Intuitively Plant Based vs. Vegan

09.05.18

Health

Hi lovers & welcome back to Day 3 of the SEPTEMBER SERIES on TBB! Where I am blogging every weekday of the month to get back in my blogging routine & bring you topics you’ve asked me to address and share more about. 🙂

And let’s be real… no matter how hard I try to switch it up, the blog will always be my online diary. So amidst addressing your topics, sharing recipes and tips, etc. I will always just be blogging from the heart! That is what this blog has always been about.

Today I am writing about a topic that has been tugging on my heartstrings to address for a while… the intuitively plant-based lifestyle I have been following since January of this year.

I have been getting so many ( very VALID! ) questions from you guys about where the whole intuitively plant-based thing came from on my end. I very publicly went through a “breakup” with veganism, if you will, which you can read all about HERE if you haven’t, and also HERE ( the whoooole story & shebang! ) in my book.

After that public breakup, I see how it could seem a little confusing from your point of view to see me go back to a largely vegan diet. I want to share this post to break down the walls between us & try as best as I can to share where I am coming from… because if you had been with me for the whole journey ( which you kinda have if you’ve been reading the whole time, but I mean like REALLY with me every day / seeing the ins & outs of my health decline ) then it wouldn’t seem out of nowhere in the least.

I don’t really mind what anyone thinks of the switch I have made. I learned a long time ago that when you share your life on the Internet, an onslaught of opinions about your every single move will be made and shared with you ( often lashed out, but also often shared with grace and compassion ). The only thing I care about is expressing myself & sharing with you where I am coming from so it can hopefully help you find more clarity & wellness in your own life!

So let’s see here… without backing up TOO far, let me walk you back to last December when J & I spent two weeks in Bali.

My health was already a mess, but it got REAL BAD in Bali…

While that trip was epically fun, and our first huge trip together as a couple, to the most magical healing oasis of all time… it was also INCREDIBLY hard on my body and my health. It was the first time I had taken myself out of my day to day routine for that long, and while we were traveling it hit me hard that I WAS NOT WELL.

I felt very off. Nauseated, inflamed, bloated (massive understatement), puffy, ITCHY (head to toe rashes), out of whack hormones, emotional / moody, in pain with migraines and joint aches, VERY fatigued and lethargic, ten times my age (just no energy or zest whatsoever), horrible acne, scatter brained, and desperate for a change. All of this pain and sickness was also making me DEPRESSED, which is a terrible addition to the rest of it.

Jonathan was a trooper. He saw how happy the lifestyle & pace of Bali was making me, so he encouraged me to book a solo trip for April so that I could give myself space and time to HEAL.

Bali nights with my number one support system. Feeling like crap but very much in love… with him and the gorgeous oasis of Indonesia.

At the time we didn’t even know what I needed to heal from, but it was clear that healing needed to happen. I was not myself at all, whatsoever, not even close. At Nihiwatu, the most beautiful hotel in the WORLD on the island of Sumba outside of Bali, I sobbed and laid in bed with the worst migraine I have ever had in my life… spent an entire day inside after a morning hike + breakfast overlooking the ocean that should have been the most glorious / luxurious /enjoyable view I have ever experienced in my entire lifetime.

Instead, I was a mess. I had NO idea what I could eat / could not eat. I was paralyzed with pain and fear that what I put into my mouth would make my symptoms 100x worse. I was afraid to eat anything other than water or coffee, literally, because food was such a gamble. I was also trying to play the game of “I’m on vacation, I should be indulging!!” by eating the yummy gluten-free toast, eggs, bacon, desserts, etc. that Jonathan was eating with ease.

Every day culminated with me saying, “You have to help me,” to him. “You have to help me make sure I never eat eggs or gluten-free grains again. I can’t eat sugar. I don’t even think I should be drinking coffee. I am so f*cked up.”

