Author Archives: Ruth Ruthless

My Gut Health – an uphill battle | Singing Let It Go

This huge post can be divided mostly to two subjects – my gut health in the first half and my progress in singing in the second half. Feel free to skip to the topic that interests you.

Since in May I have several performances with summer fast approaching so the need to have the option to take off as many layers as possible will be ever present, I am trying to force myself to get a handle on my bloating by wearing dresses again and tucking my tummy while I get back to what helps reduce my symptoms so I won’t need to be constantly aware of my abdominal contraction – avoiding processed food. It’s also Purim today, so an excuse to take out the Japanese style dresses out of my closet.

March 19th 2019 – qipao coming out of the closet

I’m also going to try and use my lipstick as a signifier to tell myself: eat before going out, eat when you come home, but as long as you’re out with this lipstick – don’t eat a byte. Hopefully that will help me avoid eating at restaurants and random processed food on offer during my weekly rehearsals for all the events in which I will participate.

My Gut Health

By many measures you could say I’m pretty healthy. My total cholesterol stays around 100-120. My LDL stays around 50-70. Some would say that’s heart attack proof, and heart attacks are the number one killer in the modern world.

I’m 39 years old. If I bother to do regular running, my HDL is in a good place too. Last time I tested my HDL it was 46 while doing a half assed job of training for a marathon, which I succesfully completed for the second time this February in the Tel Aviv Marathon and I only did about a quarter of the training program, barely running once a week only the long runs and often even skipping those.

I did barely manage to finish it within the cutoff of 6 hours and some change, but on the plus side – unlike the last time I did a marathon 2 years ago, I didn’t strain my left ankle so much that I had to resort to alternating between walking and jump limping for the last 2 hours but my left ankle still remains the weakest link in my running physique and almost a month later it still hurts a bit, though I tend to believe that’s because I also slipped the reins on the quality of my diet so there are less anti oxidants from whole plant foods to help repair the damage and I’m also probably causing some damage from the processed food I’ve been eating in the last month.

I also ran 4 kilometers from my house to the starting point, and due to misunderstanding the lanes added at least a mile if not two to my actual race distance which was not tracked, so I probably ran a total of 50 kilometers that day, not 42… and still I didn’t have to resort to limping like I did two years ago! Yes, two years ago I was also lazy with my training, but I guess that over the years, even lazy training adds up to some gains… especially when the vast majority of the overall dietary pattern is whole plant foods as in my case which might help negate some of the degradation of muscle tissue due to higher anti-oxidant and lower oxidant content in the diet. Imagine if I actually wasn’t lazy with my training…

Also, for a period that includes junk food, I have been relatively tame this month, never getting into bouts of “eating into the pain” like I previously did in junk food binge phases… so I guess I am getting better at not getting stupidly extreme with junk food… though perhaps that has to do more with budget constraints rather than improvements in self discipline. If I was a bit less limited with my funds, I might be worse off with my gut.

Of course, whether junk food or whole foods, everything I eat is vegan because, well – I’m vegan for I’m not sure exactly how many years now. 5? 6? I like eating healthy food when I can muster up the self discipline, but I am vegan first and foremost so that I am not a part of the machine that contributes to the killing, enslavement and abuse of animals and destruction of the environment humanity needs to survive… so I have a harder time keeping up the junk food restriction than I do keeping up the vegan restriction. When I eat junk food, I’m only harming me but if I ever ate something that isn’t vegan – I wouldn’t be harming just me.

In my last post I declared sort of victory over my bloating, but to be honest – that was premature. In retrospect, I think the reason I experienced benefits was because the naturopath had me pile on restrictions on my already relatively strict salt, oil, sugar free whole plant foods diet to also avoid potential bloat causing foods and it was so restrictive and bland even for one accustomed to not having any added salt such as me – that I just did not want to eat unless I was really really hungry, so I just ate less food and gave my gut a break. I suspect I could have achieved the same results via any method that caused me to not want to eat as much food i.e. lying in bed a lot, distracting myself with video games, going out as little as possible and indeed those behaviours tended to go hand in hand with the diet she prescribed because I had little energy for much else with it.

I can’t live like that. What happens when I have to get out of the house? I have commitments to friends, I’m in community theater and singing activities. Sure, I can eat small amounts of food if I’m not very active and stay at home all day, but if I want to go out into the world and live a bit, I need more calories, I get hungry, and if I don’t eat enough food I will end up succumbing to junk food cravings and as I know from past experience, anything processed makes my bloating much worse.

The gastroentorologist said I’m bloated because I’m vegan and I eat too much fiber. I told her that when I eat processed food I have less fiber and my bloating gets much worse, so how does her fiber theory work? She didn’t do any tests, she just listened to me talking for two minutes into barely a quarter of describing my issues and laid down her word, and her word was – it’s because you get too much fiber. She ended up referring me to do a glucose test and prescribed me to try colotal for a month and if it doesn’t help stop taking it after a month. I’m going to see about getting that test but I’m still on the fence about taking the drug. She claimed it has no side effects, but a drug with no side effects sounds suspicious to me. Especially after watching Gojiman’s videos, I’m afraid of just throwing things into my gut before knowing what’s going on with it.

I also did abdominal and thyroid ultrasound, because my TSH is constantly shifting between normal and sometimes a bit high but sub-clinical and my T3 and T4 are always normal. The ultrasound for both came out okay.

I went to a vegan friendly clinical dietician and she said maybe the gastro is right about the fiber, but I also definitely shouldn’t be eating processed food. She said she had little advice to give me about what foods to eat, hearing all the many different things I tried to control my bloating with diet. including low FODMAP. As far as she was concerned if I am cooking my own food every day and eating plants as grown I am already doing the best possible diet… Well, at least during the times I keep it up and when I’m not eating junk food, which is the vast majority of the time, at least 80-90% of my calories are from whole plant foods, if not more.

