Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Category: diet (Page 1 of 2)

Opening A Can of Beans – Considering Veganism

img_5647-2I have wanted to become a vegan for many years but haven’t been able to bring myself to the point of actually doing it. It has mostly been about laziness; I kept on imagining that it would take considerable effort, and time and work. I have been a pescetarian/vegetarian for most of my adult life, and then, when I went on the Dukan diet I had to eat protein, so I ate fish, eggs and cheese a lot. In the back (and slowly moving to the middle) of my mind was the knowledge that vegan was really what I wanted to be.

I decided that becoming a vegan was going to be a new year’s resolution, and so I have been gradually preparing for it. I have been buying some stuff to have in the cupboard, I have made the switch to milk alternative in my coffee (delicious) and I have been reading ingredients labels with dedication (and fury; who knew that had egg in it?). I have also been listening, deeply, to Big friendly’s concerns. Becoming a vegan when you are married to a food fussy omnivore is problematic and challenging.

I have a few concerns about my lazy nature, my propensity for weight gain, and my tendency to overindulge. I could become a bread ball in a matter of weeks. But I am going to try and be as conscious and committed as I can. It most definitely looks like Cape Town is perfect vegan country, with restaurants, shops and even delis dedicated to providing for the fast growing vegan community, so there won’t be any stress there.

Where there is stress is on Twitter. Wow. In preparation for my transition I have read a lot on the internet; checked out recipes, blogs, science, pseudoscience, and deeply personal tips from vegans worldwide. I also decided to follow some vegan related people/things on Twitter. Bad idea. I got a DM from someone demanding I stop the killing NOW! I replied that that was why I was starting my journey, and promptly unfollowed them. Somebody else screamed at somebody else that dairy-free was NOT vegan and they need a disclaimer in their one line bio. And then there were the links that led to nothing but clickbait and ads. So, being a #twittervegan is not going to work for me.

I am going to have to tread carefully. A friend told me about how his sister who is a vegan gets abused and challenged by flesh eaters every day. Why? Shouldn’t it be the other way around actually? But, that is not who or what I want to become. I have already done that with smoking. Over half a lifetime of smoking and then 14 years of having quit made me into one of those rabid anti-smokers for a while, and it was hard work. Nah, I am too, too lazy for that.

But. I am going to need help. And suggestions. And great ideas. And encouragement. So if you have any or all of those, I am open, like a vegan recipe book.

 

 

Listening to Eve Ensler

I felt special at the talk Eve Ensler gave at the Baxter yesterday. I felt special that I was part of an invited audience. I felt special that I am very close to the SA producer, my sister-in-law, Gina Shmukler. I felt special because I knew so many of the gorgeous women of every description who were there. (I felt special because many, many industry people were so kind to me and whispered sweet words of solidarity with me in my ear, after my turgid time on the interwebs over the last two weeks.)

I loved sitting in the theatre and listening to the conversation flow between Eve, a most crazily lovable creative activist, playwright, performer and human female person, and Kgomotso Matsuyane, an articulate, charming, funny, warm, intelligent and generous host, who had clearly done great homework and met Eve with love and respect. Cape Town is the perfect place for this type of conversation to happen, with its collection of spirits quite comfortable with tapping into the personal political energetic. (It’s not for everyone, I know, and I have heard that Jozi was a tougher crowd).

It was quite clear during the Q&A afterwards that people had responded to Eve in that deeply personal way, and related to the bits of her story (she was there to promote her book about her cancer and recovery) that had resonance and relevance to them. And it was the same for me, on a completely personal and specific level. I was intrigued and moved by a lot of her story but the thing I hooked onto (and right now I accidentally typed thin instead of thing!) was coming back into my body. She spoke about being disconnected from our bodies and that for her, getting sick brought her back into her body. For me, I have returned to my body after losing 17kgs. I have rediscovered my body after ignoring it and its/my needs. I have fallen in love with my body in a profound and deep way. I have reconnected with my physical self and it has changed my relationship with myself, others, and how I am in the world. I cried a lot during Eve’s chat. Crying is also me being in my body.

So, I had the experience that everyone looks for in a theatre yesterday. Communion with the audience, and with the ‘performers’. Catharsis. Connection with the self. Change. Understanding. Enlightenment. Looking back at all of those gigantic things it seems unrealistic. But it isn’t. Thanks Eve, and all who worked to bring that magical conversation to us.

Eve’s extraordinary play Emotional Creature is on next week. I am urging you to find a young person and take them. It will transform you and them.

