The Truth On Carbohydrates

Heap of brown rice on a plate

There are so many misconceptions and fallacies when it comes to the field of nutrition. It is no surprise why so many people are confused about what they should and should not eat. Part of the reason for this has been the condemning of carbohydrates.

It is often claimed that “carbs make you fat” and that they will spike your blood sugar or cause diabetes so you should stay away from them.

Wrong!

First, let’s get something straight. Not all carbs are created equal. Eating a piece of candy, which contains sugar, will not have the same effect on the body as eating a whole piece of fruit, which also contains sugar.

The reality is that whole sources of carbohydrates, such as starches and fruits, contain other beneficial nutrients besides just sugar. Not that sugar is necessarily bad for you, it is an essential nutrient after all, but the best sources of carbohydrates will always be the whole sources.

The Problem with Animal Protein & Fat

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that fuels our everyday activities. When people cut back on carbs, they have to increase their fat and protein intake in order to compensate for the caloric deficit. Low-carb diets are very popular these days and they are one of the main reasons why carbohydrates have been stigmatized.

While fat and protein are certainly essential and should be part of a healthy diet, they can cause many health issues when overeaten, which is much easier to do than with whole carbohydrates. One of the main issues with animal products is that they often contain too much saturated fat (Clarke, et al., 1997) and cholesterol (Weggemans, et al., 2001), which have been shown to increase LDL-cholesterol.

Animal-based foods have also been shown to increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as red and processed meats which have been classified as colorectal carcinogens according to the World Health Organization (2015).

It should be no surprise to anyone as to why the largest manage care organization in the United States, Kaiser Permanente, stated that physicians should recommend a plant-based diet to all of their patients in order to help lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity (Tuso, et al., 2013).

A Word on Fiber

One way whole carbohydrates are superior to refined carbohydrates is because starches and fruits contain fiber. While dietary fiber is considered to be a carbohydrate itself, it does not provide any calories, such as simple and complex carbohydrates.

However, dietary fiber stimulates satiation, aids digestion, lowers cholesterol levels, and improves blood glucose control (MedlinePlus, 2016). This is why it is much easier to over consume on refined carbohydrates as they do not contain as much fiber as their whole counterparts.

Dietary fiber has also been shown to reduce postprandial glucose response, have a positive influence on certain blood lipids, improve insulin sensitivity, influence the modulation of the secretion of gut hormones, and have effects on certain metabolic and inflammatory markers that are related to metabolic syndrome (Weicker, et al., 2008).

white bowl with mixed gluten-free batter for muffins topped with fresh blueberries

Is Fruit a Problem?

Well, what about fruit? It does not contain as much fiber as starches and contains more simple sugars, like fructose. That cannot be good for you, right?

Fruit is a whole food and comes with a ton of healthy nutrients, such as polyphenols. These polyphenols that are found in fruit have shown to improve glycemic profile, even if the total amount of carbohydrates consumed is more (Ritta, et al., 2012).

So what about fructose? Those who speak out against the negative effects of fructose are correct in that it has been associated with the formation of triglycerides and lipogenesis (Bray, 2007) as well as induce hepatic fibrosis (Kohli, et al., 2010). However, this is only the half-truth.

What many of these critics do not consider is the source of the fructose. If they did, they would realize that these negative effects arise from the consumption of industrialized fructose, such as high fructose corn syrup, and not fructose from whole fruit (Petta, et al., 2013).

Food as Medicine

As you can see, not all carbohydrates are created equal. The benefits of eating foods in their whole state does not even compare to eating refined and processed foods. Whole carbohydrates, like starches and fruits, come with many other beneficial nutrients such as fiber, and polyphenols, which help satiate people and control their blood sugar.

Carbohydrates also help provide us with energy to execute our daily activities. A vast number of people who transition to a whole foods, plant based diet and ditch the animal products experience so many health benefits from weight loss, increase energy, and even reversal of their diseased states.

Hippocrates had it right when he said, “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The food we eat has a very strong influence on our health. Therefore, we need to sincerely rethink what we are eating and determine if it is either “medicine” or “poison.”

Resources

Bray, G. A. (2007). How bad is fructose? The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 86(4). Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/86/4/895.full

Clarke, R., Frost, C., Collins, R., Appleby, P., Peto, R. (1997). Dietary lipids and blood cholesterol: quantitative meta-analysis of metabolic ward studies. The British Medical Journal, 314(7074). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2125600/

Kohli, R., Kirby, M., Xanthakos, S. A., Softic, S., Feldstein, A. E., Saxena, V., Tang, P. H., Miles, L., Miles, M.V., Balistreri, W. F., Woods, S. C., Seeley, R. J. (2010). High-fructose, medium chain trans fat diet induces liver fibrosis and elevates plasma coenzyme Q9 in a novel murine model of obesity and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Hepatology, 52(3). Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hep.23797/abstract

MedlinePlus. (2016). Carbohydrates. Retrieved from https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002469.htm

Petta, S., Marchesini, G., Caracausi, L., Macaluso, F. S., Camma, C., Ciminnisi, S., Cabibi, D., Porcasi, R., Craxi, A., Marco, V. D. (2013). Industrial, not fruit fructose intake is associated with the severity of liver fibrosis in genotype 1 chronic hepatitis C patients. Journal of Hepatology, 59(6). Retrieved from http://www.journal-of-hepatology.eu/article/S0168-8278(13)00553-9/abstract

Ritta, T., Kolehmainen, M., Sarkkinen, E., Mykkanen, H., Niskanen, L. (2012). Postprandial glucose, insuline, and free fatty acid responses to sucrose consumed with blackcurrants and lingonberries in healthy women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96(3). http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/96/3/527.long

Tuso, P. J., Ismall, M. H., Ha, B. P., Bartolotto, C. (2013). National Update for Physicicans: Plant-Based Diets. The Permanente Journal, 17(2). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3662288/

Weggemans, R. M., Zock, P. L., Katan, M. B. (2001). Dietary cholesterol from eggs increases the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73(5). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11333841

Weickert, M. O., Pfeiffer, A. F. H., (2008). Metabolic Effects of Dietary Fiber Consumption and Prevention of Diabetes. The Journal of Nutrition, 138(3). Retrieved from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/3/439.full

World Health Organization (WHO). (2015). IARC Monographs evaluate consumption of red meat and processed meat. Retrieved from https://www.iarc.fr/en/media-centre/pr/2015/pdfs/pr240_E.pdf

The Why & How to Alkalize Your Body

Top view of celery and small bottle of celery juice on a light wooden surface

It’s not a secret that different types of food are better or worse for our bodies. But how can we draw the line between burgers and salad? Where do the healthy foods begin and what makes them so different?

