Recovery of a No Excuse Mom: What I Learned from a Month of Vegan Eating

I spent the larger part of the last month eating a vegan diet and a lot of good things came from it.
First, let me say that my specific guidelines were as follows:
-A vegan diet consists of NO animal-based products. No meat, no dairy, no eggs, plus as often as possible, I ate organic.
-I cooked as many meals as I could from scratch with plant-based food choices.
-I limited the amount of sugars I ate, including no refined (table) sugar and limited addition of things like honey.
-I focused the majority of my meals around vegetables.
-I also cut out all gluten products, as this is something that is a problem area for me.
-I planned ahead and made meals that lasted a few days.
-I drank at least 90 ounces of water daily.

What I DIDN’T do:
-I didn’t count calories. I ate till I felt satisfied and munched on fruits or veggies when I was in a munching mood.
-I didn’t strive for perfection… I strived for consistency. I did veer off of the plan a few times, but never more than a tiny bit and always got right back on course.
-I didn’t focus of exercising. While I definitely exercised during the last month, my focus was more on my eating. My average was 2-3 workouts a week.

What were my results?
Well, first things first, I will answer the question probably everyone wonders. Did I lose weight? Yes. I lost about 2 pounds, which averages at ½ pound every week. While this is slow, it’s a very healthy amount to lose (and my weight loss has always been ridiculously slow). Also, for the fact that I didn’t count calories and barely exercised, I think this is phenomenal.
The next thing I noticed was that my skin because VERY clear. I have suffered from mild adult acne during my life – I don’t think there has ever been a time since my teenage years that I didn’t have acne. But my complexion cleared up beautifully.
On top of that…. I had energy. More energy than I have had in a while. I have been surviving on three cups of coffee a day and while I have no intention of giving up my coffee, I am down to my one cup in the morning.
Next, (TMI, BTW) I found my bowel habits to be very regular. I have had some problems with this, particularly linked to eating gluten/wheat. So it didn’t surprise me that increased fiber and plenty of water had this result.
The other thing that I learned is what were trigger times for me to eat… The most common times for me to want something sugary or to ‘binge’ eat because I felt super hungry was in the afternoon around 2pm (2pm slump, anyone?) and after I got home from work – before dinner around 5pm.
What I also realized is that I was BARELY drinking any water in these time periods.
So, I tried to increase my amount of water and reach for that instead of giving in to sugary cravings.
And it worked.
The more I paid attention, the more I noticed that my water intake seems directly related to almost all cravings that I have. And while I still have a ways to go to make it a habit to reach for water instead of food…. I think I am really onto something for myself.
The next thing I noticed is the foods I was craving… yes, a lot of them were sugary things that I might have reached for before… but I greatly missed two foods that are not in a vegan diet.
Eggs and yogurt.
Call me crazy, I could live without just about everything else. But I LOVE me some eggs in the morning.
I just might have splurged a couple of mornings… but I digress.
What did I love about veganism? Carbs. If I wanted an apple or oatmeal, I ate it. I credit the high amount of carbs for the amount of energy I had.
This year for me is all about finding out what works best for my body. For the next month I am shifting back to a more “normal” moderation style diet, but I am going to do what I kind of hate doing..
I’m going to count calories and macros.
I’m going to be honest, it’s time consuming, sometimes inconvenient, and can feel monotonous…
But tracking your food makes you extra Mindful of what you are eating, how much you’re eating and keeps you accountable.
Why would I choose to count calories when I just told you that I lost weight without counting calories…?
Because mindfulness and accountability are two things that I NEED.

So, one last thought…
Would I do a vegan diet again?
Potentially, yes. It had a lot of great benefits and I felt fantastic.
But I honestly don’t buy into it enough to do as an overall lifestyle. (Sorry Vegan friends!) I have never advocated for lifestyle changes that ditch entire food groups…and I love my eggs and yogurt…. I’m sure that comment will offend some, but that’s not my intention. Veganism just isn’t for me.