Hi there -
I've been attempting to go vegan for awhile now (almost a year, off & on ...*sigh*), but can't seem to make it through more than a day or two without feeling intense hunger within 2 hours of eating, no matter how much protein-dense, nutrition-packed food I've had. In spite of eating plenty and regularly, ensuring sufficient protein, balancing the nutrition (to the best of my ability) and including a supplement for insurance, the hunger pangs continue, I've also found myself feeling "lighter" and less grounded (almost shaky at times), and suffered my first panic attack in years, recently.
For the record, I'm emotionally stable & well-adjusted, enjoying a nice life with a steady job and wonderful partner. The only thing that's changed is my diet. Healthwise, I enjoy regular, moderate exercise with a mix of interval cardio and weight training.
While I was eating healthfully before, with plenty of fruits, veggies and whole grains, before exploring a vegan direction, I also ate lean animal protein and occasional fish. Up until recently, I'd been continuing to eat free range eggs, but I really want to do this properly and phase out ALL animal products! (admittedly, eggs have been hard as I was eating one or two daily ... while tofu scrambler is a wonderful substitute, I don't want to rely too heavily on soy products as I already eat veggie burgers and other "faux meats" which - in excess - can't possibly be healthy).
Given I may be one of those people who requires heavier, denser protein sources, I'm not sure what else to throw into the mix. Lentils, chickpeas and beans, while tasty, don't keep me full very long, and they don't feel heavy enough either. Finally, I can't rely on nuts because they leave me with itchy skin and a bloated feeling (tho' organic peanut butter on whole wheat toast seems to be alright in small doses).
When I first decided to go veggie, my friends actually laughed, saying "You? The burger and protein queen?!??" Unlike many others, meat never felt heavy in my system; in fact, I craved red meat regularly (didn't care for chicken or other meats, just beef for some reason!), and - to be honest - it left me feeling energized; never heavy or full. Might this be a biochemical thing? Am I one of those "failure to thrive" cases (does that truly exist?), or do I just need to double up on the calories?
At this point, I'm seriously considering consulting with a vegan nutritionist here in town, but wanted to get perspective from some of you seasoned vegans out there first. I KNOW this can be done, but can't silence the tiny voice in my head saying "maybe your body just isn't suited for this way of eating?" Advice, anyone? Thanks!