The dietician suggested I try a digestive enzyme supplement and maybe try also for a month the colotal the gastro prescribed. She backed the gastro up that colotal has no side effects, but I am a bit loathe to take medicine without a clear diagnosis. I’m not totally against drugs, I am a trans woman after all and apply estrogel semi regularly… and yes, I have tried going on and off hormones to see if that has anything to do with my bloating to no avail… but I don’t like this attitude of “take this pharmaceutical and let’s see what happens”. Having seen Gojiman’s clips on gut health, it seems to me that since there are a variety of underlying causes of gut issues, the solution for one cause might be an aggravator for a different cause or create new problems, making isolation of the root problem more difficult while potentially compounding the issue.

I want to save money to get gut health tests that GojiMan has on his site, but it will take me a while to get enough money for that, and my general practitioner told me the tests he recommends are not accepted as reliable and I should not go for such quackery. I’m not convinced he is a quack just because she says so, but I’m not sure who to believe at this stage since nothing I have tried to do so far has worked and I’ve been trying to figure this out for years now.

I already spent some money consulting people at True North Health Center to no avail. I went to a naturopath who was relatively cheap to no avail and stopped after two meetings when she said she had no nutrition advice to give me and said my problem must stem from emotional problems and recommended reflexology. My emotional health is not going to get any better than I am already trying to make it better through other means. Life will always have stress – for everyone. There is no treatment that will remove stress from life, so I would rather try and find a physical solution since there is no such thing as life without emotional stress.

Now I am trying the public medical health system using these tests, the gastro and dietician while hopefully eventually saving money for Gojiman’s tests. That will take me at least several months. Maybe next month I will try the enzyme supplement and colotal, the second of which I’m not sure whether I should try…

Funnily enough, the dietician also echoed that my digestion problems might stem from an emotional imbalance… that only served to imbalance me emotionally more, because I know there is no way to remove emotional stress from my life. I’m a non-passing trans woman, I am stressed just from going out of my house and existing, being daily misgendered and since the bottom surgery also suffering from hot flashes which I can’t get rid of no matter what I try… but if it wasn’t that, it would probably be something else. Most people have jobs and relationships and commitments that cause emotional stress. There is no such thing as life without emotional stress…

So sure, maybe the cause is emotional stress, but that’s a useless observation because there is nothing to do about that beyond generally trying to improve quality of life as much as I can – and some things just can’t be improved and you just need to live with them, like the fact that I will never be able to avoid daily misgendering since I am post multiple surgeries, tried makeup, clothes, learned voice feminization, etc. and still suffer from it.

This whole bloating thing is such a Sysiphian up hill battle that I am tired of even trying, and allow myself to slip into the pleasure trap (a term I learned from True North Health Center), eat some junk food, which activates my cravings for more junk food… and I waste lots of money on it that could have gone for the gut health tests Gojiman recommends.

I have to eat so close to perfect for months on end to get any improvement on my pre-meal bloating, or alternatively, I can expedite recovery from a junk food binge by semi-fasting i.e. by cutting the amount of food I eat in half and try to lower my caloric expenditure so I don’t get hungry enough to go for junk food – that method allows me to reduce bloating in weeks or days instead of months, assuming along the way I don’t end up throwing my hands in the air and eating junk food instead…

…and even when I do manage to reduce my pre-meal bloating to the best of my ability, it still only works pre-meal, I still bloat significantly post-meal, and I end up weighing 57-58 kg, 1-2 kilograms below normal weight pre-meal not including clothes, though if you include clothes and measure post-meal then I’m always just at the edge of normal BMI at 59-60 kg for 179 cm. Of course, it’s rare that my weight is that low because I would have to be keeping up several months of abstinence from junk food to achieve that. Usually it’s more around 60-63 kg, maybe 65-66 kg if I am after a junk food binge.

Not that I want to weigh that low, it’s just that the only state in which my pre-meal bloating is gone is when I also happen to weight that much, but even then I still have post-meal bloating.

And through it all there is always the ever looming constant reminders around me living in modern society of all the junk foods that I love. I can isolate myself at home and have only healthy whole plant foods there, but when I go out to acting class, singing class, and just on the way to meet friends or on the way home, and these friends indulge themselves too – I get reminded of the existence of these foods, and it’s just a matter of time until I break my abstinence, and it really doesn’t take much junk food to aggravate my bloating but it takes a lot of mental effort to get back on track with whole plant foods and abstinence from processed foods.

The fact that doing the apparantly right thing to solve my bloating and avoid processed food makes me slightly underweight and doctors tell me I need to gain weight doesn’t help – another excuse for me to throw my hands in the air and eat whatever.

The fact that my folate tends to be low unless I eat lots of raw vegetables despite eating legumes every day and I’m told by doctors to supplement or get it from diet but on the other hand I’m also told these vegetables are a possible cause of my bloating and I have to eat large volumes of food to get my folate from diet which makes me post-meal bloat more – another excuse for me to throw up my hands in the air and eat whatever.

The fact that even when I eat perfectly no processed food at all, only plants as grown, for months on end, and I resolve my pre-meal bloating, only to still suffer from post-meal bloating and have no practical difference for all that work – also an excuse to throw up my hands in the air.

Add to that all the usual mechanisms of the pleasure trap and the ego trap as outlined by Dr. Alan Goldhamer and Dr. Doug Lisle – and I really am prone to just say to hell with it, so I’m a skinny trans woman who always looks pregnant even though she doesn’t even have a womb, what of it?

I don’t know if I will ever solve this issue. Perhaps it’s just something to live with… I’m just sharing this in case someone cared about my previous post about this topic and thought “wow, she found the solution, yay!”

Well, this is to update that no, I did not find the solution and it’s a constant up hill battle to manage my symptoms while trying to also not be deficient in folate and let my muscles decay through inactivity so I can reduce the amount of food I want to eat to get the bloating back down faster only to ruin it all with junk food and end up losing on all fronts.

