About 9 years ago, I decided to become a vegan. I was 26 years old at the time and started feeling disgusted by meat. It really had not much to do with health, and more to do with realizing exactly how the animals I was eating were being cared for and slaughtered. The entire industry made me physically ill, and I had to stop all connection to it. I slowly, over a period of about a year, eliminated all animal products from my diet. All meat, all dairy and all the products that had animals ingredients hidden in them, like gelatin.
I lost weight and looked and felt better then I had ever in my entire life. Within the next few years, I also realized I had a gluten intolerance and eliminated all gluten from my diet. Then I became pregnant at 29 and started craving meat again. I allowed myself to eat organic grass fed meat during my pregnancy because I didn’t know how else to receive the iron that I felt so in need of.
Then the slippery slope started to bring me down. After I gave birth I found myself reaching for acidic choices like meat and caffeine to keep me going. I originally wrote this article at that time, in March of 2012, as a guide to help me realize the acidic foods that I had started to rely on for energy and replace them with more alkaline foods. I suffered from a number of health problems after my pregnancy including chronic fatigue, anxiety and frequent cold like symptoms. I knew it was directly related to my diet.
I have slowly reintegrated lots and lots of fruits and vegetables, small amounts of nuts, quinoa and lentils into my daily diet. I am picky and only eat what feels great to my body. I now allow myself to eat meat on occasion. I listen to my body, and I welcome it as a gift from spirit. As I eat, I ask my body, why did you need this? and I listen. Most times I am craving meat it is due to a lack of protein or iron. I sometimes include local fresh eggs when I feel I need extra protein or iron. I don’t believe in one perfect diet, or one right way of eating, I believe in listening to your body and only eating pure foods that are from the earth that cause as little harm to other sentient beings as possible 🙂
WHAT IS AN ALKALINE DIET PLAN?
An alkaline diet plan is not about actually going on a ‘diet’, in the traditional way we think of a diet. It is more about integrating more alkaline foods into your diet. An alkaline food is a food that when digested, releases an alkaline base into your blood. Acidic foods do the opposite. Your body functions best when you are eating fruits and vegetables that are a balance between alkaline and acidic.
There are some more extreme Alkaline Diets that suggest you eliminate all acidic fruits and vegetables from your diet, or eat them sparingly. If you have a medical condition, or if you consume a diet of animal products and processed foods, then this type of diet may work for you. However, the advice here is meant to support you in creating a plan for integrating more alkaline foods into your diet. I also recommend detoxifying from animal and dairy products.
The traditional American, Canadian and European diets are very acidic. Processed foods, sugar, soda, meat, dairy, alcohol and caffeine are examples of acidic foods. These foods force your cells, organs and tissues to work harder. This is why you may be watching the fat, calories, carbohydrates and protein you bring into your body, but still feel low on energy.
Acidic foods can decrease your energy level and leave you feeling sluggish and foggy. Alkaline foods neutralize acid in your body. Both acid and alkaline compounds are produced simultaneously in your body. Your body functions better when it has more alkalinity than acidity. Nutritionists advocating an alkaline diet plan advise that you consume 75 percent of all of your food from alkaline sources such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and rice.
Alkaline Diet Plan Stage 1: Start With Breakfast
To keep my body going strong and flowing through my day, I begin with an alkaline Superfood Smoothie.
Fruit smoothies can be prepared ahead of time and are more satisfying to the cells of your body than juice.
My Superfood Smoothie
10 oz frozen fruit
2 tsp. Goji Berries
1 – 1 1/2 c. Coconut Water
1 tsp. maca root powder
3-4 Mejool Dates
You can also easily add green powdered algae products such as chlorella and spirulina or any leftover raw veggies in small amounts to fruit smoothies. Mixing veggies in with fruits is an excellent way to eat more vegetables and a great way to get kids to eat their greens.
