I’m celebrating a journey, not perfectionism.

Writing can be a good antidote to bloating. I’ve done this before, but it’s 5:30 p.m. Thursday and I’ve realized it’s officially the one-year mark on my journey to eating 100% vegan. I say it’s a journey, because I’m not perfect, and thanks to my food journal, I’m able to point out exactly where I’ve gone astray and the physical consequences it’s caused me.

The first thing I did after my four-month cleanse was over in August 2018 was start tracking reactions after integrating (plant-based) foods back into my diet. It took me a good half a year to try all of them three times, but what resulted was a really good DO NOT EAT list that I now keep on my phone.

I’d like to remind you — because this has come up in the past — that these are the results of MY OWN FOOD SENSITIVITY TEST in which a sample of my blood was taken to a lab for sampling.

EVERYONE’S BODY IS DIFFERENT, and I’ve prayed more than once for a body that can digest anything I want. But that’s simply not the case. While I believe that eating vegan is totally doable for anyone living in Vancouver, the temptation to eat foods I’m sensitive to is always there, even on a daily basis.

Analyzing 1 year’s worth of food journal entries

This past year, I had nine instances of bloating and six instances of the usual chest pain that’s caused by acid reflux/heartburn. But, NO VOMITING! Sorry to sound disgusting, but I’m actually celebrating this point; it’s huge for me. The pain was in the usual upper abdomen only four times; I’ve noticed recently that for the most part, air has simply become stuck in what I’m calling the “belly belt”, in a semi-circle shape right below my belly button. I think this is a good thing because it means the food is at least moving through, even though the air isn’t.

The data also tells me that not only is bloating a sure sign that pain MAY be coming, but also that I need to reflect on what I’ve just eaten, and start taking my preventative measures.

What are those measures you ask? Well, I’ve got another graphic that I keep on my phone which has been modified over the years, based on trial and error.

A couple notes of clarification on this.

  • The pants and bra are crucial because I know after many years that clothes that are too tight around my chest or stomach aggravate the bloating and pain. God knows I love a good pair of leggings or tight jeans.
  • Using doTERRA’s Zengest essential oil roller over my belly has made me feel better after bloating, even though it’s not a cure-all. (Thanks, Gail!)
  • The barefoot (earthing/grounding) tactic has yet to be tested and I added this very recently as a result of a short documentary video my aunt sent me. If you’ve got any data on this, HMU!

Back to prevention tactics and analyzing reactions to sensitive foods.

I cheated and ate dairy more than four times this past year, and my food journal tells me that (surprise surprise) the four recorded times I ate dairy, all of them caused bloating, and pain once (fuck you, parmesan on the kale caesar salad).

Other culprits on the list included deep-fried vegetables, cashew, and wheat in various forms, which were consumed 40% of the time I had reactions. I’ve thought more than once whether I should go back to eating gluten-free food, because the test results say I am sensitive to it. I use whole wheat flour at least half of the month, and am eating sprouted wheat avocado toast on the daily. However, I just did the math over the year, and wheat is responsible for 1% negative reactions in an entire year, which to me isn’t enough to completely cut it out, so that’s that.

A couple final notes:

  • I ate a pea protein burger (mostly Beyond Meat‘s) about 7 times the past year, and only had a reaction once (wheat x peas aren’t a great combo) so I’m glad I don’t get these patties on the regular — even though they’re widely available now.
  • I do not miss celery AT ALL.
  • I hate milk and cheese and what it does to me. I said it! Hate ’em, don’t need ’em.
  • I also do not miss peanut butter, and I’m now a hazelnut butter junkie thanks to my granola bar recipe. I’m also testing a chocolate chip banana bread recipe with hazelnut butter and am determined to get that flavour out of it.
  • Potatoes are a funny thing. I’m fine with roasted yams and sweet potatoes, fries, and chips, but haven’t tested out mashed or baked potatoes. I think I’ll try that now that I have some vegan sour cream. Deep-fried vegetables are dangerous because even though places might use gluten-free potato starch, I get definite pain out of it. (Reminiscing back to when I ate the amazing fried artichokes at The Arbor. I will miss them.)
  • Alcohol: So I’ve had a few half-glasses of wine over the year and have been fine each time, even though I’m sensitive to yeast (present in wine, beer, and cider). However, I’m getting into recreational cannabis now, and am thinking that will be my new weekend glass of wine. Now I have to create a weed budget.

I want to talk a bit about “vegan superiority.”

For most of the year I have been calling myself a vegan, even though clearly, I am not perfect. I’ve been seeing posts about the real definition of “vegan” being: no use or consumption of ANY animal-based products, including cosmetics, clothing, furniture, and the like. So it makes complete sense to me that one may not call me a real vegan because I still sport the wool coat and cashmere scarf (yes- I learned this is goat fur) in winter — both of which were given to me — instead of going out and buying new stuff. Same goes for the nail polish (damn you, OPI!).

Some people are dogging on companies like A&W for using the same grill to cook Beyond patties as meat patties.

And I get it! Touching dead animals in any form SUCKS.

I don’t call myself living a fully vegan lifestyle. I aspire to it, and would like to still call myself a “vegan foodie” as I proudly do in my logo.

I choose this term because it’s not enough for me to say that I “eat plant-based,” even though that is 100% accurate. The problem I have with the term is that it can still evoke vegetarianism which includes dairy, and god knows I really want to stay away from dairy as per my reactions above.

I recently listened to Kevin Smith on The Rich Roll Podcast and LOVED it not just cause he’s such a funny and easygoing guy but because he not on the vegan superiority train. He encourages the diet for health as well as humane animal treatment, and accepts people no matter where they’re at. This is how I’d like to treat people because I know that progress is better than demanding perfection. No one’s perfect!

Look at these photos and tell me that his diet hasn’t done him some good!

Pre-heart attack

Post-heart attack and vegan diet

Whatever the hell you prefer to call me, know that I’m always striving for a pain-free life for myself, and all beings on this Earth we’re with — and that’s why I want to eat vegan, not just try to.

I’m having an apple with hazelnut butter tonight, as the belly belt is in full effect and I want to have a pain-free sleep tonight.

Are there any tips you’ve got about eating plant-based that also helps to decrease digestive issues? Let me know!

-Sandra

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