Friday, February 8, 2013

Good to the Extreme is Not Good

I've long been a proponent of good living.  Now, I know that's subjective, but just go with me on the generally accepted tenants of a healthy lifestyle which include:

1.  Eating a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables and fruits per day.
2.  Avoiding processed foods.
3.  Limiting "extras" like candy, fried foods and alcohol.
4.  Drinking water with your meals and in between to thirst.
5.  Moving your body at least four times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
6.  Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

These things are not easy in today's world.  Life moves fast, there are a million things to do and stress is a killer.  But with a little prioritization, you can make this work.  No need to strive for perfection, just being aware of your choices yields big returns.  But choices - so many choices!  What are the right ones?

Last year I went vegetarian, and at the beginning of this year, I tried a vegan diet.  I stared reading books by vegan endurance athletes and had plenty of time to do research since I've two and a half weeks out of the first month of this year off for injury.

I got a copy of Thrive by Brendan Brazier and things got a little crazy for me in the vegan world.  I limit meat because it's cheaper to eat vegetarian and it forces me to get protein and iron from a more diverse source.  I liked the idea of limiting dairy because it helps with inflammation.  But Mr. Brazier suggests limiting everything that could potentially cause a sensitivity in the system, including:

Wheat Gluten

He also suggests things like coffee, commercial vitamins, and any and all processed sugar is highly acidic and when eaten causes your body to leech calcium from your bones to neutralize the imbalance.  He gives compelling arguments as to how these seemingly innocuous foods can be dangerous to your system and even cancer causing.  There is also the suggestion that you eat food as raw as possible to retain all of the nutrients.

My Dad died of cancer when I was 21.  I try not to let fear of illness rule my life, but this new info made me slip a gear, spiraling into a vortex of fear and guilt.  Fear of foods that I know are good for me.  Guilt that I can't afford all organic produce or exotic grains that are $7 per pound.  Confusion that was keeping me up at night wondering if I'd already damaged myself, my husband and our children with my cooking!

I even gave up coffee.  For three and a half days!!

That was the straw that finally broke the vegetarian camels back.  I'm not sure that I'll ever really eat meat again, just don't have the taste for it, but I cannot follow a diet that is so restricted.  Do you know how hard it is to cook for a family under these restrictions?  I had it pretty dialed in (and widely accepted!) with excluding meat, but it's almost impossible to get children to eat things without cheese, milk or eggs to work with.

And not drinking coffee or eating peanut butter just makes me sad.  Sad, sad, sad.  I hope that I don't seem wishy-washy in my convictions, but I tried the vegan thing.  Can't do it.  Won't.  It was ugly when I gave up the coffee.  So I will throw caution to the wind and stick with vegetarianism.  I hope it's the right choice.


  1. Gotta do what feels right for you! I'm thinking of trying a week of no dairy to see how it goes for me (and to see if it helps with some stubborn mid-section pudge!) but I think another huge culprit there (For me at least) is sugar!

    1. Sugar is hidden in everything! Best of luck on the pudge. ;o)