Started vegan diet - having a hard time - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 11-15-2011, 11:57 PM
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Hello everyone,

My name is Kari and I started my new vegan lifestyle yesterday. What prompted this change? I found out I am pre-diabetic (I'm significantly overweight) and my doctor recommended a book called The China Study, which I devoured in one weekend and now I am completely ready to rid dairy and animal byproduct from my life.

I started cold turkey, which probably isn't the best idea, but when I do something, I do it entirely and right away. I'm not the biggest meat eater (mostly I eat chicken and tuna), but I love dairy and have been a very avid milk drinker and cheese eater since I can remember being alive. I have never in my 26 years of life given these foods up, even when I attempted to lose weight in the past. I'm also very addicted to sugar - cookies, cake, brownies, chocolate, etc. This addiction has progressively gotten worse throughout the past few years and now I can't go a day without eating a brownie/cookie/piece of cake/etc. I know this is awful and trust me, there is a reason I am pre-diabetic. I use food as a comfort for emotional issues, but after hearing that I am on my way to being diabetic, I had a complete breakdown and decided I really need to do something about this. A week ago from today, my typical diet was sugar cereal, McDonald's, and pizza. I never ate any vegetables and hardly any fruit.

I started doing something yesterday when I gave up meat, dairy, and animal byproduct. I'm compassionate about animal welfare anyway, I've just always thought it would be too 'hard' to give it up - I feel much differently now after not only reading how horrible it is for me, but how horrible these animals are treated. I am DONE.

I'm having a very hard time, albeit it's been 2 days, but I am really struggling with this. I have had a headache for the past 24 hours and I keep crying. I have no idea why, but I just randomly have the biggest urge to cry. I've never wanted a cheeseburger so badly in my entire life and this craving feels so real and intense to me, I am scared by it. I do not feel good at all. My stomach hurts, I can't hold my feet still, I'm starving even though I've eaten plenty of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and protein today. This is definitely too much information, but I am gassy and running to the bathroom quite often. My head feels foggy and I am just sitting here crying because I have no idea how I am going to do this. By no means am I trying to throw a pity party or seek attention. I got myself into this and now I have to get myself out of this. I guess I just am looking for some words of encouragement? Maybe someone can shed some light on this and tell me they've been in my shoes before? This has to get better, right?

I feel like I am being so dramatic and maybe I am making this worse for myself by complaining about it. I just genuinely feel so off and sick.

Thanks for taking the time to read this... I appreciate it.
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#2 Old 11-16-2011, 05:02 AM
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Sorry you are having such a hard time! I was vegetarian for a year before giving up the eggs and dairy products. It was a little hard for the first few weeks, but then it got easier. Maybe you should reconsider doing this cold turkey and allow yourself a few things that aren't vegan just until you adjust and can get the hang of it.

But I'm sure someone else will come along who will be able to offer you some sound advice if you really want to continue a strict vegan diet from the get go. Good luck!
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#3 Old 11-16-2011, 05:22 AM
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It sounds like my symptoms the first time I tried a raw vegan diet - it was detox horrors (achey fluey symptoms, headache, fuzzy tongue etc). It was not fun ... I've therefore decided to do this transition thing as gently as possible. I started out by cutting out red meats, then white, then fish ... and now am a vegetarian. But that transition took about 6 months. I'm now about 4 months into being a veggie and won't try the vegan thing again till I feel comfortable with how my body has adjusted. And I am not trying raw again till I've been vegan for a while.

Not all of us are able to do the cold turkey thing ...
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#4 Old 11-16-2011, 07:21 AM
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Would it help if you ate vegan versions of those products? A veggie burger with some Daiya? Soy milk, coconut milk, almond milk...you can also find ice creams and yogurts made from those things.
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#5 Old 11-16-2011, 08:11 AM
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Everyone here has given great advice, and I too suggest a gradual transition into veganism. Like karenlovessnow, I also was a vegetarian for a year before deciding to work my way into veganism, which made my transition SO much easier. While I wouldn't recommend a vegetarian diet full of junk food, especially since your ultimate goal is better health, going right from a diet of processed food to a diet of whole plant foods does have a tendency to make people feel pretty ill -- it's a shock to your system. So maybe start incorporating more and more whole plant foods into your diet over a period of several weeks, as opposed to right away.

