October 11, 2022

Q&A About My Recent Weight Loss: Part 2 of 2

(...continued from yesterday. If you haven't read that, I would start there. Here is the link: Q&A About My Recent Weight Loss: Part 1 of 2.)

What is a typical day of eating for you? How do you make it work for the whole family? Any favorite tips, kitchen essentials, recipes.

Again, this inspired the posts about 'What I've Been Eating Since Becoming Vegan' and yesterday's 'Meal Compromises to Please Everybody'.

A recent typical day of eating:

Breakfast: Banana, Grape Nuts with blueberries, flaxseed, and soy milk
Lunch: Steel cut oats with soy milk, cocoa powder, dried cranberries, vegan chocolate chips, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
Snack: fruit or a handful of olives
Dinner: Whole wheat pizza crust with tomato paste, homemade vegan mozzarella, caramelized onions and garlic, and pieces of pan-fried tofu.
Snack: Smucker's Natural peanut butter (I just eat this with a spoon!)

As far as kitchen essentials, I use my blender ALL THE TIME. I can't even remember the last time I used a blender before becoming vegan, though! Now I use it to make cashew cream, "cheese" sauces for pasta, vegan mozzarella for pizza, and even chocolate pudding. I had to get a new blender, and now I kind of wish I'd spent the extra money to get a Vitamix. They're super expensive, but I had no idea at the time just how much I would use it. (The one I have is great, and it gets the cashew cream perfectly creamy, but I have to run it through 3-4 cycles.)

I also use mason jars for all sorts of things: prepping my oatmeal, storing spices that won't fit in the small spice jars, mixing ingredients for sauces, etc. I use mason jars for one thing or another just about every day.

Finally, my tofu press! I was hesitant to spend money on something I could do with items at home (you can wrap tofu in paper towels, top with a plate and something heavy on top--essentially, you're trying to squeeze the water out of it).

This thing is MUCH more convenient and well worth paying for. I actually should buy another, because sometimes I need to press two blocks at the same time. Here is the Amazon (affiliate) link for the one I have: Tofutures Tofu Press. (When I linked it just now, I noticed it's on sale for Amazon's Early Access deal that is only on the 11th and 12th. So, I just bought a second one.)

Do you have a theory of why eating vegan has helped with your chronic pain?

I honestly don't know how eating vegan has helped my chronic pain. When I was seeing a rheumatologist last year and she diagnosed fibromyalgia, she said that two of the most effective things I could do to help with the symptoms were 1) get enough sleep; and 2) eat a plant-based diet.

I immediately dismissed the plant-based diet, because I "knew" I could "never do it". And as for sleep--I have chronic insomnia, and I have for as long as I can remember. I would *love* to get enough sleep! But my body just doesn't want to. So I felt kind of hopeless. I was crying all the time because I was in so much pain and there was nothing that I could do about it.

I didn't become vegan in order to try to fix the fibromyalgia symptoms, but I realized one day, probably 6-8 weeks after eating vegan, that I got out of bed without hurting. Then I thought about it and I couldn't remember the last time I was in so much pain in the morning that I couldn't really function for at least an hour. I started checking in with my body: Does this hurt? Does this hurt? How about this? (All of the things that used to cause so much pain.) And it was gone!

Was it from the vegan diet? I can't say for sure, but I believe that's what helped my pain. I'd tried SO many therapies and medications and I was just sick of it. It would be quite the coincidence if the pain went away shortly after becoming vegan. My dad has chronic pain, too, and I have been trying to get him to try a plant-based diet for just a month to see if it helps--but so far, no luck!

I am currently plant-based but am a terrible cook and I overthink everything, so just coming up with something simple to eat that also tastes good seems to be so difficult for me. I'd love to hear some of the meals you like to make and if you've got any good meal prep or just food/ingredient prep ideas that have made eating easier/simpler/a no-brainer.

This is very similar to the question below, so I'll go into (far too much) detail there. This question really inspired a couple of recent posts, however, which you can find here: Meal Compromises to Please Everybody. Also, I recently wrote a post with a TON of food ideas (seriously, there are about a billion pictures). You can find that here: What I've Been Eating Since Becoming Vegan.

