Meatless March - Week 1

FacebookTwitterPinterest

What’s a month without meat? For six staff members at HonorHealth, that question is being put to the test. We’ve taken a pledge to eat in a different way during Meatless March.

Whether we’re becoming flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan, we’re all making changes in our eating habits. Many of us share goals of lowering cholesterol, improving blood pressure or dropping blood sugar—and possibly losing a few pounds along the way.

March is also National Nutrition Month and National Colon Cancer Month, and we’ll delve into healthy eating habits and recipes for colon health.

Join us as we embark on Meatless March. Be sure to consult with your HonorHealth doctor before making changes to your diet.

HonorHealth - Too much sodium

As a flexitarian, living without meat was going to be easy. Going without any dairy or eggs--now that would be a challenge. And it has been.

I’ve spent most of the week wondering things like, Is there egg in that? Often, yes. Is pectin from an animal? It’s not. How do I enjoy a latte without milk? You really don’t.

Which gets to a point about substitutions. I’m trying to avoid almond milk, soy-based products and other processed items and instead rediscover the pleasure of vegetables and fruits. This has limited my dining options and required meal planning, an overall mindfulness I've not had about food in a long time.

I'm having to think--a lot--about what I'm eating.

Wellness wise, my pants are still snug, but I have noticed that my sporadic nighttime heartburn is virtually gone. Whether this is from eating less overall or avoiding certain foods, I don’t know. But I’ll take it.

Change is hard. Having others who share the pain helps. Voicing your intentions puts it out there and makes it real. With that in mind, I'm telling you, I'm a vegan. Care to join me?

HonorHealth - Support family members

I have been vegetarian, vegan and raw vegan off-and-on for many years. Then I went on a Keto diet for awhile, and started to feel negative effects. With thyroid problems, diet makes such a big difference on how I feel and how much energy I have. So I wanted to do this challenge to kickstart a permanent vegan lifestyle and really see how much I could improve my health.

I don't really have a need to substitute meats in any way and I try to avoid soy products as much as possible. So I don't think I'm having any cravings or feelings that I'm missing out on anything. My biggest challenge is that I'm very busy as a single mom. I'm alway on the go, and I don't usually have foods prepared. I've found some great places to get vegan meals on the run, but I really want to save money and make food from home. I bought groceries and filled my fridge with lots of vegetables, but then I got busy and haven't found time to prep anything!

My daughter is not vegan and usually wants to eat out, so that poses a big challenge for me. I've tried to quickly fill up on my veggies and healthy starches before taking her out, but most of the time I end up eating where she eats and just try to get something vegan there. That's not usually the healthiest choice. I've eaten a lot of fries!

I also find that I order things at restaurants that have hidden cheese or dairy in them. I had a really delicious "California Bowl" and discovered a chipotle mayo in it that wasn't listed on the menu. Ugh! So I really need to be cooking at home.

I have been feeling more energetic, even after cutting out my usual caffeine. That has also helped me wake up without feeling groggy, when I get up at 5am to go to the gym.

HonorHealth - Consume alcohol responsibly

I have to say, switching my eating habits was not as hard as people said it was going to be. I am not sure if it is because I already have a very structured way of eating or if this lifestyle is something I am sort of used to. I am your typical fitness enthusiast. I train 6 days a week and sometimes I train twice per day. I am very conscious of what I am putting into my body. I track my food via their macronutrients and I strive to hit a certain number each and every day. I am that person with the food scale weighing out the creamer that I am going to put in my coffee. Many think its a little crazy or obsessive but this is my life and I like it this way.

I knew a lot about food and it was really easy for me to substitute meat for alternative sources of protein. I already knew what I was looking for so it made shopping so much easier. Being able to still eat eggs and dairy meant I could have my typical egg scramble bowl each and every morning as always. This bowl loaded me up on protein for the day and with a shake and a few tempeh meals later I was set. I have consistently hit my macro goals even with swapping out my chicken and steak for meatless alternatives. I would have to say that dinner was my only struggle because I have a family that I cook for who is still eating meat. That meant I needed to cook two meals every night vs one. My family is picky when it comes to veggies and they always have been so I didn't try to have them join me.

I do have to admit, it may be the food change or it could be something completely unrelated but my training suffered this week. I was not as motivated as I normally am and I really couldn't push myself like I am used to. I only trained once per day because the thought of going a second time was exhausting in itself. Again, this could be the food and my body is just adjusting to this new way of life or it could be something completely unrelated. Time will be the judge on this one.

Heres to week 2!

HonorHealth - Make healthy food an option

On the first day of Meatless March, I was walking past a meat smoker display in front of a Home Depot and thought, "Oh man, what am I getting into for the next month?". The scent of the burning hickory chips wafted through the air, beckoning me to come closer, ever closer. Ahhhhh, the beauty shots of the perfectly caramelized chicken and brisket glistening on the poster wasn't helping either. If I can slowly back away from this initial test of my fortitude, I may stand a chance for the month.

Well, I did make it home unscathed and this has been quite a transition. I'm so used to eating meat with my meals, it's been difficult changing my mindset to find substitutions. I've generally been pretty good about eating fruits and vegetables but I'm more cognizant of that now that I can't simply grab a burger or a chicken sandwich on a whim. I do find myself getting hungrier sooner though. So, I'll have to figure out what I can eat that sticks to my ribs more and holds me over longer.

