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Friday, 10 February 2012

Aching For Some Bacon?

Most people, when I tell them I'm vegan, can pretty quickly tell me of the one or two foods that they  simply could not give up.

Steak.

Cheese.

Mochas.
(That was me)
Corn chips.
(...umm, you can still eat them.)
Beer.
(...Do you even know what a vegan is?)

Two things are involved here: the first is habitual eating, which are statements that begin with,
"I always..." or "Whenever..."

"I always have a steak once a week with mates from work."
"Whenever I'm bored, I eat chocolate."

These are the actions that require no thinking, and just eating. Breaking these habits takes time, which is why I wouldn't suggest anyone try a vegan diet for less than three weeks, but if adequate substitutes are replaced consistantly, soon your mind will do the work for you. It will retrain itself to make the connections between the trigger and food you allow yourself to eat. Habitual eating, once changed, is easily maintained.

Number Two reason for Foods I'd Never Give Up is cravings. You know the ones... where all you want in the world is that piece of gooey soft cheese. Or a hot chocolate. Or a chunk of red meat.

Give me that chocolate, and no one gets hurt!!

Should we practice extreme self-denial in these situations and block our ears to the evil inner voice whispering of culinary delights....?
Actually, I don't think we should.
Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?
Yeah, nah, I don't.
And this is why.

THE ILL-FOUNDED THEORIES OF ONE PRACTISING VEGAN

This heretical notion is based on the idea that your body will know what it's lacking and try to communicate it to us. It's like Lassie, trying to get us to come help, except, most of the time, we aren't fluent in Dog.

What is it, Lassie?

We pick up the signal that something is wrong, but we go about fixing it incorrectly.
And here's my theory.

If you crave....

Chocolate, candy, exceptionally sweet items...
... your body is really wanting vitamins.

SOLUTION: Want sweets? Cut up red and orange and yellow capsicums. Carrots. Oranges. Tomatoes.
(Add leafy greens to the little salad and you are set).
Eat a good portion size of this and if, once you have finished you still want chocolate, go for it.
 If you are starting as a vegan and allowing yourself some slack, then sure, grab cows' chocolate.
Otherwise another option is soy chocolate. It's not as good as cows' (IMO) but hey, it's sweet.
And that's what you want, right?

Milk products...
... your body is wanting protein.
Nom Noms.
SOLUTION: The best thing you can do, expecially if you crave this at similiar times each day, is to include a little more protein in the meal before (it'll keep you fuller for longer).
Quick sources of protein are nuts and seeds, but lentils also don't take too long to cook, and up the portion size for beans and chickpeas in your next prepared meal.
Also, soy milk. Almond milk. Oat milk. Rice milk. Hazelnut milk.
(Cue: Meet The Parents - "Oh, you can milk just about anything with nipples"
.. only, cross out the nipples bit and replace it with any plant-based product)

Red meat...
... your body is craving iron.
SOLUTION:.... eat more leafy greens? *cowers*
Okay, don't hate me for saying it again, but leafy greens are pretty much the winners in life.
The darker the leaf, the more iron.
Also, get in the habit of throwing added extras into your food:
Sun-dried tomatoes.
Pepitas!!
Sesame seeds!!
Sunflower seeds.
Dried Apricots.
Make sure to eat these while eating some vitamin C at the same time and this will help your body absorb to maximum effect (Orange Juice, capsiums, dark leafy greens)

Also, even though it's vegan, if you crave...

Corn chips, hot chips...
... your body needs carbohydrates!
SOLUTION: Get the good stuff into you.
Up on the whole grain everything, down on the refined bleached groups.
I am of the opinion that carbs are great and incredibly essential to a healthy lifestyle,
so cutting out carbs altogether will start up the cravings for the bad stuff.
And, I don't know about you, but I don't think I have enough self-control to walk past a fish and chip shop
when I'm starving for hot chips.

So there it is. If anyone would have trouble giving up cows' chocolate, it would be me. And, for awhile it was.
But it gets easier. I started listening to my body more, adjusting my vegan diet to experiment with satisfying my cravings, and that's what I got.

So, do yourself a favour -
listen to your body
 and fill up on the good stuff.

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