I wish I had a solid ideological basis to avoid junk food like I have with animal food, because then maybe I would have this sorted by now if I managed to keep processed food abstinence up for more than 3 months at a time without having that ruined by a week of junk food binging or a month of intermittent junk food eating.

And yes, I know fitness is important for health. I notice improvements in my mood and physical immunity when I am training… but what can I say, vanity is a part of me, and though there are other reasons to exercise other than how I look, it feels self defeating to go out for a run and instead of being lean I end up looking even more pregnant because the next day I need to eat larger amounts of food to get back the extra calories spent. Now that I’m done with the marathon, I’m more inclined to put fitness aside until I tried everything I know of to resolve these gut issues. It’s too depressing to exercise, which in turn increases my calorie intake, and *look* even less lean as a result of doing so.

Post 2019 marathon selfie – February 22nd 2019

Please note my emphasis on the word look. I realize I am never even close to being overweight. I just fluctuate between skinny with varying degrees of stomach distention.

Just did 50 kilometers, but it doesn’t mean I look lean – February 22nd 2019

Even pre-meal after the marathon still have a bit of bloat – February 22nd 2019

Yes, I also tried eating more calorie dense whole plant foods. They increase my bloating too, though to a lesser degree than processed food.

Running is also the only exercise I enjoy doing, but I am less motivated to do it without the vanity benefit, though I do find it to be a useful anti-depressant.

Singing Progress

So what now?

Well, as usual I have video games to play and friends to hang out with.

I have a Disney songs production in May to prepare for, as well as a new play and rememberance day.

I need to somehow get myself to stop buying junk food in restaurants long enough to save money for tests and catch up with expenses which would also help reduce my bloating.

So basically, I’ve got my hands full with living life and I need to try and stop indulging these cravings long enough to save funds that can perhaps lead to a solution or at the very least, to feeling I have exhausted all possabilities and it’s time to give up and accept that I will always have these gut issues but it’s very, very difficult to maintain junk food abstinence and save that money from not eating out – especially now that these activities lead to me going out of my house more than usual, interacting with people more than usual which also means being exposed to pleasure trap foods that will ignite my cravings again and again and again – more than usual. Now is not a time that I have the option to just stay at home almost all week and barely get out of the house so that I barely get exposed to something processed.

I don’t know if I can do it, if I want to do it or if it’s worth doing except for the state of my bank account. I’ve been stuck with this bloating issue for years now. I don’t remember when I didn’t have it and I don’t see myself ever not having it. It’s hardly the worst problem in the world to have, all things considered.

On the bright side, I received really good feedback today on how I sang Let It Go from Frozen in a rehearsal for the Disney songs production. A bit depressing we had to lower it down 5 semitones to get where I could do the entire thing without any falsetto so it would sound that good, but at least it’s still above the tenor range so not completely gender dysphoria inducing. I did come a long way with my high range since participating in a similar singing production two years ago, which I attribute significantly to improvements in my breathing and resonance from my rhinoplasty – though probably a lot of it, if not most of it, is also gradual improvement from practice of various techniques over the years and just generally trying to sound feminine and gradually, without noticing, pushing my upper range higher and higher.

Two years ago, I was bummed out I couldn’t do A Perfect Circle’s “3 Libras” without breaking into falsetto in the choruses or sounding very strained. This year, I’m bummed that I had to lower freaking “Let It Go” from Frozen 5 semitones to make it sound good. Both then and now, I thought to myself “what if this is as good as it gets and this is as high as my vocal range can comfortably go?” and I feel dysphoric for not being able to reach proper alt range.

Well, now apparently I am comfortable singing between tenor and alt which I could not do back then and I *can* sing Let It Go in the original pitch but with tons of falsetto and 2 years ago I just couldn’t hit those notes at all. Who knows? Perhaps in 2-3 years, I might end up being able to “Let It Go” at the original pitch without hitting falsetto? Either way, people seemed impressed with how I sang and performed it today at the rehearsal despite the transposition.

I don’t have those Elsa curves nor those Idina Menzel pipes, but the people at the rehearsal still seemed to be very impressed, and the song carries significance for me as a non-passing trans woman, that I feel that I am constantly struggling internally between wanting to hide away ashamed that I am not feminine enough while also wanting to “let it go”, to show myself, to express myself to the world – not just as a woman or a trans woman, but as an individual – and while others might say “what’s stopping you?” – it’s hard to think about other aspects of yourself when gender dysphoria keeps getting in the way, day after day after day, whether via casual misgendering, gender harassment or taking a look in the mirror and hating the bits of my face that still look male or my bald head when I’m not wearing the hair system.

One person in the production said that I do it well enough that he thinks I could inspire other trans women who hear me to think they could do just as well despite being born male, so I am considering recording myself performing it in my home studio. I doubt the quality of the live recording, assuming there will even be one, will be adequate, but I am feeling too lazy to record the playback from scratch and the transposed karaoke version has very noticeable transposition artifacts – at least to me. I will experiment with using the transposed karaoke playback and if it sounds absolutely horrendous I will consider recording the playback from scratch.

Bloating DESTROYED

Well, there might be still more room for improvement in the bloating department, especially post-meal, perhaps even pre-meal, but for now, I feel I finally have a handle on the situation and it’s already “okay” though I won’t be trying out to be a supermodel any time soon – which is not relevant to me anyway as an often-not-passing-as-female trans woman.

Before I get into the content of this post, I would like to make it known that I am not offering any nutritional advice, just sharing my personal experience about what seems to be working for me at the moment. Long term this might change and I am open to further dietary modification as long as it’s still vegan – I have no intention of deviating from veganism due to ethical and ecological considerations. Some people and places you can refer to get plant based dietary advice are nutritionfacts.org, John McDougal, Chef AJ, Doug Lisle, Alan Goldhamer, True North Health Center, GojiMan, Caldwell Esselstyn and Michael Klaper.

