Monday, January 18, 2016
Belly Update: The Low-FODMAP Vegan Before 6?
It's been a while since I've posted a belly update. I guess the main thing I've discovered this past year is that I don't digest animal protein very well. I already knew eggs don't agree with me, but I soon found out that chicken doesn't either. Last winter I was eating my Chicken Noodle Soup everyday for lunch. And everyday after lunch, I would get nauseated and have to run to the restroom, despite the soup being low-FODMAP (I usually react to something that I ate 24 hours before, so I was reacting to the soup I had eaten the day before).
Around the same time, I decided to read the book Eat Vegan Before 6:00 by Mark Bittman. I also started following Dr. Michael Gregor's NutritionFacts.org on Facebook and was becoming more convinced that the vegetarian diet (and the vegan diet even more so) is the healthiest. So I thought I would give being vegan before dinner a try. I already usually eat a vegan breakfast, so all I had to do was stop eating animal protein at lunch. So I did. And my tummy discomfort went away. I've maintained this routine and continue to feel great.
I feel over the past few years I've been peeling back the layers of my IBS. Like the layers of an onion, if you will. (Ok, so maybe not the best analogy for this blog.....) On the top layer are the FODMAPs. I eliminated apples, wheat, beans, onions, etc. and my symptoms improved. The next layer were eggs. The final layer is reducing my animal protein intake. I only eat one serving a day. It has gotten rid of any lingering symptoms I had. And in fact, I am able to eat more FODMAPs than ever before. I've even started introducing legumes into my diet!
I just got done reading Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It by Dr. Garth Davis. It talks about what I've suspected for some time now: that protein is overrated. Especially animal protein. The more and more I read about diets, the more convinced I am that a plant-based diet is the way to go. Dr. Davis had IBS as well, and found that it cleared up on a vegan diet. Reducing FODMAPs certainly helped me, but discovering that animal protein was also contributing to my symptoms was like finding the final piece of the puzzle.
My husband and I are also reading these books and we highly recommend them (we are both huge readers, but admittedly not experts):
The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner
How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Gregor
Learning to Not Fear Carbs
It's interesting, when I first started blogging and trying to fix my digestive woes several years ago, I thought that low-carb and paleo was the way to go. Now I realize that most of the evidence the proponents of the low-carb and paleo diets use are cherry picked. I'm finding that the overwhelming overall evidence shows that eating more plant foods and less animals is the way to go.
I must not fear carbs! In fact, carbs makes my belly and mind feel good. They give me energy to do my depression-fighting work-outs. All that being said, I do think it's important to find the diet that works best for you. Especially if you have food sensitivities. I'm in no way an expert in diet or nutrition, but I do think that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and only minimal emphasis on animal protein is what makes most sense. For our health and the environment. And that's my two cents.
More Vegan Recipes
So what does this mean for my blog? For one thing, you will be seeing more vegan recipes. Low-FODMAP vegan recipes! I'll still be posting recipes with meat, chicken, fish, etc. since my husband and I do eat animal protein at dinner. But you'll see recipes that we've been enjoying for lunch that just so happen to be vegan. They feature tofu, veggies, whole grains and small amounts of legumes. I'm really excited to share them with you.
Eventually I think my husband and I will try to eat vegan even more often, but for now we are following the "Eat Vegan Before 6:00" approach. Only eating animal protein at dinner. And cheese. We can't forget my beloved cheese. Something I'm not sure I want to ever give up. We'll see. It's a journey....