Explained or rambled on about, I’ll let you make the call, but here it is.
A few days ago (maybe more by now) an old teammate sent me a Facebook message asking me to elaborate a little on my diet. She did this right before I set out for a long run, so I spent the next 2 hours formulating an answer for her and here is what I put together.
If you have ever read my website bio I claim to follow a “plant first” diet. What I mean by this is basically a giant excuse not to be totally vegan. I feel my best when I eat a 100% plant based diet. I feel like I train better, I recover better, I sleep better, my congestion goes away, and I just overall feel a lot better (read more energized). Going along with that, I am pretty weak when it comes to staying away from some of those foods. Some of it is laziness, some of it is being busy, some of it is not being prepared in advance, sometimes it’s because someone else eats meat or cheese, and sometimes it’s because I just want chicken wings covered in blue cheese. I also feel like just because you are vegan, doesn’t mean you are healthy. So I guess to answer the question of what it means to eat “plant first” my short answer is…I try. I always compare this to people who drink socially but also get really bad hangovers. They know the next morning is going to suck, but they still go out and have wine with dinner or beers out on the town. Then the next day they deal with the consequences.
When I have the time, money, and energy (kinda circular there since plant based foods give me more energy) I will make meals that are very heavy on plant based foods; salad for lunch, granola with fruit and vegan yogurt for a snack, smoothies, smoothies and more smoothies. Right now I will eat meat and eggs a few times a week, but 99% of the time the meat is a pretty lean white meat. Meat doesn’t bother me a ton, dairy on the other hand makes my sinuses go ape shit. If you have spent enough time around me you have undoubtedly heard me ‘hock a loogie’ or cough up some flem from my lungs, gross I know. Well, all of that totally goes away when I take dairy out of my diet. Kinda funny, when I saw my mom in the middle of my hardcore vegan phase she told me I sounded so much better, I told her I thought it was from not having any dairy. Her response “oh, that makes sense; you were allergic to dairy as a kid. You had dairy free formula.” OHHHH…thanks mom…28 years later she fills me in that I’m allergic to dairy.
I guess what I am trying to say is I try to exercise a little common sense when it comes to eating and balance that with what makes me happy at the moment. Every kid and their mom knows fruits and vegetables are good for you, so what I try to do is put those foods at the top of my food chain and I keep it pretty simple. There was a little while where I was eating a lot of vegan meat supplements and ended up feeling worse off. Common vegan ‘meats’ like seitan are damn near 100% gluten. Now I am not saying I have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten but when you replace items with low amounts of gluten like meat, with items that have super high amount of gluten like seitan, you get a little off balance. After I picked up on what was going on in my body, I started to cut back on the vegan ‘meats’ and started having regular lean meats instead. The result (I feel) was my body balanced itself back out without the overload of gluten in the system. I will say though, I didn’t feel as good as when all my food sources where pure plants.
Finally, I think too many people stress out about eating healthy. Sometimes I want to go to a bar and watch college football with my buddies and snack on terribly fried food. It’s part of the balance. I’m not going to skip a meal to stay vegan. When a chef friend of mine invites me to a nice dinner I’m not going to say no because the food had dairy in it. If I’m slammed at work and the only option is the doughnuts a customer brought in, so be it I’d rather eat a doughnut than go hungry for a few hours. Fight the good fight today, do everything you can to eat healthy today, win today’s little nutrition battle, but understand that just because you lose the battle today, doesn’t mean you’ve lost the war. Come back tomorrow, ready to eat plants first…and see where that gets you…