Progress Report #5

 

doctor-clipboard PROGRESS REPORT #5

 

 

 

  1. How many days of adopting a vegan diet have I accomplished?
    I am on my 65th day of eating vegan. This week has gone very well in terms of my diet. I have gone back to my regular completely green eating post PMS. 
  2. How do I feel today?
    Today I feel well. I am feeling rejuvenated this week and optimistic about my health. 
  3. How is my energy level?
    I feel energized today. I have been out and about in the beautiful sun doing errands and enjoying myself. My energy levels have been quite consistent this entire week.
  4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how prevalent are my Lupus symptoms? Joints? Skin? Fatigue? Kidneys?

    My rating: 7

    Joints: My joint pains and morning stiffness have still been very prevalent this week. I have a lot of difficulty in the mornings doing small tasks that require my arms, hands, and walking. Although the upside this week is that I haven’t woken up in tears from the pain, so that is a win for me. Whether that means the pain is subsiding, or my body is just becoming more tolerant, I am unsure. Skin: Skin and scalp looks the same, whoop whoop! 🙂

    Fatigue: Fatigue has not been bothering me at all this week. I have no complaints in this department. 

    Kidneys: No new signs of swelling anywhere.

  5. Have I displayed any new symptoms? Good or bad.
    The stiffness in my knee that I developed as of last week is still continuing to bother me this week. I struggle to walk around my house in the morning without some padded slippers on.

  6. How long have I been off my steroids?
    It has been 62 days.

  7. Have I learned anything new to adopt in my natural approach?
    I went to Finladia Pharmacy a couple weeks ago to see if there was anything I could take to help ease my joint pains my Lupus had been giving me. The Homeopath I consulted with suggested starting with supplementing the basics. I explained to her my situation and how I was taking natural medicine. She was happy with my decision to stop steroids, start natural medicine, and become vegan. She explained that with natural medicine there was a rebound effect, that it would get a lost worse before it got better. This was comforting to hear this from a Homeopath, because I was experiencing the worst of my Lupus that I ever had. She mentioned that when transitioning to natural medicine the immune system had to be in good health and strong to help with the process. I could see why my body was suffering so much from the change, because Lupus is an autoimmune disease. My immune system has always been weak, so made sense why I was experiencing so much pain. She suggested taking an omega-3 and Vitamin D supplement to help boost my immune system. I have been taking these vitamin supplements for a week or so now. I’ll give it at least 3-4 weeks before I report whether or not it is helping with my pains and overall well being. Here are the vitamins I have incorporated into my vegan diet: 

f2047005d3e31e95eddb3b3ad5bce074_ra,w403,h403_pa,w403,h403THR-50001-1

Top 10 Pantry Staples

Here are my top ten vegan pantry staples:

  1. Quinoa: It is such a healthy and nutrient-rich grain. It is so easy to make and transform into a salad, an entree, or a side dish. I like to cook my quinoa in vegetable broth with a couple bay leaves to add flavour.
  2. Apple cider vinegar: I love to use this in all my homemade salad dressings as the sour component. Apple cider vinegar is also used in natural remedies for heartburn and detoxification.
  3. Almond milk: I never was a big milk drinker before going vegan. I realized I don’t mind the taste of almond milk as much as I did cow’s milk. I like to add it to my green smoothies, or just as a liquid to mix with my raw protein powder.
  4. Flavoured tomato sauce: I have found some really great tasting pasta sauces to add to my pantry. I have tried a roasted garlic pasta sauce, wild mushroom, an arrabiata, which is a spicy tomato sauce. It is extremely easy to add fresh herbs, garlic, onions, and vegetables to add more depth to a jar of pasta sauce.
  5. Brown rice pasta: I always have brown rice pasta on hand, usually a fuscilli. I like to have pasta with a hearty vegetable broth with beets, carrots, and celery. Or I like to make a vegan pasta salad using fuscilli brown rice pasta.
  6. Italian blend seasoning: It is a blend of dry herbs that includes rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, and sage. It is so nice to have it on hand to flavour sautéed vegetables, starches like quinoa or couscous, and vinaigrettes.
  7. Canned chickpeas: I usually always have at least 2-3 cans in my pantry. It is one of my favourite legumes and provides a good amount of fibre to any dish. I like to toss chickpeas in my salads and pasta salads.
  8. Maple syrup: This is one of my new loves! I use maple syrup to counterbalance the tartness from the apple cider vinegar in my vinaigrettes. I also use it in my fruit salads as a natural sweetener.
  9. Extra virgin olive oil: This is the one product I would recommend spending good money. You can definitely taste the difference between a cheap and expensive olive oil. It is important to use a good quality one because it adds a dimension of flavour to your vegetables when sautéing or roasting, and to vinaigrettes.
  10. Sweet potatoes: I love roasted sweet potatoes. It is so easy to make and all I use to dress it  is a good olive oil and italian seasoning. You can also boil or steam the potatoes and then turn it into a sweet potato mash flavoured with vegan butter and garlic.

