Seriously underweight... 26 to 50 pounds.

JohnW

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Hi everyone!

So for years I have had various health issues. Liver failure at 8 years old... couldn't eat meat until I was 13.

Recently I have gone vegan in an attempt to have more energy, and take less from the earth and to do my part to stop the abuse of animals.

I went from an already under-weight weight of 135 pounds, to 115 pounds in 2 months. I have been eating 100% organic and lots each meal, at least 3 per day with some snacks in-between. Mostly nuts/chips in-between meals.

I start off the day every day with a decent helping of fruit & lots of water.

About an hour thereafter I eat a large bowl of cereal with either coconut, hemp or almond milk that I make myself. Type of cereal varies but I always picks those with the fewest ingredients, and very small amounts of sugar.

For dinner I have been eating mainly soup + some sort of veggies. Usually potatoes, sweet potato, squash, beans, rice, etc.

What I do is a make a huge pot of soup, that consists of only leafy-greans & non-starchy vegetables.
My usual soup would consist of Broccoli, cauliflower, zuchini (blended-in to give the soup thickness,) and Leeks, green onions, celery, various types of kale, spinach and collard greens.

I am very particular about not overcooking any of the ingredients, and adding them in at the right times. None of it is cooked for more than 20 minutes to preserve nutrients. I then freeze the soup in portions suitable for one dinner for me & my girlfriend.

We have been able to basically live off mostly soup for around $50 for close to a month. Which is really nice. However, it can be extremely boring, even when mixing up the "main" ingredient in the soup each night.

However, we are not rich and this was the best way I could think of for us to be able to eat vegan and not go broke while still getting all the nutrients we needed. I use A LOT of leafy greens in the soup as I have heard/read that they are loaded with vitamin C and other nutrients that our bodies truly need.

I also make and eat A LOT of home-made organic hummus and organic chips. I can eat a whole $5 container that you would get at the grocery store all to myself in one sitting, though I usually eat around half of a 16 oz container (+ an unknown large amount of chips,) and I am still losing an unhealthy amount of weight.

I've been to doctors and they just say "OH... you'll be healthier in your old age because your so skinny..."

However I am losing muscle like you would not believe. And it is affecting my strength and endurance. My energy levels are higher, but I cannot exert myself as much as I would like. On a short bike ride I lose steam very quickly.

I'm really worried and I do not know what to do...

It's really depressing that I can't seem to make more interesting/yummy meals. I have tried to make non-deep-fried fallafel about 10 times now with zero luck. Always turns out gross... I've tried all kinds of meals, but aside from the soup and hummus, I haven't found much meals that me and my girlfriend actually enjoy.

Any advice would be much appreciated as I feel utterly lost and hopeless currently. I want to continue to eat vegan because I do feel good and for all the other reasons most are vegan. However I don't want to shrivel up into nothing...

Also my body cannot handle mixing 10 different kinds of foods into one meal to get extra calories. I have practiced food combining in the past + currently and it has always helped me a great deal. But since going vegan... I am starting to look like a skeleton.

I am 6'2" and 115 pounds. Lowest I've ever been before going vegan was 130 pounds.
 
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winter.frost

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Hi JohnW,

The most important thing is to make sure you are getting the right caloric intake. Whilst you give me an idea of what you are eating the real issue is how much are you eating? Which seems obvious but, for example, if you intend to get the same number of calories from a bowl of cereal with vegan milk as you would have got from a bowl of cereal with cow's milk you are going to have to eat more. Why? Because vegan food is less calorie dense compared to animal products. Vegans have to scale up their portions in almost every instance when they eat. That is the general rule of thumb.

I recommend you use a website like this one to first calculate your daily calorie need. Then go to a website like www.cronometer.com to track the macros of what you eat in a single day to make absolutely certain you have consumed enough calories. Then, if you want to gain your muscle back, you will probably need to eat a little bit more than your DCN (Daily Caloric Need) in order to weight train, exercise (whatever it is you do) to encourage that. Then you will want to add even more, significantly more calories, in order to not only maintain your weight, gain muscle, but also to gain fat.

