While many people experience weight loss as a natural side effect of adopting a vegan diet, some of you have shared that you're still having trouble shedding those extra pounds. So, I want to get specific about what works and what doesn't. First, there is a lot of vegan junk food out there (potato chips, French fries, even Oreos are vegan). Going vegan alone doesn't always result in weight loss for every person - it's the veggies and whole grains that really do the trick.
If you're serious about slimming down, follow all of these tips for 30 days, and see how you feel afterward. Keep in mind, not everyone needs to lose weight. If that's not a goal of yours, these tips are still great for general health.
Follow the Superhero Plan
Be a superhero six days a week, and treat yourself to one to three vegan meals per week. What is “Superhero?” The Superhero plan is loosely based on the macrobiotic diet on top of a vegan foundation. That means fresh, whole foods grown locally and in season… revolving around whole grains, vegetables, beans, and lots of other good things. White sugar, white flower, and processed junk should be avoided entirely. For detailed information about the difference between the superhero diet and a vegan diet, go to page 97 of The Kind Diet and be sure to check out the transcript of my live chat all about the superhero diet.
How strict should you be?
First of all, I always feel better when I eat superhero. Overall, I’d say I eat superhero about 80% of the time and the rest vegan. This is a good approach for people who are generally healthy. When I’m getting ready for a role or an event, or I feel a little tired or off, I eat a very clean, as close as possible 100% superhero diet. A more strict superhero diet is also ideal if you are trying to lose weight or heal a specific illness or condition like a bad cold or more serious illnesses like cancer. In the latter instance, I recommend seeing a macrobiotic counselor.
Is the Superhero diet only for sick people?
Many of the foods a sick person might eat on a strict superhero diet are delicious for healthy superheroes too! I eat healing foods like brown rice, beans, steamed bok choy or kale, and miso almost everyday. I dabble in the vegan flirty world from time to time, too. I generally don’t deprive myself of the occasional treat, like a vegan cookie, slice of vegan pizza, or a half glass of wine, sometimes more. Whenever I indulge, I know how to help my body recover. If I ever feel less than great, a cup of my healing tea or a good superhero meal usually brings me back to feeling my best.
That said, once you taste the glory of eating superhero and feeling so clean, balanced and pure, it’s hard to want anything else. But I still play a little with the flirty vegan stuff. The rest of the time, I’m macrobiotic/superhero, and I love it.
When I was in New York, the vegan food was way too delicious to resist! It was the holidays, and I wanted to try everything. I will say I was feeling way more tired, grumpy and weird, all because of the sugar and the excessive use of salt at restaurants. I was cooking to balance it out, so I wasn’t going too crazy. But now it feels so great to go back to serious superhero times. Even Christopher is being more superhero with me right now… Yay! So join us!
Go crazy with grains and veggies. Seriously, eat as much as you want! Note that this doesn't include breads and pastas - only the actual grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa, oats etc). Make friends with daikon. It's a natural diuretic than can be added to soups, stews, and other veggie dishes.
Chew your food. Simply putting your fork down in between each bite is a great way to start. Plus, when you begin to chew your food thoroughly, you enjoy the flavors more. Give it a try!
Go easy on salt. That includes shoyu and miso. Too much saltiness can make you crave sweets! Don't be afraid of salt, but use it wisely.
Stay away from sugar. Ok, so my name is Alicia Silverstone... and I'm a sugar addict.
It's not my fault! It follows me everywhere I go. It stalks me. It shows up everywhere, unexpected... seduces me, then leaves me miserable. It's addictive, and ditching sugar can be hard at first. Brown rice syrup is great if you're having trouble kicking sweets. Stick to superhero desserts, and after a few days you should find that your sugar cravings are fading.
This is an official cry to the world to say that if you care about me, in any way, shape, or form, please DO NOT bring me any item made with cane juice!! I don't know how to say no to it! It is so sweet and kind of people to want to feed me great chocolates and muffins and cakes and such, but what it does to me is so bad. I eat it because I think:
a) It's vegan, and that's so great that this person giving it to me found something vegan. They went to all the effort to get it...
b) b) I think I am your test pilot and need to tell flirts about great chocolate and stuff, and finally…
c) c) I'm crazy!
None of these reasons are rational.
When I was still in New York, I went on a fun date with Laura Linney when our show was all done. We saw a play, went to Angelica's for an early dinner, then to Lula's Sweet Apothecary for ice cream. Lula's is adorable and really yummy. For anyone flirting or vegan in NY, you must RUN there. For superheros, don't do it. Or just do it every once in awhile. I didn't eat it all that night, so don't worry. I left half of it and they were baby scoops... but it was delicious.
Laura got the Caramel with something (I can't remember what it was) scoop. I couldn't decide what I wanted, so I got four different flavors... that's right, you heard me, FOUR. I got the Peanut Butter with Fudge (how could I say no to that?), the Caramel one, the Mint Chip, and the Coffee. My favorite was the Caramel and Peanut Butter.
Here is what happened that night: I went to bed and felt like I never went to sleep. I mean, eventually I fell asleep, but it never felt like I did. I had one idea going round and round in my head, so it never felt like my brain turned off or that I rested. Then, I woke up earlier than usual. This is what happens to me every time I have sugar... even the pretty, cute pure cane juice sugar. I do NOT like this! I like to have restful sleep and feel rejuvenated the next day.
The crazy thing here is that I know this is going to happen to me every time I have sugar. I mean there is an entire chapter about this in my book! I know it's bad, and yet I still do it. This is why I started Sugar-holics Anonymous... so there is a place for addicts to come and discuss and try to get off this stuff together. I'm being silly here, but part serious too, fyi.
I'm serious about the fact that when I go off to shoot films this summer, I am not having sugar! I barely have sugar at home in LA. New York was mean to me. It seduced me everyday with chocolate, ice cream, cupcakes and such. I'm breaking up with sugar now... I hope for good! And if you are going to have sugar, at least don't be a dummy like me and have it anywhere close to bedtime.
On a little side note to vendors out there that are awesome vegan treat-making businesses that use cane sugar - If you guys are wanting to send me some of your goodies to try, please refrain!! I can't take it anymore. I'm sad to say that, but the sugar is making me crazy!
P.S. Since I wrote this piece, I have been free of sugar for a while now... thank God! I've been in Los Angeles and Louisiana, and making yummie treats at home in my little kitchen that I love, so the sugar cycle has been broken. But man, I was hooked in NY!!!