One of the things I have realized on this new path to self-discovery, or whatever I’m on, is that I need to do what I think is right for me and stop apologizing or avoiding discussing things because I’m afraid of how others will react. This is my life and I should be living it according to my convictions.
With that being said, let’s talk about Soy, shall we?
Soy products are perhaps the most recognized staples of many vegetarian and vegan diets. There’s soy milk, soy nuts, soy-based veggie burgers and other meat replacements, tofu, tempeh, soy yogurt, etc. It’s also present in many processed foods people consume (like soy sauce), regardless of their diet.
I know the opinions on soy and it’s affects on the body are varying. Whenever you are researching something for yourself, I think scientific articles are the most beneficial to read on the subject but you must look at everything you read with a skeptical eye. I also believe sometimes you just have to go with what your heart tells you, while keeping science in mind.
I’d never had a problem with soy before and believed that as long as you were consuming less processed soy products, there was nothing to worry about. For some people, that’s probably still true. But I’m not so sure about me anymore. I also need to remind you that I lack moderation.
Now it’s time for me to get personal: I have been having “problems” with my menstrual cycles for as long as I can remember. I started my periods really early, age 9. I suffer from irregular cycles, extremely long cycles, heavy and painful periods, and in the past missed periods too.
It seems like no two cycles are ever the same and attempts at taking hormonal birth control in the past just left me more frustrated. That’s a topic for another post, but let’s just say I would much rather be able to “solve” this on my own in a more natural way.
The reason I have chosen to discuss soy in my diet, is due to findings which claim that consuming a lot of soy products can lengthen the menstrual cycle and possibly cause fertility problems IF you have multiple risk factors. Soy also has health benefits which have been shown in scientific studies, but I had to weigh it for myself. You can’t believe everything you read, on either side.
I thought when I lost weight and got myself healthier (starting in 2007), that things would improve but they have not. Losing weight made my periods lighter and less painful for a while, but then when I started running, they disappeared entirely.
I thought that if I cut back on running it would help some, but it did not. Luckily, some progesterone pills got them restarted and I haven’t experienced any missed periods in a while now. One last thing I haven’t fully addressed yet as a possible cause is stress, but since that is an on-going battle for me right now, I thought I’d give one more dietary change a shot first.
The past several months have been extremely tough. My cycles have gotten longer (we’re talking 50+ days), my periods have gotten heavier and more painful than ever (as in take a Vicodin and stay home from work painful) and I’ve been depressed.
The moods are what got my attention the most. I’d been dealing with the other stuff off and on for years, but when I started finding it hard to smile, that hurt more than any physical pain I was feeling.
Why now? I’ve been consuming soy products in foods my entire life. I found out I was lactose intolerant in 2008, so I’ve been using soy milk and yogurt more since then. But since my problems have escalated the past few months or so, I can’t help but wonder if it is because my soy consumption has increased since I decided to go vegan in October of 2009? I think maybe so.
Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t eat soy. I’m not recommending anything to anyone, as I’m not qualified to do so.
But from research I have done on my own, medical opinions I’ve received, and based on the opinions of a few trustworthy friends, I have decided to experiment with reducing (or eliminating) soy in my diet to see if it improves my cycles at all.
Just like I have done with other changes in my diet, I plan to phase soy out gradually. I have a refrigerator full of veggie burgers, tofu, tempeh and soy yogurt that I still need to use up. But I’ve started reading labels and the new foods I’m purchasing are soy free.
I know what you are thinking…how can someone who already doesn’t eat so many things possibly remove yet another food group from their diet?
Well, just like there are alternatives to the animal products I choose not to eat, there are also alternatives to soy. I can use coconut milk or almond milk instead of soy (there is also hemp, oat, and rice milks available).
Seitan is a good alternative to tofu and tempeh. I just tried it for the first time the other night when we had dinner at Ramsi’s and I got the Seitan Parmesan sandwich, yum! I’ll still have plenty of beans and lentils, which are excellent protein sources.
There are a plethora of yogurts and frozen treats made from coconut milk, almond milk and rice milk if I want them. So really, there’s nothing missing.
Much like when I first went vegan, the hardest thing will be where it shows up on food labels. Just like with dairy and eggs, soy can be sneaky sometimes but if I keep my diet as whole as possible, there won’t be as many processed food labels to worry about anyway.