As for making other sorts of cheap vegan meals, take a look at these links:
https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/recipes/budget
https://veganlifestyleassoc.com/recipes/?q=1 (select the 'budget savvy' filter)

Nuts are pretty calorie dense, so I'd encourage you to eat as many nuts as you can. But even at 130lbs, for your size, you were underweight before going vegan - well under the anorexic bracket (17.5 BMI) - so that suggests to me that there might be something else going on. I recommend you look into that. Use a tool like this body fat calculator http://www.bmi-calculator.net/body-fat-calculator/ because - truth is - you probably need to put on another 35 lbs, at least, just to be safe.

Please be honest to yourself about whether there is something else going on. My BMI once dropped 17 lbs under the weight I needed to be to stay healthy - but your difference is huge and scary. I really hope that your girlfriend can support you in gaining weight and I hope that you will spend the money you need to on food to put it back on.

Feel free to PM me if you would like to. I wish you the very best of luck.
 

JohnW

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Thank you Winter.Frost for the information and encouragement.

I think you may very well be right that there is something else going on besides just diet. However doctors both natural and regular western-medicine style have been able to give me zero answers of years and years of seeing doctors about my weight.

I was a chronic smoker for 8 years, both cannabis and cigarettes. I quit 3 months ago and am very serious about never going back to either habit, or forming any new such habits. I somewhat wonder if my body is freaking out because it was so physically addicted to the nicotine/chemicals in the cigarettes. The main reason I quit using cannabis was because I became dependent on it to eat. Which is obviously not healthy. My appetite has since become ravenous and I eat as much as I can comfortably eat per meal. However, I do eat so much as to cause pain just to get in enough calories.

The more time I waste waiting in doctors offices, the less time I have available to work & make money so that I may have enough food/finances to survive. Honestly the health care we have available here is dismal at best. The last time I went in, it was to check on my weight / liver readings, and also to check out a couple swollen lymph nodes in my neck that have been half the size of an egg for nearly 2 years now. Instead of using the standard procedures (X-Ray) to check out the lymph nodes, they decided to insert a needle, and move it 15 times back and forth in and out of the lymph node and literally grind the tissue with the needle to take a sample. Such barbaric methods of diagnosis seem utterly ridiculous to me. I should have never let them do that. But we live and learn I guess. To sum up the story; the nodes are still swollen, and I have been trying various natural medicines to help.

We both work crap jobs in retail stores.

I currently eat at least double the portions that my girlfriend does. She has been maintaining a healthy weight, 125 pounds @ 5'4" whilst getting more exercise.
Our diets are identical, as I cook/prepare 99% of our meals.
However I do snack A LOT more than she does.
My system has always been very fast and I need to eat something small roughly every hour to 2 hours.

Their answers are always the same "Well you seem fine to me." Meanwhile I'm dropping ridiculous amounts of weight.

I tried using the calculators you suggested but cannot figure out if I should enter in my current weight, or my desired weight in the BMR calculator:
http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

I cannot imagine that I am not getting enough calories, but I still would like to check with the resources you gave me.

However... If they tell me I still am not getting enough calories... should I really eat to the point where it is painful just to satisfy a calorie-intake calculator?

Perhaps I'm just doomed.
Regular doctors did say I would not live past 8 when my liver failed.
Natural doctors said they'd be surprised if I made it to 30.

Always trusted natural doctors more. So maybe they were right... yet I refuse to believe either to the grave :)
Attitudes obviously matter ;)
 
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winter.frost

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Hi JohnW,

Thank you so much in getting back to me. I have thought about your plight a lot as this is a topic I am particularly concerned with.

First of all, how strong is your heart? If your heart can take it, I would suggest to you to just continually eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat and not stop eating. Keeping yourself hydrated. At this stage you, me, your doctors - all of us can speculate WHY you are so underweight (severely underweight) but the real issue, the crux of the matter, is that you simply need to put it back on. For instance, you could have a thyroid problem. But no more talking 'til the cows come home, please just eat, eat, eat and - hopefully - you can return to a proper diagnosis at a later stage. My concern is that you seem to be worried about money, if so - if you cannot afford the extra money you will need to gain weight - then please consider a food bank, where plenty, plenty of the food there will be vegan.

You should not be exercising or exerting yourself any more than is absolutely necessary to live your daily life.

