My sister is transitioning to vegan and is ALWAYS hungry...

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My sister is transitioning to vegan and is ALWAYS hungry...

Postby jakkrabbit » Fri Jan 29, 2010 4:13 am

My 16 yr old sister is huge into animal rights and wants to become a vegan. Whereas I became vegan cold turkey in literally one day, I told her it might be a little smarter for her to do it gradually to allow her body time to adjust. I thought we could just follow a progression of flexitarian to ovo to lacto-ovo to vegan, and then to raw if she wants. So basically cut out red meat first, then poultry and fish, then eggs, then dairy products.

She naturally eats a lot of raw fruits and vegetables because she just likes them. We've been working on making suppers that use healthier carbs like quinoa or whole wheat pasta, and instead of using milk/cheese sauce, use olive oil with herbs and spices, and replace meat with chopped nuts or crumbled tofu for protein, and then of course add tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, cucumber, bell pepper, etc. So I'm trying to help her incorporate at least one vegetarian or completely vegan meal into her day.

The problem is, she's finding that she's constantly hungry, even though we're making sure to include lots of fiber, protein, and good fats. She'll eat something and feel satisfied and ten minutes later be ravenous again. She's super hungry at night too and it annoys her because she's constantly having to get up to make herself more to eat.

So today she broke down and had sliced steak in her pasta because she finds steak more satisfying to her hunger. She doesn't know what to do because she wants to become vegan but without meat she's hungry all the time no matter how much she eats. I don't know how much she's ACTUALLY eating; maybe it's just not really enough. Maybe we need to keep a food log. I also told her she needs to look at incorporating beans into her diet, whether in the form of bean stews or beans and rice or hummus or whatever, because I know they can help make things more filling.

But does anyone have any tips? I'm not sure what we're doing wrong - it's not like she's just eating carrot sticks and lettuce leaves. She's eating raw veggies, fruits, cooked grains, cereals, and starches, nuts, tofu, and since she's just transitioning at this point, she's still incorporating dairy in the form of milk and plain yogurt. Why is she so hungry without meat?
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Postby fredrikw » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:34 am

Hard to say, but a good guess is that she's still eating the same portion size as she did when she ate meat. Vegan food is often less calorie dense, which means you have to eat a larger volume to get the same amount of calories. In other word: increase the portion sizes.

Other than that I don't know, isn't it quite common that a 16yo is hungry all the time? I ate crazy amounts of food when I was at that age.
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Postby xrodolfox » Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:47 am

It does not sound like she is eating enough.

I eat raw veggies, fruits, soups, and some starches when I want to loose weight. I still manage to eat A LOT of it then (like two heads of lettuce a day, 8 bananas a day, etc.)

The thing is that she is eating foods that have low density of calories per volume. What makes a person *feel* full is the volume of the food. However, what makes people *stay* full and energized is calories. Thus, if you want to feel full and loose weight, eat foods that have lots of volume, but low calories. That is a diet like your sister has right now. If, however, you intend to keep on weight, or add weight, or are a growing teen, or a child, or have a small stomach, then eating foods that are really DENSE in calories is the key.

That means adding lots of fats, or eating foods that are more processed, or heavy sauces, or more cooked foods (where the water is cooked away), and/or lots of nut butters (more dense then raw nuts, which help loose weight with all that chewing).

I would usually stay away from those types of foods, but in your sisters case, it might be good to go there just to keep up caloric needs met.

Something that might work for her: try vegan alfredo pasta. Or try deep fried battered eggplant. Or fried boca burger on a toasted bun layered with vegan cream cheese, tomatoes, and lettuce topped with onion rings and margerine battered mushrooms. Or a deep fried bean and rice burrito with lots of avocado on the inside. Go eat chinese and get the deep fried tofu with their really heavy veggie sauces. Get some scallion pancakes while you are there.

Do not cut down on sugars or fats. When I first went vegan, I used to polish off a whole lb of pasta by myself until I figured out how to thrive on veggies and legumes.