One factor to determine the healthfulness of a food is by looking at it from an alkaline or acidic point of view. But what does this actually mean and how can you alkalize your body?

What Is PH Balance?

When looking at our bodies, there are many factors that make cells and tissues work properly, such as hydration, temperature, availability of nutrients, and pH. The pH stands for “potential of hydrogen” and is a measurement of hydrogen ions in a particular solution – the more ions, the more acidic the solution, and vice versa.

But why is this so important? Our bodies are designed to operate within a very narrow pH range, which is around 7.365, which is slightly alkaline. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. A pH of higher than 7 is alkalizing, a pH less than 7 is acidic, and a pH of 7 is considered neutral.

chart from one to fourteen in different colors showing the alkalinity or acidity

Our blood is the most important, and therefore most protected, pH measurement. Even a minor fluctuation in our blood’s pH creates distress signals. The blood pH basically never shifts very much – a pH level of 6 would already mean we’re in a coma.

So in order for blood to effectively act as a medium of oxygen and other vital nutrients, the pH needs to be close to this specific range. This slightly alkaline balance is maintained and ensured by the work of our kidneys. They filter out any excessive acids in our system and excrete them in the urine. Our bodies contain alkaline reserves and will fight to re-balance any deviations of fluctuating levels.

When we eat too many acid-forming foods, the kidneys can’t always keep up with the acid waste and they start accumulating it in our tissues.

Studies have shown that if this acidic overload happens over a longer period of time, it can lead to various health conditions, including kidney stones, muscle degradation, reduced bone density, and even arthritis, diabetes, and cancer. All of these can be traced back in some way to an acidic inner terrain.

Alkaline vs. Acidic

A 2014 study, published in the European journal Diabetologia, involved tracking more than 66,000 women over the course of 14 years. Compared to women who ate an alkaline diet, participants who consumed high-acid diets showed a significant increase in developing type 2 diabetes over the course of the study, according to the results. An acid-forming diet with low vegetable intake is also linked to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome.

This is very damaging and impairs the body’s ability to repair or detoxify and will cause a person to be more susceptible to disease and illness. The most common signs of acidosis are:

  • Fatigue or chronic fatigue
  • Feeling tired, low energy
  • Brittle nails and hair
  • Low bone density, osteoporosis
  • Heavy breathing
  • Gaining weight or being underweight
  • Digestive issues
  • Arthritis, diabetes
  • Headaches, acne
  • Bad immune system
  • Infections, allergies, candida
  • Heart problems, cancer

It is a lot of hard work for the body to detoxify and neutralize acids before they act as poisons in and around the cells, ultimately changing their whole environment. Actually, most people in the US and Europe, where diseases like those mentioned above have become an epidemic, are too acidic.

But it’s not just the food we eat that can cause an acidic environment. Our body creates acid by using muscles, breathing, and digesting certain foods. Other factors can be stress, toxins, a polluted environment, tobacco, lack of sleep, or medications.

If you want to know whether you’re more on the alkaline or acidic side, you can easily test that at home. Simply get some test stripes at your health food store or online which you can use for either your saliva or urine to show you the results.

Literally billions of cells in your tissues rely on an alkaline environment to function properly, prevent cellular damage and fend off pathogenic microbes. So what happens when you eat an alkaline diet?

Woman sitting cross-legged and holding vegan buddha bowl with greens, chickpeas and other vegetables

Benefits of an Alkaline Diet

  • Deeper more restful sleep
  • Reduction of candida overgrowth
  • Increased mental acuity or alertness
  • Enhanced memory and cognition
  • Easier weight loss
  • Increased energy
  • Better bone health
  • Reduced muscle wasting
  • Proper cell functioning
  • Healthy tissues
  • Mitigation of chronic diseases
  • Improved cardiovascular health

It seems like following the guidelines of eating alkaline is just another way of finding out that whole plant-based foods are most beneficial to us. Not only are they not harmful to us, their high mineral and vitamin content also has a hugely positive effect on our whole body, such as healing and preventing disease. But let’s first take a look at alkaline foods.

What Are Alkaline Foods?

To explain the most common misconception: the acid/alkaline load of a given food refers not to the pH of the food prior to consumption, but to the acid/alkaline result after you digest it. Our kidneys have to neutralize the acid that’s produced in the process of digestion.

This is sometimes referred to as “potential renal acid load” or PRAL (It measures how much acid your kidneys need to process after a food has been eaten.) This means we can give foods a certain PRAL score in order to determine how alkaline or acidic forming they are.

It’s been shown that when you eat foods with a high PRAL, the pH of your urine and saliva often become lower or more acidic. Whereas foods with a low PRAL raise your urine and saliva pH, making it more alkaline. Though this isn’t a perfect measurement, it can give a useful general guideline as to how a food is affecting your body.

Whether a food is alkalizing or acidifying is based on the amount of acid waste that is produced when it is digested.

Our body is affected by these waste chemicals, not the actual acidity of a food. Though we do have our own system to maintain alkalinity, we do need to support it in order to work properly and stay healthy.

Most individuals in the Western world do not eat diets that are alkalizing, instead they eat deadly diets high in animal products, refined foods, and processed foods. Diets containing these foods can produce about 100mEq of acid per day – this amount of acid is nearly twice than what the body can handle.

Without alkalizing, the body needs to take vital minerals in order to neutralize the acid. One of the biggest differences you can recognize is when you move around or work out a lot, your recovery time will be much shorter due to a more alkaline environment in your body.

Though there is still no clear scientific consensus, we could find an overall tendency of​ plant-based foods being more or even highly alkalizing, while meat and dairy as well as processed foods are a lot more acidic.

Different small bowls on a black table filled with ingredients for the zoodles with black bean meatballs recipe: zucchini, carrots, flaxseeds, mushrooms, oats and herbs

How to Alkalize Your Body

This doesn’t mean that all we should eat are alkalizing foods. It’s very commonly advised to opt for a balance of 80% alkaline-forming food and 20% acidic-forming food. You can take a look below and choose from the lists – just remember to keep acid-forming foods to a minimum.