Eating some dairy and egg products during this time will also make your transition smoother. Then, when you feel like you're ready, you could devote a few days out of the week to vegan-only meals, interspersed with days where you still eat vegetarian meals. I wouldn't suggest basing your diet on processed vegan food like faux meat and dairy substitutes, but like Kari suggested, these foods can be helpful, especially when you're beginning veganism.

Please keep us updated! We really want to help!

"An animal's eyes have the power to speak a great language." --Martin Buber
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#6 Old 11-16-2011, 08:11 AM
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Aw, I'm so sorry that you're having such a rough time... the symptoms you're feeling aren't unusual though - they can be your body detoxing from sugar, bad fats, toxins in meat (hormones etc), casein in dairy and/or a combination of all those things. The gradual approach is definitely easier, but if you can manage to stick to it your body will be healthier faster.

If you want to stick to your new healthy diet 100%, I'd say try to find ways to indulge your cravings in healthy ways. As Kari mentioned, there are lots of vegan ice creams out there - but an even healthier way is to freeze some bananas (peel them first) and blend them up with frozen berries, or mango, or whatever you like. You can throw a spoonful of cocoa powder in there for chocolate ice cream. Honestly, try it - you'll be surprised how sweet and delicious it is! You can do the same thing with an unfrozen ripe banana and a spoonful of cocoa powder for a rich chocolate pudding.

There are ways to make your own cookies, brownies, cakes, etc that are healthy and vegan. And they're not as hard to make as you might think! Do a google search for 'healthy vegan brownies', and you should get a bunch of results. I once made cookies in a hostel in Montenegro in 10 minutes with minimal ingredients - you can check them out here http://www.healthyveganrecipes.net/v...atmeal-cookies

You can make your own veggie burgers too, which are a lot healthier and cheaper than the ones in the store. Although store-bought veggie burgers are just fine if you don't have time!

Try making a sauce with pureed white beans and nutritional yeast - instant cheesy-tasting sauce Nutritional yeast was one of the biggest flavor revelations for me on a vegan diet. It's yellow flaky stuff, and usually in the bulk section.

And beyond having healthy options for your usual treats, you can work on the emotional side by figuring out some things other than food that you can turn to when you're feeling down or stressed or whatever. Something active - like a walk or doing yoga - is fantastic, but some other ideas would be to give yourself a spa day or watch a movie or a special TV show, or going out for tea with friends.

Good luck with everything - be proud of yourself for having the courage to make this huge shift! So many people don't bother because they think it's too hard, but you're standing up for yourself and working to create a better life. That is something so important, and even though you're having trouble you should feel good that you've made the decision. It will get easier and easier as you go

Feel free to check out my videos on how to make healthy and delicious vegan meals at www.HealthyVeganRecipes.net
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#7 Old 11-16-2011, 08:52 AM
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It's possible you're going through some withdrawl symptoms. There's evidence that fatty, sugary, salty foods are addictive. And if that's what you've been eating regularly and now you quit "cold turkey" you might be experiencing withdrawls. Some people call this "detox."

News stories on this topic:
http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/03/28...ain/index.html
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/junk...-drugs-9083294

Here's the thing to remember about withdrawl symptoms: they will decrease in frequency, duration, and intensity. For some addictions, they will completely go away. For others, they will go away enough that they are very manageable.

You CAN do this. It feels hard right now but you CAN get healthy and you CAN change your life.

Some options:
1. Reduce instead of eliminate. You may want to "wean" yourself off the most unhealthy foods by choosing healthier options of them until you're ready to completely remove them. For example, continue to eliminate cholesterol from your diet right now but don't worry too much about plant-based saturated fats at the moment. In a month or so you should revisit that idea and reduce your total saturated fat intake to a healthy level.

2. Distraction. If you can focus on work or school instead of food right now that can help you change your habits.

3. Change your triggers. You may need to avoid certain people, places, or things that trigger your addiction. Make sure people understand that it's not personal, you just need to include more healthy things in your life.

4. Don't give up. If you backslide, just dust yourself off and try again. Most people who successfully quit unhealthy habits have a relapse or two. It's normal and it doesn't mean you're doomed to failure. It just means that being healthy takes practice.

