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Loving God more. Loving others more. Living obediently in Christ.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Transitioning from the SAD diet to vegan diet

SAD, if you don't already know, is the acronym for Standard American Diet.  America doesn't have to take all the blame for the diseases of the rich.  Kings, Queens and Pharaohs of ages past have suffered chronic diseases from their rich diets.  Remember the Biblical account of Daniel when he and his friends chose to eat vegetables and water instead of the king's rich food?  After just ten days, they were found to be better in appearance than the other youth who were fed the king's food.  After three years, Daniel and the young men from Israel were found to be ten times better (than all the other youth) in wisdom and understanding (Dan. 1:20).

If you are making a transition to a vegetable based diet, I have to warn you that you may feel worse at first.  My experience was not too bad.  My allergic reaction to processed foods was much more uncomfortable to me than making the transition to a vegan diet; so, the effects of the whole plant-foods on my digestive tract were easy for me.

Gas  One of the most inconvenient reactions was the gas and bowel cleansing effects of the fresh and raw vegetables.  Again, this was more tolerable compared to the discomfort that I had from eating processed foods.  I had gas from processed foods, too, which was extremely painful and foul.  If bloating and gas is a problem for you in your transition, don't be concerned.  This reaction will settle down in a couple of days.  Fresh vegetables have living organisms (probiotic) that help your GI tract.  The new probiotics will wage war with the disease causing bad bacteria in your gut.  Gas is a natural consequence.  Consider it a detoxification reaction.  The increased fiber content of the vegetables are great pre-biotics (helping the good bacteria thrive) and offering a remedy to your sluggish digestion!  Bowels should move after every meal to prevent colon cancer, skin problems, and immune compromise.  Try a vegetable ferment or water kefir (fermented beverage - see link http://restoringhealththroughnutrition.blogspot.com/2012/10/vegetable-ferments-and-probiotics_27.html) to increase the probiotic benefits and relieve bloating.

One cause of bloating that is easy to do on a plant based diet is to combine vegetables with fruit in the same meal.  Leafy greens do not count.  Greens such as spinach or lettuces can be combined with berries or other fruits in smoothies or salads without causing gas.  However, when vegetables - for example: broccoli, green beans or asparagus - are combined with fruit, the sugar in the fruit is digested more quickly than the vegetables and fermentation begins to take place in the gut which produces a lot of "wind".

Insatiable Hunger  If you have been eating lots of restaurant or ready to eat processed foods, you have been consuming hidden MSG.  These additives are called glutamate (an amino acid used in high concentration to stimulate pleasure and overeating).  There is a period of detoxification that takes place when you stop eating glutamate.  The pleasure center of your brain has been desensitized, requiring more food to satisfy you.  For a few days, there will be times of intense hunger that will make you want the foods that have made you sick.  I encourage you to be prepared and not caught off guard for this 3-5 day period.  There is no reason to limit eating of healthy and nutritious foods.  The detox effect or toxic hunger is not real hunger.  There may be very little that you can do to relieve it even when you eat.  Dr. Fuhrman states in Disease Proof Your Kids , "Continual eating stops the discomfort, just like frequent coffee drinking stops the headaches from caffeine withdrawal."  If you eat continually to stop the hunger, the detoxing process will stop, too.  I suggest that you resolve and embrace the hunger feeling and believe that you will come out on the other side of the experience with a big WIN!
  •  Eat lots of whole food starches: potatoes, corn, rice, squash, sweet potato, oatmeal, or cornmeal at your main meals.  Have them cooked and ready to have for between-meal-snacks until you have worked through the transition.
  • Drink plenty of water to flush your system.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables so that you don't experience real hunger along with the toxic hunger.  This will ensure that your body is learning to respond positively to real nutrition. 
  • Limit or omit sugar and caffeine.  Both will stimulate hunger and cravings.
  • Fuhrman in his Disease Proof book listed the symptoms of toxic hunger: headaches, fatigue, nausea, weakness, mental confusion, abdominal and esophageal spasm, fluttering and cramping.
  • High fructose corn syrup really gets the hunger going.  Get it out of your house.  You will find it in condiments, dressings, yogurt, breads, pop, granola bars and so many more things.  Read labels!

Food Cravings  Again, the processed foods will have a hold on you for several days.  Eating those foods just to satisfy the craving will only prolong your transition.  Get informed about flavor enhancing additives in foods and learn to read the ingredients labels.  For a detailed explanation of the "drugging" of our food, go to my blog post on food additives - http://restoringhealththroughnutrition.blogspot.com/2012/11/food-additive-that-causes-mental-fog.html  

If you are having a craving or feeling weak try the following distractions:
  • Listen to an online lecture by one of the doctors who promote nutrition and vegetable based diets.
  • Find a healthy recipe that will help to replace the food you crave.  Try www.drmcdougall.com for recipes.
  • Talk to your support person or mentor for some encouragement.  If you are the only member of the family making this transition, it will be difficult but you can do it.  Look for a vegetarian society in your area or just start asking around for help - odds are high that someone you know will know a vegetarian.
  • The Vegetarian Society of Hawaii posts videos on YouTube.  Watch one of their meetings online for encouragement.      http://www.youtube.com/user/vshvideo?feature=results_main
  • Purchase or borrow some good books on nutrition as a distraction and motivator.  Some examples are Eat To Live, Dr. Fuhrman; The China study, T. Collin Campbell; or Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.
  • Anticipate a time when you will learn to recognize true hunger - felt in the throat like thirst.  According to Dr. Fuhrman, "True hunger is a subtle sensation, and when you feel it, almost any food tastes good and satisfies you."  This is also a physiological time because the digestive juices have been replenished and are ready to receive food again.
  • If you are spiritually fed, well nourished physically and have had your exercise, you have done well for the day.  Keep it up!
  • Don't go hungry!  Just eat something that is good for you instead of the foods from which you are trying to break away.
Chocolate, Cheese, Meat, Sugar - Physically Addictive  Dr. Neal Barnard, MD

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