What is a Healthy Diet and Why Should I Eat One? (Part IX of ?)

Read Part I: Highlights
Read Part II: Our Journey to Better Eating
Read Part III: We’re not THAT weird
Read Part IV: Recommended Reading and Watching
Read Part V: Recipe Finding
Read Part VI: Grocery Shopping – What We Buy and How Much We Spend
Read Part VII: Supplements, or The Lack Thereof
Read Part VIII: Getting Your Kids On Board

Part IX: Frequently Asked Questions

My goal is to keep this post updated so please shout out questions you have in the comments and I’ll get to them when I can.

Just to make sure nobody feels shy about asking what’s really on your mind, I’ll start with:

1. What about gas?

We eat a lot of beans, people! Are we gassier than we were 8 years ago when we were eating meat and cheese and white bread?

Before I answer that… I’m going to quote Dr. Michael Greger, the man behind NutritionFacts.org:

“More than a decade ago, the Quarterly Journal of Medicine published a review entitled: “Vegetarian Diet: Panacea for modern lifestyle disease?” The answer was in the affirmative, noting those eating vegetarian appear to have less obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, cancers, kidney disease, maybe less stroke, less age-related vision loss, less diverticulosis, fewer gallstones and of course, less constipation. But after going through the laundry list of benefits, the researchers did identify two drawbacks of a plant-based diet: 1) the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, which I’ve covered previously, and 2) increased intestinal gas production. So on one hand, we have half of the top 10 causes of death in the United States, and on the other, flatulence.” You can read the rest of his great article here

That’s pretty much how I feel about it. I mean, so what if I’m gassier now?! I’m enjoying what I eat and I’m dramatically lowering my risk of developing a host of devastating diseases.

But, because I’ve been asked this, I will answer honestly. Aside from the initial transition time of a few weeks… I don’t think I pass gas any more or less frequently than I did before. Eating dairy always made me somewhat gassy before, and it was uncomfortable. I can’t recall the last time I was uncomfortable from eating a healthy meal, so combined with the fact that I’m breaking even on flatulence I would call it another win for a healthy diet overall. In the article linked above, Dr. Greger shares average daily flatulence counts, which I found pretty interesting.

2. What about PROTEIN?!

This one still makes me chuckle. Have you ever in your life met a person in a developed country who was protein deficient? Seriously, think about it.

Yet it is probably the #1 question we get when we tell people we’re mostly vegetarian.

They remain genuinely concerned about our health until I reassure them that we eat beans, lentils, etc. What they don’t internalize is that pretty much every healthy food has protein in it. From whole grains to broccoli, there isn’t a real need to seek out protein-rich sources of healthy food. Just eat whole plants and you’ll do fine!

(I usually don’t bring this up, but although protein deficiency is not spreading like wildfire across America, the diseases caused by eating low-nutrient foods like meat and dairy are. In fact, “contains protein” is about the only health claim, however dubious, that the standard american diet can make.)

3. What do your kids drink instead of cow’s milk?

The same thing their parents drink instead of cow’s milk. As far as we are concerned, once kids are weaned from breastmilk (which, so far, happens at our house somewhere between 14 and 18 months), they no longer need milk. If I felt they did need milk longer than that, I would continue to breastfeed them longer than that. Fortunately (because Scott is a little bit squeamish about toddlers nursing), our kids seem to do just fine drinking water and the occasional smoothie by that point.

Cow’s milk is the perfect drink… for baby cows.

4. Do you ever fall off the wagon?

Yep. Taste buds absolutely adapt to your diet and we’ve gone through weeks at a time where we’ve been gradually eating more and more unhealthy food and old cravings start to resurface. Veggies stop tasting as good and we find ourselves seeking out sweets. Whenever this happens, Scott and I both notice significant decreases in our energy levels and find that we don’t sleep as well. If it lasts for more than a week then Scott will usually find that he gains a few pounds as well (possibly because he used to weigh 120 pounds more than he does now).

When we notice the shift in eating habits (and/or he sees the needle on the scale move more than 5 pounds), we talk about it together and then jump back on the wagon. Although we like to make ~90% of our calories healthy, and allow ~10% to be anything we want to eat, when we’re doing a course-correction we’ve found it’s easiest to go 100% until our taste buds and habits get back to normal.

Your turn: What questions do you have for us?

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About beanland

Scott is a family practice doctor and Anne is a full-time mother and teacher to three beautiful girls and one boy.
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One Response to What is a Healthy Diet and Why Should I Eat One? (Part IX of ?)

  1. Pingback: The Best Gadgets for Healthy Cooking | Adventures in Beanland

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