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8 Vegan Eating Tips for Omnivores

8 Vegan Eating Tips for Omnivores

So things are getting interesting in the vegan world these days. The three biggies in “Gourmet World” — taste, texture, and presentation — are changing the landscape of healthy eating. You may be surprised to find out what you’re missing!

First, let’s make sure we are all on the same “foodie” page and define exactly what today’s vegan actually eats and does not eat. Here is the dictionary definition of vegan: “a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products; also: one who abstains from using animal products (as leather).” Since we are only delving into food options today, we will leave the other vegan lifestyle choices out of this article.

After speaking with the people who are actually creating all those delicious desserts and entrées for their vegan clients, the trend seems to be all about finding substitute ingredients and developing the skill to rework the recipes — intensifying the flavors, ensuring the textures are pleasing, and using elements that have color and form pleasing to the eye.

So here are our eight vegan eating tips for omnivores.

1. Consider becoming “vegish.”

Actually, you’re already a bit “vegish” if you are eating some vegetables and salads. List all the vegetables you like, then the ones you don’t like, then the ones you have yet to like or not like. Maybe you need to explore how they are prepared, whether they are organic (which usually tastes better), and most importantly, how they are seasoned.

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Here are some other eating lifestyles for you to check out. Just find the one(s) that suit you:

  • Flexitarians eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but occasionally eat meat. Many people who call themselves “flexitarian” or “semi-vegetarian” have given up red meat for health reasons, while others have done so for environmental reasons and only eat free-range or organic animals and animal products.
  • Pescetarians are chiefly vegetarians; however, they also eat fish.
  • Vegish is an otherwise vegan who still eats fish.
  • Vegetarians don’t eat meat or fish; however, they do eat animal byproducts such as milk and eggs.
  • Vegans eat no meat, fish, or animal byproducts.

2. Enjoy cooking more of your meals at home.

Start slowly by planning one dinner meal every week that explores a new vegan menu item. Meatless Monday is one way you can get started. Check out who has signed up here.

meatless monday

    Meatless Monday is not a new idea. During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration urged families to reduce consumption of key staples to aid the war effort. “Food Will Win the War,” the government proclaimed, and “Meatless Monday” and “Wheatless Wednesday” were introduced to encourage Americans to do their part. The result was overwhelming; more than 13 million families signed a pledge to observe the national meatless and wheatless conservation days.

    If you want to try some morning meals, check out some of our Lifehack authors’ posts. Helena Negru has gathered 20 vegan breakfasts full of protein and Tegan Jones has 10 more breakfasts, meals, and snacks. She also found 20 more to consider! 

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    3. Host a vegish-based dinner party potluck.

    Ask your friends if they are interested in trying new dishes and make this a party project. Forward this article to them and see what happens. Go ahead and put some burgers on the grill and maybe even grill some veggies while you’re at it. Just have fun doing it!

    4. Frequent restaurants with vegan menu items.

    See what the pros are cooking! Some of our most successful home recipes are inspired by entrées we try at the fine restaurants we frequent. Even if you don’t order a vegan selection, ask how it is prepared and you just might get inspired!

    Here are the top 10 vegan entrées from “The Oregonian.”

    And here are the six vegan dishes from “America’s Best Vegetarian Restaurant Recipes.” Look for things like that the next time you are out dining or better yet, go ahead and try one at home!

    5. Do the math.

    Will adding some tastier vegan dishes to your diet save you money and extend your life expectancy? Probably, but you need to check your grocery shopping habits and see if you are paying for convenience at the expense of nutrition and taste. 

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    6. Know your veggies.

    Look for local veggies that are organic and really fresh. There are more and more small farming operations that specialize in high-quality produce free from pesticides and added chemicals that taste better and are better for you. Here are 10 vegetables you could be eating that, if seasoned to your taste and prepared for freshness, could add some variety to your diet.

