Info about whole food plant-based diets and fatigue
Wait, what does whole food plant-based mean?
Whole food, plant-based means mostly whole or unrefined plant foods. Which means:
- Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds, nuts and so on
- Not eating refined foods or animal products – no white rice, refined sugar, oil, meat, fish, eggs, dairy etc.
If you’re interested in finding out more, check out:
- Why do it? Benefits of a whole food plant-based diet in Nutrition Facts (animation with subtitles and transcript)
- What is it? Forks over Knives explains
- Who with? You’ll find it easier and more enjoyable if you do it with friends, family, colleagues, carers. You can meet new people too, for example, the London Vegan Meetup now has nearly 7000 members. Have a look to see if there are groups or events in your area
Check out my articles about it for more information and resources:
- Part 1: Enjoying veganism: How to eat more plants
- Part 2: Getting healthier: Eating even MORE plants
And what’s fatigue?
Fatigue is extreme tiredness. Illness or mental / physical exertion can cause fatigue. Sometimes the cause is unknown.
The Multiple Sclerosis Trust has excellent tips on managing your fatigue. The NHS has tips for energy too. Tim Jones discusses some of the challenges of food and fatigue. Tim has useful tips for how to make things easier and still enjoy homecooked food.
Remember to ask for help too – I often forget.
My experiences with fatigue and food
I’ve been living with fatigue since at least January 2014. My GP diagnosed me with depression in April 2017. I was diagnosed with anaemia and and vitamin D deficiency in 2014. (Both of these conditions run in my family with non-vegan relatives before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusions… :)) I’ve been vegan since around 2007.
One of the things I’ve found challenging has been not having energy to cook. I love food and making my own recipes/cooking. I learned how to cook at Pogo Cafe, which was a 100% volunteer-run vegan, anarchist cafe. For 3 years, I worked as a chef, baker and stock manager, so I’m used to cooking my own food.
Over time, I’ve learned how to cook using less energy. Having lots of of fridge and freezer space helps with this. When I cook, I always cook in bulk and freeze things for tougher days.
Recently, I’ve developed an interest in plant-based nutrition too, so I’ve adapted/changed my cooking to reflect that.
“Aargh! I should be able to do more”
My biggest struggle with fatigue has been being unkind to myself for not being able to do as much as I used to.
What helped me recognise and change my negative self-talk?
- Trying to be more compassionate with myself
- Thinking about what I would say to friends if they were in my situation
- Practising accepting my new reality
- Self-help cognitive behaviour techniques, e.g. the free courses at Live Life To The Full
Often, I search online for things like “can I cook sweet potato whole?” (Yes, by the way: You don’t even need to peel it! Just poke some holes in it and put it in the oven on 200°C / 400°F / gas mark 6 for 45 minutes – hour until it’s soft. It will come out beautifully sweet and you can scoop out the insides or cut in half and pile with toppings. Oh, and you can do it in the microwave too; much faster, less sweet.)
Stuff like this does exist, but not for vegans, as far as I’ve seen. (If you’re interested, search online for “cooking when fatigued” and similar.) Even if I could easily find healthier vegan recipes for fatigued people, I’d still write a book. Because I love cooking and I love writing. Plus, knowing that I’m creating a book is a good incentive for me to pay attention to what I’m doing. 🙂