Alkalizing Foods

  • All Vegetables, especially when Green and Raw
  • All Fruits like Melon, Apple, Berries, Grapes, Lemon. Some are slightly acidic, like Blueberries, Cranberries, and Plums.
  • Leafy Greens like Spinach or Lettuce, Cruciferous Vegetables like Broccoli, Kale
  • Pumpkin, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Beets
  • Mushrooms, Sprouts, Legumes
  • Nuts & Seeds like Coconut, Almonds, Chia, Sesame
  • Onions, Garlic, Leek and Herbs/Spices like Parsley, Ginger
  • Wheat and Barley Grass, Algae like Spirulina and Chlorella
  • Grains like Amaranth, Millet & Quinoa
  • Fresh Beans, Green Peas, Lima Beans, Soy Products

Acidic Foods

  • Meat, fish, shellfish
  • Milk, eggs, butter, cheese
  • Coffee, soda, alcohol
  • Processed and refined food
  • Sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined grains
  • Tobacco, preservatives
  • MSG, canned food

You might notice that our grocery stores and restaurants are made up almost exclusively of acid-forming foods. They are highly palatable and have addictive properties, which makes it easy to overeat on them. We usually grow up getting accustomed to meals like hot dogs and ice cream, therefore overloading our bodies with disease-causing ingredients.

For a thorough list on how alkaline or acid-forming certain foods are, check out our infographic below this post.

How to Start Eating Alkaline Today

In order to make this approach to eating a balanced diet more actionable and easier for you, we’ve come up with some general guidelines that are helpful if you want to eat a more alkaline diet.

1. Drink a lot of water to flush your system and support natural detoxification. Extra points if you add lemon to it – remember that acid tasting food doesn’t automatically mean it’s also acid-forming! After waking up, drink a huge glass of water. For more alkaline effects, add some apple cider vinegar to it.

2. Combine alkaline foods in a meal with foods that are acidic to create a good balance and focus on foods that are high in potassium like lemons or bananas.

3. Choose fresh, organic, GMO-free food whenever possible. Also, look out for minerals to help your body neutralize acid wastes (organic foods have a higher nutritional content).

4. Stay as close to the natural state of a food as possible, meaning eat it raw or steamed as opposed to frying it.

5. Make salads a staple in your meal plan. Leafy greens are the most alkaline foods and also rich in vital micronutrients. Use spinach or kale for best results, the darker the better.

6. Foods like whole grains or some legumes are not alkaline-forming, but also offer nutritional benefits and are a part of a healthy diet – so you should eat them along with your alkaline foods. These are grains like oats, millet, spelt, or buckwheat as well as beans and lentils.

7. Replace animal foods with vegetable sources of protein, such as tofu, beans, or broccoli. These are a lot more alkaline-forming.

8. Incorporate more fruits and veggies into your diet by snacking on them, making fresh smoothies or green juices.

9. Try to eat some carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, eggplant, cucumber, potatoes, or celery every day. Soak and sprout your nuts and grains for more alkalinity.

Other Ways to Alkalize Your Body

As mentioned above, our food choices are not be-all and end-all. Just like there are other factors that can cause acidosis, there are also other ways of shifting yourself back towards alkalinity. So if you want to further support this process, here’s what you can do.

  • Eat slowly and chew every bite around 30-40 times. Be careful not to overeat and overload your system.
  • Make meditation a habit & do some deep breathing exercises to reduce stress.
  • Throw away your chemical-filled shampoos, cleaning products, or air fresheners. Try to find and use natural products instead with only minimal ingredients.
  • Go for a walk or work out, since it helps to move acidic waste products in order for your body to better eliminate them. Extra points for getting some sunshine.
  • Baking soda can also help neutralize the acid and help the body to maintain pH balance in the urine and bloodstream. It is also very useful for relieving heartburn or acid indigestion.
Infographic displaying foods ranging from pH3 to pH10

Have you been looking for information to eat healthier or get a healthier body? How has focusing on these “alkaline foods” helped you so far? Let us know in the comments below.

Alena enjoying a bowl of fresh plant-based food and coffe in a restaurant
Alena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.

How to Get Rid of Gas and Bloating

Woman lying in bed with her eyes closed

One of the most common digestive issues of today’s world is definitely bloating. It’s so uncomfortable and embarrassing that many of us decide to start eating healthier foods in order to avoid this occurrence. But what if this doesn’t help? How can you get rid of gas and bloating fast?

I experienced this myself time and again, heard many of my fellow plant-based munchers complain about it and have now come up with a list of the most common triggers for bloating. Because just cutting out animal products, unfortunately, doesn’t always automatically heal your whole digestive tract and healthy plant foods can sometimes be too much for your bowels.

Although there are short-term solutions to gassiness, bloating, and digestive issues, it’s always best to really go for the root cause and eliminate the initial problems instead of just gulping down the probiotics. It’s also important to know that bloating doesn’t always have to be followed by flatulence – but both of these issues can be painful, embarrassing and just overall uncomfortable.

This is meant to be a holistic approach to reducing stress and irritation so you can have a happy flat belly again soon! 

If your problem persists or becomes a lot worse all of a sudden, then definitely see a doctor.

There is always the possibility of some chronic or serious medical condition, and diagnosing digestive problems can be complicated. However, in many cases, bloating can be reduced (or even eliminated) using simple changes in diet. Now, let’s get started!

How to Get Rid of Bloating

We hope that the following tips will offer you some relief in the short and long run. As an additional perk, you can click here to download our free Anti-Bloat Bundle consisting of a printable food journal, 3 recipes for a flat belly, an overview of possible trigger foods & what to choose instead!

1. Eat less cruciferous & allium vegetables

This family of veggies (including broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower) can be pretty tough to digest for some people. Even though they are full of anti-cancer compounds and well worth eating, they are also high in sulfur compounds – which can cause some rather bad smelling gas.

Make sure to cook these foods thoroughly and in order for the sugars to be broken. Chewing them well can also help with its digestion and reduce the amount of hydrogen sulfide that reaches your lower intestine. Maybe even avoid them overall for a few days and see if it’s any better.

Replace them with healthy low gas vegetables, like butternut squash, carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, eggplant, spinach, and Swiss chard. Leafy greens can also work out fine for you.

Also, leek, onion and garlic are almost always a no-no! They contain high levels of fructans such as inulin which can cause gastrointestinal issues for many people. Even though they are incredibly healthy and considered a prebiotic, eating a meal with a lot of onion or garlic in it can be the cause of your belly problems.

Especially if you eat them raw, they can lead to cramps and huge gas production – so make sure to cook them thoroughly in order to avoid this. Only add small amounts to your meals for now and go from there.

