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8.24.2012

It's Not That I'm Afraid of Cancer

It's just that I feel a little less invincible. At least, this is the way I've been trying to explain my recent "health kick."

My mother got back from CA yesterday, which means that today was DAY ZERO of our mostly vegan diet. I say "mostly" because chances are, if we are confronted by a piece of free, non-vegan birthday cake, or someone takes us out to a nice fish dinner, we are going to cave like dixie cups. But at least we are aware of our weaknesses. That's what counts, right?

I have spent my life sneaking food, afraid of the judgments I'd be faced with if caught with a Snickers bar or mouthful of peanut M&Ms. Turns out, people on the other end of the spectrum are judged just as harshly. The general reaction to my going on a six-week vegan diet has been that I have lost my marbles.

Honestly, I was one of the loudest protesters of this diet a few weeks ago. To me, veganism seemed just as unhealthy as one of those Hollywood liquid diets. But for all the reasons mentioned in my last blog, I have decided to give this a try.

It is one of the ways I am trying to fight cancer, which oftentimes feels like some omnipotent fate-weaving force, not to be looked at directly, nevertheless challenged. Cancer makes you feel vulnerable. It is a betrayal by the body you cannot escape.

The only way to beat cancer is to be healthy. This is not as paradoxical as it sounds. I have an unhealthy (missing, in fact) thyroid. But I have healthy legs because I ride my bike three times a week. I have healthy arms because I lift weights. I have been healthier on the inside because I have been eating whole foods and calorie counting. And I believe I will be healthier still after trying veganism.

Ultimately, both my Mom and I feel that the most important change to our diets that we can make will be reducing our intake of processed foods. And since meat and dairy are often hyper-processed by the time we consume them, they are to be avoided more than other foods. This is an experiment.

Today's experiment went like this:

Breakfast: 1cup of Cheerios with 1/2 cup of almond milk
Lunch: Orange Quinoa and Black Bean Salad
Snack: 2 Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (okay, 3)
Dinner: Another cup of Orange QBB Salad

So I think I did pretty well. Except for the whole giving in to my sweet tooth and making a batch of cookies thing.

My mom had a harder time because she didn't have time to cook and just had plain beans and rice to eat for lunch and dinner.

It tastes much better than it looks, I promise!
I've come to believe that all diet success comes down to spices. I love experimenting with flavors; the more flavor, the better. My QBB Salad was awesome, but only because I added a ton of flavor. This is actually the first time I've ever eaten Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa; I went around saying kwi-no-ah for days before people figured out what I was talking about). By itself, it is not that flavorful, close in consistency and taste to overcooked rice. But I added orange juice, chili powder, tumeric, salt, pepper, green onions, and Tony Chachere's and BAM--awesomeness.

Even my nay-sayer husband said it was delicious.

My downfall today came when I went to Whole Foods fifteen minutes before closing. This sent me into panic mode, which is never a good mode to shop in. I got the fresh fruits and vegetables on my list, some lentils, some millet (pronounced mil-it, unless you are French and then you can probably get away with mil-ay), more quinoa. But then I started just kind of snatching things off the shelf that said "vegan" on them.

I ended up with a bunch of processed vegan foods, which, if I had really thought about it, are not all that essential to this diet, but seemed like must-haves in my supermarket-sweepstakes moment.

Here is the rest of what I bought (the ones with stars by them were actually on my vegan essentials shopping list):
- Vegan Mayo * (I have had unpleasant experiences creating my own mayo when on the no-iodine diet; turns out I have an aversion to the smell of vinegar.)
-Vegan Butter * (I don't actually eat a lot of butter, but I figured I might need to cook with it and I certainly am not about to churn my own, even if it is made from soy.)
-Almond Dream No-Dairy Ice-cream (whoops)
-Gluten-free Organic Graham Crackers (I had a coupon and it didn't occur to me until later that regular graham crackers are vegan anyway.)
-Canned black beans (boo, canned food)
-Frozen mixed veggies * (fresh is wonderful, but goes bad too quickly)
-unsalted cashews *
-2 Amy's frozen burritos


So I guess I'm covered as far as vegan junk food goes. Sigh. It doesn't really make sense to cheat on my regular diet so I won't cheat on my vegan diet, but again, I plead sheer panic and flashy-label brainwashing. At least most of the junk I bought is junk that lasts forever. I'll start with all the fresh stuff.

Cheers to all you vegans for letting me hop your bandwagon!

I'll let you know how I'm feeling six weeks from now....

1 comment:

  1. Elaine10:02 PM

    Food For the Journey:

    As you age, your body becomes less and less reliable. I stopped eating processed food when I was told to strictly reduce salt intake after several bouts with vertigo. Then I realized I had a problem with lactose, so switched to lactose-free milk. My issues with digestion worsened and I began trying to discover which foods effected me. I tried a vegetarian diet which worked out well but didn't greatly relieve my indigestion. Then I tried to gradually increase to veganism. I switched to Almond milk in order to avoid dairy products. This was fine until one day I noticed on the list of nutritional ingredients how much fat it contains. So back to Lactaid. I decided to avoid gluten to see if that caused my problem and found my digestion greatly improved. So now I am working on a
    gluten-free, lactose-free regime. This is probably the best it will get. I do eat eggs - so it's not really a vegan diet anymore. I rarely eat meat: occasionally fish or chicken so it's not strictly vegetarian either. I have fallen into the cracks, as I usually do on most any
    issue. Enjoy your adventure with veganism - you will definitely find it a healthy way of eating. I realized how much my tastes have changed when after tasting a bite of my friends pastry, I gratefully went back to my delicious fruit salad. I mean, the fruit definitely tasted way better than the sugary, fatty pastry. My best friends are brown rice and sweet potatoes - yum!! Eating like this is more of a challenge where I live - cuz they dictate the dinner menu and further challenged by lack of ability and desire to spend time on food preparation....can't be bothered.....more later!!!

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