Of course, if you don't think your heart could take rapid weight gain then limit your gain between 0.5-2lbs per week. However, when I turned a corner, I was able to gain weight even more rapidly but the trick is not to strain the heart. Listen to your body, listen out for arrhythmias and lower bpm - or abnormally fast bmp during or directly after eating.

It is absolutely crucial, when you are attempting to gain weight, to guard your heart. Even more so if you are vegan. You should be, religiously, taking a multivitamin containing iron, magnesium, potassium, B12, folic acid. Passion fruit is an excellent food for heart health, try eating as much passion fruit as you can as you attempt to gain weight.

However do try not to gain weight using gluten (flour, bread). This is really one of the worst things to eat in order to gain weight because it can leave you feeling full but bread is simply not nutritious enough and you will be pushing your body into mineral deficiency which always, without exception, results in the leeching of bone marrow into the blood stream (weakening the bones). If you suspect this has already happened, you need to be taking calcium as well.

Nicotine is, apart from being addictive, an appetite suppressant. What we cannot know is whether having smoked for quite some time whether you have possibly damaged the receptors in your brain that notify you when you are hungry. So you must, must, must eat even when you are not hungry. You say you are ravenous, but - who knows - maybe you would normally be even more ravenous. I recommend smoothies in between eating, lots and lots of nut milk-based smoothies because nuts are both calorie dense and it will keep you hydrated and fill the corners.

As for your swollen lymphs, do you massage? What was the outcome of their testing?

If you need to eat more calories (and you do), it will not merely be to the satisfaction of an online calculator it will simply be because you possibly have some kind of metabolic issue and what would normally suffice is not enough. You're not eating to numbers but, you've said it yourself, you are neither gaining or maintaining weight. Until you get the diagnosis there's really only one thing for it: eat more. Hold no prisoners, including yourself.

Re. being 'doomed' - veganism has been shown to reverse all kinds of illnesses and diseases. There are youtube videos of (particularly fruitarians) cancer-curing testimonies and even one woman who refused standard treatment after being bit by a deadly spider. I do not doubt the power of the diet, but I punched in your details where that BMI calculator is concerned and it revealed how seriously dangerously thin you are. So you need to cover yourself with multivitamins.

For 6 ft 2 male, weighing 115 lbs, your BMI is 14.76. The threshold for 'anorexia' (although it technically refers to a disorder, and not necessarily a weight group) is 17.5. This makes me incredibly concerned and thunderstruck that your doctors have not noticed your weight - at a BMI of 14.76 you would be visibly noticeably underweight.

For a minimum healthy weight, at your height, you will need to weigh 145 lbs. I would raise that to 150 lbs, in the hopes of gaining a decent 'buffer' layer of fat and muscle both. For instance, if you get the flu and lost your appetite for a few days you will want a buffer to prevent you from dropping into the underweight category again.

A BMR, which is the link you have sent back to me, is not the DCN (Daily Calorie Need). A BMR is the caloric amount your body would need if you lay completely motionless in a deep coma ('Basal Metabolic Rate') - but since it is possible your metabolism has been damaged, I imagine the estimation from the website it too conservative. We use a BMR to the calculate the DCN (depending on how active our lifestyles are), and in the case of wanting to gain weight we then need to add at least an extra 300 calories - I suspect - to that result.

I hope this information and encouragement helps. If I come across as strong, it is because I consider your situation an urgent one. I hope you do too.
 
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JohnW

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Dear Winter.Frost,

Your encouragement does indeed help a great deal. I can also tell just by the way you write, that you are obviously very knowledgeable and mature. Your concern for a complete stranger shows me you are also very sincere, which I also appreciate a great deal.

There are a lot of factors I believe that are going into my current weight-loss dilemma:

The root of all my health issues is certainly from my liver failure at a young age. Which stemmed all my other issues.
This was caused by drinking hard-water which formed Gallbladder stones and completely paralyzed my whole digestive system. The doctors did one blood test which showed my liver was failing. The immediately jumped to the conclusion I needed $80,000 and a new liver or I was going to die. If the had taken X-Rays, they would have seen the Gallbladder stones and I could have avoid 2 years of agony not being able to get up off the couch. My mother struggled for the 2 years to keep me alive. During this period I could only keep down and partially digest vegetable juices, mostly carrot, beet, and the like. After many meetings with a natural doctor he suspected Gallstones. I drank some sort of mixture of Epson salts + potassium and it broke down the rocks. I quickly felt MUCH better after passing 12 green rocks near the size of golf balls.