“Make me take more magnesium at night. Make sure I am drinking 10x as much water as I am now. I need to find a doctor that can help me. I should have brought my digestive enzymes with me. I think my hormones are really, really, really bad from this IUD.”

( I had an IUD in for about 5 weeks before I got it removed — NOT a good idea to ever get it put in, in the first place. At least for my body and what I was already dealing with. )

In Bali, I was asked if I was pregnant at least three times. It was AWFUL. Here I am, being ridiculously careful about what I eat, working out every day, flaunting my cute new swim suits & resort wear, feeling sick as all hell but trying to keep a smile on my face and live in the moment, treating my boyfriend to a Balinese massage, and being asked post-massage by the spa owner if I am PREGNANT. What the f*ck?

Needless to say, I came back to the U.S. with a lot of questions, a lot of defeat, a lot of misery, and a whole new perspective of HEALTH and what I needed to do to get well.

Some initial takeaways from Bali…

In Bali I was able to get some perspective I very much needed about my life. I realized a few things: I was stressed BEYOND belief in my every day life, I had gut issues and some other health issues that were becoming absolutely debilitating, I NEEDED to get my IUD out, and my body was ridiculously intolerant to eggs, grains (even gluten-free), coffee, fish, and sugar.

So what did I do? Just about the only things I had control of: stop eating all of the above foods, and get the IUD taken out.

Since I already didn’t eat much red meat or pork, these new food eliminations brought me to a mostly vegan diet, which honestly… in my GUT OF ALL GUTS and CORE OF ALL CORES… seemed like the best freaking move of all time.

To be totally honest with you guys, I MISSED veganism. I missed it so, so, so much. I didn’t miss the labeling or the eating disorder I once had or the restriction I experienced when I used food to control my life, but I missed the healing properties of plants and the simplicity of a plant-based diet. I missed how GOOD I felt once upon a time eating that way. I missed the pride I had in myself for making those positive choices and sticking to them, and I missed how much fun I had in the kitchen creating plant-based meals and making them taste good.

In short, I knew in my heart that veganism was calling me home.

This is what my face looked like around that time. Very inflamed. Very out of sorts. Crawling with mold and Lyme bacteria.

And I don’t mean that in a dramatic, I’m going to live be a label again kind of way. I just mean it in a… I was born for simplicity kind of way. I was not born with an iron stomach that can handle a whole lot of meaty, protein-rich, or even remotely processed or acidic foods. I was born with a sensitive stomach and system that has been my greatest blessing (it brought me to my passion for wellness) and my greatest “curse” for how much pain and turmoil it has brought.

Just imagine for a second how AWFUL I felt in Bali. I was legitimately 20 pounds over my comfortable weight, and for no good reason at all. I was living my life yes, but I was not eating unhealthy foods or overeating in any way. I was exercising and doing everything in my power to feel like me again, and it just wasn’t happening.

I wish I had more photos from that time, but I honestly deleted a lot of them because I was so disheartened by how I felt. I am going to try to dig some more up, but here is a highlight from the trip — when we serendipitously ran into our friends Britt, Tara, EVEREST, and Emily at a vegan cafe in Ubud!!

The Next Steps…

Since I knew I wanted to return to plant-based eating for healing but didn’t want to confine myself with the label that once triggered me to eliminate TOO MANY FOODS… I knew that intuitively plant-based just felt right.

In short, I made the term up. I am sure other people have used it, but the way in which I am using it came straight from my head. Intuitive means to eat straight from the intuition — listening to your own body, honoring its cues, treating it with kindness and loving choices and staying in the moderate lane vs. the extreme lane.

Being intuitively plant-based, I know that if plant-based no longer feels INTUITIVE to me, I will incorporate other foods.

Crazy enough, looking back on that post-Bali feeling and the desire to go plant-based again, I was so on target. I didn’t know at the time that my histamine levels were OFF the charts, causing severe inflammation and hormone imbalances. I had NO testosterone, NO pregnenolone, and a totally sluggish / not working thyroid. I also had Lyme disease, mold poisoning, babesia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, MCAS, gut dysbiosis, a fibroid the size of a grapefruit, and MORE.