In the end, what seems to be working for me now is to combine the advice of these doctors, establishments and practicians to eat whole plant foods and avoid processed food together with advice from my naturopath to focus more on cooked foods, more starches rather than fruit as well as other optimizations to help with my sensitive gut that I will detail later on. Just keep in mind that I am merely sharing my own personal experience and am not qualified to give nutritional advice and what works for me may not work for you or you may have a completely different issue, even if it still causes the same symptom of bloating.

In the pictures included in this post, you can see me starting from November 2018, the day after a several day junk food binge up until February 2019, having pretty much resolved my pre-meal bloating and this time (what you don’t see in the pictures) also having drastically reduced my post-meal bloating.

 

November 2018 – 67 kilograms

December 2018 – 62 kilograms

January 2019 – 60 kilograms

February 2019 – 57 kilograms

November 2018 – 67 kilograms

December 2018 – 62 kilograms

January 2019 – 60 kilograms

February 2019 – 57 kilograms

Pre-meal bloating refers to the level of bloating I have when waking up after a full 8 hours of sleep. If I don’t get my full 8 hours, I don’t de-bloat as much as I would if I had enough sleep.

Post-meal refers to the level of bloating I have after finishing all of my food on a given day, although most of the bloating would occur even after my first meal.

Until now, I tried to just eat whole plant foods – salt, oil and sugar free, starting the day with a huge salad, then having lots of fruits, then in the evening having a sizeable stew with whole grains and legumes – typically green lentils and brown rice, often with a potato, mushrooms, broccoli and served with raw vegetables like purple cabbage, tomatoes and a bit of chopped onion.

While that served me well with my pre-meal bloating, but only if I kept it up 100% and did not deviate one bit into the land of processed food such as vegan burgers, vegan ice cream, vegan pizzas, soft drinks, french fries and falafel – I still suffered from huge post-meal bloating, which caused a situation where for all my efforts to eat healthy, which paid off in other ways such as having 50-70 LDL cholesterol which is heart attack proof, being able to recover faster from workouts, fixing chronic diharrea from finally getting decent amounts of fiber – despite all these benefits, I still looked skinny pregnant after eating – despite being normal BMI, sometimes even a few kilograms underweight.

My height is 179cm, and as you can see from the pictures for November, December and January, at any weight where I am normal BMI (above 59 kilograms) I have a bloated belly, and this is in my pre-meal state. Only now in February, at 57 kilograms, do I finally wake up with a flat belly.

This is something I managed to recreate many times over the years simply by avoiding junk food for several months and then getting back to square one in one week of junk food binging. I would get strong cravings to eat junk food whenever I was around it, and in this modern day, you can’t completely avoid junk food even if you don’t have it in your home. You go out. You walk by restaurants. Your friends and family eat it. You can’t completely avoid exposure, and that one first bite would always be enough to send me on a week long junk food binge, and one week was always enough to make me lose months of de-bloating progress from eating whole plant foods and avoiding processed food.

It always took me a very long time to lose weight as if it were fat, but I gained it very quickly which is not supposed to be possible with fat gain. I would say it was water weight, but then I should have lost it as quickly as I gained it. Before my bottom surgery, it took 4-6 weeks to lose my pre-meal bloating after eating processed food for a week. After my bottom surgery, it took twice as long – 3 months! – and again, even when I ate well enough to reduce my pre-meal bloating, I still ended up being almost just as bloated post-meal as if I didn’t eat healthy at all.

That’s when I finally started realizing after years of acting as if I am fat and trying to eat huge volumes with few calories that my problem was not that I store fat in my belly, my problem was that I am bloated and have some sort of gut issues. Everyone is talking about being fat and losing weight these days, but we barely talk about gut issues that some people have. Perhaps my possible gut issues are what always prevented me from being fat no matter how poorly I ate, but they manifested as bloating instead – especially when I went vegan and started eating more carbohydrates and less fat.

So I scheduled an appointment with a gastroentorologist back in November, but none were available until the final third of February. Now it’s the first third of February and my appointment is still on, but funnily enough – I found a way to make huge improvements with this issue before that, with the help of a vegan friendly naturopath. By the time I see the gastroentorologist, there might be nothing left to diagnose and he’ll just tell me to continue doing what I’m doing.

What did I do? I combined the naturopath’s advice together with what I learned about eating whole plant foods and avoiding processed food. In the last month where I implemented this double combo, I progressed much faster than I did in the previous months, as can be seen in the big difference between January and February pictures compared to the difference between December and January. November to December saw a big drop as well, and that’s where half of the weight lost in that month was indeed most likely water weight – since I dropped down from 67 to 64 kilograms in several days, but it took a month to lose another 2 kilograms – and the rest continued to go down slowly, as if it was fat loss.

The things the naturopath told me to do included:

  • eat more cooked food
  • eat less raw food, especially cut back on fruit
  • cook food for longer, add more water and turn down heat if needed to get it pretty mushy
  • use orange/yellow lentils instead of green, they don’t have the shell which can be hard on the digestion
  • soak legumes, grains and almonds overnight before preparing/eating them
  • reduce fruit intake and limit it to fruits that are similar to apples and pears
  • eat soaked almonds together with the fruits
  • avoid tomatoes and eggplants – she underscored this several times. I actually never eat eggplants but I love some tomatoes together with my stews, and I also really like potatoes which I think are another type of nightshade.
  • have apple cider vinegar with salads or before large meals. I don’t like the taste of it so I just had a tablespoon of it diluted with a half cup of water like medicine a half hour before stews while they are cooking – sometimes I skip this.
  • use vegetables from the pumpkin family like pumpkins, butternut squash and  zucchini – cook them together with the stew
  • green leaves are good to have but avoid anything cruciferous

She wanted me to eat oat meal for breakfast but I hate oat meal.