This is not a recommendation that works for everyone. But she does not need to starve. Her diet actually sounds so fantastic for long term health. But it will not work until her body adjusts to less dense calories. That means stretching out her stomach so that she eats more volume a day to make sure she maintains her calories.

I would avoid making a slow transition. Just go for it!
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Postby JP » Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:26 am

can you ask her to note down what she eats for lets say 3 day period, simple calculation should show how many calories she is getting and what kinds.

Can only second the points made above - many people get this same reaction because they replace calorie dense convenience foods with wholefood healthy stuff all at the same time than going vegan.
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Postby VeganGraham » Fri Jan 29, 2010 8:34 am

I find the effect of a big breakfast lasts a good part of the day.
Try eating as much porridge as possible for breakfast, either cooked, as traditional porridge, or raw, as muesli.
I normally stir sultanas in my porridge. If you want extra calories or fat, add soya milk and sugar.
Most bought mueslis have got milk in them, it's easy enough to mix up your own by adding fruits and nuts to oats.
Just eat as much as you can for breakfast, two or more bowls if that's what it takes.
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Postby Konstantin » Fri Jan 29, 2010 9:17 am

I agree with most of the above and think getting fats and eating volume is important. Plenty of carbs - and there's plenty of choice wiuth grains for that - buckwheat, rice, pasta, quinoa, millett etc.

For fats get seeds, avacados, nuts. Seeds can be time consuming and need a lot of chewing, which puts a lot of people off. If she can grind them with dried pineapple it makes them quite palatable. And flax seeds (ground) are excellent.
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Postby wileycoyote » Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:40 am

I agree with everything thats been said. I'm around her age and have to literally eat every hour to stay full.

My suggestion would be to make sure she's actually getting enough calories. Especially if she's active and not to mention the fact that she could still be growing. I remember counting one day and realizing that even though it seemed like I was eating a lot, the fruits and vegetables are really low in calories.

Try peanut or other nut butters on a heavier type of bread, like flax bread. For breakfast, oatmeal I find is really filling, you can sweeten it and add raisins or other fruits as well. You could try lentils too, and brown rice, they're both high in protein so it should help her feel fuller. And chocolate soya milk is good too. :)

I would say just keep at it and hopefully she's able to find a solution.
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Postby JuicyJ » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:53 am

If I can recall and it has been awhile .....I was really hungry all the time when I became vegan. I remember telling people that.
I thought it was due to all the easy and quickly digestable food I was eating, but there could be some other factors.The bod needs time to adjust .
I made sure to have some nuts on me at all times so that I wouldn't get "too" hungry . This may help your sister so she doesn't go for the meat. She should make sure to have vegan snacks with her for between meals - then come mealtime she will hit the good stuff as she won't feel deprived and starved.
I think all new "diets" /lifestyles take some time for the body to adjust - just keep with it and give it time :D
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Postby calico » Tue Feb 16, 2010 4:26 pm

People crave meat for a variety of reasons.

Just like a sweet-tooth, some people have a strong taste for fat. People don't realize how much fat is in red meat. If you offer her a vegan higher-fat meal, does she feel a bit more satisfied? How about a stir fry served fried rice with a rich sauce?

It could be a psychological addiction to pleasure of eating such a rich, high-calorie, fatty meal. It really is hard to draw a line between how much of hunger is physiological need for nutrients and how much is a cognitive drive. She may need to explore this herself: if she's serious about her beliefs, can she stay focused on them enough to reject the hunk of animal muscle?

You can also help her replace her lifetime of programming that meat is good/needed/healthy with new information. Encourage her to keep reading & watching videos about vegan diets, animal cruelty, the large number of pathogens you can get from animal products, etc. Help her develop new associations so when she sees a photo of steak, she thinks "eww rotting sick cow leg". One thing that really stuck with me was one of the medical shows: they showed the heart, artery, and intestines from a healthy person next to the same parts from the typical American (overweight, sedentary, clogged arteries). It hit home, thinking my own body could end up looking like that inside.
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