Vegetarian to vegan stomach issues:

Oatmeal32

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Hello!

I am new here. As the title suggests, I am a vegan that has transitioned from vegetarianism 4 days ago.
The results have been amazing to say the least. While I wasn't excited about going vegan, my energy has been through the roof and my depression is gone! :) My joint inflammation has also decreased significantly from my workouts, and my sleeping patterns have been improved since then. I've also been eating more calories as I was under my caloric intake as a vegetarian. I used to eat about 2-3 eggs per day with asian food and for breakfast, along with about 1/2 a cup of cheese per day
and maybe 2 thin slices of turkey per week for flavor enhancement.

Since researching and studying the science behind veganism more carefully, it was clear that I needed to switch to a whole-food, plant-based diet for the solid long-term health based reasons. I eat non-processed, organic foods and whole grains (No refined foods, sugars, oils, etc.)

However, I am experiencing very light stomach cramps and mild diarrhea. Is this normal? Is there anything else I should expect?

Attached is a Cronometer screenshot of what I ate yesterday. The day before yesterday has been much lighter and less nutrient dense.

Based on the attached screenshot, can someone help figure out why stomach is responding this way and what I may need to adjust? I supplement for B12 and Vitamin D. My vit. D levels are actually not over the limit as the chart suggests as I didn't supplement in the last 38 hours. I've upped my intake of wheat grass powder as well as flax that I never used to take before.

For perspective's sake: I am a female, 26, 112 lbs, 5'4.

~ Thank you for any advice in advance.
 

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Lou

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First off, welcome.

It's almost definitely the fiber. Double check me on this. put in a typical day from last week. How was your fiber? I bet it was below 100%. and now it's 300%. It's probably also just too much food. I can't see your calorie expenditures. but Cronometer says you are eating 1.5 times more calories than necessary. And most of those calories come from carbs.

I've only read two or three books on the WFPB diet. And my own transition took years. but my understanding from the books is that a WFPB diet involves a lot of changes in the intestinal flora. There are bacteria that eat fiber. And since most Americans don't eat that much fiber those bacteria aren't in big numbers. There are bacteria that eat sugar. and the population of those in a typical American are big. Also, there are complex relationships among the bacteria. Some bacteria are friends. And some are enemies. Some compete with each other. Some eat the others.

So anyway it shouldn't be a big surprise that when you change your diet dramatically you upset the equilibrium that has been established.

One of the most typical things that happen to new vegans is that the fiber eating bacteria throw a party and their population goes sky high. but the others that keep them in check or eat them take a little longer to catch up. Some of those fiber eating bacteria produce methane. Bloating and gas are well-reported symptoms. There are also bacteria that... I don't think they eat methane... but they neutralize it - or something.

Also, some of these bacteria actually produce hormones or chemicals that our brains might think are hormones. Some of them even have effects on the brain that might make us think we are hungry or crave something. The bacteria that eat fat and sugar will send messages to the brain that makes your brain think you are starving. And when you eat fat and sugar they reward you with opiate-like chemical compounds.

The good news is that if you eat a healthy diet the bacteria will reach an equilibrium. Pretty much all on their own. If you think you feel good now, just wait a few more days or weeks.

I'm glad to see you have mastered cronometer. It is usually the first thing I recommend to newbies. I do spot a bunch of things that you should try to adjust.

As I mentioned early, it looks like you are eating too much food. I'm not sure about that because I can't see how many calories you are burning each day. But Cronometer put it in red. And typically people your size eat under 2000 calories a day. And it looks like you are eating too many carbs. Again, people your size usually shoot for less than 300 g of carbs a day.

I'm also a little concerned about some of your vitamins and minerals. Actually, I am having a hard time figuring out how they can be that high without a vitamin supplement and just natural foods. You already have taken into account the D and B12. But Vitamin A is an issue. Vitamin A is not water soluble. So our bodies don't excrete the excess. It builds up and can become toxic. It's not something to worry about. Before it becomes fatal your skin turns yellow. So you might keep an eye on that. Also if you go for a hike and you notice that there are bunnies following you - that is also a telltale.

The other thing is Manganese, which is (if I remember this right) very toxic in high quantities.