Progress Report #4

This week has definitely been the toughest week I have experienced since going vegan. I have been struggling physically, mentally, and emotionally. The pain I am experiencing is by far the worst joint pains, muscle stiffness, and all around soreness I have ever had. I think my pains have gotten more severe due to the natural medicine. The Naturopath I saw in Vietnam warned me the first couple weeks would be extremely difficult on my body, because it was detoxifying and trying to rid of all the diseased cells. Also, he mentioned that if I didn’t stick to the strict diet regimen it would conflict with the medicine and make me feel worse. To remind you all of the food restrictions I am on while taking the natural medicine; no fried food, no toasted food, no baked food, no grilled food, no artificial colouring, no soy sauce or any dark sauces, no bread, and no meat of course. I do have to admit I have had some fried foods and some soy-based sauces. This diet regimen is one of  the most challenging things I have ever put myself through. I had a few moments where I broke down and cried, only because I felt so limited in my food options. Going vegan overnight was already a challenge in itself, and now I have a whole other list of food items I can’t eat. At some points during the week I just wanted to give up. I wanted to stop restricting myself and just go to any restaurant, and be able to order anything off the menu. Luckily for me, at every breaking point my boyfriend and my friends reminded me of exactly why I was on this journey and why I needed to persevere. I had to push through and go completely out of my comfort zone, because what I was comfortable with before (taking steroids every day for the past eight years) got me nowhere in my Lupus treatment, and the steroids started to affect some of my vital organs. I had to remind myself this was my only option if I wanted to see a positive change in my future and in my health.


 

doctor-clipboard PROGRESS REPORT #4

 

  1. How many days of adopting a vegan diet have I accomplished?
    I am on my 53rd day of eating vegan. This week I had to deal with the tail end of my PMS cravings. Luckily I was able to kick those hormonal cravings to the curb and continue eating vegan.

  2. How do I feel today?
    Today I feel a bit better than I had felt the last few days. I think the fact that today is my day off from work as well really allows my body time to rest and reenergize.

  3. How is my energy level?
    My energy level seems to be the most consistent change that I have noticed since going vegan. I haven’t seen too much variation in my fatigue levels. I can definitely tell that my energy has gotten better since going vegan, and it is just a matter of time before I feel at my optimal level.

  4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how prevalent are my Lupus symptoms? Joints? Skin? Fatigue? Kidneys?My rating: 8

    Joints: Over the past week my joint pains have been excruciating. I have been waking up in tears from the amount of pain I experienced in the mornings. It has been so bad that I literally cannot roll over in bed, or lift my blanket without wincing in pain. I struggle to open doors and do just about anything with my hands and arms in the morning.

    Skin: Skin looks the same and again no signs of any new rashes 🙂

    Fatigue: Fatigue has not been as prevalent this week as it usually is. Ensuring I get enough sleep has been a major contributor to my energy level throughout the day.

    Kidneys: Still no signs of swelling, hoooraaay!

  5. Have I displayed any new symptoms? Good or bad.
    This week I noticed I was getting stiffness in my knees a lot after a long shift at work. I experienced a lot of shooting pains in my knees, swelling around my knee, and tenderness in my feet. My feet would be so sore from work that the next morning I would barely be able to walk on my hardwood floors without wearing padded slippers. I am hoping my knee pains subsides soon, because it has made it extremely difficult to work when I am on my feet all shift.
  6. How long have I been off my steroids?
    It has been 50 days.
  7. Have I learned anything new to adopt in my natural approach?
    I recently looked into starting a vegan B-12 supplement. Vitamin B-12 contributes to the production and maintenance of red blood cells, and it plays a key role in the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system I know there is a lot of debate whether or not a vegan needs to supplement this, or whether they can get it from a plant-based diet. After all the research I did, I felt as though supplementing is what I agreed with. I purchased the Now Brain B-12 supplement for $7.99. There are 100 servings in the tiny bottle. Make sure when purchasing a B-12 supplement it has the word “Methylcobalamin” on the label. This ensures the vitamin is an easier absorbed form of vitamin B-12. The pills are lozenges, so they just dissolve underneath your tongue. I have been taking the vitamin supplement for a few days and can definitely see a difference in my energy level. When you are vitamin B-12 deficient you may experience signs of weakness, tiredness, and light-headedness. Those are the symptoms that I noticed, which is why I looked into a supplement. I am very happy to be incorporating this into my natural pursuit.