I've been eating more legumes, nuts/seeds and tofu as a meat substitute. I haven't really eaten tofu very much in the past and I find that if prepared well, it actually can have a bit of a meat consistency and flavor.

I need to purchase a stock-pile of healthy food options so I have a better game plan when I'm at a loss for what to prepare, or more appropriately what my amazing wife prepares. She's been a huge help in preparing meatless entrees that the whole family can partake of. She still has the occasional meat dish but has options that I can eat as well.

I did sign-up for this adventure with the option to have one cheat day per week if I need it. I may have to go for a nice juicy ribeye over the weekend. But so far, so good. On the first day of Meatless March, I was walking past a meat smoker display in front of a Home Depot and thought, "Oh man, what am I getting into for the next month?". The scent of the burning hickory chips wafted through the air, beckoning me to come closer, ever closer. Ahhhhh, the beauty shots of the perfectly caramelized chicken and brisket glistening on the poster wasn't helping either. If I can slowly back away from this initial test of my fortitude, I may stand a chance for the month.

Well, I did make it home unscathed and this has been quite a transition. I'm so used to eating meat with my meals, it's been difficult changing my mindset to find substitutions. I've generally been pretty good about eating fruits and vegetables but I'm more cognizant of that now that I can't simply grab a burger or a chicken sandwich on a whim. I do find myself getting hungrier sooner though. So, I'll have to figure out what I can eat that sticks to my ribs more and holds me over longer.

I've been eating more legumes, nuts/seeds and tofu as a meat substitute. I haven't really eaten tofu very much in the past and I find that if prepared well, it actually can have a bit of a meat consistency and flavor.

I need to purchase a stock-pile of healthy food options so I have a better game plan when I'm at a loss for what to prepare, or more appropriately what my amazing wife prepares. She's been a huge help in preparing meatless entrees that the whole family can partake of. She still has the occasional meat dish but has options that I can eat as well.

I did sign-up for this adventure with the option to have one cheat day per week if I need it. I may have to go for a nice juicy ribeye over the weekend. But so far, so good.

HonorHealth - Consume alcohol responsibly

Well - despite my best efforts, I can't say that I stuck to the meatless March diet entirely. This was harder than I thought it would be! I'd say its because I don't usually think about whether what I'm eating has meat. There were several times this week that I started eating a meat based meal and didn't think about it until I was halfway through it. Oops!

Forgetfulness aside, finding meatless meals that are tasty and fill me up has been easier than I thought it would be. For lunch, I've been eating salads and adding egg to them to get a protein that keeps me full for the rest of the day. I was at a conference this week and I was surprised by how tasty the meatless options were.

My family hasn't been totally on board with going meatless full time for a whole month. Since I don't do a majority of the cooking or shopping in my house, this has been a challenge. My wife is willing to commit to a meatless Monday--which is the option I choose. I'm trying to go beyond that though by being more conscious of the meatless options and actively choosing those when the option is available. A less meat march, rather than meatless.

HonorHealth - Make healthy food an option

My first week of Meatless March was harder than I thought it would be! I didn’t think I ate much meat anyway, and that’s mostly true, but here’s what I noticed:

Carbs are my bane! When I started Meatless March, I was worried about replacing meat with carbs – not in a deliberate way – just that it’s the easiest thing to eat when your food choices are more limited. That’s definitely been the case! I’ve eaten more cereal and bread this week than normal. I also haven’t felt full as much, so I’ve eaten more frequently. I need to figure out how to get full from meatless proteins and healthier options like veggies.

$$$. Fake meat is more expensive and harder to find. Not surprising, but an unpleasant reality. I went to Fry’s and Sprout Market to find meatless options. The Sprout employee I asked about meatless options didn’t even know what I was talking about! He sent me to a row of tofu. I eventually found a ton of meatless options. Fry’s and Whole Foods have a lot of options too, but they’re more expensive than real meat, on average. I’ve found Trader Joe’s has the most reasonably priced meatless entrees, but they don’t have as many meat replacements.

Habits are hard to beat. I caught myself reaching for deli meat to make a sandwich last Saturday without even thinking. I’ve realized meat is part of my snacking routine, and I’ve had to stay vigilant to reach for different snacks. Same with my restaurant choices – I’ve started to think more deliberately about where I can find good meatless options to eat. I think this will make me healthier in the long run. It’s really great to think more critically about what I’m eating and where I’m eating it.

It takes a village. I went to a BBQ at a friend’s house Saturday night. It was pretty impromptu, so my wife brought a quinoa salad and I threw a couple frozen veggie burgers in the car. Of course everyone asked me what in the world I was doing with veggie burgers! It was hard to see all the delicious food and not be able to eat any of it, but it made for a good conversation piece, and everyone was really supportive and positive. Several people said, "good idea. I should do that."

The other thing is, going meatless is SOOOO much easier since my wife is on board. She was halfway to being vegetarian anyway, but she gladly supported me for Meatless March. She loves to cook, so she’s been scouring the web for great recipes and the stores for good meat replacements.

Am I already changed forever? Oh! One more thing… I chose to do the Meatless March option with the one “cheat” day. I looked forward to it so much! I went to a BBQ joint on Sunday night, and couldn’t wait to plow into some brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. I don’t know if I just chose a mediocre restaurant (I’d never been there before) or if my palate has already changed, but it was not good! I was so disappointed. But maybe it’ll be good and healthier in the long run???

On to week 2!