I was in a mental-health hospital at the young age of 15. Which truly is no surprise after the previous ordeal I just explained. I was diagnosed with many things including a thyroid disorder. Some days it's over-active, some days under-active. I also had/have an irregular slow heartbeat, slowest ever recorded in 20 years of them being open.

My heart has been seemingly strong (to me at least,) up until the last couple years. I believe smoking has taken a toll on my heart. I have noticed strange symptoms. My heart feels like it gets "stuck" on a beat. I notice it beats "Hard" the next time when it... unclogs? (Another thing the doctors have seemed completely unconcerned with.) It is somewhat painful, not terribly. But still it's very worrying. I notice when I eat a lot of oil or fatty foods this symptom happens more.

As for the food bank, I do go once a month, which is the max anyone is allowed here. They do have a good variety, but their produce quality is poor and will only last an average of 3 days before it goes bad. I've tried freezing some, but most of my freezer space is consumed by the soups which help us so very much.

I read your post a couple days ago even though I have not had time to reply until now. I have been forcing myself to eat more, and consume more carbs... even though it's not looking like we will have enough food for the month because of it. I do feel better. More energy for sure. Also not quite so weak during my bike rides. I am also snacking even more.
I am taking your advice, and I will keep in touch and let you know how things go. I cannot do everything your recommending, due to finances, but I will do my best and hopefully things will start to improve financially.

As for my swollen lymph nodes, I do massage and I have been rotating herbal supplements into my diet. I don't take a hundred at one meal, only one or two certain kinds in the morning, and maybe one or two other kinds at night. I don't believe they work as well if all taken together in a huge pile. However... I have noticed no improvement. In fact, I think they may still be getting larger instead of smaller. Even with quitting smoking, diet changes, detox routines, etc. nothing seems to be helping the nodes. The tests of the nodes came back negative for cancer. However, I highly doubt the hospital here is responsible enough to even keep proper track of samples let alone take one properly. Many of the symptoms I have been experiencing over the years point to lymphoma. Another reason why I am so serious about changing my lifestyle.

It's a shame I didn't change earlier. It's a shame most don't.

I do not doubt the healing power of food one bit. Food (and natural things,) already saved my life once. I just feel I may have abused my body to the point where it can no longer repair. What is even more sad, is you really can't tell by looking at me that I'm so unhealthy. I look like an average 18-year-old male. Just a tad thin. You can't really tell I'm severely underweight unless I am in my underwear. My legs have lost most of the mass. I had huge beefy legs. Now the muscle is "sunken" in where my body ate it all.

Thank you once more, your empathy and kindness is admirable.
 
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winter.frost

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Hi JohnW,

Thank you again for getting back to me. I'll have to read and reread your post, and just reply to some of the things that jump out. Thank you also for your kind words. It's always nice to hear that I can be of help, particularly since I volunteer in this role as moderator of the forum. :)

For your low weight and the history of eating difficulty you describe I do suspect that your heart muscle is underdeveloped (and you can't do too much about cardiovascular exercise until you gain weight - it's a bit of a 'chicken and egg' situation (vegans really need a new phrase there!)). I also have suffered palpitations although - in my case - this is due to a head injury which resulted in nerve damage. B12 is absolutely vital, also, to regulating the heart. I know exactly what you mean about your heart beat causing you worry and discomfort. Just to let you know, alcohol causes red blood cells to enlarge and the cumulative affect can exacerbate any pre-existing heart 'complaint' so try to avoid drinking it. I wish I knew more about the effect nicotine has on the heart, but since I have never smoked I am quite ignorant in that regard. But I stand by passion fruit - I don't know if this particular fruit will seem expensive to you or not but eat two a day for a short period of time and, tell you what, if you DON'T notice some kind of positive difference I will take some kind of a forfeit ;) seriously, that is how much faith I have in passion fruit (I have seen it do wonders).

