Since October last year I’ve been seeing a nutritionist locally in Dee Why (Zest and Zing). Its been a really interesting journey. It was all prompted by my decision to get my bloods checked by my GP to see how my body was coping with the vegan diet..e.g was I deficient in anything, how were my levels of iron / B12 / Zinc/ Magnesium etc.
Whilst I was delighted that everything was in the normal range…I had an inkling that things could still be improved. I have never felt healthier than I do with my vegan lifestyle, however I still wanted reassurance that my body agreed with me and was intrigued to find out what I could do better to make sure my system was healthy and flourishing.
So, here’s what I found out.…although all my ranges were healthy and normal, they were still lower than the nutritionist would like them to be. She felt that the protein levels in my muscles could improve, that my iron / B12 / Magnesium / Zinc / Iodine and Vitamin D could also do with a little attention.
Whilst complimenting me on my diet and encouraging me that I was one of the most informed and healthiest vegans she had met (which obviously made me smile), she still was frank in her statement that there was work to do regardless.
And so we embarked on a journey together…
Not only have I started taking supplements recommended by her, but I have made some real changes in my diet to help with a longer term approach to ensure I am ingesting what I need to enable my body to do what it needs.
So, I thought I’d share the benefit of the wisdom I have learned with you all. Whether you are embarking on a vegan diet or are simply trying to fine tune an already successful healthy vegan lifestyle – you may find this useful or interesting.
I now have a ‘must eat‘ list of weekly foods that I try to incorporate in my weekly shop, my weekly meals and to stock in my pantry. This helps me to maintain the right balance of nutrients & minerals that my body needs.
So, what’s on my list and why? Here it is
for your benefit. As a heads up – where an ingredient repeats as regards its nutrients I haven’t repeated it on the list below. I didn’t see the point in having things listed twice so some of these actually fit under a number of the headings but although I recognise that I’ve decided to K.I.S.S (keep it simple stupid) as I find it easier to work with that way.
- Pumpkin seeds
- legumes / pulses
- Soy Protein
- Sesame seeds
- Udo oil (not a necessity but I use it as a salad dressing)
- Nutritional yeast
- Marmite / vegemite
- Raspberries / Strawberries
- Red Pepper
Omegas and Selenium:
- Sesame seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Pine nuts
- Cashew Nuts
- Sun-dried Tomatoes
- Brown rice
- Unhulled sesame
- Sunflower seeds
- Silverbeet / collard greens
- Curry Powder
- Mustard Powder
- Dark Chocolate
- Sweet Potato
- Cocoa Powder
- Cacao powder
So my theory is simple. I don’t need to worry about how much I eat of what. I just need to make sure that each week, as best I can, and with obvious awareness of what’s seasonal at the time, I get something from each of these groups and have as much variety as possible.
There’s no need to worry about percentages of fat or sugar or carbs etc in my diet. I just need to eat all the right foods, with the right nutrients and make sure all my major groups are covered, and the rest will look after itself.
Honestly, I think I know so much more now about nutrition than I ever did as a vegetarian. I love that being vegan forces you to be aware and that you need to consider all of these things. Knowledge is power after all and I certainly feel empowered with this knowledge.
I hope you find this useful too. It certainly helped me to get a good overview of what I need to do to maintain a healthy weight and to encourage balance in my body.
On a final note, and inspired by my lessons learned here is what I made for dinner:
(Serves 1): Broccoli, Pepita and Pumpkin Salad (with homemade aquafaba basil mayo…see earlier blog)
- 1 bunch broccolini (steamed)
- Handful fresh spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon pepitas
- Half fresh spring onion chopped
- 30g mini gherkins chopped finely
- 1 cup cubed baked pumpkin (no oil)
- Pinch himalayan pink salt
- tablespoon liquid aminos (you could use tahini instead)
- Lime zest from fresh lime
- 45g semi dried tomatoes
- pinch nutritional yeast
Serve all on a plate with a little of the mayo drizzled over the top. It looks a little like this (just with pumpkin instead of orange…I forgot to take a pic! Doh).
Delish. Nutritious. Healthy. Balanced.
= Happy vegan.