In a nutshell

Try cutting out onion, leek and garlic. Then, also reduce the amounts of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and be sure to cook them thoroughly before eating. Slowly reintroduce these foods once your symptoms improve.

2. Regulate your fiber intake

Maybe you have increased the amount of dietary fiber too quickly and your digestion cannot handle this indigestible carbohydrate so well. While fiber is an important part of a healthy diet, you should take it slow and increase the foods high in fiber step by step (about 5 grams per day until you’re at the required amount for your age group).

And as you add in fiber, also make sure that you’re adding in water to push the fiber through. Another key to digesting fiber is ensuring a good balance of soluble and insoluble fiber. When soluble fiber hits the colon undigested, it causes gas.

Sometimes, it’s better to still get some more slightly processed foods, like white rice, white pasta and crackers instead of the whole grain version. Foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes also contain a good amount of fiber, some more than others. Keep your smoothies small and be sure to cook your vegetables thoroughly in the beginning.

In a nutshell

Don’t suddenly increase the amount of fiber you eat, rather take it slow so your digestion can get used to it. Stick to some slightly more processed food like pasta and bread first.

dark bowl with white beans and a wooden spoon on a light table

3. Eat smaller amounts of legumes

If your diet has had only very little beans and lentils in it, then your digestive tract needs some time to get used to them again. They do have quite a bit of fiber as well as raffinose, an indigestible carbohydrate. The bacteria in your large intestine thrive on it but this also means fermentation and gas production if you don’t have the specific bacteria needed to digest legumes.

Any legume will help release short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that strengthen your intestine cells, improve absorption of micronutrients, and help with weight loss. Beans feed good gut bugs, which in turn revs up your immune system. Calorie for calorie, beans offer the most nutrition bang for your buck. They are packed with fiber, protein, folate, and B vitamins, which play a role in regulating a healthy gut and a healthy brain.

So, it’s not like they aren’t healthy – their nutritional value is outstanding. A good way to make them more digestible is by soaking them overnight in water with a tablespoon of vinegar or add some fennel seeds while cooking. Increase the amount of beans, peas and lentils slowly to get used to them and try to start with a pureed form such as hummus or soups.

In a nutshell

Legumes can be hard to digest if you’re not used to them and don’t have the right bacteria in your gut yet. Start with lentils or tofu and slowly increase the amount of this healthy food group.

4. Cut out dairy

Since we’re not little babies anymore, our ability to digest lactose (the sugar naturally found in milk) is very poor. Though some people are diagnosed with lactose intolerance, for many others dairy products can still cause quite a bit of trouble including bloating or constipation.

It is estimated that 75% of the world’s population isn’t able to digest lactose. So just leave the milk to the cow and its calf where it belongs and find your favorite plant-based alternative; they rank from soy to almond, oat, coconut, hazelnut, cashew or even hemp.

Other classic symptoms of dairy sensitivity are mucous, respiratory problems, fatigue, joint pains and skin problems. Plus, when casein is not properly digested, it gets into your bloodstream which causes inflammation – so it’s really not worth it. There’s also evidence that it can contribute to some types of cancer! Check our recipe section for delicious dairy-free meals like mac and cheese.

In a nutshell

Many people have some kind of bad reaction to dairy products and we should all avoid them for several health reasons – including fatigue, mucus and skin problems. You can find countless delicious dairy-free recipes online!

5. Cook your food

Even though on paper, raw foods are so incredibly healthy – if your body isn’t able to digest them properly, you cannot reap the benefit or even get to all of these nutrients. In the end, it’s not what you eat – it’s what you absorb. Since your body has to do all the work, breaking down cellular walls that are raw and unprocessed, this can be too much for it.

Cooking is a form of pre-digesting, so think twice about permanently skipping this step. When I started out eating a high raw diet, I was constantly bloated and had very few bowel movements. It was crazy and painful! So after a year of doing that, I finally came to terms with the fact that it’s super hard for me to digest lots of raw vegetables and even a big smoothie.

I started cutting back on raw salads and started steaming my food, I never drank more than 1 glass of smoothie at a time (plus, I rather juice my raw fruits & veggies, so there’s no fiber but all the good nutrients) and just leaned more towards starchy food. This was incredibly beneficial to my belly, skin and overall energy levels.

In a nutshell

Decrease the amount of raw food (especially raw vegetables) to find out whether you have a hard time digesting them. Stick to cooking, stewing or baking them for a while.

6. Be careful what you drink

Don’t drink water with your food, rather get it in an hour later at least. It dilutes your stomach acid, which makes it harder for your stomach to break down the food, which will then sit in your gut for much longer and produce gas.

Drinking huge amounts of water in one sitting (around 1 liter) also stretches your stomach and can lead to bloating. When the water you drink is cold, you can cause extra irritation – so just reach for room temperature (or even warm) water.

On top of that, try not to swallow any extra air or drink through a straw – about half of the gas in the digestive system comes from that. Also, avoid carbonated drinks and soda since they’re full of gas themselves (plus contain a good amount of bizarre, acidic, chemical-laden ingredients) and just add fuel to the fire.

Whereas tea can be useful to relieve bloating, coffee, on the other hand, is a well-known irritant for those suffering from IBS, ulcers, colitis and many more diseases. It can prevent the healing of an already damaged GI tract – regular or decaffeinated makes no difference in this regard.

The problem is, coffee appears to stimulate gastric emptying of the stomach before food has a chance to be properly digested. On top of that, the caffeine in coffee is a strong diuretic in the human body, which increases the chance of getting constipated.

In a nutshell

Don’t drink a lot of water in one sitting, avoid straws and carbonated drinks. Coffee also causes digestive stress and prevents the healing of an already damaged GI tract. Have some tea, like fennel, chamomile or peppermint, instead.

7. Avoid fatty food

Oils aren’t a whole food of course and therefore incredibly calorically dense while being devoid of essential nutrients. Though it can make you feel fuller, using oil usually delays stomach emptying which can cause diarrhea, bloating or stomach pain. In general, eating more fat than your body can digest at each meal can tax your system and slow down digestion.

While specific amounts will vary for everyone, it’s usually best to view fat as a small topping such as a tablespoon of flax or chia over a smoothie, half an avocado on your salad etc. It really depends on how sensitive you are – sometimes even a raw bar made of dates and nut butter can start the bloating again.

Especially when going out to restaurants or having friends/family cook for you – the food ends up being too high in fat since almost everyone uses oil. You can still sometimes eat it though, just to have a good time. But know about the effects afterward and don’t wear tight jeans that night!

