Being vegan or eating a plant-based diet is a huge trend right now. And I am really happy about that because I truly believe that this is the best diet for human beings. There is only one problem: The term “vegan” or “plant-based” does only describe the origin of the food and not how healthy it really is. I have tried many different types of plant-based diets and there is a huge difference in terms of how good they are for your body. Because of the rising demand for vegan food, there are all kinds of “veganized” products available: starting with vegan sausages and cheese, vegan chocolate, vegan pizza. Depending on where you live, you can get the vegan version of almost everything. Therefore, it is pretty easy to find plant-based food nowadays.
Is it healthy though?
Many people believe that a plant-based diet automatically means a healthy diet and that vegan junk food is not unhealthy because it doesn’t contain animal products. That is not true unfortunately. If you look at the ingredients of all these fancy vegan fake products, you will most certainly find a very long list with all kinds of preservatives, coloring, and many words you can’t even pronounce. All these chemicals help to modify the texture, taste and smell to get as close to the real thing as possible. Which is great for people who are just starting out and finding these products helpful as a substitute for the animal product.
But in the long run, these products will not help you much on your health journey. As humans, we are not made for chemical food. We thrive on a whole food plant-based diet. It is easy to prove that: Listen to your body after you eat a junk food meal. Do you feel energized? Or rather lethargic? Do you feel light? Or rather heavy and foggy? Do you feel satisfied? Or do you still crave more food? Your body gives you an instant feedback after your meal. So why not give your body the best food possible?
10 advantages of a plant-based diet
- feel better physically and mentally
- have more energy throughout the day
- have glowing skin, your hair and nails are strong
- sleep better and maybe even need less sleep
- crave less sugary, salty and oily things
- let your tastebuds get used to natural flavors again, so you will find artificial ones too intense
- lose the few extra pounds you’ve been carrying around for way to long
- save money (yes, eating pure whole foods is cheaper than consuming all these substitutes)
- get healthier and get sick less often
- might even heal or reverse diseases like type-2 diabetes (please talk to your doctor first)
This does almost sound too good to be true. But it is, I can tell you from my own experience.
So what should you eat?
First of all, try to consume as much vegetables and fruit as possible. Second, fill the plate with whole starches like potatoes, rice, quinoa, millet, spelt, oats, etc., to your meal to make you feel satisfied and happy. Third, add a protein source. Beans and legumes are excellent choices! Fourth, don’t forget your whole fats like avocados, flax seeds, hemp seeds, etc. Fifth, listen to your body!
I would recommend filling one third to one half of your plate with veggies and the rest with starches and protein, the fats should just make up a small portion because they are very calorie-dense. You really don’t need as much protein as the fitness industry wants you to believe. If you get enough calories in, you shouldn’t have to worry about protein, even if you are exercising or lifting weights. Listen to what your body needs: maybe it is a hot summer day and all you want for lunch is a juicy watermelon, go for it! It is so important to (re)learn to interpret the signals you get from your body!
If you cannot cook (yet), there are a few options here: you can look for healthy restaurants to eat at or even just healthy options at the places you already visit often. You can start learning to cook simple meals, there are thousands of recipes on the internet, or you can buy a book and learn how to prepare one pot meals, for example. These are so quick and easy to make and you will love them! And don’t be afraid to try new things, you will be surprised how quickly you will get better!
And don’t forget, it’s all about balance. I’m not telling you, you can never have your vegan cupcake again. Sure you can! Just make sure you are getting as many of the whole carbs, proteins and fats and the beautiful vitamins, minerals and trace elements in as possible.
In the end, it’s all about making yourself happy. And whole carbs will definitely help you with that!
DISCLAIMER: I’m not a doctor, I am just telling you my story. Please talk to your doctor before making any changes to your lifestyle.
Growing up, I was probably the unhealthiest kid you could imagine:
I was eating pizza all day, drinking lemonade, snacking on chocolate, playing video games and staying up late. When I was 12 years old, I realized that I had to change something because all my girl friends were much skinnier then I was. And it made me feel really bad about myself. I started doing sit-ups right before I went to bed, starting with 50 and then increasing up to 100 a day. Also, I was paying a little more attention to what I was eating and consuming less sweets. That way I lost weight quite easily, but I still was not looking like my friends because I was just normal, not stick-thin.
When I was 14, I wanted to start taking the contraceptive pill, because it seemed to be such a cool thing to do: I could get perfect skin, less menstrual pain (which I suffered from for such a long time), and I couldn’t get pregnant. But no one told me, that I would gain a massive amount of weight on top of that. So I gained around 10kg in one to two months, changed to a different pill, but I couldn’t lose that weight. That was when I really started dieting and obsessing about my weight (I’ll go into detail about that in another post).