My husband and experimented with vegan for about 8 weeks once. The thing that killed me wasn’t the food, it was all the food prep, three times a day. How do you streamline this, especially with kids!

That is one of the reasons I always said, "I could never do that!" when referring to a plant-based diet. It seemed like SO much work. After becoming vegan for ethical reasons, I knew I was going to have to find a way to make it work.

Some things that I do now to make it easy:

*I always have some sort of grain in the fridge--barley, rice, farro, etc. I cook a batch of something every few days and that way it's ready for a super quick meal.

*I keep some single serving sauces in the freezer (see yesterday's post). When I want to eat in a hurry, I grab the grain from the fridge, a can of chickpeas from the pantry, and a sauce cup from the freezer. I put it in a pot on the stove to heat up (and thicken the sauce) and add a couple of handfuls of either fresh or frozen veggies (broccoli is easy and goes with a lot of different meals).

*Tofu is my go-to for protein now--I love it! I buy several blocks of it when I grocery shop, then I put all of them in the freezer when I get home. I always make sure to have a thawed one in the fridge, too, so whenever I use one, I replace it with one from the freezer. After a lot of experimenting, I perfected the way my family likes it prepared, so it's a no-brainer when I am ready to cook. We never have leftover tofu in my house, so I'm not sure how it reheats!

*When I'm exhausted and don't even want to turn on the stove, I'll grab a couple of slices of Dave's Killer Bread (SO good!) from the fridge, and make a an old-fashioned peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I add a cup of applesauce on the side, and dinner is ready in less than three minutes.

*I have several seasoning mixes in the pantry and ready to use--my favorite is a "cheese" powder that can make macaroni and cheese super fast and easy. If I have cooked pasta in the fridge, it's even faster. I just have to heat the noodles, add some soy milk and a couple of tablespoons of the "cheese" powder and microwave. It makes a delicious macaroni and "cheese"! (The recipe can be found on It Doesn't Taste Like Chicken)

*I keep silken tofu in the pantry because it has a long shelf life and it's SO FAST to make a tofu scramble. If you mix a larger batch of the seasoning, you can keep it in the pantry and use as needed. I just put some bread in the toaster while I cook the tofu, incorporating the seasoning. I like to have a side of roasted veggies, but if I don't have those on hand, a piece of fruit works too. (Even for people who aren't vegan--scrambled eggs are SO fast and easy!)

*I am not a huge fan of raw veggies, so I like to roast a big batch at one time and then reheat them when I want to eat. My favorites: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and green beans. I find that those reheat the best. I just add some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then roast in the oven until they are just barely fork tender.

*I think the thing that has helped the most with food prep is that I eat the same breakfast and lunch every day. I know that not many people would prefer that, so I would maybe try to narrow it down to 2-3 different ones that you rotate. It helps a lot to have all of the ingredients on hand all the time--which is hard if you're having seven different breakfasts and seven different lunches each week.

I prep all of my oatmeal for the week at one time--I just portion it all out into mason jars and put them in the pantry until I need them. My breakfast is a very simple one: Grape Nuts with blueberries (I use frozen ones for convenience), a little flaxseed, and soy milk. I like not having to think about breakfast or lunch!

It seems that you have dropped a lot of weight in the last few weeks. Is this because of your vegan diet?

This has actually really surprised me--I have never dropped weight like I have in the past six weeks or so! When I first became vegan (late January), I didn't start losing weight very quickly. I had been going up and down with a few pounds for a couple of months, and my weight was very slowly creeping downward in an overall trend. And I was fine with that--from experience, I knew that the smaller I am, the harder it is to lose weight and it comes off more slowly.

In mid-August, however, it just started falling off really quickly. I was extremely overwhelmed at the time--trying so hard to keep up with way too much that was going on in my personal life, and I kind of lost interest in food. I was still going through the motions of eating, but I stopped eating junk food completely (simply because I didn't even think about it--I was too overwhelmed with other stuff). I assumed that the weight loss was due to stress and the loss of appetite. 

I still feel overwhelmed, and I expect it to last at least until the end of October, but my appetite has definitely come back in the last couple of weeks. Maybe I'll even gain a little (which I'm fine with). My "goal weight" has always been 133, but I got down to 125 pretty quickly. I don't want to lose more, but I'll see what my body has in store for me--who knows?!