5. Affirmations. You may want to put some post-it notes around your house that remind you that you're a good person and you're worthy of a healthy life. Whatever motivates you to eat well, write it down and remind yourself of it!

Those are just some tips that might help. You can search the web for more info on quitting addictions and learn lots of good stuff. Remember, you CAN do this!
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#8 Old 11-16-2011, 09:47 AM
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Hi Kari!
I've been a vegetarian about 5 months now and a few weeks ago decided to go vegan. Bad idea. I wasn't ready for it and felt tired and annoyed quite a bit. I want to go vegan because i want to lose weight too and from all the things i hear about dairy on the vegan section of this forum...i know cutting it out is the best for weightloss. But i'm not quite ready yet. I have started by cutting out eggs so i'm now lacto veg. It's going pretty well and really.. If you think about it...eggs are chicken periods. Everytime i think of scrambled eggs i think of gooey chicken menstruation and my cravings disappear. Blegh. In a few months i'll try giving up cow Mammary secretions as well.

Have you tried veggie burgers and sausages? You have no idea how fun veg*nism can be if you havent tried them! I HIGHLY recommend fry's vegetarian chicken stlye strips and hotdogs. SO yumy! its easy when you learn to make the same meals you ate before, by tweaking things a bit. You can have veggie burgers but pile them up with coloufu veggies (subway style). I had a friend who would make thebest meals when we went over and when i asked her for some meal ideas she told me that colouful food makes you excited to eat. I really do believe that The more colour i have on my plate, the happier i am to stuff my face with it.

Also, like elaineV said... I think you might need a distraction. Get your friends to do things besides going ut to eat. If your friendships revolve around food, get them to come over to help bake healthy vegan cookies/cakes(like someone above suggested). Also, don't watch masterchef while you're home alone. That how makes me eat. A lot.

I also walk a lot to lose weight. I can't run yet but what i do is that i go on goole maps and plan out my walks (40 mins/ day), a slightly diff route each day. I also eat porridge for breakfast and drink green tea a lot. Green tea assists in weight loss.

Diabetes sucks. It runs on both sides of my family and my parents (who are vegetarians for 17+ years now are WAY healthier then their siblings). I want to be just like them. It's one of the reasons i decided to go vegetarian besides not wanting to be responsible fr the death of helpless animals for my tastebuds (go soy burgers!!!).

It's possible, kari. Hang in there. The first week i went vege, my body went nuts. I was sick all the time and yea..gassy too. It WILL get better. You go girl! Losing weight is a wonderful feeling! Once you lose the first few kilos and you'll see
what i mean!

Also, it helps when i keep logging on to veggieboards for motivation. "hanging around" other like minded people from all over the world keeps me focussed and not want to give up. So keep logging on! I hope you feel better soon!

Giraffes are awesome.
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#9 Old 11-16-2011, 10:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Karilynn; View Post

I'm also very addicted to sugar - cookies, cake, brownies, chocolate, etc. This addiction has progressively gotten worse throughout the past few years and now I can't go a day without eating a brownie/cookie/piece of cake/etc
.

The good news is, as a vegan, you don't have to live without these things, but you can learn to cook healthier vegan versions of your old favourites. Perhaps limit them to one day a week.

m8itcanw8.com
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#10 Old 11-16-2011, 12:06 PM
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Wow. Thank you, all of you, for the advice and words of encouragement. You are all amazing! I feel so much better. Last night was ROUGH. I actually broke down and had a small bowl of cocoa pebbles (vegan friendly - looked it up lol) with some almond milk. I really like the almond milk! It is delicious. After I had a little sugar, I felt worlds better. I wonder if I am dealing with a sugar withdrawal? I'm going to check out the recipes for vegan brownies/cookies. Of course, I need to really limit this stuff because the biggest reason I am doing this is for my health, to lose weight, and to lower my blood sugar and fight off diabetes.