In a nutshell

Fat delays stomach emptying and can cause both constipation and diarrhea. Eat less fat (especially oil) to improve your digestion.

8. Cut out junk food

Of course, overly processed food can be harmful to your stomach too. If you get in too many additives, preservatives, maybe even pesticides and that kind of stuff, your body doesn’t really know how to handle that. Who could blame it, since this is not even real food!

So of course your body doesn’t have the tools to digest these foreign substances. Anything highly refined could worsen that – especially if it’s fatty (read above). Also, junk food is usually full of salt, which causes your body to retain water, predominantly around your abdomen.

Sometimes bloating is not due to gas but rather because of water retention, which is even harder to alleviate, so it is important to avoid high-salt food. Other ingredients you can find in junk food are artificial sweeteners which contain sugar alcohols that cannot be digested properly.

In a nutshell

Junk food is full of foreign additives, preservatives, and pesticides – all of which can be irritating to your digestive tract. Their high amounts of fat and salt or sweeteners is also a problem for most people and should be decreased.

Closeup of woman in grey shirt holding bowl with finished vegan curry in front of her

9. Decrease portion sizes

Even if you eat all the right foods – the amount does come into play as well. Especially if you have a history of restriction, your stomach isn’t able to handle even normal portion sizes and you can feel great discomfort. But even if you’ve always been a good eater, switching to a whole food plant-based diet means you need to eat a larger volume in order to get sufficient calories.

That said, you should never overstuff yourself since this can be tough on your stomach. If you have a lot of undigested food in your system, it can cause a bacteria overreaction and therefore worsen your pain. Also, eating too fast adds to the risk of bloating after a meal. The remedy is simple – eat more slowly.

Satiety signals can take up to 20 minutes to reach the brain and dampen appetite. One of the longest living people in the world, the Okinawans, have a rule of eating only until 80% full (called “Hara Hachi Bu”) for optimal energy, health and digestion – this goes along with eating more slowly of course, since your stomach needs some time to let the brain know that you’re done.

In a nutshell

Huge amounts of food can overwhelm your stomach and cause digestive trouble. Try eating only until you’re 80% full to see if you have positive results. You can eat more often during the day and eating smaller meals or snacks.

10. Check for food sensitivities

There are several common foods that people can be sensitive (or even intolerant) towards. They include, but are not limited to, dairy, eggs, peanuts, soy, wheat, gluten, and corn. When you are sensitive towards any of them, then you are most likely to experience symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eczema, migraine, fatigue, hives and asthma.

What’s more, you can develop these intolerances throughout your life, which you should definitely get tested for. If you think you’re sensitive to some particular food, don’t start to eliminate it until you’ve had a blood test done – otherwise, the result could be incorrect.

An easy elimination diet is useful to narrow down your irritants, starting with some food like rice and adding in one other food at a time, can also give you an answer to this problem and lets you know what you need to avoid in order to feel your best.

I used to be so sure to be gluten sensitive, so I cut it out for half a year – but I didn’t get better. So be honest with yourself about the result and work with a professional.

In a nutshell

Cut out the most common triggers of food sensitivities for several weeks at a time and see if it makes you feel better. You can also try an elimination diet. This is recommended to do with a specialist on your side, like an RD.

11. Dealing with stress

One of the biggest determining factors when it comes to getting a huge stomach after eating (or even drinking!) is being stressed out. It can be about little or big things, but as soon as you become agitated, your stomach immediately reacts. For some, this is more noticeable than for others of course – but there is definitely a gut-brain connection, meaning a stressed mind can manifest itself in the belly with stress-induced GI disorders.

This can be in the form of food allergies, IBS or ulcers, which then of course mess with your microbial flora in your gut and can wreak havoc on your whole system. To soothe these stress-induced inflammations, try to add in some techniques like yoga, meditation, counseling, herbs, qi gong, sleeping, reading or even exercise.

Overall awareness of your state of body and mind is important here, so you can notice the stress levels rising and take some necessary steps before it’s too late. The mind-body connection goes both ways – so when your gut is happy, your mind will be a lot happier as well. This is because 90% of your overall serotonin (the happiness hormone) is found within your intestines, along with 50% of your dopamine, which is involved in your motivation.

In a nutshell

There’s such a thing as stress-induces GI disorders, which can result in ulcers and mess with your microbial flora in your gut. Do your best to de-stress on a daily basis!

12. Chew well

What’s also tough on your digestive tract is food that hasn’t been chewed well. Chewing your food thoroughly mixes in saliva which starts off proper digestive processes and makes breaking it down easier. Since your stomach doesn’t have any teeth, parts of your food stay there for too long and cause the stomach acid to form gas.

Really take your time while eating and opt for 20 chews or so per bite. It also reduces the amount of air you swallow with the food (a cause of bloating), and it makes you eat slower, which is linked to reduced food intake and smaller portions. Chewing gum is a disaster for your digestion because it causes your stomach to ready itself for food.

When food doesn’t enter your stomach, digestion is upset and gas is created – not to mention the air you swallow when chewing (the same happens when you smoke, so another good reason to finally quit). The enzymes and acids that are activated when you chew gum are therefore released, but without the food they’re intended to digest.

This can cause bloating, an overproduction of stomach acid, and can compromise your ability to produce sufficient digestive secretions when you actually do eat food. Again, chewing gum almost always contains artificial sweeteners, which I covered above (see ‘Junk Food’).

In a nutshell

Your stomach doesn’t have teeth, so make sure you do a good job of chewing your food before swallowing it (around 20 times per bite). Also, try not to swallow any air.

Woman next to window holding cup of tea with warm sunlight coming in

13. Have some tea or lemon water

Drinking some lemon infused water is a very good way to normalize hydrochloric acid production in the stomach and to produce bile in the liver. Both of them are very important for digestion and assimilation of nutrients, which, in turn, reduces your bloating and other digestive issues. Warm water itself can help move food through your digestive tract as well and shouldn’t be forgotten about.

Drinking water in general will help you flush excess salt from your body, while keeping things moving. But wait for at least an hour after your last meal before your drink so you don’t disrupt the digestive process or dilute stomach acid. Teas make the top 3 list of my favorite remedies because they are beneficial on so many levels.

Peppermint helps relieve cramps and spasms in the GI tract, improves the passage of food and allows it to go through smoothly without any pain. It’s best to have a small cup of this tea just before or even during a meal for its positive effects to unfold. The same goes for chamomile.