Is there a food you were surprised to like?

There have been a lot of foods that have surprised me! While I was losing weight last year, I was eating the same foods I was used to eating my whole life. When I started eating vegan this year, I discovered just how many ingredients I'd never tried or even imagined I would like.

I used to picture vegans eating nothing but salad, sprouts, and tofu. I have only had one salad since becoming vegan and I've experimented with sprouts, but I'm still not crazy about them. But tofu? THAT is the food that surprised me the most! This meme explains in perfectly:

It's completely true! When I first decided to try tofu, all I could imagine was that top photo. Once I started cooking with it, I couldn't believe how versatile it is. I was equally surprised when it became one of Jerry's favorite foods, too! (Even when he was still eating meat)

Another food that surprised me: cashew cream (I had no idea that raw cashews could be used to make a creamy base for LOTS of dishes!). I buy raw cashews in a huge bag on Amazon and keep them in the refrigerator. I use them all the time to make vegan mozzarella for our homemade pizzas.

Okay, I realize a lot of these questions are about vegan food rather than simple weight loss, but eating vegan has been my lifestyle for the past nine months, so it hard to even remember what it was like before. Counting calories definitely worked for weight loss--vegan or not. That's how I lost weight in the past, and even last year when I started losing weight in May.

In a nutshell, I think the *biggest* contributor to my weight loss has been eating so much fiber. I immediately noticed a difference (within a week) regarding my food intake. I was focused on eating fiber and not so much on my calories, but I realized that my calories decreased naturally while eating high-fiber foods. (Here is a post that goes into more detail.)

My favorite foods that have a lot of fiber: barley (I started using this instead of rice wherever I could); chia seeds; Grape Nuts; black beans and red beans; peas; lentils; and fruits like pears and blueberries. My cravings for sweets went way down once I added in the fiber, and then after becoming vegan, I very rarely eat sweets anymore. It's so weird that those cravings went away entirely.

Interestingly, I bought some grapes recently and discovered that I found them sickeningly sweet. You all know how much I loved grapes! People used to troll me about my "excessive" grape-eating. I don't think there is anything wrong with eating a ton of grapes and I would happily do so now, but I didn't like them very much because they were so sweet that they hurt my teeth.

I always swore I would never sound like a food snob, so I hope it doesn't come across that way. I've really enjoyed all the new-to-me food I've tried this year! And I'm amazed at my weight loss. I don't think it's really even registered in my brain yet. I've been more focused on food than I have on my weight.

Hopefully this helped answer some questions! If you have others, feel free to ask :)


  1. Thanks for these past two posts! My husband and I stumbled into what is settling in to an 80/20 vegan diet about three months ago. So much of what you say is true for us too - pain is GONE, and my husband has terrible arthritis, a knee replacement, and a very physical job. When he comes home at the end of the day, he's no longer stopped over and in pain. It's also crazy the way our sugar cravings have all but disappeared. I didn't expect that. He's lost 25lbs and I've lost 18 (men!). We just feel GOOD. And since we still have that 20% non-vegan, I will say on the days that I do indulge, I can definitely feel the difference the fall day. I think the big change for me has been the near elimination of dairy from my diet - that was obviously a huge trigger for me for both inflammation and general yuckiness. We always imagine having a bit of flexibility, but can't fathom going back to how we ate and felt.

  2. This is so helpful. Thank you for going into so much detail.

  3. I've been catching up on your last few weeks of posts and thank you so much for being so generous with all this info! I recognize a question I asked on the socials and your answer is very helpful. Thank you! If you're ever interested in learning more about the health effects of a vegan/plant-based diet, I LOVE following Dr Michael Greger and Dr Neal Barnard. Dr Greger's site is filled with tons of short videos he makes about all the massive amounts of studies he reads. It's a lot more interesting than I'm making it sound. And his book 'How Not to Die' is amazingly comprehensive. I ended up getting a kind copy for just a few bucks when it was on sale. The first half is devoted to the most common diseases of the West and the second half about the most powerful foods you can eat for health.


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