Most fruits are alkaline 🙂
Make a pledge to stop buying store-bought juice or tea, which is usually sweetened with processed sugar.
Make another pledge to eliminate processed sugar, which operates as an acidic force in your body.
Alkaline Diet Plan Stage 2: Veggies for Lunch!
A huge salad is the perfect lunch. If it’s a cold day, as there are lots here in New England, I may heat some veggies and quinoa to put on top. I like to make big salads with lots of ingredients 🙂
Alkaline Diet Plan Stage 3: Snacks
I try to always have almonds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, and cashews on hand for snacking. Each of these is inexpensive and easy to find.
If you don’t have any healthy nut recipes that you make, Make cashew butter. I have been making cashew butter, and it’s pretty darn amazing and just makes everything more satisfying! Put it on top of pretty much anything: apples, celery, or chopped veggies rolled in seaweed, Yum!
Alkaline Diet Plan Stage 4: Supper & Protein
Most traditional proteins, including meat, fish, shellfish, and eggs are acidic. It is possible to consume all the protein you need in a day without eating animal products or dairy. However, in order to do this you need to eat ALOT more greens. Leafy greens is where you will get the majority of your proteins. There are so many different green vegetables to eat, it takes some time to start to make more green dinners, but it is well worth the effort!
Stir fries are a simple way to incorporate veggies that you are unfamiliar with into your diet. Start with the freshest vegetables you can find at the market, chop them up and saute on low to medium heat in a large pan with high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Add quinoa for a quick meal.
Alkaline Diet Plan Stage 5: Spices, Herbs and Tea
Oils, cheese and meats are rich in flavor, but their acidic nature can be difficult on your digestive system. Spices, herbs and teas can provide you with the flavor your body needs and bring harmony back to your internal organs. Cinnamon, curry, ginger, mustard, chili pepper, sea salt, miso, tamari and all herbs are all alkaline. Fill your cupboards with these ingredients and challenge yourself to integrate them into your daily meals.
The easiest way to integrate new items into your diet is to buy them first and let their presence in your home inspire you! Making drinks ahead of time so that you are not drawn to packaged beverages is also a great way to keep your body aligned. Prepare green tea, herbal tea, dandelion tea, ginseng tea, banchi tea or Kombucha with lemon and honey to have on hand for sipping throughout your day and for keeping your energy high without coffee, which is acidic.
Alkaline Diet Plan Success: Plan, Plan, Plan
Knowing what foods are alkaline is only a small piece of transitioning your diet. In order to adopt an alkaline diet, you must plan in advance. Every-time you reach for something that is high in acid (meat, fish, dairy, fats and oils, corn, wheat, sugar, alcohol, soda or coffee are the most common) think of an alternative that you can have ready the next time you want the acidic item. Then ONLY buy the foods that are alkaline. Give all other food away, or slowly phase it out of your household. Spend your money on only alkaline foods, and you will be forced to be creative 🙂
Personally, I’ve noticed that as I’ve let go of more and more acidic foods from my diet, I naturally crave more alkaline foods. When I find myself craving acidic or processed foods, I will stop and ask my body:
What do I really want?
For example, when I instinctively want a coffee, I stop tune into my body and ask; what do I really want right now? The answer is always energy. So I can stop myself, make a cup of ginseng, or green tea with raw honey. This is an easier choice on my body and still gives me the energy that I was really looking for in the coffee.
The most important thing to remember when beginning an alkaline diet plan is that you don’t have to eat 100% of your foods one way or another. This diet plan is simply a guide to help you make healthier choices in your diet. So have fun with it, buy some things you’ve never heard of, make some new recipes! I think the most fun is paying attention to how good your body feels when you feed it high energy foods! I would say this is what I notice the most after transitioning to an alkaline diet, I have a higher sustained energy throughout the day.
I would love to hear from you if you have adopted an alkaline diet plan to hear about any suggestions or great meal ideas you have! Leave a comment below to keep the conversation going!