As I explored a bit in a previous post, I’m working on creating a healthier lifestyle for myself, and diet is a big part of that. I’ve been eating vegetarian (actually pescatarian because I need my sushi!) and avoiding unhealthy, sugary snacks as much as I can. I’ve been pondering reducing my dairy intake recently as well, even though (and perhaps because) at the moment it makes up a major portion of what I eat.
Why did I go vegetarian?
When I started my pescatarian diet a few months ago, a lot of people asked me why, and I didn’t have a great answer. Because I wanted to try something different; because my mom was vegetarian when she was my age; because I wanted to see if I could. I didn’t think it would last long, but, with the exception of a few cheat days, I am happy to say that I am still going strong.
The more I learn about farming and the meat industry in the US, the more strongly I feel about vegetarianism. If you want more information, I recommend reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
A plant-based diet
Overall, I am trying to eat fewer processed foods and more fruits and vegetables. After reading a bit of the Fit for Life diet plan book, which recommends only eating fruit before noon to allow your body to digest and detox as fully as possible, I adjusted their suggestions to fit my morning routine. For breakfast, I try to only eat things that grow in the ground. This usually takes the form of a smoothie made from frozen mango, berries, kale, chia seeds, avocado, almonds, and almond milk. Even though it’s dairy-free, it keeps me full all morning.
A lot of people undertake vegetarianism because they are passionate about minimizing animal cruelty. That’s a great cause, and one I agree with, but vegetarianism can also be good for your health, and that’s a big part of why I continue to choose to eat that way.
I’ve noticed that, since going pescatarian, I tend to eat a wider variety of vegetables on a more regular basis. I rely on healthy foods to get protein and other important nutrients since I can’t go the easy route and order a hamburger or bacon sandwich anymore. My food choices are more intentional.
Additionally, meat that’s high in fat can affect digestive bacteria, making it harder for your body to break foods down. The healthiest type of diet for your digestive system is one that’s low in fats and sugars and that includes a variety of plant-based foods (source).
For more information on constructing a varied, healthy diet, I recommend the book Eat Pretty, Live Well by Jolene Hart, which I found at Target!
Of course, the step that follows vegetarianism is veganism. I am a fan of neither cooking nor tofu, so I am not sure that veganism is for me. But, in some ways, I do think it would be good for me health-wise.
When I was little, I had a bout of dairy intolerance. I would get awful stomachaches if I had dairy, so my parents took me off it for a while. We drank rice milk and ate rice cheese (gross).
Today, I can eat dairy to my heart’s content without feeling sick, but I actually don’t think that it is especially good for my body even so. Fit for Life argues that dairy products have been linked to heart disease, arthritis, allergies, migraines, and obesity. The authors suggest that, if you must eat dairy products, it should be in limited quantities and combined with other non-dairy foods.
Am I sensitive to certain foods?
One issue I have is that my throat feels froggy a lot of the time. I am always clearing it. I suspect that this is due to my dairy consumption—a leftover symptom from my days of dairy intolerance.
My family uses muscle testing to discover sensitivities to foods or products. Muscle testing checks whether having an item in proximity to you makes your muscles weaker. If it does, that indicates a sensitivity to the item, and it would probably be beneficial to you not to keep that item around. Click here to watch a video on one easy type of muscle testing.
Sure enough, when I did a muscle test with dairy, I was weaker. Performing the test raised my awareness of my own sensitivities and has helped me think more about reducing dairy in my diet.
Should I cut animal products out of my diet?
Muscle testing is not a medically recognized form of allergy or sensitivity testing, though it can provide some helpful insight into what your body might be sensitive to.
For more medically accurate results about your sensitivity to animal products, including dairy, I will point you to Health Labs’s new vegan tests, which allow you to find out if you have an allergy to any animal-based products. Or, if you’re already vegan, you can make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need from your diet, which is the biggest thing I’d be concerned about if I went vegan. Use the code LUCYTRAVELS25 for a 25%-off discount on the Health Labs vegan tests.
If you’re considering a vegetarian or vegan diet, I say do some research on how a diet change could benefit your health. It’s definitely worth giving a try!
Have you tried a vegetarian or vegan diet? How did it go for you? Would cutting out meat or dairy improve your eating habits? Let me know what you think!
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