It’s been three years since I first discovered that my brain fog was being triggered by eating meat and dairy. From that point on, I eliminated dairy from my diet completely and began to reduce my meat consumption. It took me another year or so to realise that I felt much better when I completely eliminated meat from my diet. So I’ve been effectively vegan for the past two years and you’re probably wondering what do I actually eat each day to fill up and stay healthy. Well, here’s a run down:
Every morning I eat home-made muesli, made from as many of the following ingredients as I can muster:
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pepitas/pumpkin seeds
- Chia seeds
- Coconut flakes
- Psyllium husks.
I buy all the ingredients in bulk from the internet (from Sydney-based Honest to Goodness) and mix them once a month in a large Tupperware container. I add unsweetened almond and coconut milk or just almond milk and some honey. I’ll admit that it gets a bit boring sometimes so now I usually add some of my favourite “normal” cereals such as Special K or Weet-Bix.
I also make “green drinks” every morning in my Nutri Bullet. I try to use two types of greens, usually kale, silverbeet/chard and/or celery. In addition to these greens, I add 3-4 types of fruit, usually banana, apple, pear, orange, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, papaya and/or paw paw. From what I’ve read, it’s pretty important to eat leafy dark green vegetables to maintain good calcium intake.
The final thing I eat each morning is some natural peanut butter (ie. just peanuts) and jam on dark rye bread. I don’t think this is quite as healthy as the muesli and green drink but it doesn’t cause me any problems and it’s yum (so bite me)!
When I first cut out meat and dairy, I found it very difficult to fill up at first but if you stock your pantry with the right ingredients, it’s not too hard. Here are the things I usually snack on at home or in the office:
- Unsalted mixed nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, macadamias and/or cashews), sometimes with a date and coconut flakes
- Humus and celery and carrot sticks (I really like Obela Classic Hommus)
- Dolmades (vine leaves filled with white rice).
When I’m at home, I normally make a massive salad and try to keep in mind the guiding principle of “all the colours of the rainbow”. Here are my “go to” salad ingredients:
- Mixed lettuce leaves
- Spanish/red onions
- Red or yellow capsicum/peppers
- Sweet potato or pumpkin roasted in coconut or olive oil
- Sprouts (any type)
- Mixed beans from a can
- Cup mushrooms sautéed in vegetable oil, salt and pepper
- Seed mix (sesame, sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
- Dressing, 2 parts olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar
Do you know that tired feeling you get after you eat something like pasta or pizza for lunch? I guarantee you that you won’t feel any of that after eating a salad made from some or most of these ingredients. I’m not going to say you will feel amazing, you won’t, but you will feel pretty much the same as you did before you had lunch, just fuller.
I’m pretty busy with full-time work and a young family, so I don’t have time to make this salad every day, although when I make it, I always make enough for lunch the next day as well. But when I’m at work, I buy my lunch each day, and the following meals make up my repertoire:
- Miso soup and vegetarian sushi without egg
- Roasted vegetable and salad sandwich on brown bread
- Falafel and salad sandwich on wholemeal bread
- Salads comprising brown rice, quinoa, roasted vegetables, beetroot, legumes/pulses (you can usually find these sorts of salads at organic or new-age health bars)
- Chilli and basil thai stir fry with tofu and vegetables (this dish doesn’t normally have any fish or oyster sauces, which don’t generally agree with me)
- Thai green curry with tofu and vegetables, which contains coconut milk rather than dairy
- Subway Veggie Pattie with no cheese, all the salads and sweet onion sauce
After lunch I always have a couple of pieces of Lindt 70% dark chocolate, my refined sugar hit for the day. My afternoon snacks are pretty much the same as my morning snacks mentioned above, although I usually have some Ryvitas with humus instead of vegetable sticks. I generally also have some fruit, normally a banana or apple.
Dinner is often not as well planned out as my other meals but I still have a list of “regulars” which make being vegan easier. I find that if you have to think too much about what you’re going to have for dinner, you either get a bit deflated by the limitations of being a time-poor vegan or you just start getting really hungry! So here are my regulars, which I usually have with a simple salad of mixed lettuce leaves, tomato, cucumber, avocado and spanish/red onion with olive oil:
- Lentil patties (in the frozen aisle of the supermarket) with sweet thai chilli sauce
- Steamed shitaake mushroom and vegetable dumplings (same aisle as above) with soy sauce
- Fried “Chinese” flavoured tofu (different aisle) with brown or white rice
- Burritos with kidney bean, tomato and onion sauce, mixed leaves, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, spanish/red onions, guacamole and taco sauce. Guacamole is a great snack with some corn chips, I make mine from avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Dahl (made from lentils) with brown rice
- Roasted sweet potato and pumpkin, baked with olive or coconut oil, salt and pepper
I guess I don’t get all that excited by dessert any more, although you can buy or make some pretty tasty vegan treats. I usually just have a little bit of chopped fruit.
In terms of keeping brain fog away, I have found that I feel better the next day if I don’t overeat at dinner time. In fact, the earlier I eat the better, as it gives my digestive system more time to process the food before morning. And, as I’ve mentioned in another post, the mornings are always the worst in terms of feeling foggy.
Let me know if you’d like any more detail about my diet. I’d also love to hear from anyone who has any easy-to-make suggestions to add to mine.
Happy (and healthy) eating!