11 Things I Learned on a Plant-Based Diet

inspirationEveryone knows that one diet does not fit all, but most people who recommend certain diets will swear that their diet is the best diet and that everyone should follow that diet. However, you never know if a certain diet works for you, until you try it.

I ventured into the world of eating a vegetarian diet sometime in 2005. I did not stick with eating a vegetarian diet for long.

In 2008, I did a raw food challenge and decided that eating a raw vegan diet was for me. Well, I realized in 2010, that eating a raw vegan diet was not the best diet for me. One day I caught a glimpse of my naked self in the mirror and was horrified by what I saw.

I was eating food, but I looked anorexic.  I didn’t realize that I had gotten so small, until I looked in the mirror. I could see my ribs and I had lost muscle. When I caught that glimpse, that’s when I decided that I needed to stop eating a raw vegan diet.

I stopped eating a raw vegan diet and started eating cooked vegan foods (plant-based diet). I did okay eating a cooked vegan diet, but I noticed weight gain.  Today, I no longer eat a plant-based diet. I have added eggs and fish to my diet, but I continue to eat a high percentage of plant foods.

What I Learned About Myself

1.  One diet does not fit all.  I have tried eating a plant-based diet many different ways. I have followed recommended diets by top experts in their field, only to discover those diets were not for me. We are individuals and some people cannot eat every food that deemed as a healthy food. What is healthy for one person may be another man’s poison.

2.  I cannot eat legumes. No matter how many times I try, I always have an extreme amount of gas in my digestive system after eating certain legumes. My stomach gets bloated and my gut just doesn’t feel well.

3.  I cannot eat certain grains. I don’t eat grains that much, but when I do eat grains, I notice how I feel. I have gas and sometimes, I feel fatigued and bloated.

4.  I cannot eat a lot of fruit. I have to keep my fruit intake to no more than 2 servings a day. I noticed that if I eat too much fruit, I feel fatigued and tired. I am the type of person who cannot eat a lot of fruit.

5.  I cannot eat a lot of carbohydrates. Everything I have mentioned has carbohydrates in it, but I have to be mindful of how much I eat as well as the glycemic index of the food.

6.  Animal foods are not the devil. I added eggs and wild Alaskan salmon to my diet. As soon as I started eating these foods, I noticed a difference in how I felt. I have more energy and I can really push it with my workouts. If I feel better, on small amounts eggs and fish then, I will not exclude those foods from my diet.

7.  I have to admit that a plant-based diet is not for everyone. I once believed that the only way I could achieve optimal health was to eat a plant-based diet, but I now know that isn’t always the case for everyone. In some people, eating only plant foods for an extended amount of time can lead to deficiencies.

8.  My digestive system tells me a lot about what’s going on in my body. I never really paid attention to my digestive system, until I started doing the Summer Detox with Ms. Carolyn Akens, and I am currently doing the Summer detox as I write this post.  If a food upsets my digestive system, that is a sign for me to stop eating that specific food.

9.  Adding healthy oils to my diet is a good thing. It took me a while to realize that it’s okay to include healthy oils in my diet. Experts in their field can be very convincing about not consuming oil, but ultimately the decision to consume healthy oils is mine.

10. Clean eating is important. I no longer think that eating a 100% plant-based diet is the best diet for everyone. I do however, believe that everyone should eat a balanced, clean, healthy diet.

11. I will listen to my body. Just because a certain diet works for some people, doesn’t mean the diet will work for me. Since listening to my body, I am no longer bloated, get fatigued after eating certain foods, or have bad cases of gas. Listening to my body has helped me and I feel good.

Final Words

It is not easy telling you that I no longer eat a plant-based diet, but I believe in sharing and being open with you. This information might answer questions that you have about your own diet.

There are people that tell me they aren’t doing well (digestion issues, can’t lose weight) on a strict vegetarian diet, but they continue eating the vegetarian diet because they believe that it is the best diet for them.

