Meatless Monday: Transitioning to Plant Based Eating

I decided to make some important changes to my diet.  It just so happens that not everyone in my household was ready to make the leap to plant-based whole food eating, and it has been (and continues to be) a process.

I made many changes to the way I eat and view food about a year and a half ago.  With running and training, I began to understand that food is not only for entertainment, but is rather fuel for my body.  I started eating more lean meats, along with loads of fruits and vegetables.  I also decided to cut back the chemicals I was ingesting as much as possible.  This meant eating plain greek yogurt, versus a flavored alternative, and adding frozen berries rather than purchasing something chock full of artificial flavoring and preservatives.

These changes did me good.  I dropped 30 or so pounds, and started being able to run faster and train harder.  I continued to learn more about what’sin our food, how food is handled, and how different foods impact our bodies. The more I became educated, the harder it was to ignore the fact that the food we consume in the United States is below par, unsafe, and laced with fat and sugar to keep us coming back for more.

The weekend of my full marathon, an idea began to bounce around in my head. I had read several accounts of improved recovery for athletes eating plant based, and wanted to experiment with my own recovery.  The more I thought about it, the more I knew it was time to try cutting out all animal product from my diet.  I thought it was going to be difficult, restrictive, and socially alienating.  However, it was the opposite.

I do not miss the few old foods I have removed, and absolutely love having more fruits and vegetables.  My son, on the other hand, was not so welcoming to the change in foods at home.

At first, every meal was a grumble.  He would make comments under his breath, and ask me, “Why can’t we just eat healthy like we were?” Now, we are still in the transition phase (for everyone in the house, except for myself).  This means that they are basically, “vegan at home”.  I am no longer purchasing animal products, nor am I preparing meals that contain them.  However, this rule does not apply when away from home for my family.

My son has started to come around, now that we are several months into the transition.  He is now googling different vegan meal ideas that look good to him, and providing feedback/meal requests on a weekly basis.

This weekend, I was able to listen to Matt Frazier’s (NoMeatAthlete) most recent podcasts and they got me thinking.  Food should not be a stressor.  If we constantly worry about food, it becomes unhealthy.  When we create undue stress regarding our food, we end up disservicing ourselves rather than helping.

I have been overweight my entire adult life, and just now am I realizing how unhealthy my past relationship with food truly was.  I over indulged, consumed thousands of calories more than my body needed, and wondered why I was unable to lose weight.  I ate when stressed or bored or worried or studying or relaxing or anything.  I was able to break my addiction to the pleasurable feeling I received from both fat and sugar, and now eat when I am hungry and to fuel my runs and training sessions.

It seems like such an obvious revelation to me now, but it took me over a decade to comprehend what I was doing to my body on a daily basis through the foods I consumed.  And, I can’t even describe how much better I feel, on so many different levels.  My son is slowly coming around, and I don’t want to cause undue stress for him regarding food.  It makes me happy to see him embracing the changes we are implementing at home, by seeking his own ideas for meals.

Here I will share my son Ryan’s Recipe of the week:

Hummusapien’s Skinny Vegan Lasagna

I made another vegan lasagna recipe a few weeks before this one, and it was a major flop.  The kids did not like it at all.  This recipe, however, has been a repeat recipe and also requested to b doubled in size…by both children.  The replacement ricotta is genius, and honestly, it is nearly impossible to tell that this lasagna is vegan friendly with no meat or cheese.  It tastes like really good lasagna.

Check back next #MeatlessMonday for another one of Ryan’s favorite recipes!


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