Strange Things Are Happening to Me: 10 Days Vegan

The beautiful cover photo was found through The Bojon Gourmet, a recovering pastry chef, in her recipe for Green Noodle Soup (See it here)

Today is my tenth day of following a whole foods, plant-based vegan diet. Basically, I’m eating loads of fruits and vegetables, whole grains (mostly quinoa, oats and brown rice), legumes (mostly lentils and chickpeas) and some nuts and seeds (peanut butter, pecans, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, etc.) Some very unexpected things (good and bad) have been happening to me which I attribute to the diet change. So I’ll just jump right in.

THE GOOD

  1. My body dysmorphia… has vanished. I’m not kidding. And this is coming from a person who has had dysmorphic body image since she was twelve. After about 24 hours vegan, I looked in the mirror and was startled to see a thin face, thin back, a neck with tendons variously straining out… it was a far cry from the self that I normally perceive (fat, fat, fat). And it happened overnight. I’ve lost a small amount of weight so far, but in my mind, it looks as though I lost 20 pounds. It’s hard to explain, but for folks who have BDD or eating disorders, imagine suddenly seeing the body(part) you’ve been obsessing over all along… overnight. It’s exciting, and yet troubling, to realize that your body imagine may have been so incredibly distorted all along, and you didn’t even realize it.
  2. My cravings are also gone.   This is something that caught me off guard, since I really thought that I would be ravaged by cravings. And yet, I’m not. In fact, I haven’t been this craving-free in all my memory. Can you imagine seeing, or smelling a piece of hot pizza, and not yearning for it with your whole being? Or having a tray of warm cookies placed in front of you, and not taking at least one bite? I never could, and yet now… I am.
  3. I’ve lost several pounds rather quickly. I’ve been obsessively trying to lose a certain 4-5 pounds for almost a year now. Usually I lose one or two, then have a binge-fest and gain it back. I’ve dropped four pounds without even trying, and I feel really good. I haven’t been at this weight in over a year, and it somehow took far less effort than I was trying to give. 4 pounds in 10 days is a lot for someone my size, so I know that some of it is excess bloat from all the bingeing, and that the weight loss will level out and stop pretty soon. But it still is exciting.
  4. I’m wired. Maybe it’s coincidental, but I’ve noticed a sudden and dramatic increase in the amount of energy I have. I’ve been a lot more productive. It’s a huge contrast to how I’ve been living for the last 6-8 months, where I’ve been lethargic, sleeping a lot, and too fatigued to even change my clothes sometimes. It feels awesome. Plant-based? I’m not sure, but I’m hoping that’s the reason, and that it will continue.
  5. My blood sugar and energy levels have completely stabilized. This was another thing that I didn’t expect at all. I’m totally the type of person that gets super hungry between meals, snacks all day, eats every two hours, and has dramatic blood sugar drops where I get shaky and feel faint at least once a week. In the past 10 days, that hasn’t been the case at all. I’ve actually been satisfied and energized eating 3 main meals a day, without snacks in between. I’m going about 5-6 hours after a meal before I start getting hungry again, which amazes me. I’m also less hungry in the mornings, and am not having to eat until nine, ten, or even eleven o’clock in the morning, while in the past I would need to eat first thing.

 THE BAD

  1. My skin is breaking out. Chin, nose, cheeks, even my forehead (which is usually really clear). I don’t know if it’s residual from the massive grease-bingeing that I did earlier this month before I transitioned to plant-based vegan, but either way, since the ten days I’ve started I’ve noticed a lot of acne. I’ve read online and watched YouTube videos where this appears to be a common ‘symptom’ in the first couple of weeks, for unknown reasons (some people call it detox). They all say it goes away on its own in short order, so I’m banking on that and wearing a lot of makeup for now.
  2. I’m having a surge of digestive difficulties. Last week was the worst– tons of bloating and diarrhea. This week is a little bit better, although last night I had sharp stomach pains (the kind I used to have in high school and early college, when my digestive system would become inflamed for no known reason and become very painful). It could just be from the diet change, but I’m also looking in to whether it’s a nut allergy (I had an allergy test come back positive for a mild tree nut allergy, and I’m starting to think my increased consumption of almond milk and cashew bars has a lot to do with my worsened discomfort). I’m limiting nuts for now, and will have to keep testing to figure out what’s up.
  3. I’m having a hard time getting enough calories. And it’s not because I’m intentionally restricting, at least not consciously. It’s because I’m actually full. All the time. I can only eat so much brown rice and bok choy before I’m stuffed to the brim. I haven’t been actively counting calories (a miracle, I know) but in the evenings I have done a quick calculation for the day just to gauge where I am, and I’m coming in pretty low without trying to. I have lots of excess fat reserves, so I’m not that concerned, but I do need to keep in mind that I have to eat high-calorie plant foods like seeds and avocados. That’ll be tricky with the possible tree nut allergy.

 

That’s where I’m at now with my plant-based vegan diet. I need to sift out the nut allergy (or sensitivity) problem– I’m switching from almond milk to coconut milk, for one thing– and I need to be cognizant of getting enough calories in my diet. Otherwise, I feel like I’m really thriving on this diet, and I haven’t had the urge to binge or restrict once, in TEN DAYS. I can’t tell you enough how much of an anomaly this is for me, since almost every day for the last nine years has been dominated by the urge to binge, restrict, and purge. And at least for the last 10 days, I’ve been completely free of that.

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