There must be some other initiatives you can apply for to get you your much-needed food. Can you get stamps? If you let me know where you are based (you can send me a PM) I will do my best to see what I can find for you. I do understand when you say finances limit the advice you can take on - I have been in a similar situation once, several years ago. I couldn't afford all the supplements I knew I needed to take so I bought just one - Iceland Moss. It's a little bit rare, you'd need to go to a speciality health store, but Iceland Moss has been used to treat malnutrition for centuries. Maybe worth knowing? Do you have a plan to improve your finances or is your income fixed? It's none of my business if you don't want to let me know - I just want to know that things will get better for you in time.

Could you let me know which herbal supplements you are taking? I have actually studied herbalism. While I'm remembering, if you suspect your being underweight or not eating so much is affecting your bladder and kidneys the best treatment I can recommend is fresh lemon tea/juice/lemonade. Also it has been shown that drinking lemon in the morning seems to go some way towards repairing the metabolism for the rest of the day - but the affects seem to be short term so one would need a glass/mug of lemon every morning. I would usually recommend caffeine for the kidneys (you might have come across this when your herbal doctor spoke to you about stones - treating stones, wherever they may be - is one of few things caffeine is actually good for), but since you have reported problems with your heart you should really avoid caffeine of all guises. I do apologise if I am overwhelming you with advice you can't take all at once - my hope is just to get this information to you so that you can refer back to this thread whenever you are ready.

It's great that you are massaging those nodes. It could be a nice thing for your girlfriend to do for you? A neck massage down to the lymphs?? I do hope you find more answers where they are concerned. Because there is a plethora of reasons behind the swelling it's really not something I feel comfortable about speculating over, but I do hope you will pursue more answers when you can - even if you go to a different sort of professional than your GP.

26 is a pivotal age. Our bones do not stop fusing until we turn 26, but our bodies never stop repairing themselves. I have seen several vegan testimonies about health fortune reversals from ages 50+. I truly do not believe it is too late, and I am not just saying that to assuage you. My biggest concerns are getting you the food, the supplements, and the treatment since you describe how lacking your health services are. I'd really like to do some research and see if there's anything else in your area we can find, even with your limited resources. Maybe I'm being naive, I don't know. I'm from the UK and I do know - where it comes to health - we do things a bit differently.

If you're interested to learn more about herbal medicines this is a particularly useful website:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plantsearch.aspx
Set edibility and medicinal potency to a score of 3 and more, then you can select the medicinal use you are looking for. It will give you a list of options.

I really do wish you all the best, and I'm glad you found the forum. :)
 
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JohnW

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Hello again :)

When I joined this forum I honestly expected to get little to no advice. What a nice surprise it has been to get so much information :)

I am always striving to learn more about herbal medicine and I really appreciate you linking me to that resource.

Currently I am taking echinacea, burdock, goldenseal, st. john's wort and lots of turmeric. I'm not currently supplementing B12 or any other nutrients. I am somewhat skeptical and picky about which nutrients I take. From what I have learned, many are sourced from nasty un-natural toxic sources and are not actually able to be absorbed into the body. Or they will tax the liver, which in my case is very, very bad.

These are some things on my to-buy-list:
Cordyceps, reishi, lions mane, agarikon and diatomaceous earth, vitamin C, Vitamin B12.

I am currently getting food stamps, but I am sure they will be cut-off here very soon as I am starting to get more than 20 hours per week at my work. Even though I can't really even manage the hours I am working physically right now... :( Which is truly pitiful and I ashamed to say. I used to be able to work 60 hours a week average, and 80 was not unusual for a very long time.

My lymph nodes are rock-hard so massaging them kinda feels like I'm just pushing them around and is not very comfortable... not sure if it's helping or not. But I keep trying regardless.

I'll keep you posted with any progress I have.

Also took your advice and started some crowd-funding services to see if I can raise some money for some more food, nutrients, herbs, and (i hope) a water filter for our home.

https://www.youcaring.com/john-westlund-602655
https://rally.org/f/7TirRXzzaCB
https://pages.giveforward.com/medical/page-yk4j984/
www.gofundme.com/2eep6td8
https://fundly.com/help-me-regain-my-health-and-independence
 
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winter.frost

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Turmeric is good, especially in the morning. If you could mix it with some kind of lemon drink that would be fantastic.
Echinacea is mostly used to treat infections and boost the immune system, so I imagine that's why you're taking it?

