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Vegan Health & Nutrition Discussion Forum

Hi, I am a 28 year old male and have been vegan for around 9 months now. At first, I felt incredible and was overloaded with energy. I was happy and everything was great. Now everything is wrong. I screwed up and didn't eat any fats for the first 3 months and this caused gallbladder sludge and gallstones. I feel this is what happened because I had no problems at all until about 3 months after I went vegan. So anytime I eat fat now I can't breath, my back hurts, I get sick, and feel lethargic. But I know I need fats to absorb the nutrients I need. I will say that I haven't tried chia seeds. Also, my blood sugar seems to be haywire. For the longest time I was eating about 6 bananas for breakfast and sometimes about an hour later I would eat a few potatoes, then I would go for a walk. During my walk I always feel exhausted, lethargic, weak, foggy headed and so on. There was even a few times my arms would go numb and I felt like passing out. I figured it was blood sugar issues so in the past couple of days I have cut way back on fruit. This morning I fixed some vegan pancakes made with a few dates, oats, a couple of bananas, and some almond milk and raw unsweetened cocao powder. I also had a few almonds. I felt okay for a while, not great but better. Then I went for my walk again and about half-way through sure enough it seemed like my blood sugar went crazy again and I felt dizzy and lethargic. It my have been the nuts affecting my gallbladder though. It seems like no matter what I do I feel like I am halfway dead and it is quite terrifying and I feel quite anxious a lot of the time, even with daily meditation. I eat enough calories, I make green smoothies(although I haven't determined how they made me feel yet), I eat other veggies and starches, I take vitamins, and I am pretty sure I am getting enough nutrients. So what is happening? I can't go on feeling like this anymore. I don't want to go back to eating meat and couldn't anyways with my gallbladder problems now. I feel like it might be a combination of gallbladder issues and maybe hypoglycemia, but I could be wrong. I am terrified right now and would really like some help/advice, thanks!

Responses (3)

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    Posted by Robinwomb at 09/19/16 10:10:13

    Have you been checked by a doctor with all those symptoms? I would start there before guessing what your problem is. Those sound like fairly serious issues, more than someone here would be able to help with.

    That said, it might help to focus more on whole grains (brown rice, oats, bulgur wheat, millet, buckwheat etc), beans, fibrous vegetables etc and less on starch and fruit in order to provide yourself with a more stable blood sugar. Six bananas would definitely be hard on my body for breakfast lol. Some people can do that but I am not one of them. Fats are not needed in huge quantities. A serving or two of seeds or nuts or avocado etc would be fine in a day. Some foods have natural fats in them...tofu, leafy greens, plant milks etc. You really don't need a ton. My body can't take a lot of fat at once either. I was severely underweight for six years and restricted fat intake way too much for a long time, so it took me a long while and a lot of patience to be able to tolerate fat in my diet again. I am much healthier now (weight restored for the last two years now) and can handle a little more but I don't eat a ton of fat in my diet. My body is happy with about 15% fat on average per day. it took some experimenting to find this happy point. Everyone is different.

    It sounds like you are trying to eat a high raw or high starch diet and this may or may not work for you. I personally can't tolerate a huge amount of starch or fruit in my diet, so I tend to focus more on whole grains (not flour and bread but whole kernal grains like oat groats, buckwheat groats, millet, etc), beans, vegetables. I am happy if I eat three or four servings of fruits and about four servings of vegetables each day. I average three servings of beans and five or six servings of grains. I experimented with all raw a few times, once mostly fruit, and I was going to the bathroom ten times a day lol. It was too much for me. I also have hypothyroidism (for 28 years now) and I am sure that has something to do with how I metabolize certain foods. There are a ton of different diseases and illnesses etc that can interfere with how we process foods and energy...diabetes, thyroid disease, vitamin D deficiency, PCOS, sex hormone imbalance, Addison's disease, food allergies and intolerances, Celiac disease, to name a few. Having some tests and getting a baseline of your glucose levels, vitamin D, cholesterol etc might help. Have you been diagnosed with gallbladder disease already? Or is it something you suspect? I have been vegan almost 6 years and have never had an issue with stones, even eating on average 3 cups of leafy greens per day most days (except when I travel or camping etc). My glucose levels have always been normal range. However, I have had occasions when I ate only fruit for breakfast, then did an intense workout and ended up with the shakes and feeling weak and having to slow down. To avoid that I usually add flaxmeal, nuts, grains, or beans with fruit for a meal. Otherwise I get sugar spikes and drops. I also personally eat four small meals a day. This works for me personally and keeps my blood sugar even and metabolism healthy. I started doing this when I was in an eating disorder treatment a long time ago. No skipping meals, fasting (terrible for me), or cramming too much food into one or two meals. My body needs to know it is getting fed and nourished. Years of restriction really messed up my metabolism so it is important for me to eat a larger number of smaller meals through the day. My meals average about 400-500 calories each, give or take. I didn't come to all these conclusions completely on my own though. I worked with a dietitian for years, one willing to understand my beliefs and needs. Even when I was omni I couldn't tolerate dairy products so she would allow for plant milks and so on.