She also claimed “oil is not your enemy”, but I know too much from listening to Dr. Esselstyn and other plant based doctors to agree with that. Plus I have my own personal experience that oil is one of the foods that have the worst possible bloating effect on me – so I didn’t blindly follow everything she suggested.

How did I implement this in practice?

At first I followed very closely what she said, and had stews with orange lentils, brown rice – soaked those overnight and washed them with a strainer before cooking. To these I added lots of butternut squash and zucchini, but I found trying to cut the rock hard butternut squash into cubes to be very tedious and once I used only zucchini the stews became very, very bland, despite adding spices and despite being accustomed to eating SOS (salt, oil, sugar) free 99% of the time for five years now.

Once I saw my pre-meal bloating was close to resolved, I began experimenting with breaking some of her rules. I added an avocado a day, a tomato a day and a potato a day to my stews. Just these three additions made the stews taste so much better for me, made them more satiating and to my joy – did not cause a relapse in my bloating! So that’s what I am doing now and I will see how this works long term.

  • when I start getting hungry, cook some stew and possibly take a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted with a half cup of water half an hour before eating.
  • eat stew made from brown rice, orange lentils (both soaked overnight and rinsed before cooking) and a potato peeled and chopped into cubes and serve it with selenova lettuce, a tomato and/or an avocado. Can cook that with some zucchini if I want. If it’s a day after running the previous day, I am likely to be hungry enough to eat double what I eat on a post-rest day, so I have the first batch with lettuce and a tomato and the second one with an avocado. Cook without adding salt, oil or sugar but use SOS free spices freely. I personally use turmeric and curcumin.
  • for dessert have an apple with 8 soaked almonds.
  • rinse and repeat when I am hungry again.
  • eat 16-18 grams of freshly ground flax seeds once every two days to balance out omega 3s. For cronometer tracking I just input half the amount each day to see the nutritional balance of omega 3s to 6s and make sure it’s at least 1:4, if not 1:3.

Now that I’ve had a few days experience with these changes without any detrimental effects on my bloating, I am happy to be getting the best of both worlds – enjoying my food again and not being bloated! Though it remains to be seen if this will persist over weeks or months.

I even busted out a tight dress that has been hiding in my closet for years waiting for me to get my bloating sorted!

Tight dress is coming out after years in the closet!

I think most people don’t have gut issues but have trouble not being overweight, whereas in my case – I have somewhat of the opposite problem, but not exactly.

I still eat only whole plant foods, just like on any healthy diet.

I still eat mostly starch for satiation and energy.

I still get plenty of protein from eating legumes every day.

But in my case, trying to eat so much calorie dilute food apparently just didn’t work out with my gut. Trying to cram in enough calories in 6 pounds or more of food was too difficult, and with hindsight I can theorize (just a theory though) that the reason I went on junk food binges was that I couldn’t get enough calories despite eating lots of food, because I behaved as if I am fat and tried to lose weight.

I still lost weight though, but I am trying to keep on what I do have by adding these whole plant food sources of fat which don’t seem to bloat me (almonds, flax seeds, avocadoes) unlike say, medjool dates which I really like but because they bloat me I only buy 3-5 of them as a snack once every week or two.

It’s still low fat compared to the Standard American Diet – less than 20% of calories from fat, but it’s not as low as what you might eat on a McDougal diet, less than 10% of calories from fat and it’s still largely starch based like a Mcdougal diet. It also precludes all added salt, oil and sugar since those bloat me very quickly.

All in all, now I am eating 4 pounds of food on a heavy day, usually the day after a run, and 3 pounds of food on a more relaxed day, which is easier on my gut than having 6-8 pounds of food a day which would be appropriate if I were an obese person trying to slim down or if I were a thin person with a healthy gut. Well, I only suppose I have gut problems because of my bloating – but I would venture to guess it’s a safe bet that it’s true.

It would be nice if we talked not just about problems with being overweight, but also gut problems people might have and how those can be confused with fat, something I did not understand for years. I don’t know if what I tried will work for others with bloating problems. I know there is the whole low FODMAP thing, and some of the things I did that worked for me fly in the face of low FODMAP rules like eating apples and lentils, albeit orange lentils. I think there are probably many different types of possible gut issues people can have and each one might need a different approach to solve it even if on the surface the symptoms are the same. At least, that’s the impression I get from watching Gojiman’s videos on gut health. I might save up money to do the tests he recommends, especially if my bloating gets worse again and I can’t figure out why but doing the two consults with my local vegan friendly naturopath was much cheaper – and so far, combined with eating whole plant foods, seems to be effective.

So again, don’t take this post as advice that *you should do this* beyond the general rule of eat more whole plant foods and try to reduce or avoid processed food… but do take this as a personal anecdote that these issues can perhaps be solved if you look hard enough, without giving up veganism like some ex-vegans have lately been doing and getting a lot of attention for that.

These ex-vegans probably don’t represent the vast majority of vegans, since people with gut issues are generally a minority and vegans are a minority, so the vegans with gut issues are a minority within a minority and they get heaps of attention because people are always looking for excuses to continue doing what they’re used to, so these “I am no longer vegan” videos will inherently get lots of views and attention in a non-vegan world – and it’s a damn shame, because it comes at the cost of animal killing, animal suffering and destruction of the habitat the human race and other species on Earth need to survive.

As for the planet? Well, as George Carlin once said, the planet will be fine. The time it will take for the ecosystem to recover from the mess we are making is like a blink of an eye in the total lifespan of a planet like Earth – but we’ll be long gone. Make no mistake, whenever people talk about the environment or the good of the planet, what we should really be calling it if we weren’t using a euphemism to sound altruistic is: the place we humans need to survive.

