Welcome to Food Diaries, a monthly feature in which Dr. Mehitab tries different diets to develop healthier food habits. She shares with us some of her dietary ventures and the outcome of each diet that might change your approach towards food.
Food… the humanity guilty pleasure, the only thing that can elevate my mood, and also the leading cause of many modern-day morbidities–oops I had too– when I think about food, I always think unhealthy, junk to die for kind of food. I mean I never picture a broccoli head, I try to eat healthy most of the time, however, certainly, I can’t live without a donut, fried chicken or Friday night pizza. The thing is what defines a healthy balanced diet any more in a world where there is a new diet every day. It’s hard to say which qualify as the most salubrious.
Is it paleo, keto, vegan, gluten-free, raw or the zone diet? while some say that dietary restrictions are first world problem, many swear by them and gush about how these diets changed their lives, or at least their bowel habits, or waist size.
So I took it upon my self to try as much of these diets as I can just to see if they work, and I started with vegetarianism, simply because I think it’s the easiest to follow, and I don’t have to give up donuts!
First of all, I had to go to the battle armed. So it was grocery shopping time. I downloaded the Whole30 vegetarian shopping list. It has some seafood options for pescatarians, so just ignore them, I repeat don’t get the salmon.
When you change to a new diet, you have to consider your macros protein, carbs, fat. I listed what I bought and some comments around each one of them.
Eggs: eggs will be your best friend in this period. And they tick all the boxes. Rich in protein, delicious, easy to prepare, and just so versatile.
Lentils: very rich in protein, and they make a delicious soup.
Fava beans: with boiled eggs on top is an Egyptian stable.
Dairy: You can have your favorite cheese, but be aware of any added gelatine. Always check the label, and of course, your greek yogurt.
Tofu: I don’t like it, I will never eat it again.
So basically all your carbs are allowed but I tried to go for the healthiest of options
Oats pasta: it tastes and looks the same as the normal pasta minus the guilt factor.
Rice noodles: I love them they are so easy to make and make a great base of your veggies
Whole-grain toast: One of the options that are stable in my cabinet, and I recommend you should change your white toast to whole grain, small changes for a better life.
Olive oil: I mean, olive oil is a trend these days, but it has been in our diet for as long as I can remember (proud Mediterranean).
Butter: I know what you are going to say, but just the tiniest amount makes a great omelet, so don’t make it hard on yourself.
Nuts: go nuts! Everything is allowed. I always go for the raw options though.
And at last, add to this your choice of fruits and vegetables. Now let’s dive into what exactly did I eat in these 5 days.
Breakfast: oats, the glorious oats. I just put a half cup in a bowl, some water, and microwave for 1 minute. Then add some raspberry, and honey et voila!
Lunch: normally I would have gone for a tuna sandwich, but I had to carb my appetite, and I went for a vegetarian high protein meal. So I went for an egg sandwich instead. Just an omelet with some dill in them, it makes all the difference. And 2 slices of whole-grain toasts with cucumber was just what I needed.
Dinner: For dinner, I went Indian, and by Indian, I mean vegetarian instant pot recipe! I threw all the vegetables I had into a big pot and made a curry with some white basmati rice, I didn’t miss the meat at all in this dish and it was so fulfilling.
Snack: some nuts and a banana was the perfect pick me up.
Breakfast: Another day, another oats recipe. I never get bored of oats, and I usually eat it on my regular days. This time I grabbed a greek yogurt, put some oats in it and dug in.
Lunch: I ate some avocado toast this day. I eat mine with some scrambled eggs, and I never forget black pepper, lemon, and olive oil. Avocado is so filling, and I don’t care about the extra calories. It was a glorious meal.
Dinner: I went out with some friends that day, and It was the first time I struggled with being a vegetarian. I wanted a piece of that pepperoni pizza, but I settled for a margarita one because I remembered, there is no such thing as a bad pizza!
Snack: I always say, when in doubt eat an apple. I enjoyed it with a cup of tea.
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Breakfast: at the third-day vegetarian breakfast, I was kinda sick of oats, so I opted for a jam on toast with my black coffee.
Lunch: I wanted a soup this day, I opened this post to do the lentil soup recipe. I thought it was going to be hard but it actually wasn’t! This soup just hugs you from the inside.
Dinner: well, after making the soup, I didn’t feel like going to the kitchen again, so I just heated some leftover Indian food from day 1.
Snack: some thyme popcorn for my Turkish drama night is a must.
Breakfast: Jamie Oliver has this amazing scrambled eggs recipe that I just can’t live without, and yes it involves butter don’t judge me, with a slice of toast and a lot of grapes, I was ready for the day.
Lunch: I had a lot of zucchini, and you don’t have to worry about the calories intake when you eat it. So, zucchini soup it is. If you don’t like soup much, you can grill them with some rosemary, salt, pepper and olive oil on top of it. I have to say I miss meat and chicken so much.
Dinner: By this time, I missed the chewiness of the meat in my mouth. So I boiled some pasta drained them, cut some mushrooms, added some garlic, and black pepper to the pan, and added them to the pasta. It was by far, the dish that gave me what I want, I felt like I didn’t compromise anything.
Snack: I believe I’ve been good so far so I indulged in a donut. This day was so good, I felt that I came up with better choices when I was on the verge of giving up.
Breakfast: I had more time in the morning, so I made my famous banana oats pancakes.
Lunch: I told you that fava beans with boiled eggs dish is one of the best vegetarian high protein meal. It is stable at any Egyptian breakfast table so it was about time to make it. You got to have it with pitta bread, some cucumber, and Romanian lettuce. Passant should write about this recipe.
Dinner: I went Chinese that day. I added soy sauce and veggies to some rice noodles. I also had 2 baked spring rolls with it. It was great, but to be honest I wanted some sweet and sour chicken with it.
Yay! I’m finally here on the other side of the line. I didn’t feel so restricted in these 5 days but certainly, I missed my meat, not my red meat though I missed being able to have fried chicken whenever I want, I missed my options! Also, some dietary restriction can make you feel a bit left out when you go out with your girls.
The good news, I felt lighter, I had so much energy, and I know I joked about bowel habits in the beginning, but let me tell you that mine was so regular in this period (too much informations). I didn’t expect to lose weight in this short amount of time, and I didn’t. But somehow my tummy was flatter, I don’t know why maybe it’s in my head.
Overall, it was a good experience whether it’s healthier to be a vegetarian or not is debatable. But being a veggie certainly made me eat more fruits and vegetables, eat more home-cooked meals, try different vegetarian recipes, and also brag about it in front of people I just met, which is never a bad thing.