Squishyplum

All plants. All the time.

Tag: Project Squishyplum (page 1 of 2)

The Great Paleo vs Vegan Debate

Boxing Girl

Proponents of the Paleo Diet are often at odds with vegans, duking it out over who has the better diet, each claiming their own moral high ground and often dismissing the other’s choices outright. Hailing from the plant-based camp myself, I’m obviously biased towards a diet that is good for the environment, the animals, and my health. That being said, I’m always curious to hear about the merits of other people’s choices and what drives them to eat that way.

And I’m fascinated by the vehemence with which some people defend their choices, to the complete preclusion of any other way of eating. Vegans and Paleos are the worst of the bunch, I’ve found: staunch advocates who abide by strict rules, with no wiggle room for real life, no grey areas. In reality, Paleo and WFPB (whole-food plant-based) diets overlap in several areas, such as the avoidance of processed foods and elimination of dairy from the diet. Dr. Mark Hyman even coined the term Pegan, or Paleo-Vegan!

Becoming Vegan book by Brenda DavisIf you’re interested in diving into the topic of Paleo and/or plant-based eating, I invite you to join me on Friday, May 26th for dietitian Brenda Davis’ talk: Decontructing the Paleo Diet from a Plant-based Perspective. Davis is an award-winning author and internationally-respected speaker on evidence-based insights into the diets of our ancestors.

The event is being presented by Meatless Meetup, a Meetup group for vegetarian, vegan, and veg-curious folks in the Greater Vancouver area.  Details about the event can be found on the Meatless Meetup page. Come join us! Registration is required but all are welcome.

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Gramma Funk to the rescue

Woman's feet wearing pink running shoes

“I see you, baby…shakin’ that ass, shakin’ that ass.” Shakespeare it is not but Gramma Funk and Groove Armada got me out the door this afternoon. And that’s exactly what I needed.

For some reason, even though I am a freelancer who works on my own schedule, Mondays still bum me out. I don’t know if it’s a residual malaise lingering from the days I worked the Monday-Friday grind—a feeling of palpable dread used to start building while I was still lying in bed Sunday mornings—but it’s very real. And it can throw my whole week off.

I’ve been enjoying three weeks of yummy whole-food plant-based eating since I kicked off Project Squishyplum 2.0—but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. It’s imperative that I move my body on a regular basis. Nothing crazy but I’ve gotta put one foot in front of the other or partake of some Downward Dog action. If I don’t,  a melancholy starts to set in. And it’s like a snowball rolling down the hill, growing larger and larger until all I want to do is lie on the couch watching NetFlix and scarfing cupcakes. I can’t tell you how often that scenario has played out in the past. It ain’t pretty.

So I just wanted to give a shout out to Gramma Funk for reminding that I need to shake my ass.

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This is not a weight loss blog.

Woman with loose pants at the waist

I was determined from the outset that my blog would not be about weight loss. Nope, no diet talk here. You see, I am not a calorie counter. Never have been. I am not one of those women who know the number of calories in every morsel of food that passes their lips; I know some who can tell you exactly how many calories are in three bites of a McDonald’s cheeseburger, or a handful of jelly beans, or two-thirds of a bag of Doritos. Craziness.

I’ve always been a Big Picture kinda gal, more interested in the powerful impact of diet on chronic disease, like cancer and heart disease and diabetes. And how our food choices as a population are slowly killing us—which is what led me to pursue my Masters in Nutrition. But I digress.

Let calorie obsession be the domain of the myopic dieting crowd. Because with a whole-food plant-based (WFPB) lifestyle, there’s no need to count calories. Instead, if I want to flex my arithmetic muscles, I can count how many pieces of fruit I enjoyed today, or how many Elaine Benes Big Salads I gobbled up this week, or the shrinking number of my pant size.

Now granted, it’s hard for a blog about WFPB eating not to be about weight loss in some way. Let’s face it: if you are overweight, which I am, you will lose weight eating this way. It’s unavoidable. And I’m not complaining. A woman who is barely 5’5″ should not weigh more than her 6’1″ partner. It disrupts the balance of the universe.

But I promise not to dwell on my weight loss. Maybe a little happy dance when I can fit into my size 12 jeans again. And an ever-so-tiny fist pump when I cross that 200lb threshold on my way back down to a healthy weight. But mostly, let’s explore all the other fabulous benefits of the WFPB lifestyle: more energy, glowing skin, better sleep, reduced joint pain, lower blood pressure, decreased risk (and in some cases, reversal) of various chronic diseases, better sex life—the list goes on ad infinitum. I say, bring it on!

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The Power of the Pound: How to Avoid Being Bullied by the Scale

When I started Project Squishyplum, weight loss was not a primary motivating factor for adopting a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet. My main goal was simply to feel better and more energetic in my body. I did anticipate, however, that eating the WFPB way would lead to some weight loss. After all, whole plant foods are definitely poster children for a super nutritious and healthy diet. And by eating fewer processed foods and less junk, I surmised I would effortlessly consume less calories, provide my body with the right kind of fuel, and start moving towards my new healthy normal weight, naturally. And I was right.