I hope my anecdote serves to show that with some perseverence and experimentation, I managed to improve my gut issues while staying vegan and the more veganism becomes widespread, the more incentive there will be for the medical system to research and know how to treat the minority of people like me who have gut issues that can manifest more obviously when going vegan and thus typically eating more carbohydrates, but nonetheless these gut issues probably existed before people went vegan but remained unseen beneath the surface.

I also ran my modified plan through cronometer to see how I was doing for nutrients and calorie intake. Please note that I measure my weight pre-meal after waking up without clothes to get my net weight, with food I’m around 59 kilograms, and with clothes and after food more than 60 kilograms. So hey, with clothes and food I am not underweight, but I am guessing the BMI scale refers to net weight.

This is what I ate on February 4th.

February 4th 2019 foods eaten

 

This is the nutritional data of February 4th 2019 foods eaten.

February 4th 2019 nutritional data

This is what I ate on February 5th 2019.

February 5th 2019 foods eaten

This is the nutritional data for what I ate on February 5th 2019.

February 5th 2019 nutritional data

This is an average of the nutritional data for these two days. I pretty much compensated for the extra calories spent the previous day running, so in theory I should not be losing weight but I just eat until I am not hungry and most days I don’t track myself on cronometer. I just wanted to demonstrate that what I’m eating is nutritionally adequate.

February 4th and 5th 2019 nutritional data averages

I am going to continue experimenting with adding more foods to see what bloats me and what doesn’t and try to cram in more calories without eating things that cause me to bloat… and who knows, maybe long term my bloating will get worse again and I will need to delve deeper to resolve it… or maybe it will improve even more – will be interesting, at least for me, to find out.

Why Meat is the Worst Worst Thing in the World

This post is a response to a video posted by Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell youtube channel: Why Meat is the Best Worst Thing in the World. This video begins by demonstrating the catastrophic effect the animal industry has on the environment, brushes over the ethical considerations, completely avoids the health considerations and then proceeds to offer some compromise solution because meat just tastes too good apparantly so much that immediate taste pleasure is more important than saving humanity and the animals.

It’s very simple, even if you’re not vegan but you agree factory farming is unethical both for the animals and for humanity to have any kind of future, then the solution is not to keep on eating factory farmed meat every day and wait until lab meat comes too late to save humanity from itself… but to buy meat rarely only from a farmer that you know treats the animal in a standard that you think is ethical. Like, once a year for thanksgiving or for your birthday or better yet: NEVER!

Some scientists estimate that all marine life may be dead by 2048 at the current rate! See this article for many references regarding this topic: http://www.bitesizevegan.org/bite-size-vegan-nuggets/main-nuggets/empty-oceans-is-the-world-running-out-of-fish/

…or view the video documentary form of the article: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW9fOEJ0vEs

…and when the oceans die, a few years shortly after – we die. We are running out of time to turn this boat around, people! We need to get everyone on the planet to consume as few calories from animal food as possible which for the vast majority of people is zero, as many of the most scrutinizing nutritional academies state that properly planned vegetarian and vegan diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27886704

As a vegan, I’m an abolishionist, i.e. I am against all forms of animal exploitation for profit that are practically possible to avoid and consistent with the ethics I hold against exploitation of humans, but I’m just saying that if you are not vegan but you *are* against factory farming then put your money where your mouth is and don’t buy factory farmed animals, period.

We don’t need to eat animals for health, something this video completely ignored, and certainly eating animal derived foods every day raises cholesterol and we’re having people get more and more heart attacks because they are eating more meat, dairy, fish and processed food instead of more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes because their taste palettes are basterdized from all the processed and animal based food so they can’t enjoy a salad with some lentils and buckwheat boiled in water without oil.

Most people would rather die than have such a bland food as their staple, but if they gave their taste buds a few weeks abstinence from processed and animal foods and replace them with such staples as a big salad that is half raw vegetables and half starches such as sweet potatoes, buckwheat and lentils and allow themselves the 2 to 3 fold sized portions needed for satiation as opposed to processed/animal foods that are more calorie dense – they would adapt to enjoy it and they would see how much better their health could be, possibly motivating them to put the new general well being they might experience for the first time in their lives above immediate taste pleasure, and lose weight while eating more healthy food so they feel full but unconciously consume less calories so they lose weight without trying to starve themselves or count calories.

Some people might benefit from a more gradual transition to a whole food plant based diet. They might need time to adapt to the higher fiber content of whole plant foods or might need to soak their legumes before cooking and gradually raise the ratio of unprocessed plants in their diet.

Some people in the comments of the video said “just don’t be fat”. I am sure fat people notice they are fat and most of them wish they weren’t no matter how much people try to push fat acceptance. I don’t think anyone honestly likes to be obese at the very least and have trouble walking and breathing. Telling them not to be fat isn’t helping.

They need to limit and/or abstain from animal derived and processed food because they are addicted to the higher calorie density (same as most of the thin or average or mildly overweight people btw) to get back the sensitivity of their taste palette so they can not throw up when they eat a vegetable and it’s very hard in the highly processed highly advertised junk food culture we live in, very, very hard. You need to become a hermit sometimes to be able to do it and even then they get you through the internet because all around you people are talking about pizzas and bacon and cheese and steak and it’s all calorie dense saturated fat and cholesterol filled cooked in oil crap that clogs your arteries and does no favors for your health, humanity’s future or animals. Google The Pleasure Trap books and videos by Alan Goldhamer and Doug Lisle such as this video for more details about this subject than those provided in this post.

