I have to admit, this topic is a daily work-in-progress. For so many years, I ate truly unhealthy. Everything was processed, on the go, or from a restaurant. I put way too much coffee and cheese into my body - the result was not only weight gain, but dull hair and skin. Not to mention I didn't feel good on a daily basis. You are what you eat and beauty comes from inside out. I wanted to write a post about how I've managed to transition over the past year to a mostly vegan-gluten free diet.
- Pick one thing at a time to take out of your diet - I started with meat. Not only will your body adjust better if it's a gradual change, it's really hard to go from eating one diet to the next overnight. I started with meat and pork. I wasn't much of a steak eater to begin with, but I did have the occasional hamburger. Also, I only ate chicken or fish at one meal a day. Once that transitioned took place, I moved on to 1-2 times a week. Now, I only eat chicken or fish if there is not another option (like tofu) available.
- Gluten - I moved on pretty quickly to removing gluten. I'll be honest. At first, I kept forgetting that I was trying to be gluten-free. Gluten is really hard on the body to process, which means it takes more of your natural energy. Switch from flour to corn tortillas if you are at a Mexican food restaurant. Also, buy quinoa or rice pasta instead of gluten-pasta. There are so many options available, but these were the best for me. Also, for crackers - you can buy rice or almond flour crackers. I try to limit my intake all around of process foods, but these were helpful to have on hand for my family and when I had "cravings."
- Dairy - I have to admit, this one is the most difficult for me. I scaled back to only eating cheese at restaurants and buying organic yogurt. I held on to eating dairy as my main source of protein while eliminating the two above foods. Finally, it was D-day. I was prescribed antibiotics and couldn't have dairy 2-3 hours after I took the medication. I figured it would be easier to eliminate all together. So, switch to guacamole in place of your usual queso. (Here in Texas we eat a lot of Mexican food). Also, coconut milk or almond milk is a great substitute for milk or creamer. Don't forget to ask about dairy-free options when dining out.
Here are a few other tips and tricks:
- Restaurants - My go to places are Asian Food restaurants or places with really big menus. When my friends or family members ask me about eating out I usually say, "Something with a big menu." That way I can either order vegetarian/vegan, a salad and have something removed or a soup. Asian food includes very little dairy, and oftentimes have vegetarian dishes. Because tofu is a diet - staple, it's easy to find options at these types of restaurants. Finally, Happy Cow is a great app for find Vegan/Vegetarian.
- Don't Make it a Big Deal - I have to eat out a lot for business and found that 90% of places have salad on the menu. It's my go to, but call ahead if it's an unfamiliar restaurant or take a look at the menu online. That way, when you arrive it's not a big deal. Keep snacks in your car or purse like almonds or dried fruit. Eat a bite before you go into a place, that way if they only have salad - you have more variety and feel fuller. It's also important to make sure you have a snack in case you get hungry between meals. Remember, fruits and veggies process quickly - so you will initially be hungrier earlier. I plan ahead and keep a few non-perishables at my desk and in my car in case hunger strikes.
- Drink Tons of Water - It's so important for your all around health to have water. I drink a tall glass in the morning and evening (20 oz each time). Have a glass of water with each meal. Also, I drink tons of tea - green tea, chamomile at bedtime and various other blends. I prefer my tea hot, but every now and then go for a frozen green tea.
- Smoothies - I drink one every single day. Sometimes twice a day. Usually I do a smoothie for breakfast, but it really is a great way to get in a few extra servings of fruits and vegetables. They are also fantastic in the afternoons instead of loading up on caffeine (which I love coffee - so it's still a struggle...for real).
- Substitutes - Although nothing truly replaces amazing cheese for me, I do have substitutes for keeping it out of my kitchen. I buy non-dairy dips like hummus or make pesto for crackers or chips. I ask for soy milk at most coffee places instead of whole milk in my espresso. The key is to find your weakness food, and be prepared to face it. It's almost like you are coping ahead for each craving.
The results were simple - not only did my body slim down (without increasing my exercise), but I felt more energetic and my hair started to shine. I hope you enjoy this article - I would love to hear your substitutes or tips for this subject.