When I realized, that I just couldn’t lose the weight as easily as before, I was convinced that there must be something wrong with me. Besides that, I was constantly tired. I came home from school and napped for three to five hours (!) every day, just to eat and go back to bed. My mother decided to take me to the doctor to check if my hormones were okay. I was 15 at that time. And the doctor diagnosed me with a mild hypothyroidism and gave me medication.
I started taking it, but I just couldn’t feel a difference, neither in my tiredness nor on the scale. So I decided to double the dose and see what happens (That was stupid, please don’t do that!). After a year, I came back to the doctor and he checked my blood. I was convinced that my stupid strategy had helped me, so I asked how my levels were. The doctor told me, that nothing had changed – nothing. I couldn’t believe that, why was I even taking them? He told me that I had to take them for the rest of my life. That day, I decided, I wouldn’t need them anymore (again – please don’t do that without talking to your doctor).
How I cured the disease instead
What I did instead where two things: First, I started reading about it. Because I was already interested in nutrition because of my failed attempts to lose weight, so I just focused more on the healthy ways to achieve that result. I stumbled across the book “Fit for Life” from Harvey and Marilyn Diamond and that book changed my life. So I stopped consuming meat, dairy and eggs (not very consistent though because I had no idea how to cook and what to eat). Over the years, I learned more and more about the plant-based diet and became more passionate and strict about it.
The other thing I did was talking to my body. I discovered “The Secret” when I was 13, so I tried to apply it. I didn’t allow myself to think that I was ill instead I kept thinking, that I was healthy and looking for symptoms that proved me right. This was not something I would do religiously, just sometimes when I had the feeling that it’s time to support my body again.
I cannot tell you how long it took exactly, because I refused to check my blood until about five to six years later. My results came back showing a perfectly functioning thyroid, without the help of any medication. Even though my doctor had told me, that I would have to take the medication until the rest of my life.
If you are suffering from hypothyroidism, I would recommend you to do the following things, that had helped me:
– consume more fruit, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts
– eat as much plant-based as you can
– exercise regularly
– drink enough water
– get enough sleep
– stop thinking negative, sickening thoughts
– start thinking positive, healing thoughts
– keep telling your body that it is healthy and strong
– trust your body, it knows how to heal itself
– most importantly: don’t think too much about the disease!
Those are a few changes, that you can do. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure, healing involves many factors and it is best to give your body the optimal conditions for healing. Also, I’ve been doing prolonged fasts which might have played a role, which you can try if you are healthy. I absolutely believe in the healing power of water fasting, but you should always listen to your body. Also, please be patient. Healing does take time!
I believe that my unhealthy lifestyle along with the contraceptive pill played a role in the onset of the disease. Living with sickening habits will eventually lead to some sort of disease. I heard of many other girls and women, who started to have problems with their thyroid after taking the contraceptive pill and that is also labelled a side effect of it (in Germany at least). Now I am very careful and I avoid any kind of hormones which can bring my body out of balance again, because our endocrine system is such a complicated synergy of many hormones and can be easily disrupted with synthetic hormones.
Many diseases can be healed with the methods mentioned above, even though school medicine might not see it that way. These things sound way to easy to be really working, but they do. In the end, it is all about what you believe. And I truly believed, that I could change my body to regain health.
I’m Katharina and I’m very pleased to meet you!
This blog is all about:
– healthy, plant-based food and recipes
– overall health tips and tricks
– spirituality, meditation and yoga
I’m a health scientist, so I know quite a lot about health from the Western scientific viewpoint. But during my time at university, I often thought about how health is so much more than how many calories we eat and how many minutes we move in a week.
Health is about every single aspect in our lives, where our food comes from, what it contains, how fresh it is. How we exercise, what it does to our bodies, how it makes us feel. But also how the products we use on a daily basis affect our health, which ingredients we put on and therefore in our bodies. How happy we are. How stressed we are. Whether we have a purpose in life. Whether we spend enough time in the nature. How we calm down after a busy day. Whether we have something we believe in. How the people around us make us feel. Whether we love somebody. Whether we love ourselves. And so much more.
Health is not just about not feeling ill. The WHO defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease”. But this definition does not help us finding true health. Health is a journey rather than an destination. And I believe that self-development is also a part of it!
Let us make the first steps and find joy, love and peace on this road!