 

astronutrition.com-Now-Methyl-B-12---1000-mcg-100-lozenges-31

Protein Boost!

It is extremely vital for me to incorporate at least one green smoothie into my daily vegan diet. Making my green smoothie is one of the very first things I do upon waking. Sometimes it comes before even brushing my teeth-that’s how excited I am to have my shakes in the morning! I have tried a ton of different protein powders, but today I want to feature all the vegan-friendly ones I have experimented with. Here are the different types/brands of protein that I have used:

  • Vega One Berry flavour: I was not a huge fan of this protein powder to be honest. I found the taste to be extremely artificial tasting, which was quite off-putting for me. It reminded me of the Ensure Protein Shakes, which were given to the elderly or the sick at hospitals. I noticed after reading the label each serving contains 130 mg of sodium. I am unsure as to why there is so much sodium in an all plant-based protein. Lastly, it didn’t blend very well in my shakes-they added a grittiness to my shake which was unappealing. Regular price $59.99, sale price $54.99.
    Vega-One-Nutritional-Shake-Berry
  • Heartland Brown Rice Protein Vanilla flavour: The protein powder blended well into my smoothies and added some substance to them. These smoothies would keep me full for about four hours, which was great to have right before work. Because this protein is strictly brown rice, it doesn’t offer a variety in protein sources. The major downside for me was that this protein is not a protein powder I could have just on its own with water. I tried multiple times, but the taste was too grassy or wheaty..it’s hard to describe exactly. All I know is that my automatic gag reflex was fully aware of every attempt I made to drink it straight up. Regular price $31.99.
    brown rice protein
  • Garden of Life Raw Protein Mangolicious flavour: By far this is my favourite protein powder. The taste is incredible for a protein powder! It has real mango flavoring and lives up to its “mangolicious”name. Every ingredient in it is certified organic and raw, which is the best way to absorb the most protein the plant has to offer. I love this protein powder because it has such a variety of different plant-based proteins. Some of the ingredients include brown rice protein, chlorella, swiss brown mushroom, quinoa sprout, buckwheat sprout, millet sprout, flax sprout, chia sprout, and the list goes on with other amazing healthy sprouts! This protein powder also has the highest serving of protein per scoop, 17 grams, compared to the other two I have tried. Oh and only 1.6 mg of sodium compared to a whopping 130 mg in the Vega One! It blends very well in my smoothies and it is definitely a protein I can have just with water if I’m in rush. Regular price $49.99, sale price $34.99.

    raw protein

Progress Report #3

As of last week I introduced natural medicine into my treatment plan. I met with a naturopathic doctor while I was in Vietnam a few months ago. He was known to cure people of cancer and other diseases through the use of natural medicine and diet. He was extremely specific and concise in how I was to take this medicine and how I would feel on it. He assured me within nine months to a year my Lupus would be reversed and cured. I don’t want to be too hopeful and optimistic, but I am willing to give it try. My mother has always been searching for a cure for my Lupus since the day I was diagnosed eight years ago. I have tried every crazy concoction she has found to try and “cure” my lupus- to be frank I did it just to please her. After so many failed attempts I told my mom to stop trying and wasting money. I stopped caring and couldn’t be bothered to experiment anymore. I reassured her that I was fine with having Lupus and it was nothing to be sad about. When she heard through family in Vietnam about this naturopath curing cancer patients she said I had to go see him. She begged me to go and I finally caved. I made sure she knew though that this was going to be my last and final attempt.

It was a seven hour drive to see this famous naturopath. He lived in a tiny little village in the South of Vietnam. His home and office were a humble abode. There were at least 12-15 patients lined up outside his house to see him. Luckily for me the naturopath remembered speaking to my mom when we were in Vancouver, and saw us first since we had travelled so far to see him. The naturopath listened to my different pulses and explained to me how my Lupus was now affecting my liver as well. At that moment my trust in his work was instilled. Right before I left for Vietnam my Rheumatologist (Lupus doctor) said my liver tests and enzymes were all over the place, and things were out of whack. He was afraid my Lupus or my steroids were affecting my liver, so we started cutting down on one of my steroids. It really spooked me that the naturopath found that out solely by listening to my pulse! He brought me into the back room where they store all the herbal medicine in big styrofoam boxes. He picked up a small plastic bowl and started concocting the perfect blend of herbs and natural medicine to give me. He explained I would have to cook the natural medicine down to make a broth from it-very similar to the traditional Chinese medicine.  I am to drink it three times a day, about 1.5 cups each time. While on the natural medicine I am to avoid all fried, grilled, toasted, or baked foods. Basically his reasoning behind this was to avoid having the food produce any carcinogens from being charred. I can’t consume any sauces with artificial coloring, like soya sauce. I was not to have any dairy or meat as well, so it worked out perfectly that I had intended on going vegan anyways. He explained the first week on the medicine would be the toughest for me. He said I would feel extremely ill, weak, and achey, as if I had a really bad flu. This is exactly how I have felt this last week being on the medicine. The past week has been the toughest week during my journey thus far. I am excited though to start another natural pursuit in my attempts to reverse my Lupus, and for the opportunity to share this experience with you all.

