Did I ever tell you guys I became vegan on accident? I’ve been a vegetarian for many years. It started when I was around thirteen. I became a vegetarian because of hot dogs and fish. That’s a story for another blog though. However, I’ve always had a deep rooted love of cheese. Cheese, and sour cream. If we are being honest I probably could have lived on an island with only cheese, sour cream, and potatoes, in any form. Recipe for disaster when you are a vegetarian because that translated to a whole lot of potato chips, nachos, and chips dunked in that canned nacho cheese sauce and then dunked in sour cream. Finished off with some donuts, because if I’m living on only a few foods, donuts are coming to that island with me. There is a reason I got fat y’all.
I digress. When I started this whole weight loss journey I didn’t start off handling my food. The first and best thing I did was start working out. I still maintain that was the best decision I made. Once that was a habit, tackling my food became easier, because you learn if you eat good your workouts feel good. Like most people trying to lose weight I went the most obvious route. Obsessive calorie counting. I would log into my calorie app about 70 times a day to track every single thing that went into my mouth. It was tedious, and depressing, and I’m so glad I NEVER track my food any more.
Lets back track for a moment. For any of you following along on this blog for any amount of time you know I’ve had stomach issues for years. Dating back to some time in high school. I went to a GI doctor way back then. Their very first suggestion was lactose intolerance. Being young and dumb I didn’t really understand it. I would give up ice cream and cheese for a couple days, still feel like shit, and declare them wrong. Never realizing how much of the food I didn’t cut out still had milk. Hello cupcakes, pop tarts, wheat bread. I’m looking at you, you dairy filled bastards of happiness. For all of these years it never really occurred to me I could be lactose intolerant. I was a vegetarian who lived on dairy for fucks sake.
Back to the point. During my obsessive calorie counting stage I would limit myself to 1200 calories a day, 1500 if I did a really hard workout. I started to slowly realize I could shave off 100 calories if I left off the cheese, and 70 calories if I skipped the sour cream. Leaving butter off my toast saved me about 100 calories, and if I was eliminating the butter I may as well eliminate the toast too, right? After a while I noticed I felt really good. It still didn’t register why. Then one of those days I was having a cheat day, I went all out. Taco Bell nachos, extra sour cream, ice cream, and pizza. I don’t mess around on cheat days. I was sick for two days after. I assumed it was just from over eating. So I went back to my meticulous calorie counting. Then, one day not realizing it, I had something with butter in it. I was sick for hours afterwards. I started to pick apart my food diary and realized so many of my stomach issues were a result of days I ate dairy. I looked further and saw a pattern with my skin. If I ate dairy I would break out for 2-3 days afterwards. Could I be lactose intolerant?
Yes. It turns out for the past 16 years at least, I’ve been lactose intolerant. So, I’m now a vegetarian, who is lactose intolerant, and doesn’t eat eggs (we’ve talked about the chicken period right?”) Which, pretty much makes me a vegan.
I also spent a lot of time thinking I was allergic to gluten. It was madness though, because it was only some gluten, and only sometimes. After allergy testing it turns out I’m allergic to BARLEY. Which means I can’t eat most gluten products because they have barley in them.
Over time I converted from an obsessive calorie counter to someone who just ate real whole food. I don’t track my food at all any more. I have zero idea what my macros are. I just eat real food. I cannot tell you how much this has helped my stomach. Eliminating dairy was a huge help. My skin is also a million times better. Whey protein had to go too, it would make my chest, back and neck break out something fierce. Cutting out the barley (most gluten) has helped all of the swelling in my stomach, and the joint pain I was having. If I eat too much gluten or barley my knees, and hips start hurting to the point that the simple act of standing up makes me a little misty eyed.
So that is how I became a vegan on accident. Being vegan is so hard for me, because I know what I’m missing out on. I know how good that fresh mozzarella is, I know how good that donut is, I know how good your ice cream is. I know how good it all is when I’m cooking it and giving it to my kids. I just can’t eat it. A lot of people tell me often how dedicated I am, and how they wish they could be like me. The truth is, once you learn your allergies, and your bodies limits, changing how you eat is really easy. If you can stop all of your stomach pain by giving up dairy, you would. Is it boring to eat like me? Yes. Is it safe though? Yes. I know everything I eat is safe. It’s not going to send me to ER with stomach pain. It isn’t going to make me sick for two days. It isn’t going to cause me to break out. I just feel good. The best side effect is that I can run farther and faster now that I’m not eating food that is destroying me from the inside out.
The happy side effect to this is it’s basically eliminated all cheat food for me. I cannot eat fast food now; it all has dairy or barley. I cannot indulge on frozen yogurt with the family, I’m vegan. Pizza at a kids birthday party? Nope, I’m vegan I can’t. Someone stopped by with a box of chocolates, sorry, I’m vegan. See what I mean. Eating well becomes really easy when you have a giant massive food label like VEGAN. You should see me hide my face at restaurants when I tell people. It’s easier to just say vegan, but they take it more serious if I say lactose intolerant. The down side is, no one ever invites me over for dinner. Try cooking for my family; I’m a vegan whose lactose intolerant and allergic to all nuts, except cashews, allergic to soy, and quinoa (and beets and tofu, and joy). My husband is lactose intolerant. Brandon is allergic to all nuts, legumes, beans, lentils, soy, etc. And Codi, well Codi doesn’t have many allergies but he’s suspicious about all foods, and won’t eat any condiments except fish sauce, and soy sauce (but his brothers allergic to that soy sauce), and lord help you if his food touched a plate that ketchup touched. Aren’t you just dying to invite us over for dinner?
Anyway, that’s sort of the secret to maintaining my weight loss. The label vegan. It’s a massive restriction, but it’s a necessary one. I ate some barley this weekend and spent two days being sick, swollen, and in pain. When my whole family ordered fresh cheese pizzas I wanted to join in so badly, but I knew, I knew I would spend hours and hours and hours sick, and it wasn’t worth it. I know everyone looks at me like I’m some trendy hipster when I say “vegan.” I’m not though. I’ve been vegetarian since the 90s. This lactose shit is just my own body hating me, and my love of canned cheese sauce, and yes, I’ve checked, nacho cheese sauce does contain actual dairy products. I’ve checked, three times. I miss my canned nacho cheese sauce.
This blog started out funny in my head you guys. It’s obvious I haven’t flexed my writing skills in a long time. I’ll work on being funny again.