I think you should stop taking the burdock. It's a diuretic, and it actually lowers blood sugar - which you don't really want unless you're having urinary issues. As a poultice it is useful for treating skin diseases but otherwise I cannot think why it would be good for you to take it internally.

Goldenseal is another one you could stop taking. It's mostly used to treat stomach ulcers, and it can be a reasonably strong laxative too - not a good idea when trying to gain weight. But it's a little more subtle than the case with burdock because goldenseal can be taken for liver health. However, I would rather suggest taking something for your liver which didn't have these kinds of undesirable other properties such as cranberry, dandelion, milk thistle (although this one is a little complicated too). You could also try caraway, cleavers, sea-holly, sorrel, vervain, and betony for the liver - worth doing some research though I can't remember how each operates uniquely. You're already taking turmeric anyway, and turmeric is good for the liver.

St John's wort is such a powerful herb it's one that I rarely recommend, and one I'm always very wary of. It has been shown to help with mental illness, at the same time it has been shown to exacerbate it. The only thing it does pretty reliably - for everyone - is help treat incontinence, but often at a cost of many side effects. St John's wort is so powerful that you will often find explicit instructions not to take it when you read the small print of other prescription drugs, and this isn't because the 'big pharmaceutical companies' don't want you to take control of your health herbally (well, true, they don't) but in the case of St John's wort it is genuinely because that herb can wreak havoc with almost any part of the body and they have to cover themselves. I've even seen disclaimers for SJW in a very benign hand cream. But then again if you are one of those lucky few for whom SJW has a positive affect on your mental state then keep taking it (but be very wary).

I'm a sceptic too, but don't mess about with B12. If you're not eating organic vegetables grown in really rich soil, and/or you're not buying fortified bread or vegan milk or vegan butter, then you are almost guaranteed to be deficient in B12. Just make sure that the supplement is vegetal, the capsules made from vegetarian gelatin, and you will be fine. I would be surprised if you were deficient in vitamin C because it's so prevalent in fruits and veggies, but if you really think you need it I do understand - it's a major factor in the absorption of iron so if your vitamin C is low your iron will probably also be low which will affect your heart.

OK, as for the other herbs, cordyceps is a Chinese medicine mostly used for respiratory issues? It dilates the lungs airways, thereby proving to help oxygenate the blood better. For this reason athletes often take it and it's quite expensive. There is some weak evidence that it helps the liver too, but I suspect all its claims stem from the oxygenation element.

Reishi is mostly used as a sedative, for stress and insomnia. Again, some evidence to suggest it helps the liver but we don't want you feeling drowsy and lethargic if you're already struggling to eat and do other things. I would not get it but use something else for your liver unless you only intend to take it before bed - but then you might as well take something else like valerian, hops, or hawthorn which are all more effective. It's another expensive herb too.

Lion's mane is a good choice (but read on). It's a bit of an all-rounder and very rarely has any side-effects or clashes with other medicines. Good for the brain, good for the immune system, good for the digestive system. Only additional note would be that it does have the affect of lowering blood pressure, which might not be so great in your case. You could possibly postpone taking it until your general health improves a little? Unless, unlike what I had, you are having arrhythmia, you're underweight, but you have high blood pressure? I suppose I'm assuming that your BP is already low.

Lots of Asian mushrooms I see in your list. Any particular reason? Agarikon is the herb you list that I know least about. I've not heard it being virulent or causing issues whilst taking anything else, but that could be because I've not come across it being used very often - I specialise in herbs you can find mostly growing in the UK. However I do know that it is good for the immune system and has anti-inflammatory properties but I couldn't tell you anything else!

Diatomaceous earth's main function, as you probably know, is to collect toxins throughout the body and excrete them. It doesn't get absorbed so it is safe to take with pretty much anything. However you do need to be careful about the amount you put into your system at any given time (I'd say no more than a table spoon every other day?).