A friend of mine suggested that I slowly wean myself off of dairy. I have such a hard time slowly doing anything. I guess I did slowly get myself overweight and unhealthy, so the road to turning that around is going to be slow as well. When I quit smoking 5 years ago, I stopped cold turkey and I had nights just like last night where I wanted to call the whole thing off. But I did it and I know I can do this. It HAS to get easier. I'm sure my body is in shock. I think what I did wrong was not eat enough for dinner. I had some rice, nuts, an apple with peanut butter, a banana, some cucumber and snap peas. Granted, this would probably be a meal for someone, but my stomach was not at all satisfied. I got some morning star veggie chicken patties - maybe I should have had one of those with a piece of bread with my rice? It's funny because physically I didn't feel hungry, but mentally I did. My mouth felt hungry - that makes no sense, but I swear that is how it felt. My stomach also just felt SO uncomfortable, not hungry, just awkward, like I ate a giant rock and it was trying to digest it.

Well, today begins day 3. I feel better today. I'll check out some of the stuff you guys suggested like the vegan ice cream and making smoothies with fruit and vegan cocoa powder. Also, I will find ways to distract myself. I think I might keep a journal or a blog.

Thanks again everyone. I will keep you all updated!
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#11 Old 11-16-2011, 12:09 PM
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Hi Kari!
Im pretty new to being a vegetarian, I slowly transitioned over the past three or so months, and then a month ago I became a vegetarian (no meat or fish, but i still eat dairy and eggs). Im slowly cutting out dairy products.. Im not buying regular milk anymore, and have switched entirely to soy and rice. Why not try cutting things out a little more slowly?

Definitely distract yourself! Go out with friends, go for a walk, read a book, go the gym. Do something you love!

Like what everyone else said, treat yourself to vegan versions of your favourite treats. I really liked the chocolate banana smoothie someone posted earlier. In fact you dont even need to freeze the banana if you dont want to wait - just throw a banana, soy milk, a couple ice cubes and some chocolate powder into the blender & voila! Another you can do is try to to bake yourself some delicious vegetarian treats. This my FAVE banana muffin recipe - http://www.catcancook.com/awesome-banana-muffin-recipe/ Just leave the egg out, and use four to five bananas (if you want it really moist you can also add some apple sauce), and then just leave the sugar out entirely. The bananas will make it sweet enough. You can also add some cinnamon to make it feel like youre eating something sinful It also works well with whole wheat flour.

If youre REALLY craving junk try a veggie burger, there are lots of great options in stores, or you can even make your own (I havent tried making my own yet, but Im working up to it). Lots of restaurants also have veggie burgers now, so treat yourself to one every now and then. Though I wouldn't want to eat them on a regular basis.

You might also want to try a website like www.sparkpeople.com to track nutrients and make your getting enough fiber.

Good luck! Take it easy on yourself, and maybe try taking it a little more slowly.
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#12 Old 11-16-2011, 01:18 PM
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If you want some ice cream, the Purely Decadent (made by So Delicious) soy ice cream in Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough is reaaaally good. I also do the frozen banana thing, but I use my food processor to do it. It comes out like soft serve.

The best soy yogurt, in my opinion, is Whole Soy or Trader Joe's.
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#13 Old 11-16-2011, 02:31 PM
 
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Just another vote of confidence and to say that taking it gradually is often easier. For most folks, ceasing dairy's going to cause more trouble than dropping meat, as far as physical symptoms, so maybe start vegetarian and then work from there? Try not to fall into the trap that many of us do though, by eating more cheese as a sort of meat replacement. It will make the transition harder, but the cheese is also loaded with calories/fat...which won't help so much with your weight loss goals.

I'd be careful too about eating too much processed, faux-meat sort of stuff. There's not anything wrong with veggieburgers, etc. but they can often times have lots of preservatives in them, so if you overload your system with them, plus increasing your soy intake...it can lead to headaches and gastro-intestinal troubles. Whole foods are best!

Be sure to get plenty of water, as getting even slightly dehydrated will make any symptoms you're suffering worse. Also, try your best to do the "small, regular meals" thing. Keeping your blood sugar on a pretty even keel will help both with weight loss and any mild hypoglycemia that you might have.

On the weight loss front, you might try investigating/reading more about emotional eating, just to help you feel like you can gain control. I used to be a *big* girl (300lbs+), and still struggle with emotional eating frequently. There's a book called Love Hunger, written by the people who run the Minirth-Meier clinic, that I found helpful. It's been awhile, but I remember there is a bit of a Christian perspective in there, but a lot of other information too, if Jesus ain't your thang.

