Eating consciously

I’m the last person you’d think would claim to need to work on my food intake. I cook for myself and eat mostly whole foods (in spite of my obsession with chocolate mint cookies). But I feel like I haven’t really been pushing myself to eat sensibly, on the excuse that given that I buy from the farmer’s market and eat vegetarian, how could I possibly go wrong?

Well, for one thing, I could forget that since I’m effectively vegan about 95% of the time I need to be conscious about getting enough B12. Yep, I’m fine with iron (and cholesterol and blood sugar and all that, of course), but the B12 is more complicated.

According to my doctor I have low serum levels of B12. I did some research and found that this doesn’t necessarily mean I have a deficiency, since B12 is stored for a while in the body before being depleted, but it does mean I need to eat more of it. B12 comes from microorganisms and is the only thing you can’t get from an actual food on a vegan diet. The organisms use animals as hosts, so you get it through animal products if you’re ovo-lacto or omni. You can get it from nutritional yeast, fortified foods (mostly soy milk or cereals), or supplements. My doctor’s advice about supplements was somewhat misleading — it’s apparently possible to take small doses, which can be absorbed effectively, rather than larger doses that aren’t absorbed well; she recommended the latter. You can take 500 micrograms and absorb 1%, or 5 micrograms and absorb 30-50%, which is most of what you need for a day (2.4 micrograms is the RDA). Jack Norris has a good site about vegan nutrition.

I also realized that I’m just not being very conscious about how I’m eating. I’m eating random things for breakfast, eating too many snacks, and not having proper meals. I’m not thinking about eating dark green vegetables or remembering to put flaxseeds in my oatmeal, which is a pretty much 100% easy way to get omega-3s & 6s. I’m not big on eating to nutritional claims, since I already eat a varied, mostly healthy diet, but I want to be more conscious and more organized, and pay attention to what my body wants to eat. So I’m doing a food diary thing again, and I’m going to work on B12 and other important nutrients (calcium) and also just enjoying my food more and eating less crap.

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