Try to massage your lymphs when you are in the shower or bath when your skin is particularly warm. 'Cold' massages are never advisable, so if you're not in warm water then try to really warm your hands and use an oil to help retain the heat in your skin. Or you can rub ginger onto the area which will also help. Lastly don't forget to also massage the area around the lymph nodes too. In fact, start massaging this way and work your way in and perhaps - after some time - you will notice more of a difference. Hard to say any more because I don't know how hard or what is causing it. Could fascial trauma be a cause? But remember that the body is so interconnected it's a bit futile to only massage the obviously needy area - what you need to do is get your neck to work better in relation to the rest of your body. Pulling your chin back onto your neck/chest, forcing your neck back along the spine (the action you would make to give yourself a double chin) is a really great exercise for warming up the neck as well as helping to correct spinal alignment.

I am glad you took my advice about seeking extra funds through some of those sites. I hope it works out for you :)
 
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JohnW

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Hello again :)

I'm back and with an update as to my condition and to answer a few questions you had asked.

I have gained a decent amount of weight but am still about 20 pounds below where I'd like to be. I currently weigh 134 pounds. A BIG improvement!

What has changed is I have been eating more protein throughout the day, mostly due to lots of hummus, and pita bread with falafel. I also landed a new job where I am doing a LOT of physical work, on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd rate it about 8/10 for extremely hard labor. So I have been trying to eat as much as possible to keep from losing more weight. I'm also trying to gain more muscle, not just "weight."

You asked why I was interested in so many Asian herbs/mushrooms. I was refereed to them by family members and friends. Though, I never take anything without first doing my own research on each.

My biggest battle right now is trying to find cheap, healthy, calorie dense, and varied meals I can make and take with me to work. I do not have a lot of time to prepare food except on the weekends.

Currently the only vegan dishes I have found that I both enjoy, and also are easy enough for me to make and take to work are:
1. Pita Bread with Falafel, Lettuce, & Veggies (With Vegan Chipolte Mayo,) (700-1400 calories)
2. Hummus with chips (900 calories)
3. Rice (OR Qunioa) & Beans & Hummus & Veggies (700-100 calories)
4. Peanuts or cashews (I eat about 1/2cup to 1 cup of each per work-day inbetween my lunch break)

My breakfast routine is usually fresh fruit, then cereal with almond or coconut milk after the fruit has had about an hour or so to digest. I'm trying to discover new ideas besides cereal as we have been eating 5-8 bags between both me and my girlfriend per month. Which is somewhat ridiculous but we love the organic cereals and they are fairly cheap in bulk. The coconut milk is also super-cheap.

As I did not grow up vegan, and since I do not know any vegans personally I have literally checked out 30 different vegan cookbooks from my local library. This is how I learned how to make Falafel & Hummus. However most of the other dishes I have tried I either found utterly disgusting, too expensive, or too time consuming to prepare.

Can you offer any advice on some easy, affordable, delicious dishes that I can take to work / dinner ideas?

I truly am at my wits end with trying to figure out what to eat. I really want to be able to eat around 2900 calories a day to gain weight.
 

Jamie in Chile

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Congrats on getting your weight up.

And great that you come back to the forum to share an update.

And great that you're so committed to being vegan.

I expect I'm not the best person to offer specific meal ideas, but I think you are already on the right lines.
 

JohnW

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Filling lunch for work could be frozen jacket potatoes (and you warm them up at lunch time) ?

I buy this brand from Tesco: http://m.tesco.com/h5/groceries/r/www.tesco.com/groceries/product/details/?id=265532707

And I warm up some Heintz beans with it.

Other times I get rice that you can microwave for lunch.

Gab

Baked potatoes are a good idea. Easy and warm lunch. Never thought about mixing beans with them, and have never heard of that specific type of bean.

My only issue with baked potatoes is they tend to be a bit bland without butter and I'm obviously trying to stay away from that. Perhaps some form of healthy sauce would make it not a chore to eat.

I've found that its easy to eat healthy. It's also easy to start to hate eating because it becomes so dull and boring on a simple, cheap vegan diet.

You guys gotta remember I've grown up in the land of the gluttonous (USA.) I grew up loading piles and piles of corn syrup (ketchup) onto everything. Few and far between are those who care about their health.

It's extremely hard not to hate eating after switching from such a diet to potatoes and beans for lunch hahahaha