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Feeling “Full” on a Plant-Based Diet

A friend of mine recently asked me if it was normal to feel hungry a little while after eating a meal based mostly on vegetables. She made a vegetarian pizza at home to be exact. I always welcome questions like this because it gives me an opportunity to share what I have learned over the past few years about what it means to be healthy and so on.

Also, with veganism on the rise, you may be wondering, “How can anyone feel satisfied on a diet of plants?” I’d love to help you with this question!

Plants Are Satisfying!

If you are starting out on a plant-based diet, or are just adding more vegetables while minimizing animal protein as my friend is trying to do, you may feel like you aren’t quite full after you eat, or even a little while later. I like to compare it to this. Remember a few years back when everyone drank whole milk? Then all of the sudden health headlines stated we should be drinking skim milk instead-so many people switched to that. When you first switched, the skim milk probably tasted very watery. But your taste buds adjusted and so did your body. Then, did you ever taste whole milk again after getting used to skim? If so, you probably thought it tasted too heavy-like cream, and couldn’t imagine how you ever drank it before. So that’s a good analogy for the change that you might feel.

More importantly, make sure you are eating enough. One of the most common things that people new to plant-based diets do is not eat enough. Don’t limit yourself. Eat until you are really satisfied. 400 calories of meat compared to 400 calories of vegetables adds up differently, as shown below. So eat up! That’s one of the beauties in this lifestyle; you don’t have to count calories if you are simply eating a diet based on beans, vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, and seeds! Come on, did you really think you were destined to be counting calories your entire life? Nah, not necessary.

veg-stomach

Also, it is very much worth noting that feeling “full” on a plant-based diet is different than feeling full eating the standard American diet. Since moving to a plant-based vegan diet, I have noticed how much lighter I feel after meals versus when I was also eating dairy. So going from eating meat, dairy, and processed foods to eating whole food plant foods will feel very different for you. I used to not feel “full” until I was uncomfortable, stuffed, and tired, sitting on the couch-done for the night. Now when I eat, I feel satisfied and still have energy afterwards! There is a real reason for this. Your digestive system is built to break down starches, natural sugars and complex carbohydrates. It is not set up to digest animal protein. Therefore, when you eat animal protein, it takes a lot longer for your body to process it along with a lot more energy focused on it. Plants tend to make a quicker “exit”, as you will notice. This is a great thing that you will come to enjoy, as crazy as that may sound right now!

Hunger Can Be Mental – Pay Attention

The feeling of being hungry is not only physical for most people, but also mental and emotional. We want to eat when we are happy, when we are sad, when we are watching a movie, when people around us are eating, etc. Food is not just a need today, but a want-and we are used to indulging whenever we may feel the slightest “hunger” coming on. So, first and foremost, know that it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust to a diet change. Be aware that you’ll have cravings and may feel odd at times. A certain amount of detoxing occurs when you stop eating the bad stuff and start eating the good stuff. It is normal to experience headaches and cravings when transitioning. Don’t worry, you’ll feel better than ever after a few weeks. Some people experience no detoxing effects and just start to feel great immediately. Everyone is different. I suggest you get to know your body and pay attention to the signals it sends you. Typically, true hunger comes on quite quickly and feels more like a need. Try to learn to pay attention to yourself to figure out if your hunger is real or if it’s more emotionally-charged.

Tips

1. Along with fresh veggies, be sure to eat whole grains (brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, etc), beans, potatoes and other starchy vegetables. Complex carbs are your friend!

2. Eat variety. Explore different fruits and vegetables. The more variety, the more you broaden your taste palette. You’ll eat more once you discover of all the wonderful flavors out there that you haven’t yet experienced. You’ll also develop a true appreciation for the real flavors of vegetables because they won’t be covered in butter or cheese. You’ll be shocked, I promise! 🙂

3. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This goes without saying as an all-around health tip, but it is worth paying attention to. Here is a simple indicator for you-if your urine is clear, you are hydrated. If it is yellow, drink more water!

4. Eat enough! Don’t make yourself uncomfortable or anything-but don’t limit yourself the same way you may have in the past with food. This is a guilt-free zone from now on!

5. Buy a plant-based cookbook! There are TONS of great ones on the market today! Check out Happy Herbivore, Engine 2 Diet, Eat Vegan on $4 A Day, Forks Over Knives Cookbook, The Vegan Table, Dr. McDougall, Veganomicon, the list goes on!

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goodbye, headaches!