20140801_14385920140802_102437

 

The first picture is a single batch of the herbal medicine the naturopath gave to me. The second picture is the “broth” cooked down from the herbal medicine.


doctor-clipboard PROGRESS REPORT #3

  1. How many days of adopting a vegan diet have I accomplished?
    I am on my 41st day of eating vegan. This week I am having a hard time with cravings, I think it has to do with PMS and the cravings I get before my time of the month strolls around.
  2. How do I feel today?
    Today I feel okay.I was quite stiff in the morning upon waking. I struggled to roll out of bed today and lift my blanket off myself. It is now 6:30pm and I am feeling better than I did this morning. I really just have to be patient and allow my muscles and joints to loosen up naturally.

  3. How is my energy level?
    My energy level today is on the lower side. Lupus is very sensitive to the sun, and I definitely notice when it is warmer out my energy falls immediately. I was able to do a few errands this morning, but had to rush home for an afternoon rest.

  4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how prevalent are my Lupus symptoms? Joints? Skin? Fatigue? Kidneys?
    My rating: 5-6

    Joints: The last week my joint pains have been hard to handle. I think the pain stems from being off my steroids, as well as starting the natural medicine. I am hoping the pains start to subside soon, because they are exhausting my body and wearing me down.

    Skin: I have not noticed any significant changes in my skin since last week. To date I have yet to spot another scalp rash, yippee!! 🙂

    Fatigue: Fatigue has been quite prevalent this week. As the naturopath advised me I was going to feel weak and tired during the first week of the natural medicine. I have simplified my schedule this week to allow my body time to rest whenever I need it.Kidneys: No swelling at all to date!! This is one of the big changes I am most happiest about.

  5. Have I displayed any new symptoms? Good or bad.
    This may be too much information, but I figure if I am sharing my story I need to be as honest and authentic as possible! Since I started eating vegan I noticed quite quickly that my bowel movements had become completely regular. I normally would go once every 1-2 days. Now I am going twice a day, which feels a lot better. I haven’t had any random episodes of diarrhea or constipation, which would happen if I ate the wrong thing, or if something just didn’t agree with my stomach.
  6. How long have I been off my steroids?
    It has been 38 days. The naturopath told me I was to stop taking my steroids as soon as I started the natural medicine, because the two would interact negatively.Looks like I won’t be taking my steroids anytime soon!
  7. Have I learned anything new to adopt in my natural approach?
    I mentioned earlier in this blog piece that I have introduced natural medicine into my regimen. I am excited to incorporate natural medicine as it is something I have always been interested in. One of my best friends, who is a vegetarian and hippie at heart, has always pushed me to see a naturopath and to try natural medicine. I was ignorant and naive, and didn’t care to question Western medicine. Never did I think she was on the right path all along!On a completely separate and personal note, I have decided to start pursuing naturopathy. I was originally going to school to pursue Psychiatric Nursing. Now with a turn of events and a drastic change in my lifestyle I felt as though Psychiatric Nursing would create a moral conflict. I feel as though I have seen more positive changes and benefits since starting veganism and natural medicine. I would not feel right implementing steroids and other medications on patients, knowing it never worked for my disease. Becoming a Naturopathic Doctor is going to be a long journey, a lot of schooling, and a lot of student debt, but I truly believe it is a career I will be passionate about forever. Knowing the treatment I offer patients won’t have any adverse effects, or affect any other parts of their body negatively was a real selling point for me. Naturopathy focuses on preventative measures and treating symptoms and the body as a whole, not as separate systems. It makes logically sense though because your body is intertwined in every way. Naturopathic Doctors can provide treatment plans through natural medicine, diet, lifestyle change, acupuncture, botanical medicine, etc. I am beyond the moon excited for the next chapter in my life! I feel really really good about my next endeavor 🙂