This article is ultimately about how I got rid of my salt cravings on a raw vegan diet (and the answer is further down in the article) , but it’s also about how comparing myself to others kept me stuck in a rut with my diet.
Bear with me because the two are definitely connected.
So many of us fall into the bad habit of comparing ourselves to others, don’t they?
I used to do it all the time until I realised that it was only setting me up for heartbreak.
It’s impossible to compare ourselves to others anyway. Other people have:
- Completely different lifestyles and demands on their time (some people might be very sedentary, while others are running around after kids all day, working on a construction site or doing night shifts at the local hospital)
- Different physiological systems (e.g. You may have taken a tonne of drugs in your life, whereas others haven’t)
- Different birth and parenting stories (e.g. You may have been bottle-fed rather than breast fed)
- Different genetic history.(e.g. Your parents may be diabetic, or have autoimmune disease and you may share those genes)
All these factors mean that one person might need to eat 4000 calories and another person might thrive on 1300 calories.
I used to think I had to eat a certain amount of calories to stick with this diet. If a rake thin girl was eating 3000 calories a day then I should be able to eat that much too much, right.
I know now that this is a flawed way of looking at diet. Now instead, I try to reflect on where I’ve personally come from and see how far I’ve come. And I’ve come a loooong way.
Three years ago I’d been already playing around with the fruit-based raw vegan diet for a couple of years. I felt pretty good and had experienced some extraordinary health gains. But I was still having some issues.
Before I discuss those, I want to give you a snapshot of one day of eating… (luckily I’ve always kept a food journal over the years so I can see what I was eating at that time)
A day of food 3 years ago…
Breakfast – Big fruit smoothie with 6 Bananas, a cup berries & 2 pears and a handful or two of baby spinach.
Lunch – about 6 dates & 2 lebanese cucumbers, 2 apples and 2 bananas
Afternoon tea – 2 cups of grapes, 2 apples, ½ a packet of rice crackers with ½ an avocado (salt cravings kicking in you can see)
Dinner – Oil free potato chips (about 3 or 4 potatoes worth) with salt and a salad with lettuce, tomato, zucchini, corn and avocado.
Supper – Banana nicecream with dates and coconut milk (probably 2 bananas, 1 date)
All looks pretty yummy, right? I was eating around 3000 calories a day. Initially I lost a whole lot of weight and felt great. But after while, when I was eating the cooked salty potatoes, rice crackers etc (even though I was still eating low fat), I put back on all the weight I had lost.
I was about 25 pounds heavier than I wanted to be.
For one, I was having wicked salt cravings. I ate loads of fruit but I was also having break-out binges on cooked, salty foods towards the end of some day. Things like hot chips, and salty crackers. This seems to be a very common experience for newbies starting out on a raw vegan lifestyle by the way.
Now, three years on, I no longer have those salt cravings, and I know exactly why.
- I seriously upped the amount of greens I eat and eat them with EVERY meal. This helps to slow down my glucose uptake with the increased fibre.
- I lowered the amount of calories I eat overall.
- I eat meals, rather than snacks.
- I lowered the amount of fruit and carbs generally that I was eating.
- I no longer eat flour products (rice crackers are a BIG trigger physiologically for me to over eat because they produce such a significant spike in blood sugar and suppress leptin, the hormone which signals appetite satiety)
So here’s what a typical day looks like for me now.
Breakfast – 3.5 bananas, ½ cup of raspberries and about 5 cups of kale
Lunch – 3.5 bananas, ½ cup of raspberries and 4 cups of lettuce
Dinner – 2 apples, ½ cup of chickpeas, and a big salad of about 8 cups of mixed lettuce, baby spinach, broccoli, red bell pepper, corn, 1 heaped tablespoon of ground chia seeds.
This is a little over 1500 calories. Currently I am about 6 pounds above my ideal weight, so I’m running a slight calorie deficit to lose the excess. But my usual calories are roughly between 1800 and 2000.
Interestingly, when I eat this way, I’m eating far fewer calories but I’m feeling satiated and not inclined to binge on chips and salty crackers. I put this down to more even blood sugar control from the amount of greens I’m eating.
In fact I would say that my diet is now more in line with what a typical primate would eat in the wild – around 45% of their diet from greens, 50% from fruit and 5% from bark and pith (I don’t fancy eating bark, but I guess my 5% comes from things like chia, flax, nuts and seeds and some legumes)
I’m proud of my progress
When I look back at all the experiments I’ve done and the adjustments I’ve made I feel proud of my progress. Listening to MY body has made the biggest difference, as well as taking some great advice from a couple of great coaches over the years.
Do you struggle with cravings or overeating on a raw vegan diet? Leave me a comment below describing your concern and how you’ve tried to overcome it.