There is this one moment that every vegan has, I think. Or so I have read. That moment when you realize how much the change of diet has affected you positively. Ever since switching from vegetarian to vegan 3 months ago, I have been waiting for that moment. Well people, I finally had it!

You see, I used to get horrible headaches regularly. Like, a few times a week type of regular.  And as much as I hate taking medicine, I would always reach for the Tylenol. Even when I would try to stick it out, I would always end up popping 2 tylenols at a time just to numb the migraine pain.

So, back to my life-changing moment. The other night, my boyfriend turned to me and said “its been a while since you had a headache.” And BAM, my socks were knocked off. “It HAS been a while!” I screamed as suddenly it all hit me.

Chris and I moved to Memphis in August, and I became a vegan in September. I honestly say that I have never had a headache while living in Memphis, (well, there was that one time I drank one wine glass too many, but thats not what we are talking about here ;))  In fact, I don’t think we even have Tylenol in the apartment. But I wouldn’t know, because I have yet to even think about taking any.

Y’all, this is huge. You have no idea how happy realizing this made me! It has been amazing living headache free – and cruelty free! 🙂

And its not just me who has had this revelation! I’ve done a bit of googling and came across several others saying how they used to constantly have headaches and no longer do since becoming vegan.

What about you guys? Any similar situations with headaches? Or anything else? I’m so curious to hear what changes others have noticed about themselves once they became vegan.

– Jenn


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Halloween! give PEAS a chance! & a Bloody Mary!

So this past weekend we went to The Voodoo Music Experience in New Orleans AKA Voodoo Fest! The last few years it’s taken place on Halloween weekend, which is perfect because it’s just so appropriate for New Orleans. We house a city of music-loving, festival-going, animated freaks and this just gives us all a place to go listen to music, eat some awesome food, and dress up! Luckily for me, when it comes to food, New Orleans has gotten way better at accomodating veggie-sauruses! I was able to grab some yummy veg. black beans and yellow rice, topped with cilantro and jalapenos, and also some hummus and pita bread. So all was well in the magical world of VooDoo. Jason and I went with my brother, Dusten and his girlfriend Mariam. It was a blast! Jason dressed as a sock monkey, and Dusten and Mariam tag-teamed it as the late Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love. They all looked awesome and tried to get into character for pictures! I decided to make my own costume. I dressed as a giant hippie pea pod and held a sign that said “give PEAS a chance”! This went over so well at VooDoo! People all over were wanting to take my picture or have their picture taken with me. My ego was officially boosted! I even got used to it and as soon as people took pictures, I fell in step and did my signature peace sign/hold the sign up quick pose! I got to hear stories about people who loved peas and also one about a guy’s roommate who hates peas so much so he wanted my picture to send to him to help him change his mind. I was a therapist pea pod in some cases. You wouldn’t believe you could actually have multiple conversations a day about how people feel about peas. Also, puns were flying all over the place between me and my brother. We kept saying things like “Man, I have to PEA!’ and if anyone got rough, I’d say something like “Stay away, I’m a PEAceful Pea!”and other ridiculous fun things like that-all day-we couldn’t stop.

At one point, while walking, we came across the Jolly Green Giant! So I had to take a picture with him! People stopped and saw us posing together and started taking pictures of us as well! Oh the life of a celebrity pea pod…

And then, I spotted my soul mate! The carrot! So I took a photo with her as well! And THEN we spotted my husband’s sister-in-law, Lisa. She was dressed as a supermarket meat inspector! So here’s a photo of her inspecting my innocent little peas while I look afraid haha! Love it. Too perfect!

Well, I figured I would leave you off with a Bloody Mary that my husband made for me last weekend. That ties into New Orleans and also scariness (bloody mary) so we’ll go with that to end this post! I recently realized (thanks to my sister and co-blogger, Jenn) that a lot of Bloody Mary mixes and worcestershire sauces have anchovies in them. So, when we wanted bloody mary’s last weekend, I had to find something without. And I found Smirnoff! No sign of fishies there! And we just left out the worcestershire sauce. Oh and the okra, olives, and green beans are all local New Orleans brands! And the glass it’s in is our local Mignon Faget 🙂

Here’s how we did it!

  • 3 parts Smirnoff Bloody Mary Mix
  • 1 shot of vodka if you want to add alcohol, mine was a virgin Mary hehe
  • cracked pepper over the top
  • a dab of olive juice
  • olives, pickled okra, and spicy pickled green beans to your liking

Shaken, not stirred.

Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

-Kelli the Pea Pod