Friends and family — if you are reading this, don’t worry. I will still eat things you make for me if they contain soy products. I think once in a while is okay, especially if you went out of your way to make sure something wouldn’t contain meat or dairy (which I appreciate more than you know).
I just have to get out of the habit of having soy milk with breakfast, a veggie burger at lunch, soy yogurt for a snack and tofu for dinner. That’s just too much.
I also want to note that I am in the process of adjusting some other areas of my diet but I will discuss those at a later date. I believe it is important to experiment and find what is going to work best for you and your individual needs, to get your body (and mind) working optimally.
So, now I want to know about you:
Do you eat soy products regularly? If you choose to eat a small amount of soy or avoid it entirely, why?
I started off Wednesday with some more oatmeal. I have had the same thing for breakfast almost every day this week!
Hey, if it ain’t broke…
Along with green juice, I have also been enjoying homemade iced coffee with unsweetened coconut milk 🙂
I snacked on some natural almonds.
For lunch, I had another Sunshine garden herb patty inside of a pita pocket with a tomato slice and salsa verde.
The tomato I used was purchased from Huber’s Farm, which is located about 45 minutes away from me over in Indiana. I felt good about making a semi-local purchase, but I was still sure to wash and scrub the tomato as I’m not sure what might’ve been on there.
For “dessert” I had a new to me fruit: a champagne mango!
Since I didn’t bring a knife to cut it with, I just bit right into it.
The skin had a little bit of a funky taste, so I ended up peeling it back and eating the fruit inside. It was so good! It had a slightly different taste than a regular mango and I found this one to be much juicier and sweet than most mangoes I’ve had.
For my afternoon snack, I had a Larabar. One of my favorite flavors!
Then I went home and took Suzie for a walk instead of going to the gym. It was a good choice!
I was hungry when we got back so I had some raisins, which is what I was craving 🙂
Then for dinner, we headed over to Beth’s house for our weekly girl’s night potluck. On the menu this week: Squash!
Beth made a delicious dish of summer squash baked in garlic herb tomato sauce. It looked very simple but was bursting with flavor.
Between this dish and my beloved spaghetti squash, I can declare: I LOVE SQUASH! I love how it is technically a vegetable (?) but you can make it the main component of your meal. It is quite versatile since there are so many varieties of squash and ways to cook them.
I also had a side salad with diced tomatoes and onion with Annie’s natural goddess dressing and some warm, soft and chewy Meijer bakery bread, which I have absolutely no willpower to turn down 😉
For dessert, Margie brought a lovely rice milk treat.
I have had this brand before and their ingredients aren’t too bad and the sugar content is moderate, which I think being made from rice milk helps that. I thought it was pretty good too!
I enjoyed this while we watched New Moon. I never read the books but it’s fun to watch the movies and find out what everyone is obsessing about, ha ha. From an “outsider” perspective, I thought the second movie was better (but a little long), since the first one just made me laugh.
Do you like squash?
I hope you guys enjoyed my post about healthier baked beans! I always get excited when I can find better and healthier alternatives to some of my favorite convenience foods 🙂
Another case in point…veggie burgers!
You may remember a post I wrote a while back about the deceptive nature of the processed veggie burger. They appear to be healthy (they are certainly better than meat) but they contain some really funky ingredients. Also frustrating for me, was when I went vegan, I found out that most of the frozen veggie burgers sold in supermarkets are NOT vegan friendly 😦
I prefer to make my own “burgers” at home, such as Mama Pea’s Black Bean Burgers, or these awesome chickpea patties. I’ve even tried both recipes out on the girl’s at our potluck and they get rave reviews!
But there are times when making your own veggie burger is just not an option and you want something quick and tasty, but still healthy. I have a solution!
So far, I have enjoyed one over some rice and topped with salsa verde…
And another time over a leafy Romaine salad, topped with artichoke and garlic hummus!
At my Whole Foods store, they are $3.99 for a box of three. This is just slightly more expensive than brands like Boca or Morningstar, which contain 4 burgers for the same price.
But, the taste is so much better and once again you just can’t beat that nutritional information and healthier ingredients list. Your body is worth an extra 34 cents per burger 😉
I can’t wait to try the other four flavors (especially the Breakfast Patty)!
Note: I purchased this product on my own and was not paid to do a review by the company. I’m just so impressed with this product, I had to share it with you all.