Quick history…Simply by switching from SAD (Standard American Diet) to WFPB in 2012, I lost 50 lbs in the first year (probably in around 7 months). During that time, I did eat some processed vegan food but no animal foods at all. As I continued to eat that way, the weight stayed off, but I found that I wasn’t losing anymore. I was still eating the same amount of calories I ate (more or less) at the beginning of my journey, but I weighed a lot less. I just couldn’t continue losing weight eating the same amount of calories. I also had a couple of ups and downs with my diabetes (eating less clean caused my a1c to rise), but ultimately found that I had to eat clean MOST of the time for optimal results. Now, I aim to eat clean 95% of the time.
A couple of years ago when High Carb Hannah’s Lean and Clean eBook came out (awesome way to get back on track and start losing again!), I followed her 2-week jumpstart plan, but I found that I was having to moderate (eat less of) some of the foods (potatoes, rice, oats, dates, fats) in order to keep my blood sugar in check and continue losing weight. Doing that, I was still feeling great and lost 9 lbs in a month.
Anyway, that really got me thinking. Even though I had heard from SO many people that I could eat all the whole plant foods I wanted until I was satisfied, I realized that I was not like the typical person. I didn’t seem to have those working sensors that told me it was time to stop eating until way too late. Even when I ate more slowly, I still never felt full. But, believe me, I was physically PLENTY full. Perhaps years and years of pushing the limit–eating beyond full–wrecked my ability to feel fullness. So, I decided to combine what I had learned in every past diet I failed to stay on (you’ll see why in a minute) and combine it with the magic of whole plant foods.
Whole plant foods do contain many magical qualities. Like the fact that they are loaded with nutrients and provide the perfect fuel for the body. However, we don’t put more gas in a car than the tank can hold. There is a limit–a tank–and keeping the tank full but not overflowing was a challenge for me.
I knew that I did NOT want to count calories and weigh and measure my food ALL the time. And, I don’t do that now, so please don’t misunderstand. However, when my weight loss stalled (and I even gained a few pounds back), I knew I needed to put myself under the microscope and see where I needed to tweak my diet.
I started by signing up for a FREE account at cronometer.com.
I chose this site specifically because they don’t allow random people to enter in foods and their information like other sites do. The information comes from a couple of databases (USDA and NCCDB) that were more reputable that the average human. However, in order to track what you are eating, you do have to make sure you are actually eating specific amounts of food. You’ll have to do some weighing and measuring. I know–a little bit of a pain. This was not something I planned to do forever–just for a few days. I just ate as I normally would, entered this information into Cronometer, and found that my macronutrient distribution of carbs, proteins, and fats was WAY off. And, my caloric intake was anywhere from 100-500 calories too high every day. #realitycheck
Tracking food is absolutely more work when you eat complex meals. So, eating more simply helps tremendously. My breakfasts and lunches were a breeze to enter into Cronometer (because I eat much more simply at these meals), but my dinners were generally much more complex recipes. PAIN, RIGHT? For the long haul, I knew I would not want to be entering in every one of my recipes/servings into Cronometer. However, I did add some of them to get me through my test days. It was helpful to get an accurate picture of my caloric intake and macros distribution.
Armed with some new information, I made some changes to my diet. I knew that eating less than 10% of my total caloric intake in fat was not good for me–even as a T2 diabetic. My hair, skin, and nails were especially dry, and I just didn’t feel as good. So, I upped my whole plant fat intake to a total of 10-15% per day. I was able to maintain optimal blood glucose levels and feel good. I also lowered my carbohydrates from 80% down to 75% simply by moderating my starches. I actually measure out my starches (some before and some after cooking). I have a cheat sheet in my eBook of exactly what I moderate and in what quantities (bit.ly/tameyourdiabetes). And, I upped my intake of the lowest calorically dense foods–non-starchy veggies and fruit. So now, I only weigh/measure starches and fats. I just eyeball my beans/legumes, but for some people these might also need to be moderated. I actually have to make sure I am eating beans/legumes because I didn’t grow up eating them and wasn’t used to including them in my meals.
So, how do you figure out IF you need to moderate some foods and how much to moderate? This is a VERY personal and individual thing that I cannot decide for you. Some people have tried doing what I do with incredible success. Others have to increase their caloric intake because they weigh more than I do. Others need less. You have to experiment. I just believe that the higher calorically dense of the whole plant foods–starches, beans/legumes, nuts, seeds, avocado–are the foods we tend to overeat when we are eating clean. Fruit can also be a problem for some people, in the form of smoothies and nice cream.
So, here’s a quick view of how I did it. And Girl, please know that I am NOT at my goal weight because I don’t eat clean all the time. I try to stay on my plan 95% of time. That’s about 1 meal off of every 21.
– I began by tracking my present food intake in Cronometer for a few days to see how many calories I was eating and to see the macronutrient distribution of those foods.
– I decided to begin eating 1200 calories of whole plant foods (a number that was slightly lower than what charts said I needed to lose weight) and to eat 75% of my calories from carbohydrates, 15% from protein and 15% from fat. I actually planned out my meals in Cronometer THE DAY BEFORE and followed that plan pretty strictly for a while (maybe 2 weeks).
– Seeing that I was losing weight (weighed in each morning at the same time in my Birthday Suit), I increased the calories by 100 calories for a few days. I continued to lose weight, so I increased by another 100 calories. I stalled again. So, I found that my “sweet spot” is around 1200-1350 calories per day. However, if you weigh over 180 lbs, starting with around 1500-1550 calories a day is probably a better starting point for you. I would increase by 100 calories every couple of days to find YOUR “sweet spot.” People who weigh over 200 lbs may be able to eat closer to 1800-2000 calories a day (or more!) and still be able to lose weight. Test and see!
— Ongoing, I didn’t want to track my food every day. So instead, I simply moderate the foods that I tend to overeat–potatoes, rice, oats, tofu, nuts, seeds, processed vegan food. This is continuing to produce steady maintenance of my weight loss and even some additional weight loss. You could even do better than me if you eat super clean ALL of the time. I just choose to be a little less strict at times because I plan to do this forever.
I hope all of this makes sense. Please post questions you have below, and I will answer and also update this post to add in information I may have forgotten.
If you want my CHEAT SHEET and to read more specifically about my philosophy, read my eBook. Use the code NEWBIE for a discount on it.
Link to eBook >> http://bit.ly/tameyourdiabetes