Ginger is also known to help soothe the digestive tract and relieve gas, it improves circulation and is said to be an effective pain reliever. You can chew on tiny bits of it or make tea out of the fresh root. Just like peppermint, fennel also has anti-spasmodic properties and it stimulates the production of gastric juices. This means it can help with GI problems, heartburn, diarrhea, IBS and indigestion.

In a nutshell

Get rid of excess salt by flushing it out with water. Tea can help relieve cramps and spasms in the GI tract, choose peppermint, chamomile, or ginger if you can.

14. Try a low-FODMAP diet

Ultimately, it comes down to your individual situation, body type, and preferences. I cannot tell you what foods exactly you should be eating since nobody else knows what works for you. Bloating can have many reasons and you have to figure out which ones the right steps are. Tweaking your diet a little isn’t harmful at all and can give you a good insight.

One common advice for people who have problems with bloating, with or without other digestive symptoms, is eating a low-FODMAP diet. This means that you reduce or avoid foods which contain “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides and Polyols.” – all of which could be a reason for IBS and other functional gastrointestinal disorders.

Some examples of common high-FODMAP foods are wheat, onions, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, apples, and pears. For a detailed list, you can download our free anti-bloat bundle!

In a nutshell

Reduce or avoid foods which contain “Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Monosaccharides And Polyols.” since they could be a reason for IBS and other functional gastrointestinal disorders. Only do this with a trained professional, like an RD, and don’t stay on it too long!

15. Choose beneficial food

What you want to focus on are fruits like pineapple and papaya, both of which contain certain digestive enzymes that help ease the stomach and promote easier digestion of protein and fat. Melons, including honeydew and cantaloupe, also help your body to flush out excess sodium. Watermelons contain 94% water and can be an excellent choice to prevent bloating.

Both bananas and tomatoes are loaded with potassium, which helps relieve water retention from too much salt, and are relatively easy to digest – therefore an excellent anti-bloat food. You also need to experiment whether whole grains give you more problems than refined ones. This is a subject many people disagree on. Both are healthy for you and can be included in your diet, gluten-free or not.

Furthermore, you can use digestion stimulating spices when making your food. Try for example black pepper, ginger, cumin, coriander, or turmeric to make your belly happy. They either stimulate the digestive tract or the gastric juices and help with an array of health issues.

Another tip is to eat several hours before you go to bed to avoid heartburn or severe bloating since your body doesn’t digest much when you sleep. Also don’t eat in a rushed environment and remember to practice mindfulness to slow down, chew thoroughly and recognize slight fullness signals.

In a nutshell

Spices can help your body to digest food as well as water-rich fruit. Try to see if refined grains or whole grains work better for you and eat several hours before you go to bed.

Top view of almond yogurt on a table next to jar of granola

16. Add some probiotics

Your gut is home to over 100 trillion bacteria and outnumbers human cells in your body by a ratio of 10:1 – we are actually only 10% human! So of course, all of these species and strains of bacteria play an important role in your overall health. If you’ve taken antibiotics in the past, you are very likely to not have a healthy gut flora since these drugs are made to kill off bacteria – no matter if they are beneficial to you or harmful.

Making sure your bacteria is well-balanced between the “good” and the “bad” is thought to be essential in maintaining strong and healthy digestive and immune systems. This can and should be done by eating a diet rich in healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts or seeds. But sometimes, this isn’t enough to fix the root of your bloating – and this is where probiotics come in as helpful additives.

Probiotic pills offer either a single or multiple strains of beneficial bacteria. When buying these, make sure that the capsule is made of vegan substances only.

A delicious way to include more probiotics into your diet is to make kefir or almond yogurt as well as fermenting vegetables to make sauerkraut. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is by making your own kefir. It’s a fizzy drink (which can also turn into a yogurt-like consistency) that’s made of (coconut) water or plant-based milk with some kefir grains (Amazon Link). After letting it sit for 24-48 hours, you just need to take the grains out of the liquid carefully and you’re already done!

Fermenting foods is a little more elaborate task – but the benefits are amazing nonetheless. For sauerkraut, the easiest one, you just need some cabbage, salt and caraway seeds. After cutting it up and mixing it together, put it into a clean jar and let it ferment for 3 to 10 days. Here’s a detailed recipe for this. Also, check out kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, miso, and pickled vegetables!

In a nutshell

Your gut bacteria can be damaged and needs to be built up from time to time. Make your own kefir, sauerkraut, or simply buy probiotic pills to fix this problem. At the same time, you need to get plenty of prebiotics and then follow a healthy plant-based diet to keep feeding the beneficial bacteria!

17. Get into meditation & yoga

Since all of your bodily functions are regulated by the autonomic nervous system, it is important to be sending out the right signals. When in stress mode, your body no longer focuses on everyday functioning, like digestion — everything becomes secondary to your body’s “fight or flight” survival response.

Relaxing both your body and mind is tremendously powerful because blood oxygen levels and circulation are being multiplied. Depending on the situation, we either have our sympathetic (stress) or parasympathetic (relaxation) nervous system activated – and you’ll guess which one is more helpful for a flat and happy belly.

So this is why, even though it can seem counterintuitive when you are bloated, it is important to try and do some deep abdominal breathing. This can act as an internal massage and it sends signals of relaxation to your brain, which, in turn, can get your intestines going a lot better.

We often breathe too shallow during the day and only get to the deep, healing, breathing part at night. Also, most people have a habit of breathing in too much air due to which gas can accumulate in your stomach. If you want to try this method, check out this great guide to breathing exercises.

But you can also pursue activities like meditation or yoga to regulate your breathing. Even though I listed meditation as a de-stress method above, I wanted to emphasize this once again. The digestive system is one of the biological processes most affected when the body is tense and anxious – this is why you want to calm down your mind as much as possible.

Yoga for a better digestion

Generally, you can do some yoga poses that stimulate your abdominal organs – like the bridge pose for example. Others are twist poses that massage and tone your abdomen, which also are a great therapy for gas, bloating, and constipation. You can do child’s pose, wind-relieving pose or cow pose.

Yoga can help increase gastrointestinal circulation, better food absorption and decrease gas as well as stress. The remedial benefits of yoga can be compared to that of a body massage, where the working and stretching of your intestines will increase healthy movement, blood flow and circulation.

And even if you have never meditated before, a few minutes of silence, closing your eyes, paying attention to your breath or just looking up into the sky while letting go of all the drama in your life for just a little bit could be your first step. There are so many ways to do this, find what feels right for you and just go with it.

