Food4Life; Week 1
Participants have now started eating a Whole Food Plant Based diet! Wooo! They started this new way of eating on Saturday and we checked in with them twice this week to see how they're going, answer any questions they had and also chat to them about some pretty important topics!
Todays session began with a quick Q&A regarding any issues the participants had been experiencing. It has only been 4 days since the change of lifestyle and already participants are noticing changes. Some voiced they had been experiencing headaches, difficulty sleeping, feeling hungry and feelings of restriction. We informed them that headaches are likely due to not drinking enough water as people tend to focus too much on the change in food intake that they often forget about their water intake. Difficulty sleeping can be due to the changes throughout the digestive track - it takes time for your gut microbiota to adjust and become comfortable with the change in food it is receiving. These symptoms should only last a few days. Feeling hungry was also a big one for many participants. Our response to them was to EAT MORE! There should be no need to be feeling hungry. Some people find it easy to remove meat and dairy, but what they don't understand is that those foods need to be replaced, not simply removed. You body needs enough calories/energy to function and this is why we stress how important it is to eat enough until feeling satisfied. Feelings of restriction was brought up as one participant mentioned their being cake in the workplace that was available for everyone but she felt like she was missing out, and not feeling included as she couldn't have any. This is something we (F4L team) have experienced in the past and we shared some tips on how to deal with feelings such as this. We recommended bringing your own 'treat' so you can still be involved socially but enjoy your healthier snack or choosing a piece of fruit instead, and then re-assessing if you're actually hungry enough to want the piece of cake/treat. We spoke about how cravings and tastes for certain foods will soon change and situations and feelings such as this will pass and that they will learnt how to respond and feel comfortable.
After our brief discussion, we had a presentation on Energy Density by one of the F4L team members, a Nutritionist named Jenny. She presented a wonderful and very informative talk discussing the energy/calorie density of certain foods and how they compare to other foods such as animal products. Below is a graph that she showed and I think really helped participants understand what types of food to include throughout their dietary changes in the next 3 weeks, and hopefully after!
As usual, we started todays meeting off with a Q&A discussion of how participants were going. Topics that were brought up today included struggling to find meals they like, 'meal failures' due to overthinking and over complicating cooking, and accidentally burning something! As well as the topic of headaches and sleeping again. We stressed to them not to go too hard too fast and to stick with simple meals such as salads, pasta, baked potatoes etc - development of cooking skills and getting use to new tastes takes time.
Today also included a 'Virtual Supermarket Tour' by one of the F4L team members Lauren. It was a great presentation that showed what items to look out for, comparison between different brands, learning to read nutrition labels to look for no added ingredients such as oil, salt, sugar or additives and preservatives. To top the session off, Peter brought in some of his famous Black Bean Brownies for the participants to try. Some enjoyed them, other's didn't. But that's okay! It can take a while for taste buds to changes and get use to the bitterness of cacao or the not so overly sweet flavour of these types of brownies. Personally, I think they're great! So great that I think I should share his recipe with you all!
BLACK BEAN FUDGE BROWNIES:
1 can of black beans (drained & rinsed)
1 1/4 cup pitted dates, soaked
3 tbsp almonds or walnuts
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup water (approx)
Preheat over to 200C.
Blend all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
Transfer to a lined baked tray and bake for 45mins.
Serve with chia jam or chia pudding (optional).
I hope the participants are enjoying the program. Maybe once a few more days pass they'll begin to feel more comfortable and in control over what they like to eat. Looking forward to checking in with them next week!