As some of you may know, I was once about 10 kilos (22 pounds) heavier than I am now. I gained weight when I was a student, because I drank too much alcohol and mainly ate fried food. Luckily I lost it quite easily and I thought I’d share this story with you today.
Because of my interest in healthy living I occasionally attend workshops and seminars and I even took a nutrition course at a university here in the Netherlands. Most of these seminars involve a certified nutritionist or dietician informing the audience about the best way to lose weight. I always wonder if anyone ever leaves these seminars feeling motivated to diet – most of the things I hear are nothing new and can even be quite depressing. ‘Exercise more’ and ‘eat less’ are the golden rules, but don’t we know this by now? And does anyone really want to hear this? If anyone had told me, back when I was overweight, that I had to restrict my carbohydrate intake, eat ‘a handful of raw, unsalted nuts’ as a snack and be careful with fruit ‘because of the sugar’ I would have started crying. Seriously.
For the love of carbs
I am a HUGE food lover. I just have to repeat myself over and over, because I eat a lot. As you can read in my previous post, this is one of the reasons I work out so much. I grew up in Italy and eat lots of carbohydrates – mainly pasta, risotto, and bread. I stay away from refined carbohydrates though, so I eat lots of whole-wheat bread and pasta. Also, I am slim. I am not a bodybuilder or fitness model, but I am at a healthy weight and haven’t dieted in years. I can’t tell you how liberating it is not to watch what you eat all the time – or how much. I wish everyone would have this relationship with food, because it’s wonderful.
What’s the secret?
So what’s my ‘secret’? Surprise, surprise: I don’t eat any animal products. No dairy, meat, fish or eggs. There are some rare occasions when I do eat fish; mostly in restaurants when I have no other choice. The same goes for dairy, but those occasions are even fewer. My diet consists of whole plant-based foods, 95 percent of the time. And you know why this works? Because I never (and I mean NEVER) measure my food portions or count calories. And although I don’t know how much I weigh, I have worn the same jeans for years and they still fit just as well. I’m pretty sure my weight has stayed exactly the same.
Like I wrote in a previous post, eating plant-based (vegan) has some pitfalls and gaining weight on a vegan diet is definitely possible. For me, this means being careful with olive oil (which I love), sugar, salt, and refined foods. I stay away from white bread, pasta, fake cheese, meat, etc. Those products often contain a lot of fat, sugar and/or salt and don’t add a lot of nutritional value. I eat lots of fruit, vegetables, pasta, bread, soy yoghurt, dark chocolate, and the list goes on. I eat healthy foods and don’t limit myself at all. Oh, and I also drink alcohol. Sparkling wine is my favourite!
So back to why I wrote this blogpost. When I’m in the audience at a seminar and hear nutritionists talk about limiting your fruit intake, being careful with carbohydrates and eating ten raw nuts as a snack, I want to start laughing. I effortlessly lost 10 kilos by eating lots of pasta, potatoes (yes, potatoes), rice, nuts and everything they’re forbidding. I want to stand up and tell everyone this ‘secret’: go vegan! Try eating plant-based! It will change your life! Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone. Some people love their steaks and mozzarella sticks and I won’t be able to convince those people. But for all you carb-lovers out there: going plant-based is the way to go. Losing weight as a vegan is so easy and you will lose weight by eating lots of carbs – trust me!
Eat the right foods
It makes me a little sad that so many people are being misinformed and told to, for instance, eat less fruit. Fruit is so good for you, if anything you should eat more of it! How many of us actually eat enough fruit every day? I always make sure I start my day by eating fruit and this continues throughout the day. If we are telling people that fruit makes us fat, then what are we allowed to eat? Low-fat chicken with salad and brown rice? Oh, and just a little, of course. ‘Buy smaller plates’, I have heard many nutritionists say. Of course, a lot of people gain weight by eating too much, but this is much harder to do when you’re on a vegan diet. If you eat more of the right foods, you won’t have to worry about overeating and you won’t go hungry. And as an added bonus, if you’re overweight, you will lose the extra weight! It doesn’t get much better than that!
Strive to be healthy!
So, how to lose weight on a vegan diet? I lost weight by eating only whole, plant-based foods: whole-wheat pasta with grilled vegetables, a tomato sauce or creamy mushroom sauce (with non-dairy cream). I also ate avocado sandwiches, mushroom risottos and oven-roasted potatoes (no mayo of course!). The possibilities are endless. And most importantly: I stopped eating when I was full, not after eating a certain amount. And I lost weight – quickly and without much effort. I can recommend it to anyone. Quit the dieting, stop measuring food portions, and stop focusing on calories to lose weight. Instead, make a list of the right foods and eat lots of those foods. Be careful with fat, sugar, salt, and processed foods and only eat those occasionally. You will become slimmer, happier and most importantly: healthier. Being healthy should be your most important body goal anyway. If you eat the right foods, you will become healthier and your weight will follow. Strive to be healthy, not skinny!