Aha! It's your Amazing Grass Wheat Grass. It's high in Vitamin A and Manganese. Maybe just cut down. but I wouldn't be surprised if you don't need it at all.

(BTW, one of the big WFPB doctors, either Gregar of Fuhrman has a whole chapter on Vitamin A.)

The other things are not big concerns. Iron is toxic but our bodies can eliminate it through our stools. However, if you ever notice that your stools are black and rock hard, that is a good indicator that your body is excreting excess iron.

The lack of iodine also probably isn't an issue. The amount of iodine found in fresh fruits and veggies is variable and Cronometer cannot account for the variability. If your produce comes from coastal areas it's not an issue. If your produce comes from the midwest, then maybe get some iodized salt. The salt they use in prepared foods is not iodized. but the salt you get in the grocery store is - it even says so.

One of the cool things I like about Cronometer is that you can take yesterdays results and play with them. Take out the wheatgrass, cut back on the oatmeal, sugar, pasta sauce, and cereal. I bet you can pretty easily get all your bars greens.

Good luck. and please let me know what you find out.
 

betiPT

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I agree with @Lou, looks like it is the massive fibre difference with the dramatic diet change. If the cramps and diarrhea are bothering you a lot, start monitoring fibre intake and modify amount you eat until you are comfortable and then increase intake slowly. Good news, your normal flora will balance out to deal with your fibre intake :)

Good Luck :)
 
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Oatmeal32

Oatmeal32

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First off, welcome.

It's almost definitely the fiber. Double check me on this. put in a typical day from last week. How was your fiber? I bet it was below 100%. and now it's 300%. It's probably also just too much food. I can't see your calorie expenditures. but Cronometer says you are eating 1.5 times more calories than necessary. And most of those calories come from carbs.

I've only read two or three books on the WFPB diet. And my own transition took years. but my understanding from the books is that a WFPB diet involves a lot of changes in the intestinal flora. There are bacteria that eat fiber. And since most Americans don't eat that much fiber those bacteria aren't in big numbers. There are bacteria that eat sugar. and the population of those in a typical American are big. Also, there are complex relationships among the bacteria. Some bacteria are friends. And some are enemies. Some compete with each other. Some eat the others.

So anyway it shouldn't be a big surprise that when you change your diet dramatically you upset the equilibrium that has been established.

One of the most typical things that happen to new vegans is that the fiber eating bacteria throw a party and their population goes sky high. but the others that keep them in check or eat them take a little longer to catch up. Some of those fiber eating bacteria produce methane. Bloating and gas are well-reported symptoms. There are also bacteria that... I don't think they eat methane... but they neutralize it - or something.

Also, some of these bacteria actually produce hormones or chemicals that our brains might think are hormones. Some of them even have effects on the brain that might make us think we are hungry or crave something. The bacteria that eat fat and sugar will send messages to the brain that makes your brain think you are starving. And when you eat fat and sugar they reward you with opiate-like chemical compounds.

The good news is that if you eat a healthy diet the bacteria will reach an equilibrium. Pretty much all on their own. If you think you feel good now, just wait a few more days or weeks.

I'm glad to see you have mastered cronometer. It is usually the first thing I recommend to newbies. I do spot a bunch of things that you should try to adjust.

As I mentioned early, it looks like you are eating too much food. I'm not sure about that because I can't see how many calories you are burning each day. But Cronometer put it in red. And typically people your size eat under 2000 calories a day. And it looks like you are eating too many carbs. Again, people your size usually shoot for less than 300 g of carbs a day.

I'm also a little concerned about some of your vitamins and minerals. Actually, I am having a hard time figuring out how they can be that high without a vitamin supplement and just natural foods. You already have taken into account the D and B12. But Vitamin A is an issue. Vitamin A is not water soluble. So our bodies don't excrete the excess. It builds up and can become toxic. It's not something to worry about. Before it becomes fatal your skin turns yellow. So you might keep an eye on that. Also if you go for a hike and you notice that there are bunnies following you - that is also a telltale.

The other thing is Manganese, which is (if I remember this right) very toxic in high quantities.

Aha! It's your Amazing Grass Wheat Grass. It's high in Vitamin A and Manganese. Maybe just cut down. but I wouldn't be surprised if you don't need it at all.

