In early 2020, I was suffering from a horrible case of burnout at work. I was tired, struggling with confidence due to some skin issues and stubborn extra weight, had brain fog for days, and zero patience with my family. I kept thinking, “I just don’t feel like myself” or “I miss the old me.” Does this sound familiar? I hope you could keep reading to hear how a plant-based diet helped me regain my pre-kid energy and passion.
After moving to New Braunfels, I periodically looked at the pharmacist job listings in cities like San Marcos, Sequin, and even South Austin. I was desperate for more flexibility and time at home, especially on the weekends. I was able to secure a new job, with a less corporate feel and 12-hour shifts! This might sound tortuous (it kind of is), but allows me to work full time and be home 4 days a week and 3 weekends a month. It’s a win-win.
The Question All Moms Dread
A month or so into my job, I found myself in my boss’ office. As part of our quarterly rounding exercise, he asked me, “Elisabeth, what do you love to do?” I immediately felt like crying and laughing at the same time! Uh, I’m a mom, I don’t have time for hobbies. But seriously, I felt like an idiot. “Um, I have a Peloton?” “I like to take my kids to the river?” So awkward.
Then he asked me a follow-up question. “Well, what types of things make you happy when you are doing them?” I immediately blurted out something like, “I love alone time!”. Quite pathetic, but an important realization. I’m an introvert at heart, and the quiet with my thoughts was something I was missing terribly. I love my family, but the inability to recharge was negatively affecting my interactions with them.
Morning Coffee and A Book
So, I decided to get a damn hobby. Years ago, I loved to read books and blogs with my coffee. I’d get a latte and sit for hours. I certainly didn’t have hours to do this now, but I could get up a few minutes early and read a book with my coffee. That way, I could enjoy the quiet and maybe even learn something. I started with a great personal finance book called The Latte Effect. It’s a light read for anyone who wants to bolster their retirement fund (hello everyone). I finished it quickly and started looking for another book to read.
The following Sunday, I had a rough time with the kids. Russell was at work. I lost my patience, yelled, said things I didn’t mean. After they were in bed, I couldn’t sleep. I laid in bed restless, googling struggles like “mom rage,” “exhaustion after kids,” and “acne at 37.” My symptoms lead me to what looked like an exciting topic, the gut microbiome, and how our body’s microbes play a role in our health and happiness. I ordered my next book, 10% human by Alanna Collen.
I don’t know about you, but I have to understand why I’m going to do something. Alanna Collen’s book is all about why our microbes and a plant-based diet are crucial. It’s a beautiful and easy to read tour through history, reflecting on how the changes in our practices, diets, and modern medicine has completely changed the bacteria in our guts. She explains exactly why this is important and likely partially responsible for the surge in 21st-century diseases like obesity, autism, mental illness, digestive disorders, allergies, autoimmune afflictions, and even cancer.
After reading this book, I was sure of one thing. Motherhood is a recipe for dysbiosis or an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria in the gut. Poor sleep, little time to yourself, stress, and low fiber, low nutrient meals on the go is a recipe for poor gut health. I knew I had to switch to a plant-based diet, I just had to figure out how.
I started with breakfast. Rather than eggs and sausage, I make a high fiber yogurt bowl each morning. It’s just something I threw together one day and have added to over time. But, here’s the “recipe” so you can try it. I add a tablespoon of chia seeds, hemp hearts, and ground flaxseed to 3/4-1 cup almond milk or coconut milk yogurt. Then I top with mangos, blueberries, pumpkin seeds, and hazelnuts. I don’t measure much and throw in what looks good. I chose mangoes because I love them and blueberries because they are high in anthocyanins, which provide antioxidants, improves memory, and protects against cancer. By my count, this breakfast is 100% plant-based and contains ~15 grams of fiber.
I continued to read and found a book called Fiber Fueled, written by Dr. Will Bulsiewicz. Fiber Fueled is probably the one book you really should buy (or check out from the library) to understand the gut microbiome and improve your gut health. Dr. B’s book is an easy read that is relatable and full of humor and includes a 4-week fiber fueled eating plan with a grocery list. Because of Dr. B, I’ve started growing broccoli sprouts, making sourdough, and even eating sauerkraut! I can’t say enough good things about his book. You can also follow him on Instagram (@thguthealthmd) or get a preview of the info he shared in his book by listening to Rich Roll’s podcast here.
Progress over Perfection
I’ve been learning and working on this for about three months, and I proud to say that my diet is 80-90% plant-based. I’ve been successful because I continue to seek new knowledge and great whole food recipes (click here for my favorite plant-based cookbook). The bottom line is that you can’t make a change if you don’t know what’s wrong. Know that I know, I’ve become a more conscious eater and think about what the food contains and how it affects my gut microbiome.
But, most importantly, I recognize that this is not a diet but a lifestyle. I now know that the more whole foods I eat, the better I feel. So, I’m committed to eating more plants and making more of my dressings, condiments, and jams. But, if I come home to the boys eating a pizza, that’s okay. I can have a slice with a salad and not hate myself for it. I’m enjoying the process and loving who I’m becoming while doing it.
Energy and Passion
Eating more plants has given me energy and mental clarity to think about what is important to me once again. It’s also given me a beautiful hobby of cooking, reading, and learning as well as a way to connect with other moms battling through this season of life and looking for any and every tool to help. This food has transformed me from exhausted and burned out to optimistic with an abundant mindset. I no longer have brain fog, and I can get up early in the morning to work out or work on my business. I have more stress resilience, I’ve lost 10 pounds, and my acne is clearing.
This new knowledge has me excited about helping other people. I want to help moms transition to a plant-based diet so they can feel the surge of energy and find something they love to do again. And, my amazing company just launched a scientifically sound and beautiful wellness line to help you do it! Who’s with me?
I hope you learned something here, or this topic piqued your interest. Do you follow a plant-based diet? Have you seen similar improvements since making the change? Comment below. I want to hear from you! And, as always, feel free to reach out if you have any questions.