Some people have highly fat conserving genes that drive them towards eating the most calorie dense food in the environment more than others or they just store fat more efficiently by virtue of their genes. These are not the weak people. These are the people who in an environment of scarcity preserved their calories the most efficiently and lived to reproduce while the less efficient fat storers died. They are being made fat and sick because of the horrible environment we are creating for them, and they are just following their instinct which is supposed to override your rationality btw for you to survive in an environment of scarcity, to eat the most calorie rich food in the environment. If your hunger did not override your rational fear of predators in the wild, we wouldn’t be here because our ancestors would starve hiding in their caves instead of out gathering or hunting. Now we don’t have predators, but we have junk food and advertisements preying on our instincts and we all buy into it, literally and figuratively… and instead of changing the environment to promote health and fitness, we blame fat people and put more junk food and more advertisements for junk food in the environment and talk more about eating fat filled animal products and processed food and make it more and more engrained in our culture and instead of providing the actual solution – let’s change our environment to promote eating healthier food, we have all sorts of diets and futile attempts at starving ourselves.

…and just because you are not fat does not mean you are not also almost equally if not equally susceptible to heart attacks, strokes, dementia, diabetes and cancer – if you are eating the same animal based and processed food based diet everyone else is eating. It just means you have WORSE genes at fat storage and WORSE genes at driving you to eat the most calorie rich food in the environment. The inherently genetically thin people are historically the ones with the weaker genes and weaker absorption, it’s just that relatively recently we have been making an environment with increasingly bastardized food that the naturally thin people’s genetic disadvantage becomes an advantage, at least socially and cosmetically – and almost no one or perhaps no one would be obese or overweight if they ate a diet consistent with our natural history – absolutely no processed food, the vast majority is unprocessed plant food and meat is a tiny minority of it, an occasional treat when the tribe managed to kill a beast in the wild and they divvied it up between the entire tribe because there were no freezers to preserve the meat for later consumption – and you could do just as well or even better without any meat or animal derived food at all.

Why is it hard to give up oil?

Mic. the Vegan recently made an unofficial part 2 to his video “Oil: The Vegan Killer”. Let me preface this post by saying I totally agree with what he says in his video. I am just going to add here some points of my own. To understand the context of my addition, please watch his video.

Also, before I get into the response itself, I’d like to mention I’m glad he used some information in my previous post and mentioned it in his video reply to Blaire White no longer being vegan and would like to thank him for that.

One of the things he talked about near the end of his video, is why people find it hard to give up oil and seem to find reasons why it is healthy to eat oil despite the data. I will not get into the data itself, for that you are again, invited to watch Mic’s videos on the subject – part 1 and unofficial part 2.

Big stew with a big salad and no oil

I think one of the primary reasons people don’t like having their oil “taken away” is that it is so ubiquitous in restaurants and food in stores, including bread, that it ends up that if you want to avoid oil completely, you have to always cook your own food and pretty much never eat anything anyone gives or prepares for you even if it’s vegan and for lots of people that is too “extreme” and “not healthy” because of the social implications. Even if you’re used to cooking your own food, if you’re really into cooking, that destroys pretty much 99% if not 100% of the recipes you’re used to cooking and you have to restrict yourself a lot or learn an entire new world of cooking from the likes of Chef AJ.

Personally, I don’t mind restricting my diversity. I was never especially diverse in the amount of different foods I ate, whether before I was vegan for ethical reasons or before I went for mostly whole plant foods for health and figure reasons.

Also, if I am exposed to fried foods, especially if they are vegan, it can be a real psychological battle to overcome the part of me which tries to rationalize eating these foods… hence my occasional junk food binges. So most of the time, I stay a lot at home where these foods just aren’t there (because I decided to follow the science and throw them away) so I don’t have to fight cognitive dissonance all the time. I personally am happy to live a relatively solitary life, but most people aren’t living alone and finding vegan people to live with is hard enough… finding people who will avoid oil and processed food on top of that is even harder.

Funnily enough, I feel like it’s much easier to find fruitarian people than it is to find people who eat whole plant foods including cooked whole plant foods, at least in my area in Israel. Even though the fruitarian style is more restrictive, it seems to be more popular because it draws the line at a simpler place – no cooked food at all! – whereas a whole plant food diet is a more nuanced approach, requiring people to pay attention not to use oil while still cooking and when people miss those nuances they don’t get the same benefits, so going fruitarian seems to work better for them, but that’s probably just because that’s the only time they ever actually went completely whole foods based.

I mostly see vegans who eat a vegan version of the standard American diet or fruitarians, who use all sorts of pseudo science claims to back up why eating all cooked food is bad. Vegans who actually go by the science and eat plant foods, cooked or raw, as long as they are unprocessed or minimally processed, are in my subjective experience the rarest breed of vegan and considered the most “extreme”. Perhaps the best anecdotal piece of evidence I have for this, is that whenever I reject X processed food saying “no thanks, I’m a whole plant food vegan and try to avoid processed food” the response I almost always get is “ah, so you only eat raw food?”

As I said, it is more complex to explain to people that you avoid salt, oil, sugar and other processed foods but you still cook than it is to say “I just eat fruits and vegetables” and that is often what my diet is boiled down to by other people when they say “I could never eat just fruits and vegetables” no matter how many times I will repeat “and whole grains and whole legumes and nuts, seeds and mushrooms”… in their minds, it seems it’s the same thing, perhaps because most of them never cooked their own grains and never heard the word legume.

Fruits are also an essential part of a healthy diet

On a personal note, I’ve always felt after eating fried food, which used to be every day… that I have to have a big sugar rush to compensate for the fat bomb in my stomach, so I would often drink Coca Cola and/or have ice cream or chocolate cake for dessert. Ever since I’ve been cooking without oil, fruit salad for dessert is more than enough to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Not Just Lettuce Eating Vegans

I finally got off my lazy ass and recorded a song! 🙂 This one is a cover of the original teenage mutant ninja turtles theme, but with alternate veganism promoting lyrics that I wrote. The clip includes subtitles in English and in Hebrew, you need to click the CC/subtitles button to enable them. I hope you enjoy it and if you did, like and share it!

