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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's my predicament:<br><br>
I decided to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle when I was in college, and after doing lots of research, I thought veganism was definitely for me. And I felt great about the ethical and health-conscious choices I was making. But here's the thing--I have always been very small (5'4" and 98-ish lbs), even before I went veg', and I also have IBS and a weak stomach. Trying out a vegan diet didn't work so well the first time--my weight fell to 88 lbs, my digestive tract went crazy, and I felt and looked awful. Clearly I wasn't doing things right.<br><br>
My parents were extremely concerned (which I completely understand--I was really sick), and they convinced me to return to a balanced omnivorous diet so my weight would return, my nutrition would improve, and my stomach issues would resolve a bit. And it worked pretty well.<br><br>
It's been a few years since then, and as I've maintained a fairly constant weight (anywhere from 98-102 lbs), I decided to go back to vegetarianism again, during this past holiday season. And I'm LOVING it. Eating well, getting lots of healthy calories, and feeling great. Aside from some dairy and eggs, I live a vegan lifestyle--I do not buy, use, or consume anything else that contains an animal product or by-product.<br><br>
I'm a grad student who's not making much money, so I'm living with my parents to save as much of my income as I can. They were not happy at all when I decided to adopt a vegetarian diet again, but they're actually coming around now that they can see how healthy and happy I am. But I know I'm not perfectly satisfied yet -- every time I eat something that contains dairy or eggs, I feel guilty because I know how interconnected the many facets of the animal industry are. Although I limit the dairy and egg products I consume, I'm afraid to cut them out completely because of how difficult it is for me to keep weight on, because of my stomach problems (foods with dairy/eggs help to balance out the traditionally high-fiber vegan diet), and because my parents are so concerned about my health.<br><br>
I keep a mental list of vegan-friendly foods that are high in calories and nutrition (I love legumes, avocados, bananas, potatoes, pasta/rice, V8 Fusion juice, milk substitutes, etc.) and I try to emphasize these items in my meals. Meat substitutes are okay every so often, but the significant processing associated with them contributes to my stomach issues, and I much prefer the taste and purity of whole foods -- but again, whole foods don't always sit well with me -- IBS. Also, I already take two medications daily for other medical reasons, so I really don't want to add anything else to my list.<br><br>
The bottom line is that I don't want to obsess about my food to the point where I'm no longer enjoying it. Obsessing leads to anxiety, which leads to more stomach discomfort, which makes me not want to eat, which does not lend itself well to a vegan diet and sufficient caloric intake. And not only do I want to maintain my weight, but I want to gain more weight -- my BMI is low. I should weigh about 110 lbs, and I've never weighed that much before.<br><br>
What are your thoughts? Have any of you guys been in a similar position? Thanks so much -- I know this is a really long post.
 

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Maybe I am seeing it from a simplified perspective, but if you consume little dairy and eggs, couldn't you drop them and replace the caloric intake through foods that you ALREADY know do not make your IBS worse? Dropping dairy and eggs does not necessarily mean experimenting with new foods.<br><br>
Also the best way to gain weight is to work out. Weight lifting. As your body breaks muscle tissue it replaces it with more and you gain mass. The friendly people over at veganbodybuilding.com will have plenty of tips on routines/diets that will help you gain weight.<br><br>
Finally, I think you should give this a thought, if you have always had trouble with keeping weight on, even as an omnivore, then the vegan diet is not the cause, which contradicts the your statement that dropping dairy and eggs is going to make it worse. It can also be psychological, as you worry about not losing weight your body actually reacts the opposite way and you lose weight, which sends you into a really bad cycle. Do not underestimate the power of the brain.<br><br>
I hope that helps, unfortunately I am not in a position in which gaining weight is an issue, keeping it off is! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, xplan303ex -- I'll keep these things in mind. And yes, weight lifting sounds like a great habit to re-adopt! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Doesn't dairy mess with your IBS? I just have one friend with IBS and she says dairy is the worst for her.<br><br>
Anyway, remember that it's about progress, not perfection. Do what you can, keep working towards cutting out more and more animal products and give yourself a break. In the mean time, do you have a local source for eggs? It's so much less cruel and they are ussually cheap. Good luck!
 

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I would make changes one step at a time. Perhaps by first cutting out dairy, replacing it with either almonds milk or soy milk. See how that goes for a couple of weeks/months. If that goes ok, you could cut out the eggs. If during that process something goes downhill for you again, you have a better understanding of what went wrong and how to counter it.<br>
Do you like to bake? How about getting yourself a vegan baking book - I'm sure the cupcakes and brownies etc will help maintaining or gaining some weight, and your parents might also appreciate the treats.. :].. Good luck.
 

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I would suggest replacing dairy with calorie-dense but also nutrition-dense foods like nuts and beans (and derivatives-- peanut butter, almond butter, hummus, bean burgers, etc).<br>
These will give you protein and fiber that you need.<br>
Eat small meals often to rack up calories throughout the day and to ensure you never get hungry.<br>
I would plan out a tentative eating schedule with options of food and calculate their calories and how many calories you need per day, and follow that for a bit until you get the hang of it.<br><br>
If you'd like me to help you with anything, feel free to PM me. :)
 

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Riot Nrrrd
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I've been 'underweight' for years. I feel best, and maintain weight best, when I eat in small portions throughout the day. I'll eat 2 relatively small meals, one at mid-day, one around 8 or 9 PM, a light breakfast in the morning, and a half dozen often substantial snacks throughout the day. It works well for me. If I try to squeeze my daily food intake in to the traditional breakfast-lunch-dinner I'm not able to consume anything close to an adequate amount.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, you guys are awesome. I've tried eating smaller-yet-calorie-dense meals throughout the day on many occasions, but due to my schedule, it's pretty tough. Something to work on, I suppose. As Tensai suggested, a gradual approach might the best idea, especially considering the IBS dilemma (I posted a related question today, actually). Ethics and health are my main objectives, and fortunately, they tend to coincide quite nicely! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D"> Wish me luck!
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>SadieP</strong> <a href="/forum/post/2835575"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Thanks, you guys are awesome. I've tried eating smaller-yet-calorie-dense meals throughout the day on many occasions, but due to my schedule, it's pretty tough. Something to work on, I suppose. As Tensai suggested, a gradual approach might the best idea, especially considering the IBS dilemma (I posted a related question today, actually). Ethics and health are my main objectives, and fortunately, they tend to coincide quite nicely! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/grin.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":D"> Wish me luck!</div>
</div>
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Good luck! Everybody had great suggestions! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 
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