Feeling tired- is it what I'm eating? (Or not eating)

goodbyehorses

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Hi guys-
I'm a relatively new vegan (me, my boyfriend and our 8 year old have been since January) and I'm really enjoying it- apart from one thing- I find myself often getting bouts of tiredness that seem to stick me to the couch!
I'm not sure if it's something I'm lacking or if I'm just generally tired. I love my sleep and always have, and need at least a good 7/8 hours- I go to bed reasonably early, wake at 6 and start my day. I walk on average (school run) 4-5 miles and I'm busy during the day.
I take daily multivitamins and calcium tablets too. Sometimes I just feel dizzy and tired though , not everyday just some. This can be after eating too so I know it's not hunger.
Does anyone else ever experience this? If I jot down what I've eaten the last few days and a typical example of my diet would you be able to suggest if I may be missing something important?

Monday-
A.m- porridge with almond milk, toasted nuts and blueberries. Cup of coffee.

Mid am: carton of cherries. Cup of coffee (yes I know it's a vice and I should cut down)

Lunch: ploughmans sandwich on brown grain bread and a pack of pitta chips.

Dinner- home made soya/veggie burgers with chips and a large salad.

2 litre bottle of water during day and 2 cups of green tea.

Tuesday:
Am- two slices of whole meal toast with marmite, coffee.

Mid morning - carton of raspberries. Green tea.

Lunch- gnocchi with pesto and salad. Green tea.

Dinner- vegan fry up and peach upside down cake for pud.

2 litres of water during day.

Today:
Am- 2 slices of toast with avocado, coffee.

Mid am - raspberries and a cup of green tea.

I do try to eat fairly healthy but I'm still new to it all and unsure of what I may be missing. I also try to squeeze in a green smoothie (spinach,mint,Apple,banana) daily too.

Would love to hear back from other people who may have felt similar
 
W

winter.frost

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Hello. Welcome to the forum.

These kinds of questions are always a bit tricky to answer because our bodies are certainly not 'one size fits all'. There are many biological behaviours that are universal, true, but when it comes to what we eat there are a whole host of factors that simply make it impossible to assess in a uniform way. Stress is, of course, the biggest culprit.

That being said, we can do our best to find what is making you feel so tired by process of elimination. Here are some known causes of tiredness and the vegan diet:

  • Allergy. Many people, when they go vegan, start to eat the kinds of foods they rarely ever consumed whilst on a vegetarian or omnivorous diet. For instance, I felt awful for about half a year after going vegan - until I finally worked out that I was allergic to soy, a food I hadn't really eaten before being vegan. Once I cut out soy, I vastly improved almost overnight.
  • The Herxheimer reaction. If you do not know what this is, please do a quick search on the forum and read the posts.
  • Gluten. Even if you are not intolerant or allergic, if you suspect that going vegan has increased the amount of gluten you consume (bread, flour) you might consider cutting it out with gluten-free alternatives. Almost all people who cut gluten out of their diet, or reduce the amount they eat, report feeling 'lighter' and more energised.
  • Anaemia. Dairy is actually a reasonable source of iron and most people do not realise just how much they relied upon dairy as a crutch until it's gone. I, too, experience anaemia when I transitioned. I really recommend you take a vegan multivitamin whilst this is all still relatively new to you. I am glad to see that you take one but what about iron absorption? Are you getting enough vitamin C? Most vegans do, however, so this is perhaps not the likeliest cause.
  • Iodine deficiency. The richest source of iodine on a vegan diet is seaweed, so many vegans neglect this issue. Symptoms of iodine deficiency include hair loss, tiredness, and unusual acne (any and all of these symptoms). I recommend buying a kelp-based iodine supplement.
  • Dehydration. What colour is your urine? We need water in our cells to help us drain toxins. Keeping toxins in our bodies will not help us to feel energised. There are urine colour charts you can search for online - it might not be pleasant, but it is very telling. You appear to be drinking well, though, and that is good.
  • Placebo.
  • More serious causes such as an under-active thyroid.
  • Caffeine. Cut out the coffee. Caffeine will give you short term gains and long-term loss in energy. Try a substitute such as barley, or switch to decaffeinated. The process of decaffeination doesn't eliminate all the caffeine completely from the bean, so switching to decaff is more like having 'very lightly caffeinated' coffee - a good compromise.
  • Under-eating. Make sure you are getting the right amount of calories by calculating your Daily Caloric Need.
You could try the Raw Til Four diet. There are many arguments that suggest that the fermentation of fresh (uncooked) food which is caused by mixing it with cooked food causes discomfort and over-activity in the digestive system. This is why, on Raw Til Four, you eat fresh first and then cooked food later rather than the other way around (or a mix, which would also cause fermentation). Even if you only switch to an uncooked breakfast and delay having your coffee til later on, I believe this will make a big difference. Regardless, you should always start the day with come fruit - fructose is the best kind of brain fuel there is, and has even been shown to help regulate serotonin.

I'm guessing the ploughman's is made with vegan cheese?

You might all consider taking Iceland Moss. This is a herbal supplement which can be used in almost all instances of malnutrition. I.e. if you are not sure what is wrong, or what you might be lacking, try taking iceland moss until you figure it out - it is very safe to take and almost always alleviates every possible known symptom of deficiency. You will need to go to a specialist health store to find it, though.

If you're still not sure where you might be going wrong try tracking your macros by using a site (it's free) like www.cronometer.com

Hope this helps.
 
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Krish Jay

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Absolutely agree with Winter.Frost about Cronometer. Awesome online App.

Actually I would start there first. Log your food in there and see if you are missing any micro / macro nutrients?
 

caseylj8

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So I'm not a medical professional by any means but here are a few things I would consider:

-ask your doctor for a blood panel to make sure you are getting vital nutrients

-talk to a nutritionist

-may be obvious but sleep enough/regularly

-how is your digestion? As someone with a fairly sensitive digestive system I would not be able to eat your diet (porridge, bread, pasta, veggie burger, too many raw veggies). Maybe look into making soups or whole grains (quinoa, rice) and nutrient-rich veggies. Cooked veggies especially are easier to digest and they stabilize your blood sugar. High sugar diets can create fatigue so even though your diet definitely sounds "healthy" you might want to consider whether fruit and carbs are giving you sugar crashes. Everyone has their own idea of what the right diet is but this is what I've found most helpful for me. Hope it helps.
 

Sally

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I feel really tired when I'm low on iron. If you are craving chocolate that might be a clue that it's iron. Maybe try a multi-vitamin for a day or so and see if that lifts it at all. Listen to what your body is asking for, the clues are there. It won't be the food itself but what it contains. Maybe salt, iron or whatever.