The scale started to move. A pound or two each week. Slow and steady. And I was pleased. But then the holidays arrived and brought with them all the glories of wine and Christmas cookies and dark chocolate – all vegan, mind you, but still. The scale stopped moving. And then it went in the wrong direction. That was when I realized that, although I was only weighing myself once per week, I was letting that number on the scale dictate how I felt about myself for the rest of the week. This was not good. And definitely not in the spirit of WFPB living.

Fit from Within coverI am not a Skinny Minnie, to coin my mother’s term. And according to BMI charts and medical parameters, I am not at an ideal weight. Certainly, I’d be happy to drop a few pounds but it’s not like I’m a cheeseburger away from a heart attack, as Joe Cross of Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead fame likes to say.

I have a pretty healthy body image — I genuinely embrace my curves and am blessed with a partner who loves my body and makes me feel sexy — but it hasn’t always been this way. In my early thirties, struggling with a serious weight gain, I read a book that made a significant difference in my relationship with my body: “Fit from Within: 101 Simple Secrets to Changing Your Body and Your Life — Starting Today and Lasting Forever” by Victoria Moran.

And now, more than 10 years later, our paths serendipitously cross again. Moran is the co-founder of Main Street Vegan – a book, a podcast, a vegan lifestyle coaching program. Just makes sense that she also turned to a plant-based lifestyle to make peace with her body. And became healthier, lighter, and happier in the process.

So I’ve put away the scale. Relegated it to the storage locker, alongside the Christmas ornaments and garden tools. For now, I’m going to measure my progress in yoga classes and Pilates sessions and walks along the seawall. And remember that the ultimate goal is TO FEEL GOOD!

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The Month in Review: Confessions of a Serial Snacker

So…it’s been a month of whole-food plant-based eating. What have I learned?

Apparently I’m a snacker. A habitual snacker. The snacker who trolls the cupboards grabbing handfuls of tortilla chips because she’s bored. Not the organized kind of snacker who eats eight healthy snack-size meals a day. Nope, I’m the “I-fancy-a-cookie-with-my-latte-just-because” kind of snacker. The kind who can hoover up a package of Snapea Crisps in the blink of an eye. I simply had no idea how often I reached for “just a little nibble.” I may have a problem. 🙂 Who knew? Well, deep down I probably did, but denial is a powerful thing!

Let me just say that this WFPB thing has thrown a wrench into my usual snacking habits. And this is good thing. Really. Processed snack foods like crackers, granola bars, and chips are all off the table, literally. So what does that leave me? Nuts are good but I can easily throw back a couple day’s worth of calories of cashews during one episode of The Good Wife.

So I’ve been turning to fruit which, I’ll admit, sounds a bit lame. I mean, how many apples can one girl eat? I’m finding the trick is to have a wide variety of fruits on hand. Who knew discovering a container of melon chunks in the fridge could bring me such delight? Pineapple, mango, grapes — oh my! And oranges are particularly luscious this time of year — big orbs of sweet, juicy, citrusy goodness. Yes, I’m excited about oranges. This is what four weeks of livin’ the good WFPB life does.

Bowl of whole oranges and oranges sliced in half

OMG just look at those oranges!

WFPB Snacking 101

Fruit — Keep it interesting. Rotate through the gamut of melons and berries and citrus. Those yummy bite-size clementines are in season right now. Experiment with all the varieties of apples; smear some almond butter on a Honeycrisp apple – decadent!

Hummus and veg — Hummus is my go-to food. I just love it. All the different variations. And non-traditional versions made with black beans or lentils too, accompanied by those little cherry tomatoes, celery (the often overlooked veg – I’d forgotten how tasty raw celery is!), cucumber, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and so on.

Air-popped popcorn — The crunch of plain air-popped popcorn in front of the tv has kept me satisfied during many a Coronation Street marathon. Don’t slather it in vegan margarine or oil. Remember, we’re avoiding high-fat, processed foods. Instead, try it with a sprinkling of salt or nutritional yeast. Yes, I realize the salt doesn’t stick too well to the dry popcorn but you’ll survive.

Applesauce — make your own by peeling and cutting apples into bite-size pieces and putting them in a pot covered with about an inch of water. Add some cinnamon and a little sweetener of your choice. Simmer until the water evaporates and the apples go mushy. Doesn’t sound that appetizing but, I assure you, it’s very yummy. (Thanks to Leah @mixedbagmag for teaching me this simple but sweetly satisfying recipe.) Or pick up some jarred applesauce at the store. I keep organic unsweetened applesauce on hand in case I need to do some baking (did you know ¼ c applesauce = 1 egg in recipes?). I also sometimes use it to replace oil in baking. Very handy stuff.

Nuts and seeds — Sunflower seeds, almonds, unsalted mixed nuts. Just don’t go crazy. Keep the handfuls small and infrequent.

Please share any other unprocessed, lower-fat WFPB snacking ideas you may have. This chronic snacker is always looking to expand her snacking repertoire.

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