If a certain diet is not working for you, be honest with yourself and admit that the diet is not for you and move on. Never be afraid of taking a different path. Your health is worth it, you are worth it.

Listen to your body, it will always tell you the way you should go.

Recommended Reading:

Beyond Broccoli: Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet when a Vegetarian Diet Doesn’t Work
Super Healing:  Engaging Your Mind, Body, and Spirit to Create Optimal Health and Well-Being

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About the Author

Evelyn Parham started this site in 2010. She enjoys writing, reading, and dabbling in photography and video editing. Learn more about her here.

13 Enlightened Replies

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  1. Why Your Belly is Getting Bigger on a Vegan Diet | Carb-Sensitivity | November 10, 2015
  1. Ismail N says:

    It’s very nice of you to share your experience, honestly. I did try veggie diet, but couldn’t take it (I craved for poultry and fish), so I quit. But my diet has improved a lot compared to the years before. What I really like about you is your self-control and the fact that you really know yourself & your body.

  2. Trinity says:

    Wow Evelyn!
    Thanks so much for continuing to share your journey. It really helps me to know that you are just “real” in your healthy eating lifestyle. I often wonder when I read vegan blogs if the writers are being biased when it comes to strengthening their arguments.
    When I read this post, I was on vacation – without my computer. I read it on my phone. I reread it twice to make sure that I read it correctly. I thought about it for the rest of my vacation, and I felt relieved. I felt relieved because I deal with some of the same issues with certain foods, and I’m not even vegan nor vegetarian!
    I truly appreciate your honesty. I look forward to your sharing more recipes and more blog posts. You are a wonderful mentor, and I have so much respect for you! You have shared the good and the bad. By doing so, I believe that others will not feel guilty if certain aspects of plant based eating is not working for them.
    This post is encouraging for me in that I now feel that I can relax and figure out what works best for me instead of trying to follow a prescribed plan.
    Continue to do and share your research and your experiences. I believe that you have helped so many people by freeing them from the restricted bondage of a certain diet.
    Be blessed,
    Trinity

    • Hi Trinity,

      I am so glad you stopped by and chimed in!

      I honestly believe that those who believe strongly that their diet is the only way for optimal health, actually believe it is the only truth. However their truth is not always the next person’s truth. We are all different and what works for one person, might not work for the next person. I also know that if anyone wants to prove their arguments, that it is easy for those people to find information that supports their claims. But again, we must always do what is best for us, regardless of what others are saying. Easier said than done, but once you have that ‘ah ha’ moment, then nothing and no one can stop your progress.

      The most important thing that I have ever learned to do is to listen to my body and pay attention to how my body feels; regardless of what others say works for them. I believe our bodies tell us all we need to know about how a particular way of eating works for us, but it’s up to us to listen and tune out the chatter.

      Side Note: < Dr. Mercola, and in that article he stresses the importance of listening to our bodies when it comes to our diets. There aren’t too many doctors who will say that.>>

      Certain foods just don’t agree with us, no matter what type of diet we eat. Sticking with those foods that agree with our bodies, makes a world of a difference. I have learned, that good health lies in good gut (digestive) health. If I can’t digest a food that others say has all these awesome benefits, then I won’t reap the benefits, because my body can’t assimilate it so I can get all the goodness from it. If I continue to ignore this, then deficiencies develop and no one wants that.

      I will continue sharing, because it is comments like yours and others in this post that confirm what I do.

      Yes, relax and figure out what works best for your body. Listen to your body, because no one knows your body like you do. Prescribed plans are good and are good guides, but when the plan needs tweaking/changing we should never hesitate to do so. Most of all we should never feel bad about doing what is best for our bodies. We only get one body, and it is up to us to put the best fuel in the our bodies to ensure that we are in the best health possible.

      Thank you for your support and blessings to you!