    Also make sure you are getting enough protein. Fats such as almonds are healthy but will not provide a ton of protein. Beans and grains will help. And green veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale. Tofu can provide some natural fats and omega 3s without too much fat at once. I can't tolerate huge amounts of fat. Even two tablespoons of peanut butter will give me gas and make me feel more lethargic. Whole almonds but in small amounts do not have this effect for me.

    I hope you get it all sorted out soon!

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    Posted by jrexrode at 09/20/16 02:24:09

    Thanks for your response! I have been to the doctor about my gallbladder and was diagnosed with stones and sludge. Yesterday I had a few almonds in the morning and some almond milk in a couple of smoothies throughout the day. My back hurt fairly bad as well as my legs, no breathing problems however. Today I had just one smoothie with a bit of almond milk in it and my back didn't feel nearly as bad, although as I write this I have slight discomfort.

    Onto the issue of blood sugar. Today, I had my smoothie first thing this morning with about 3 cups of spinach and two bananas in it. This seemed to level out my blood sugar and I didn't feel lethargic or spaced out. I went for a walk and felt better than I had in a long time. Later I had my usual baked potatoes(3 small ones) along with a bowl of mixed veggies and again no sugar spike or drop from the potatoes. Then I screwed up. I only waited about an hour and a half after the potatoes and had banana, strawberry ice cream(two bananas, 8 strawberries). I am not sure if it spiked my blood sugar again, or if it was from not waiting long enough after the potatoes, but I quickly became lethargic and lightheaded and had no energy. It never really came back either. Although I don't feel as bad as I have. For dinner I had a couple more potatoes(I love potatoes haha) and fixed a bunch of button mushrooms in the oven. At this time I was still feeling fairly sluggish and this had no affect, positive or negative.

    So just judging from experiences today, it seems like my body doesn't tolerate large amounts of fruit at a time without having protein to balance out my blood sugar. Again this is just a guess but seems to be the case. Seeing as I felt fairly good for most of the day I will try again tomorrow without the fruit snack late in the day and see how it goes. If problems arise I will definitely be making a doctor visit.

    I think I am on the right track to getting my body back together again haha, and I hope things continue to improve with adjustments to my eating habits. And like I said if not I will making a visit to the doctor.

    Also, another question. I love eating beans but it seems like when I eat them I have digestive problems and back pain again. I recently made bean potato burgers and had no back pain or digestive problems thankfully but it felt like someone has shot me in the stomach. I feel like this was probably from the amount of oil(which I usually never use) to fry them although I am still fearful to eat them again. Any advise on how I could incorporate them back in and be easy on my system?

    Again, thanks for your help!

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    Posted by Robinwomb at 09/20/16 09:56:44

    Hi again! Beans can be tricky when you are first introducing them. It is not uncommon to experience some bloating and gas. I can eat copious amounts of them now, but I remember when I first started incorporating them I had a lot of gas and bloating.

    If you prepare canned beans, it is important to drain out all the liquid from the can and rinse the beans very well. This reduces the salt content from canned beans. Salt can cause some bloating too. I do think that canned beans tend to be easier on digestion for newbies than dried cooked. If you cook your own beans, there are steps you should take that will go a long way in making them more digestible. Here are some good articles on this:

    I always soak my beans for 24 hours before cooking, and I use a small piece of kombu in my cooking water to draw out the gases. You can also add a tiny bit of baking soda instead, but do it in the last twenty minutes of cooking the beans.

    I also eat my beans well away from when I eat fruit, because that combination gives me gas pains.

    Veggie burgers are a good way to reintroduce beans as you aren't getting a huge serving of beans at once in a bean burger, due to other ingredients in the burger. This is one of my favorite and easy bean burger recipes:

    I don't use oil for that recipe, I use plant milk instead and it still works fine. The beans provide enough "glue" to hold the patties together without the oil.

    I hope this helps!

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