Definitely keep posting, whether about struggles with vegetarianism/veganism or weight loss. There are a lot of us at VB who've "been there" and will help however we can.

The ones I pity are the ones who never stick out their neck for something they believe, never know the taste of moral struggle, and never have the thrill of victory. - Jonathan Kozol
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#14 Old 11-16-2011, 03:36 PM
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Hi Kari! Welcome to what may be the best way to stay veg*n! Veggieboards!

I understand your frustration. I stayed lacto-veg for the first year- really didn't sweat the egg ingrediants too much either, before banning cheese. It's such a shock to learn the real extent that slaughterhouse remains are used in almost everything! Giving up meat was easy for me, but the cheese, and the eating of stuff without thinking about it wasn't so easy!
You first need to realize that what you're eating today, and for the next few months, will be different than your normal diet six months- one year- from now. It's a complete change up of what you think meals are, what makes up things you like, how you combine food, and how you cook. I ate a lot of sameness the first few months, and suffered through recipes that just didn't quite come together as they should.

Heres a great inspirational read:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...fix=crazy+sexy

vegweb.com for tons of recipes-and reviews.
Amazon.com for vegan books (with that great "look inside" feature!)
veganhealth.org
and of course Forks over Knives- book or movie.

keep it up, and if you need to take it slower just set limits for what you'll still allow yourself while learning what foods can replace that need.

Btw, I hated nutritional yeast my first year. Still can't say it anything "cheese" like, but now I have acquired a taste. Tastes do change

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good
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#15 Old 11-16-2011, 11:01 PM
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If you are having sugar cravings, you can try the following for a sugar fix:

1) Have a baked apple, stuffed with an oat, flour and nut mix (a little bit of water and oil too to soften) (be sure to add a bit of cinnamon/spice to it)... what you do is core the apple completely and stuff with the mixture. You dont need much oil as the apple juices will soak into the core while baking. Bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes at a medium temperature until the apple skin gets all soft and soggy looking and the oat mix is browned on top.

2) Oatmeal is good for a sugar fix, just dont have too much sugar. And remember to wait for it to cool (dont be like me and burn your tongue on it.. : ) )
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#16 Old 11-17-2011, 08:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Karilynn View Post

I think what I did wrong was not eat enough for dinner. I had some rice, nuts, an apple with peanut butter, a banana, some cucumber and snap peas. Granted, this would probably be a meal for someone, but my stomach was not at all satisfied. I got some morning star veggie chicken patties - maybe I should have had one of those with a piece of bread with my rice? It's funny because physically I didn't feel hungry, but mentally I did. My mouth felt hungry - that makes no sense, but I swear that is how it felt. My stomach also just felt SO uncomfortable, not hungry, just awkward, like I ate a giant rock and it was trying to digest it.

Sounds like it might have been an odd combination of foods for dinner - that can sometimes throw your stomach & digestion off (including gas ) Try having a meal with a whole bunch of veggies - raw or steamed - with your rice, and a tasty sauce/dressing. Having fruit with your meal can really make it hard to digest your food. And having a big plate of veggies might help your mouth feel satisfied and maybe more mentally satisfied too. Then if you need it, try the baked apple with cinnamon someone else suggested for dessert a little bit later.

ooo, and a journal is a great idea!! for your thoughts, but if you write down what you eat during the day and then write down how you felt (digestion, energy, sleep, mood, etc) it'll help you see how different foods affect you - both positively and negatively. You can start to pick up on patterns and adjust your meals to make you healthier and happier

Feel free to check out my videos on how to make healthy and delicious vegan meals at www.HealthyVeganRecipes.net
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#17 Old 11-18-2011, 01:33 AM
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Congratulations on making such a smart decision! By going vegan when you are pre-diabetic, you have the opportunity to stop the progression and never become a diabetic. Your pancreas will thank you! Best wishes to you in your transition
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#18 Old 11-18-2011, 10:58 AM
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How have the past few days been? Is it getting any better?

Remember, slip ups are okay - we're human, and they're going to happen. You just have to keep on trying!
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