(BTW, one of the big WFPB doctors, either Gregar of Fuhrman has a whole chapter on Vitamin A.)

The other things are not big concerns. Iron is toxic but our bodies can eliminate it through our stools. However, if you ever notice that your stools are black and rock hard, that is a good indicator that your body is excreting excess iron.

The lack of iodine also probably isn't an issue. The amount of iodine found in fresh fruits and veggies is variable and Cronometer cannot account for the variability. If your produce comes from coastal areas it's not an issue. If your produce comes from the midwest, then maybe get some iodized salt. The salt they use in prepared foods is not iodized. but the salt you get in the grocery store is - it even says so.

One of the cool things I like about Cronometer is that you can take yesterdays results and play with them. Take out the wheatgrass, cut back on the oatmeal, sugar, pasta sauce, and cereal. I bet you can pretty easily get all your bars greens.

Good luck. and please let me know what you find out.


Lou,

Thank you so much for your thorough and well-considered response! It is greatly appreciated. :)

Yes--I did increase my caloric intake significantly and it was difficult to eat that much. Today, I followed your advice and ate my standard 1-2 large meals per day along with some fruit as a snack. I didn't have any flaxseed or wheatgrass today since my gut is adjusting. Do you suggest I take flaxseed daily since I'm still in transition?

I will be sure to tone it down on the Amazing Grass for Vitamin A. How much do you think I should take instead and how often considering a vegan diet? I know you're (probably) not a doctor and I am not asking for medical advice, but just speaking from experience.

I also didn't know about Manganese. Yikes. I will be sure to keep that level from now on. That was only for 1 day, btw.

If there is any other nutrient that is in high amounts that I need to keep an eye on; I am open to learning.

Also, any other advice for transitioning from anyone is REALLY appreciated. ;)

Thanks!
 
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Lou

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Lou,

Thank you so much for your thorough and well-considered response! It is greatly appreciated. :)

Yes--I did increase my caloric intake significantly and it was difficult to eat that much. Today, I followed your advice and ate my standard 1-2 large meals per day along with some fruit as a snack. I didn't have any flaxseed or wheatgrass today since my gut is adjusting. Do you suggest I take flaxseed daily since I'm still in transition?

I will be sure to tone it down on the Amazing Grass for Vitamin A. How much do you think I should take instead and how often considering a vegan diet? I know you're (probably) not a doctor and I am not asking for medical advice, but just speaking from experience.

I also didn't know about Manganese. Yikes. I will be sure to keep that level from now on. That was only for 1 day, btw.

If there is any other nutrient that is in high amounts that I need to keep an eye on; I am open to learning.

Also, any other advice for transitioning from anyone is REALLY appreciated. ;)

Thanks!

First off, you are welcome. It's nice to be appreciated

I think I already said most of this but it's worth repeating. Keep playing with CronOmeter. You can either put in yesterday's meal plan and play with it till you get everything about right. Or (and I never seem to get organized enough to do this) put in tomorrow's meal plan. I think as far as your digestive issues go you need to cut calories, carbs and fiber. and those things are all related so it shouldn't be too hard to cut all those simultaneously.

A teaspoon of flaxseed does not have that much fiber, so I think you can take it daily. Vegans need to watch out for Omega 3s. Flaxseed is a super easy way to make sure they are getting enough. I don't know if you know this but just to make sure, you can keep your whole flaxseed in the pantry. but before you eat it you should grind it. Coffee grinders work best but even a food processor or blender will work. Just grind like a half cup at a time. Once it is ground keep it in the frig. I know that my Cronometer did not have the nutrients in my brand of ground flaxseed right. So I used the label on the package and made a custom entry. For flaxseed, all you need is to add enough to get 100% Omega 3. For me, that is just a teaspoon. I add it to my morning oatmeal or my smoothie. Sometimes I forget and the next day I throw in an extra teaspoon.

The Omega 3 stuff is pretty complicated. So let's put that off for a while. we have discussed it here in the forum a number of times and if you want you can look up those earlier threads. I'm still not sure, but I do think its advisable to supplement Omega 3. I thought I had found a good supplement - but now I think I was wrong.

