Monday, May 16, 2011

I Kissed Dairy Goodbye

I took a 7-day Vegan Challenge with a friend last week.  We were just looking to take some time out to be more conscious of our food, and implement some specific discipline, for the benefits of discipline.

Eating a fully Vegan diet (a plant-based diet- no meat, no dairy- no food that came from an animal) was not a challenge at all for me- nearly all of what we eat before dinner time is Vegan anyway.  So to step it up, I also tracked every ounce of everything I ate and drank for the week, to chart nutrients, and to be sure I met my personal dietary goals.  I should mention that I did eat honey as contained in my Kashi Honey Almond Flax, and on the last day I made some Black Bean Brownies, which did have eggs in them.  Also, on Saturday our refugee family came over and we made cinnamon rolls together- which had cream in the icing and some in the dough.  I ate some, because refusing to eat would have been strange, and bordered on being a Pharisaical Vegan.  Challenge or not, not worth it.

Now a week later, the challenge is over.  We'll still eat in much the same way as before, but I've kissed dairy goodbye for good.  I went to Africa last December.  About halfway through the trip, I noticed I was feeling really, really great.  It was hard to describe, but, it was like I felt some sort of extra inner energy- I just felt especially "good".  I thought of what I'd been eating, and the one thing missing was dairy.  Other than some cheese on a pizza one time, I'd not had any dairy of any kind for well over a week.  Dairy has never made me sick, but I wondered if I should try to eat less of it when I got home.  Slowly, I've been leaning out of dairy.  No more cream in my coffee, almost no milk, very little cheese.  V-Week sealed it for me.  Dairy doesn't make me "sick", but,  I feel amazing when I haven't had any for a while.  I tried to investigate why online.  The best I could find was that, while some people are intolerant to the point of being ill with dairy, others just have a harder time digesting it, and it slows their body down.  I think that might be me.  I always noticed that ice cream especially made me feel sort of sluggish, but always attributed it to the sugar.  So, thanks to my little Elisabeth Hasselbeck-Survivor-like experience in Africa, I realized Dairy was not loving me back.  I will still eat eggs for dinner once a week, like we've always done, and have them in baked goods, etc- but milk-based things, I'll avoid.

I love soy milk, and this coconut milk, and my kids do too.  We'd always done milk twice a day- breakfast and dinner, with water at lunch- and now they love the alternatives so much, they're drinking soy at breakfast instead.  So far I can't see that any of them have aversions to cow milk, but, it did take me nearly 30 years to realize I had one, and I am happy to give them a variety.

Nutrition.  A plant-based diet.  The first thing people ask is where you'll get protein, iron and calcium.  I charted every single thing I ate for the week- and I didn't eat anything strange- just good, "normal" plants and plant-based foods- and these are my numbers, averaged over 7 days.  When the bar hits 100, I've had the recommended daily allowance.  I do take a Vitamin D/Calcium supplement that gives me 100% of the Vitamin D and 80% of the Calcium I need in a day- keep that in mind. 

Eating plants ONLY, and nothing "weird", here are my numbers for an average day...

Remember that leafy green vegetables- Spring Mix, broccoli, etc, are SUPER foods, FULL of good things like Calcium, Iron, Fiber, and Vitamins A and C.  Just a few servings per day cover so many needs (I love them, my kids happen to LOVE them, and my husband tolerates them well). 

I really, really loved using this free food log.  I loved it so much that I'm committing to using it faithfully through the end of May, and by then, the next goal would be to use it through the end of the summer.

A few other things...

1.  I really like warm soy milk.  We drink a lot of steamers at home- steamed milk with some Torani syrup.  Warming a cup of vanilla soy milk in the microwave is an ultra-fast and easy alternative.  Also, take a cup of that same vanilla soy milk, heat it in the microwave for about 1.5 or 2 minutes, add 2 teaspoons of quality instant espresso powder, and you have a super-simple and good vanilla latte.

2.  You know about Black Bean Brownies, right?  I made these yesterday-  I did use carob chips for chocolate chips, but that's up to you, and they are great-  just try it.

Have a sweet week, everyone.


Eva said...

glad you're feeling better. but i thought you LOVED milk. i remember in college you saying you wanted a huge glass of it. i love milk, but it doesn't make me sick.

Ashley said...

Way to go! I'm on the other end ... Dairy makes me sick, although not in the "usual" way -- I get heartburn like WHOA if I don't keep a careful eye on how much I consume. (I was the only 10-year-old I knew who would turn down ice cream because she'd had a cheese sandwich for lunch.)

It's amazing how much difference even a small change in your diet can make! I've been cutting back on meat (following Michael Pollan's rule -- "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.") and it's ... well, a little alarming how differently I feel.