgical menopause since 2005 as well as hypothyroid. By all means my numbers should be higher cholesterol with those factors, but I sincerely believe my vegan diet has made a difference, and before I was vegan I still avoided dairy for years due to major intolerance, with the exception of greek yogurt. I'm betting your numbers will improve also!

I'm munching on a chickpea flour omelet right now with black bean salsa and kale, totally filling, high protein, and gluten free breakfast.  I use 2/3 cup of chickpea flour and 2/3 cup of water to make my batter and add cumin and black pepper, then pour it into a nonstick skillet like a pancake and let it cook. When it bubbles and firms up, I spread the salsa (or hummus or bean dip or anything you want ) and veggies on top, then fold it over and let it cook another minute. This is a versatile breakfast and you can add lots of stuff to it.
Your meals actually looked like more than 1200 calories to me just by eyeballing what you listed, but it didn’t look like THAT much more.
Some tricks that have helped me get more calories in my vegan diet are to add sauces over grains, beans, and veggies or stir fries etc. Tahini makes a great base for a sauce, and so does peanut butter. There are tons of recipes on the net for tahini lemon sauce. I’ve also made a yogurt sauce using SoDelicious coconut yogurt (vanilla) and mixing it with pineapple juice and a starch and I add this over roasted veggie subs.

If you bake gluten free breads, you will find that you need way more oil or another fat to help hold the gluten free flours together, or you will use more almond flour which is incredible as a gluten free flour and makes lighter fluffier goods.
Another one you might like, if you eat gluten free spaghetti. Make a hearty sauce made up of canned tomato sauce, tomato paste, zucchini, fresh mushroom, green bell pepper, onion, cooked red lentils, and some cooked wild rice or quinoa in there. Simmer it all in a large pot and pour it o ver the spaghetti.
I also tend to eat more servings than a food might call for, in otherwords, a higher volume. My body has been trained over time as a vegan to eat larger volumes of food. I can put away way more than my omni husband of vegan food lol. I can easily eat one cup of cooked beans, or two cups cooked oatmeal plus everything I put on it. I can eat four to five cups of salad plus everything in it. Don’t get me started on hummus lol.

Mejool dates (I see you mentioned them) are 40 calories per date so those can add up to help meet calorie intake and energy needs also. I think the natural sugar in otherwise high fiber fruits is ok because the fiber balances out the sugar, and the other nutrients in fruits…potassium, vitamin C, manganese…are too important to dismiss.
If you google “gluten free vegan” there are a TON of sites and recipes out there to try. The more recipes you learn to make and the more techniques for vegan cooking and baking as well as gluten free, the more intuitive you become in the kitchen and the more you will eventually be able to create your own quick spontaneous meals. Best wishes!

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#11 Old 04-07-2016, 04:24 AM
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Thank you so much for your help Naturebound. Huge help.

I have only been concerned about carbs due to what I was told about carbs and blood sugar, with my HBA1C being high end of normal.

Calories being low did concern me. I love food and don't usually watch my calories. I would like to stay at my weight but losing a few pounds would be nice but I just want to make sure I am eating enough as a vegan. It is only my silly fear of now eating carbs due to blood sugar fears. Damn blood tests have scared me haha!

All fantastic advice. Thank you. I am writing notes and shall do a google as you've suggested about gluten free vegans.

Ju

Quote:
Originally Posted by Naturebound View Post
Hi Julie!

I also have hypothyroidism and have for 27 years (diagnosed 1989 when I was 16). Though my cholesterol was healthy in 2010 when I had it tested (a year before going vegan....numbers were 155 total and 62 HDL), my numbers improved even more when I went vegan. I had the whole panel done in late 2012 and total cholesterol went down to 125, LDL was 67, HDL 57. I might add I am in my 40s and in surgical menopause since 2005 as well as hypothyroid. By all means my numbers should be higher cholesterol with those factors, but I sincerely believe my vegan diet has made a difference, and before I was vegan I still avoided dairy for years due to major intolerance, with the exception of greek yogurt. I'm betting your numbers will improve also!

I'm munching on a chickpea flour omelet right now with black bean salsa and kale, totally filling, high protein, and gluten free breakfast.  I use 2/3 cup of chickpea flour and 2/3 cup of water to make my batter and add cumin and black pepper, then pour it into a nonstick skillet like a pancake and let it cook. When it bubbles and firms up, I spread the salsa (or hummus or bean dip or anything you want ) and veggies on top, then fold it over and let it cook another minute. This is a versatile breakfast and you can add lots of stuff to it.
Your meals actually looked like more than 1200 calories to me just by eyeballing what you listed, but it didn’t look like THAT much more.
Some tricks that have helped me get more calories in my vegan diet are to add sauces over grains, beans, and veggies or stir fries etc. Tahini makes a great base for a sauce, and so does peanut butter. There are tons of recipes on the net for tahini lemon sauce. I’ve also made a yogurt sauce using SoDelicious coconut yogurt (vanilla) and mixing it with pineapple juice and a starch and I add this over roasted veggie subs.

If you bake gluten free breads, you will find that you need way more oil or another fat to help hold the gluten free flours together, or you will use more almond flour which is incredible as a gluten free flour and makes lighter fluffier goods.
Another one you might like, if you eat gluten free spaghetti. Make a hearty sauce made up of canned tomato sauce, tomato paste, zucchini, fresh mushroom, green bell pepper, onion, cooked red lentils, and some cooked wild rice or quinoa in there. Simmer it all in a large pot and pour it o ver the spaghetti.
I also tend to eat more servings than a food might call for, in otherwords, a higher volume. My body has been trained over time as a vegan to eat larger volumes of food. I can put away way more than my omni husband of vegan food lol. I can easily eat one cup of cooked beans, or two cups cooked oatmeal plus everything I put on it. I can eat four to five cups of salad plus everything in it. Don’t get me started on hummus lol.

Mejool dates (I see you mentioned them) are 40 calories per date so those can add up to help meet calorie intake and energy needs also. I think the natural sugar in otherwise high fiber fruits is ok because the fiber balances out the sugar, and the other nutrients in fruits…potassium, vitamin C, manganese…are too important to dismiss.
If you google “gluten free vegan” there are a TON of sites and recipes out there to try. The more recipes you learn to make and the more techniques for vegan cooking and baking as well as gluten free, the more intuitive you become in the kitchen and the more you will eventually be able to create your own quick spontaneous meals. Best wishes!
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#12 Old 04-07-2016, 05:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Jue35 View Post
Thank you so much for your help Naturebound. Huge help.

I have only been concerned about carbs due to what I was told about carbs and blood sugar, with my HBA1C being high end of normal.

Calories being low did concern me. I love food and don't usually watch my calories. I would like to stay at my weight but losing a few pounds would be nice but I just want to make sure I am eating enough as a vegan. It is only my silly fear of now eating carbs due to blood sugar fears. Damn blood tests have scared me haha!

All fantastic advice. Thank you. I am writing notes and shall do a google as you've suggested about gluten free vegans.

Ju
You are sure right about vegan food being lower in calories! I cook for my husband and adult son and the actual. amount of food we eat is pretty ridiculous lol.
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#13 Old 04-07-2016, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by LedBoots View Post
You are sure right about vegan food being lower in calories! I cook for my husband and adult son and the actual. amount of food we eat is pretty ridiculous lol.
I had a HUGE bowl of vegan chilli tonight with avocado on top. I didn't think I would finish it but I did, my stomach is very full but I bet calorie wise it wasn't much lol! I guess that's the good thing you can eat more ;-)
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