    Look for world veggies at specialty markets. Here, in a very entertaining slide show, are 14 vegetables from around the world that you may not have heard of. The truth is, the world is full of edible, healthy and flavorful roots, stems and leaves, the vast majority of which you’ve probably never tasted. In the spirit of culinary adventure, we hope this list will prompt you to titillate your palate with something new. Try replacing those carrots, potatoes, lettuce or celery with one of these exotic vegetables — that is, if you can find them.

    7. Use fresh herbs.

    Fresh tarragon and dill, grown naturally right in your own garden or indoor window garden, will add incredible flavor to carrots, green beans, pea pods, and your own favorite vegetable. Make sure you cook your veggies just enough to be tender and flavorful.

    image024dill

      8. Know your sugars (and other sweeteners).

      White sugar, (a big sweetener in our foods) is processed with bone char. While there are many sugar substitutes available (six are approved by the FDA), I will not be covering them in this article. Below you will find some other common sweeteners. And don’t forget: honey is an animal product!

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      sugars

        Agave Nectar | Maple Syrup | Miel de Agave (article) | Truvia  | Molasses | Sorghum Syrup | Turbinado Sugar (brown sugar) | Sucanat (whole cane sugar) | Sugar Alcohol |

        Your body works very hard for you by taking what you eat and converting it to energy. Make sure you know what’s going on inside of you by doing your homework. Keep up with your health by checking in on the websites listed below.

        | How your liver works | How your intestines work | Digestion | Nutrition Data | Sugar & the brain |

        Maybe looking into the “vegish’ eating lifestyle will be more tasty, more nutritious, and even more inexpensive than what you are currently eating. Believe me, your body will thank you and your quality of living could very well improve.

        Bon Appetit!

        Featured photo credit: Chocolate Vegan Brownie/Jois de Vegan/Carolyn Busse-photographer via media.lifehack.org

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        Published on November 14, 2018

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

        With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

        For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

        In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

        Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

        Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

        It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

        For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

        Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

        Symptoms of Fatigue

        Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

        • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
        • mental blocks
        • lack of motivation
        • headache
        • dizziness
        • muscle weakness
        • slowed reflexes and responses
        • impaired decision-making and judgement
        • moodiness, such as irritability
        • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
        • reduced immune system function
        • blurry vision
        • short-term memory problems
        • poor concentration
        • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

        Causes of Fatigue

        The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

        • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
        • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
        • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
        • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

        Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

        Medical Causes of Fatigue

        If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

        Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

        Anemia

        Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

        Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

        There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

        Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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        This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

        Diabetes

        Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

        Sleep Apnea

        Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

        Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

        Thyroid disease

        An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

        Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

        • Lack of sleep
        • Too much sleep 
        • Alcohol and drugs 
        • Sleep disturbances 
        • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
        • Poor diet 

        Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

        • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
        • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
        • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
        • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

        Psychological Causes of Fatigue

        Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

        • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
        • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
        • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

        How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

        Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

        1. Tell The Truth

        Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

        To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

        Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

        The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

        One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

        • How you feel
        • What time of day it is
        • What may have contributed to your fatigue
        • How your mind and body reacts

        This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

        2. Reduce Your Commitments

        When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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        If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

        When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

        Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

        3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

        If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

        Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

        If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

        Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

        Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

        4. Express More Gratitude

        Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

        It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

        Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

        5. Focus On Yourself

        Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

        There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

        But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

        We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

        6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

        Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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        Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

        The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

        Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

        7. Take a Power Nap

        When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

        Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

        This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

        8. Take More Exercise

        The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

        Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

        The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

        You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

        9. Get More Quality Sleep

        To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

        Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

        My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

        10. Improve Your Diet

        Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

        Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

        On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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        To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

        Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

        Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

        11. Manage Your Stress Levels

        Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

        When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

        Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

        My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

        12. Get Hydrated

        Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

        Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

        If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

        The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

        The Bottom Line

        These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

        If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

        Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

        Reference

        [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
        [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
        [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
        [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
        [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
        [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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