Blaire White No Longer Vegan

Hi, my name is Ruth Ruthless and I’m a vegan trans woman.

Blaire White, another trans woman, who has been vegan for 10 years, has recently made a video where she said she is no longer vegan and has explained why she has stopped being vegan in that video. I will explain why the reasons she gave in her video to stop being vegan are invalid and hopefully show her that she can go back to being vegan and be healthy.

This is also not just about Blaire. Her video sends a message as if it’s hard to be both a trans woman and be a healthy vegan. I’m a trans woman too and I’m vegan and I doubt I am the only one.

She claimed she had major deficiencies due to a vegan diet, but the only two vitamins she specified in which she was deficient, are the two ones you don’t get from diet. Vitamin B12 is from bacteria and vitamin D is synthesized by the body in response to sun exposure. Non vegans are just as susceptible as vegans to these deficiencies, especially these days when animals are cooped up in such small spaces to accommodate the incomprehensible demand for animal products that antibiotics need to be employed to a degree that any B12 producing bacteria in animals would be dead so they need supplements, just like humans.

So virtually all sources of B12 and D in western countries are a result of fortification and supplementation due to sterile environments and living indoors and there is no benefit to getting your vitamin D and B12 together with cholesterol and saturated fat in animal products over taking a supplement directly, especially if you supposedly care about your health.

I saw a discussion with her and Ask Yourself where apparently she tried supplementation but it didn’t work, but she did not consult with a registered dietitian and she did not check her blood results again to see if her supplementation was adequate… so there were still things to try and there are still things to try before giving up and going back to eating animal products.

In her original video she also mentioned she doesn’t want to strain her liver. Where is the evidence that taking D and B12 supposedly adds a burden on the liver the same way taking estrogen pills does?

I personally take my estrogen as a cream, to avoid potential liver damage, even though my endocrinologist says I don’t have to since I don’t drink alcohol and don’t smoke. If she is so worried about potential liver damage, she can use a cream too. Either way, no real justification was given to go back to paying for abuse and slaughtering of animals. She has to take her hormones as a trans woman regardless of what she eats and she has to get her B12 and D either way, like everyone does, whether from supplements or fortified food, vegan source or non-vegan source.

And the whole “I need to be an adult and go to restaurants” thing she mentioned in her original video is self contradictory if she is supposedly worried about her health… Nothing healthy is being served in restaurant food. It’s all laced with copious amounts of added salt, added sugar and added oil so they can compete with the strong flavors in other restaurants. There is nothing especially mature about eating at a restaurant rather than cooking your own healthy food at home, I could in fact argue the opposite is true.

In the Ask Yourself discussion she said she heard all of the pro-vegan, anti-vegan, a-vegan arguments yet she seems to not know how to get vitamin D and B12, she isn’t specifying any other nutrients in which she is deficient, she wasn’t willing to take on the offer to consult a registered dietitian to resolve the issue and allow her to be a healthy vegan again… this doesn’t sound like someone who has been vegan for 10 years, it sounds like someone who has been vegan for 10 days, maybe 10 months and hasn’t done her research and due diligence to actually resolve the issue.

She also seemed to imply in the original video she had other deficiencies besides B12 and D, but since she did not specify any of them that I can address specifically, I can just say that the academy for nutrition and dietetics specifies that “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes.”

Blaire, whatever inconvenience taking B12, D and your hormones causes you, it doesn’t justify paying for the abuse and slaughtering of animals who suffer much, much more than mere inconvenience and it isn’t even the best way to resolve your health issues. It’s actually more likely to cause you long term health issues due to getting cholesterol and saturated fat back into your diet in exchange for alleviating short term symptoms that could be taken care of with B12 and D supplements and if there are any other deficiencies you have, there are plenty of online resources to help you learn how to get those nutrients from vegan sources and I would love to help you resolve those too if you want my help. Better yet, find a local vegan clinical dietitian.

Maybe there are certain nutrients that are depleted more by virtue of being a trans woman taking hormones. I know about myself that if I don’t eat broccoli almost every day, despite generally eating healthy whole plant foods, beans and brown rice with vegetables and fruits every day, that my folate in my blood tests shows low but resolves if I eat enough broccoli.

Also, you’re taking hormone treatment, I don’t know how you’re doing it, but I am under supervision by an endocrinologist and taking blood tests every 3-6 months. Where I live in Israel, that comes standard with being a trans woman taking HRT unless you are doing it via black market and not being supervised, which at least where I come from, is considered dangerously unhealthy… so you should be having a lot of blood tests to track how what you’re doing is working or not working and what changes according to what you change in what you do. That’s how I know what I need to eat to get my needs met… I have many blood tests between endocrinologist appointments where I tried different things and saw what works so as a trans woman you can actually use that to be healthier.

So TL;DR, everyone can and should go vegan, trans women too, including Blaire White, for their health, for the planet and for the animals. Like Ask Yourself said, there are plenty of registered dietitians who want to help her resolve her issues and be vegan and I hope she takes the offer up.

March 28th 2018

Ruth Ruthless

Every once in a while I like to delete everything and start all over.

So hi there, I am Ruth Ruthless! (or Ruth Peleg, whichever you prefer)

I am a trans woman born October 10th 1979 from Israel. What’s a trans woman? In my case I was born male and am now female. I finished the physical part of my transition on April 2017, it took me about 3.5 years.

Besides that I’m asexual, bisexual, childfree and vegan. I sometimes like to run. I sometimes like to sing, play guitar, bass and drums. I play a lot of World of Warcraft. I’m hoping to manage to get myself to record original material and covers but I’m not doing very well with that. I am also very much interested in nutrition and do my best to avoid processed food for my physical health, mental stability, digestion, figure and it saves a lot of money to cook and eat at home.

I am also bald and wear hats most of the time but sometimes I put on wigs of various colors.