What is hard

So far I have written mainly about how easy it is to go on the Dukan diet, and reach your target weight. I am discovering that what isn’t as easy is staying there. I am currently in the third phase of the diet, the consolidation phase, which is about reintroducing foods slowly and in a controlled way, with one day a week of pure protein (a thing that will continue for the rest of my life), and it is a test. Partly because Big Friendly and I went away for the weekend, I ended up being a little slack. That was easy. But getting completely, strictly back on track has been hard, especially since I have to be fiercely committed to this phase for a very long time. How it works is, five days for every pound lost, so in my case I complete this phase in August!

I really, really didn’t understand this part before. I hadn’t felt it until this time. I really want this. Not in a whiny, helpless way, but in a true, sticking to my guns even though it is hard way. And writing about it helps too.

Just say Yes

A lot of people have messaged me with questions about the Dukan diet. Others have told me the reasons why it didn’t work for them; ranging from feelings of nausea and exhaustion, to vegetarians and vegans having serious issues with the animal protein needed. I understand all of the problems and challenges.

Luckily for me I was able to put a most commonly used improv skill into practice (I don’t know why I have never ever done it with my diet before), and that is, just say yes. I did everything to make the diet work. I stuck to my guns, I broke certain rules if it was going to make me stick to it, and I followed others to the letter. I just said yes, and committed and got on with it. Before I knew it I was two months in 8kgs down and happy and confident that what I was doing was working.

So, instead of feeling disappointed and sad and resigned I felt empowered and successful and energised. I have capitalised on those feelings. They totally motivate me. Everyone’s response to me has been inspiring and delicious too. This is a yes I can success story.

The Funny Side

I was Facebum chatting to a friend overseas about the Dukan diet (USA has its unique challenges when trying to go on a sugar free diet; even the plain yogurt and fat free cottage cheese has sugar in it) and the conversation reminded me of how many funny things happen when you are dieting. It really isn’t all hard work and gloom.

One of the funniest things I did, more than once, was to peel batter off fish. I was out, or away, and had to eat the lesser of all evils. Fried fish it was. And I peeled it. Was it the ideal thing to eat? No. Was it a whole lot better than eating the batter? Oh yes.

I picked fruit out of salad. Actually, in general I don’t love fruit in salad, but especially on the Dukan, where in the first two phases there is no fruit whatsoever (because of the sugar) I picked damn (fashionable) pomegranate pips, orange segments, raisins (sies), apple and even nuts (which are also a no-no on the diet) out of salads.

I hauled sugar free gum, sugar free, fat free yogurt and even oat bran out of my bag. I carried a teaspoon around so I could eat it on the go.

I wore pants that were totally huge for me with belts, before finally agreeing that they were miles too big. I bought new jeans too soon, and lost more weight. I got rid of the big belts before I got rid of the big pants.

I saw the local shops as the drug store. I cannot believe how much terrible stuff is on sale there, just in the aisle that we wait in, to pay. It really is evil. I was on guard.

I became a preacher. I could see people glaze over after paragraph 2 of what I had done, what I was doing, and how. Sometimes I preached to those in need. I have converted more than 3 friends and the results speak for themselves. This makes me, and them, very happy.

Best Snack ever

Gero vanilla flavoured fat free yogurt, 1 tsp cocoa powder, 2 tbs oat bran (daily allowance)

Thing that saved my life

Tuna biltong. Pure protein snack.

Worst snack ever (although I tried twice!)

Vegetarian, fat free, artificially sweetened jelly. Tastes like artificially sweetened nothing.

Important

Some of my friends have always had an excellent relationship with their bodies. They know when they are bloated, or one or two kilos over what is comfortable for them, and then they quietly sort it out by watching what they eat for a week or two. They are in balance. It is a good combination of pride in their bodies and how they look, health, and reality. I have never really been one of those people. Don’t get me wrong, I like looking and feeling good, but I don’t like spending time or energy on it. I find it very boring.

Also, while I didn’t have the best advice about my body while I was growing up, with family members projecting their body weight issues onto me, I still managed to be very uncomplicated around my body and food. This meant that I was seldom overweight, until I gave up smoking 11 years ago.

What I remember feeling most often when I was 17kgs heavier was resignation. I was resigned to my middle life as a fat person. I got used to the pictures of a fat me on stage. I felt embarrassed, but resigned. I felt unhappy, but resigned. I felt not myself, but resigned. Until I decided that it was important to change and feel different. Important. I am so excited that I made that decision, and put it into practice. Because it is important. And I feel like I have made such an important decision.

The impact of that is huge. I am allowing myself to feel proud about my body. I am allowing myself to spend time on what I look like. Well, more time than I did before. I talk to everyone about it, honestly and with commitment. I want to have a sustained, healthy, committed relationship with my body. I want it to work for me, and when it does, I have a life that is so much better.

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