Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reclaiming Control

For many people, going vegan is often accompanied by weight loss and healthier eating. After all, many of the fattening foods are now off limits, and you find yourself filling your plate with more veggies, beans and whole grains than ever before.  After a while of being vegan, however, you get better at it, and your options expand.  It's no secret that I love making cupcakes, but cupcakes are nothing but fat and sugar (delicious and adorable fat and sugar).  After a while you learn more about what you can eat: no butter vegan beaver tails!  Oh wait, more fat and sugar.  The fact is, there's plenty of junk food out there that is vegan that you really have no business eating (oreos, potato chips, french fries, passion flakies - readily available vegan junk!).  Here's the truth - just being a vegan isn't good enough if your goal is to be healthy and fit.

Or maybe, you start to lose your resolve, get a bit more flexitarian from time to time.  A bit of cake at a wedding here, a sweet treat at a coffee shop there.... sooner or later, that vegan line you drew in the sand gets washed away and you're nibbling from the pastry case on a daily basis!  Ok.  So I have a confession.  I've been a bad vegan.  I started working at Starbucks.  When I started out I restricted myself to only the vegan snack options (blueberry bar, sweet potato chips, packaged nuts), but I gradually started sampling more and more of the pastries, pastries I knew weren't vegan, but I wanted them anyway.  "To hell with it", I would think, "I'm not allergic, it's not going to hurt me."  Eventually I was eating non-vegan pastries every time I went in to work.  Even when I didn't want to eat them - I wanted to resist - I craved them, and the cravings won, day after day.  

It's not like I was craving the animal products, which are quite minimal in a lemon poppyseed loaf, peppermint brownie cake pop, or the new cinnamon swirl coffee cake that I fell in love with.  What I was craving was fat and sugar.  I used to be able to resist these treats.  In fact, I never used to crave sweets at all!  I used to be a salty snack craver (potato chips being my ultimate undoing).  This was desperate, I needed to break free of this craving cycle, I needed to regain control of my diet!  Enter Dr. Neal Barnard.  I've been a big fan of his for a long time, and when I became a vegan I read his book Food for Life: How the New Four Food Groups Can Save Your Life.  It's a really excellent book that discusses the health repercussions of the "standard american diet".  It is well referenced, thorough, and in my opinion, a must read for everyone who wants to be healthy.  One day, guilt ridden after not having the will power to resist sugary temptation, I remembered another of Dr. Barnard's books.  Breaking the Food Seduction: The Hidden Reasons Behind Food Cravings and 7 Steps to End Them Naturally.  I promptly got myself to amazon and ordered it.  It was high time I took charge, and I did that the only way I knew how - by learning as much as I could. 

If any of you find yourself at the mercy of your cravings, if you find yourself addicted to chocolate, sugar, cheese, or other unhealthy snack foods, I highly recommend this book.  It explains, on a scientific level (without being filled with complicated jargon), what is happening in your body and your brain when you crave and eat these foods.  Knowing is half the battle.  The rest of the tools are pretty simple, and the ones I'm going to talk most about on this blog are:

1. Eat a healthy breakfast
2. Choose foods that hold your blood sugar steady
3. Boost Appetite-Taming Leptin

One of the other steps is "Call in Reinforcements", and that's why I'm blogging about this.  It's like my version of AA.  I'm hoping to come on here and post about the foods that I'm eating that are helping me be successful, how many days I've gone without eating pastries (my current nemesis), and tell you about my failures a means to come clean and get back on track.  Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. You can do it! If anyone can withstand the power of the pastry, it is you!