I look back and realize, my intuition was more on point than I could have even imagined or desired it to be! My intuition knew what I needed before I did.

Cutting out grains, eggs, fish, coffee, and other non-vegan foods definitely helped by inflammation go down quite a bit. But I still struggled to get better or feel even halfway decent until I did the water fast and found the salt-oil-sugar-free plant-based lifestyle in June.

And because of my illnesses and the severity of them, I STILL struggle to feel well, but I know that being plant-based helps me immensely. It is anti-inflammatory and because of the nutrients and vitalism and minerals in plant-based it is profoundly healing. It supports my healing from disease as well as my hormonal imbalances and digestion issues.

I have lost a solid 15 pounds which is always an indicator to me that at least SOMETHING is working right inside my body. To be real with you, I still feel like I am holding on to excess inflammation and body weight because my body is struggling so, so deeply to find its balance… but I am not so concerned about that from an outer perspective. I am concerned about what that means for my insides, and I am so, so looking forward to getting my thyroid / testosterone / pregnenolone / iron back in balance and killing the toxins and bacteria in my body to find that balance!

So as you can see, finding the plant-based lifestyle again was a windy road. Four years passed between my last time being vegan and then going the plant-based route again. It is HARD for me not to use the term “vegan” because I identify with so many parts of it… the cruelty-free movement, the benefits for the environment, the health benefits, all of it. But I try hard not to use that term because of everything else it entails — the hardcore “cult ish” parts of it, the judgmental parts, and the UNSWAYING rigidity of it. And by that rigidity  I mean that if I call myself a vegan I may have more trouble incorporating non-vegan foods if I need them for my own personal health.

Currently I will occasionally use colostrum powder (from a cow) to deal my leaky gut,  marine collagen from time to time for protein and skin / bone / joint health, and I have had some Surya Spa bread that has eggs in it. 🙂 I am not MILITANT by any stretch of the imagination, and I never do want to be militant again!!

I think finding that in-between, moderate, healing, intuitive diet for YOU is what it’s all about. For me right now, that is intuitively plant-based. Not militant. Not even vegan. Just very plant-heavy and very, very in love with the benefits of plant foods and the passion they fill me with when I am eating and when I am in the kitchen.

A yummy plant-based dessert I found in Sedona! Go to CHOCOLATREE if you ever visit Sedona… so many veggie options and the best chocolate of all time. Probably not oil OR sugar free, but def refined sugar free! Sometimes you’ve just gotta live!

I also love plant foods! I don’t feel deprived at all. That is huge. The first time I was vegan, I did feel deprived. I eliminated so many foods and I had food fears within the vegan category that I didn’t touch. I was more of a juice cleanse addict than anything. This time I eat an abundance of foods… even legumes and plant proteins and tempeh! I am all about it. I have had fun playing around in the kitchen and I had grown so much in four years — I never again want to HARM my body by eliminating too many foods.

My focus is on healing. Getting my hormones back into balance and supporting my healing with vital nutrients and enzymes. Having a variety of foods in my diet and ENJOYING the ish out of what I eat and make. Salt oil sugar free makes it even more fun for me because a) I feel sick less of the time, and b) I get to cook at home way more than ever before because its easier than finding foods in a restaurant that support my goals. 🙂

I will share a lot more on this topic, but for now wanted to at LEAST address the question and let you know where I’m at with all of it! I am feeling amazing on the food front, and even though I have a long way to go with my healing in general… I feel very, very good about the intuitively plant-based life for ME at this stage. 🙂

Would love to hear your thoughts!! Do you eat intuitively? Have you tried the plant-based life, or are you more of a meat eater / vegetarian / paleo / non labeled?!?! I respect all of it!!!