Leo from zen habits created a list of 20 practical tips for starting with meditation and making it a habit. There are also great videos on YouTube for guided meditations if that sounds like a better fit for you.

In a nutshell

Look for a good yoga workout video on YouTube and simply follow the instructions. Also, try some guided or silent meditation to relax your nervous system.

18. Try some movement & exercise

According to a November 2006 study published in the “American Journal of Gastroenterology,” gas retention was significantly lower in individuals who exercised than those who were at rest.

So far, my own experience has been the same: when I do some kind of strength training, cardio or yoga, my digestive tract always thanks me for it! Especially the cardio exercises can help relieve abdominal bloating. When you exercise, the gas can pass through the digestive system more easily.

Try to participate in a form of cardio exercise for a minimum of 10 minutes to find relief. Besides walking, you can also opt for swimming, cycling, jogging, step aerobics or stair-climbing. Increase the time of your cardio workouts until you are exercising 25 to 30 minutes three to five times per week.

To tone up your stomach area and therefore let the bloating have a smaller impact on your size, you can do some sit-ups, pelvic lifts or bicycle maneuvers. If you want some instant relief, go for a brisk walk for 30 minutes or do a few jumping jacks or twists. It helps to increase blood circulation since your heart will be beating faster and this helps to release gas.

Walking is gentle enough to prevent further stomach upset, but it also provides enough physical activity to keep food and trapped air moving through the digestive tract. The increased heart rate and breathing causes the digestive muscles to push air and food through the intestines.

In a nutshell

Exercise can help relieve bloating and tone up your stomach area as well. This can be anything from walking around to running, cycling, or HIIT workouts. Regular exercise can also change your gut microbiome for the better!

Close up of woman hand writing in a journal with several plants in the background

19. Keep a journal

Since all of these different factors could contribute, start paying attention to what’s helpful or not. When did you feel good or bad after a meal? You can determine which foods trigger your symptoms by keeping a food diary which uncovers the offenders. This is done by recording what you eat, how much and when, as well as writing down the symptoms you might experience.

We’ve added a printable template with all the necessary and useful columns that you can use as your diary in our anti-bloat bundle, so feel free to download it and start keeping track of your meals! I can speak from experience that you will start recognizing which ingredients or combinations cause you some trouble and you’ll be feeling better soon after avoiding these triggers.

You might also want to pay attention to the times you eat and your level of fullness. Stacking one food on top of another could be causing you some trouble as well, so make sure most of your previous meal has been digested before eating again.

Try to give your body a good long break overnight too. Aim for 12-14 hours of fasting – this means, if you have your breakfast at 7 am, try to eat your dinner around 5-7 pm the latest. Your body will get enough time to restore and prepare for another busy day of digesting.

In a nutshell

Getting closer to the way of eating that works best for you is a lot easier when you keep track of what you eat and how it makes you feel. Watch yourself for a few weeks and adjust your diet accordingly.

20. Apply some pressure

Another way to get relief is to lay down on your stomach or – even better – put a pillow underneath your abdomen when lying down. Along with your breathing, this works like a massage for your intestines. When you sit down, you can put a pillow in front of yourself onto your stomach area when to provide some gentle pressure. There’s also a way to perform self-acupressure on the acupuncture point Triple Heater 6 which is located on the back of the wrist, approximately three inches up from the wrist crease.

If you have a loving partner or family member, you could ask them to give you a nice back massage while lying down. This can help move gas along, relaxes your muscles and your mind as well! Try not to hold any gas in since this can cause additional pain.

For quick relief of abdominal pressure caused by gas and bloating, lie down with a hot water bottle or warm compress across your stomach. Allow its heat and weight to help the gas leave your body and the pressure subside. It also aids digestive organs with a soothing circulation boost – all you have to do is lie back and welcome the sweet relief.

In a nutshell

Get instant relief by putting a pillow or hot water bottle on your stomach. You can also try some acupressure on the back of your wrist.

Supplementation options

Bloating may also be caused by the altered function of muscles in the digestive tract. Drugs called antispasmodics, which can help reduce muscle spasm, have been shown to be of use and peppermint oil (Amazon Link) is a natural substance that is believed to function in a similar way.

It’s also possible that you don’t have enough stomach acid and therefore cannot digest your food properly. An easy way to correct this is by supplementing with Betaine HCL (Amazon Link), which is essentially hydrochloric acid. Take one pill before every meal and you should feel a warm sensation in your stomach – meaning, you have enough acid in your stomach to deal with any food that comes along. If you’re not able to digest your meal, your body cannot absorb all of the essential nutrients and craves for more food which leads to overeating and weight gain.

Ask your doctor, dietitian or pharmacist for good over-the-counter medicine that can alleviate your symptoms – but make sure to get to the root of the problem in the long term, so you’re not reliant on any medication at all.

Persistent bloating or distention may signal potentially serious conditions, such as enlargement of one of the abdominal organs or a malignancy. Definitely ask your doctor about it.

Have you been dealing with indigestion or gas as well? Let us know below if you have any additional advice and what your favorite cures for a bloated belly are!

Alena enjoying a bowl of fresh plant-based food and coffe in a restaurant
Alena Schowalter is a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with her husband, she founded nutriciously in 2015 and has been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages towards a healthy plant-based diet. She’s received training in the fields of nutrition, music therapy and social work. Alena enjoys discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature and creating new recipes.

How to Raise Vegan Children (With a Non-Vegan Partner)

young blonde girl with orange and brown hat standing in front of a wooden house

I am Rebecca Kinderman, founder of Rawfully Wholesome, wife and mother of two girls, Caprice, 2, and Haven, 5 months. I feel very honored to share a little about our lifestyle and how I raise a happy, healthy, vegan family.

I became a vegan 6 years ago, after reading Alicia Silverstone’s book, “The Kind Diet” (Amazon Link). I had been wanting to try going vegetarian for a while because I didn’t enjoy eating meat, and never felt like I was thriving, but I was completely uneducated and had NO idea how to even get started.

After seeing Alicia talking about her book on Oprah, I ordered one instantly. When I received the book, I read cover to cover in one night. 

The information on the health issues, caused by animal products, and the exploitation of animals by consuming their products, shook me to my core, and I went vegan, cold turkey, the next day.

I had no desire, after that night, to eat another animal product again. Over the past 6 years, I have been on a journey and my diet has evolved a lot. I’ve finally found, what I believe, is the most healthful way to eat, and my family and I are thriving, on a high carb, low fat vegan diet.