I'm pretty sure you don't need the Amazing Grass at all. After you put in another meal plan leave out the Amazing Grass and see what happens. Maybe you just could go with one scoop.

Since you brought it up and I was a little uncertain, I went to the internet and double checked manganese. And it is toxic. it is something vegans need to be aware of. Basically, this article says that issues are very rare. don't lose any sleep over it.

One of the great things about Cronometer is that you don't have to be a nutrition expert. Just be able to tell red from green. Except for Manganese and D, everything is in the green. and you have already taken care of the D. Vitamin A and iron are also toxic but there are some good warning signs, so until your stool turns black or your skin turns yellow don't worry about it.

And until you get the hang of the vegan diet keep checking in with Cronometer. Most Vegan newbies end up with deficiencies because they don't eat enough. You are not in that group.
 

Nekodaiden

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Also, any other advice for transitioning from anyone is REALLY appreciated. ;)

Keep it simple. Agree with Lou and bPT on fiber and intestinal flora. Resistant starch (like from potatoes) helps here too. I wouldn't tax yourself with trying to get the perfect diet in the first week or first month, just know that your body is going through some changes and will adjust with time. Bloating, great increase in bowel movements are very common when fiber is increased, your liver is taking the opportunity to flush some unwanted things from your system. As a vegan, you will always have greater bowel movements than an omnivore, but the amount is definitely increased in the beginning. How long will differ with different people with different dietary histories.
 

amberfunk

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Taking too much b12 can also become an issue over time. My husband was taking a lot more b12 than I do and also eating foods fortified with it. When his blood test was taken it was way too high. His doctor told him to cut down to once a month supplementing. Said that if he didn't it would cause more problems with his liver than he already has because of that.

Wheat grass can also cause stomach upset in some people. My husband gets diarrhea from it in just small amounts.
 

Emma JC

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welcome to this amazing forum, Oatmeal and congrats to Lou and others for their detailed response and help for a new vegan... 4 days, now 5, is a very short period of time and isn't it great to see the benefits that accrue right away and having some hiccups means that your body is changing and working towards even better health

congrats for the switch Oatmeal and please do keep us up to date on your progress

Emma JC
 
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Oatmeal32

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Thank you everyone for your help and advice. :)

Today is a rougher day for me, but I think I'll be fine. I'm lowering my caloric intake like Lou advised, but now I don't feel as energetic because I'm not getting many calories. I don't like eating large amounts of food in the morning either and have found myself forcing myself to eat food when I don't want to in order to get all of my nutrients in one day.

I've also been feeling depressed again (circumstances), but this has been to both how my stomach has been feeling and other non-related diet things. I took my B12 and Vit. D.

I'm going to keep my head up and keep finding support. Surely this won't last?
 

Emma JC

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Nothing lasts indefinitely and you would like to be comfortable, I am sure. Looking at the foods you ate, on the list, that is a huge variety of foods and I would second Nek's recommendation of "keep it simple" at least for awhile until your body adjusts. Simple starches like oatmeal and rice and potatoes, with some fruits and veggies and greens and then some lentils or very well cooked beans etc. The nice thing about a starch base is that you can eat a lot without the calories adding up quickly as long as you leave out the oils. Some fats are obviously good and necessary. Andrew Taylor "spud fit" ate nothing but potatoes for a whole year to help himself heal so keeping it simple doesn't mean a lack of calories, it just means let your body adjust slowly.

Emma JC
 
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Oatmeal32

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Nothing lasts indefinitely and you would like to be comfortable, I am sure. Looking at the foods you ate, on the list, that is a huge variety of foods and I would second Nek's recommendation of "keep it simple" at least for awhile until your body adjusts. Simple starches like oatmeal and rice and potatoes, with some fruits and veggies and greens and then some lentils or very well cooked beans etc. The nice thing about a starch base is that you can eat a lot without the calories adding up quickly as long as you leave out the oils. Some fats are obviously good and necessary. Andrew Taylor "spud fit" ate nothing but potatoes for a whole year to help himself heal so keeping it simple doesn't mean a lack of calories, it just means let your body adjust slowly.

Emma JC

Thank you! <3