      Evelyn

  3. Carolyn says:

    Evelyn, this post is so needed. Thank you for always posting relevant information even if it makes you feel uncomfortable because that’s when you know you are blessing people. You are speaking your truth and that truth will enable someone else to speak theirs just like Teajae! Bravo, Evelyn, Bravo!!!

    • Hi Ms. Carolyn,
      Thank you for stopping by and chiming in!

      It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I do feel better after writing this post.

      I appreciate your support! 🙂

      Have a great weekend!

  4. Bharat says:

    I certainly agreed with you. We have different body and we react differently for all kind of food. So we should give proper attention to our diet to know which diet is suiting us. If any food is not suiting our body then there is no point of eating it regularly without gaining any good.

  5. Do you have a good definition of “clean eating” as I am never exactly sure what that means. Bummer that you cannot eat a lot of fruit!

    • Hey Kymberly,

      Yeah it is a bummer.

      I recently purchased a book, Clean Eats, by Dr. Junger and here is some information from the book that might help you have a better understanding of what ‘clean eating’ means. (pages 24-25)

      “Clean eating begins with the simple idea of eating whole foods the primary food in your diet.”

      Whole foods – “They’re foods found in nature and made of one ingredient. You find them at your local farmers’ market or on the outer edges of the supermarket. Fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, meat, fish, nuts and seeds are some examples.”

      “Whole foods are the foundation of clean eating. They’re your home base, the foods to focus on daily and to return to when you’re not feeling your best.”

      “When we eat primarily whole foods, we’ve automatically removed most of the junk foods, sodas, preservatives and chemicals that are flooding our blood supply.”

      “We call the whole foods that give us problems “toxic triggers.” These foods can cause indigestion, bloating, inflammation, skin issues, fatigue and a whole host of health challenges. The more we continue to eat them, the more we may experience health issues, even if we’re primarily eating a diet of whole foods.”

      “Clean eating means two things: eating whole foods and staying away from your toxic triggers. Once you’ve consistently put these ideas into practice and found the foods that work for you, you’re in a great place.”

      I hope you have a better understanding of what clean eating means.

      Thanks for stopping by and take care! 🙂
      Evelyn

  6. TeaJae says:

    Thank you thank you thank you thank you Evelyn! Finally someone understands. I’m in the process myself of finding what actually works for my body. Little did I know my vegetarian diet led me on the high carb diet I was always hungry so I loaded on carbs. That created MASSIVE weight gain, abundant Candida growth I’m still battling that, very weak bones and teeth lots of breaks, fractures, cavities and led me where I am now having some major blood sugar and hormonal balance issues. I always felt weak and tired, brittle hair, was sick but I kept going saying hey this is a good way to eat all veggies. Strange thing happened to me a few months ago. I added grass fed organic beef, organic poultry and eggs, organic real butter, wild fish into my diet, still have tons of veggies removed the wheat, grains and most legumes even some nuts, 65 pounds dropped with the quickness. My bones are stronger I can actually feel it. Cavities healed, hair, skin , nails stronger, smoother, cleared, supple. So what fits some it wasn’t for me. I couldn’t do it my body was so unhappy and upset. This is such an important post. Everyone has to LEARN this is not one size fits all. There are many times I have veggie only meals when I feel the need to have some animal protein I have it without guilt and I feel better. My body works betters responds better with it than without. I’m pinning this now 🙂

    • Hi Teajae,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      I was reluctant to do this post, because I was worried about what others would think. I found some courage from somewhere and decided to post it, because maybe, just maybe this article could help someone. 🙂

      Your body had many cries to you through the symptoms you had. So glad that you listened to your body. The body is amazing, it will tell us what we need, if only we listen.

      Congratulations on the weight loss! That is a major accomplishment. I am so glad you made the changes and now you know what diet works best for you. We are all individuals and one diet does not fit all, and that is something I had to learn and accept.

      Cool, thanks for the pin!

      Blessings on continued health,
      Evelyn

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