From Junk to Health Food

I wasn’t always a perfectly healthy vegan. There is plenty of vegan junk, and I was consuming it regularly until I actually started doing my own research on the health side of things. The more I learned about health and nutrition (including studying my degree in health science), it was an absolute no-brainer that I wanted to marry a vegan and raise my children vegan.

Then came along my husband. Handsome, charismatic, funny, a gentleman and so cute-to-boot! But, he wasn’t a vegan. He still isn’t, but has he changed and evolved? Absolutely. The key isn’t to try to change your significant other. Be the example, educate them, and let them discover it for themselves, in their OWN time.

I never pushed my husband into eating the way he does now – if I had, he would have pushed away from me even more. It’s important to LOVE your partner where they’re at, whether you agree with their choices or not. Veganism is about compassion. Not just toward animals but everything.

There is nothing worse than a vegan who breathes down your throat, telling you what you are doing is wrong, and making you feel guilty for your choices. That’s not going to make someone want to learn more about your way of living.

But when people see you living a happy, compassionate life and loving unconditionally, they will want to follow. Maybe not completely, but, again, be the example.

family of four with two young girls standing in front of palm trees and a lake

How to Deal With Family Who Aren’t Vegan

So back to my family. My husband, Jonathan, had a pretty unhealthy diet when we first met. He lived mostly on meat, processed and packet foods, spinach, apples and avocado. Who could blame him though? He didn’t know any different; he only knew how he was raised.

If I’d never educated myself, and gone looking for “something else”, I would have been eating quite the same as him, and be none-the-wiser. So how did I get him to change? Well, I didn’t “get” him to do anything. I let him discover it himself. At home, I only cooked healthy, clean, vegan meals that could have meat added to it.

In the early days, he would still add cheese to things as well. I didn’t ever keep dairy milk in the house, so he would buy dairy milk lattes, but would drink almond milk at home in smoothies. Eventually, cow’s milk made him sick and he switched to almond milk lattes.

Now he asks for no cheese on things and basically, never eats dairy. Why? Because he got educated. I would never push information onto him and make him feel bad for what he was doing, but I ALWAYS shared information with him, and now, he reads and educates himself as well.

Eventually, his mind decided to eat less and less dairy, and his body felt better and better for it, and that made him not want it anymore. I truly believe you cannot push someone into anything. They need to come around in their own time.

And guess what? They may never COMPLETELY come around. But you can still love them and praise how far they’ve come. Jonathan isn’t completely vegan, but he basically only eats seafood. This was a natural progression that he has made, on his own, through my education, his own education, and responding to what makes him feel his best.

Raising Your Children Vegan

So how do we raise our children vegan? Well, the one thing I have been pretty adamant about, is this: while I’m the one who reads constantly and is always educating myself on all things health and nutrition, I want to be the one who chooses how our children eat – because I’m the one who knows more about it all.

I always knew I wanted to raise my kids vegan, and thankfully, I have an extremely supportive hubby, who not only agreed, but is on board, whole-heartedly, and wants to raise our girls this way, as well. He will be the first to tell you, just how much he has learned over the last 3 and half years we’ve been together, and he is also the first to stop somebody handing our toddler something she’s not allowed to eat.

Raising our girls vegan, is a pretty special and unique experience. Here I am, completely responsible for this little life, and perfect little body. The last thing I want to do is put anything in that perfect little body, to damage her cells or ANY part of her.

But that’s just how we, as parents, feel. It’s not always THAT easy, though, raising up little vegans, in a world FULL of nasty, junky crap. For the most part, our two year old only knows what she knows. Which is healthful, life-giving food.

young girl with blonde curls sitting on a table and eating fruit out of a bowl

Teaching to Make the Right Decisions

But she has been exposed to processed food, like chips and crackers, when we’ve been in social settings, and that has been the hardest battle – why she can’t eat that food when others can. I will admit that we have given in and she has had corn chips and lentil chips before.

But what is most scary about that? She LOVED them too much and wouldn’t eat anything I had brought for her. So, now, we are extremely careful and don’t give her any. Again, it comes back to education. It has only been in the last 4 months that it has felt challenging.

Maybe it’s because our friends in Australia aren’t as health-conscious as our friends are back in California? But she has definitely been exposed to a lot more junk here. So how I handle it, is this: all week, I am talking with her. I’m teaching her why we eat certain things, and why we don’t eat other things.

I praise her for eating her food and tell her how healthy she is, and how it will make her big and strong (and she proceeds to flex and show me her muscles). She helps me make her food, and we are constantly talking about what we’re making and doing, while we do it.

If you are wanting to switch your kids to a vegan lifestyle, the best advice I can give is to sit down with your kids and explain why you want to do it. The health reasons, and for the animals, should be just as important as each other. It’s extremely important to talk openly and honestly about what goes into our food, as well as how that meat and dairy, ends up on our plate.

Don’t be afraid to expose them to the truth. That way, they will be able to make an EDUCATED decision for themselves one day. Get them involved in helping prepare food, and keep it fun and exciting – and of course, tasty!

While our girls are young and in our care, it is our responsibility to nourish them, and raise them as best we can, and to instill good core values in them. When they are old enough, to make their own decisions, they might turn around and eat something we would never allow them to have.

And we will have to accept that and deal with it when that time comes. But for now, our responsibility as parents is to teach compassion, educate them, and treat their bodies as temples, because they rely on us, to do so.

two small children lying in a crib and the older one kissing the younger one on the forehead

Dealing With Criticism

Will everybody accept your choices? Definitely not. We have had our fair share of criticism, from people close to us, who disagree with the way we are raising our babies, but at the end of the day, they are our children, and we are doing what we feel is best, and what works for us.

Those who cannot accept and respect our choices, therefore making it difficult for us to trust our children in their care, unfortunately, don’t get to have alone time without us around. Always be strong in your convictions, but come from a place of love.

This is often easier said than done, especially when you’re facing criticism and being attacked. If anyone knows what this is like, it’s me. But continue doing what you know is right for you and your family, and choose to surround yourself with those who SUPPORT your choices, and even better, those who are likeminded and on the same page.

Some fantastic books to read to your children about being vegan and living compassionately are V is for Vegan, Vegan Is Love, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals and Milk and Cookie A Little Spooky.

What have been your experiences with your children or significant other? Have you inspired them to go vegan? Which approach works best? Let us know in the comments below.