Feb. 8, 2014
This Week's Q&A: Brain Food for Tests, Healing Cold Sores, Is Vegan Breast Feeding Safe?, Happy Herbivore e-Books (Digital Version), Fast Food Vegan
You've got questions...
Q: Hey there HH, I have a huge test tomorrow morning and wondered what a good breakfast would be to get my brain in gear... Any suggestions?
A: Have a good dinner, good rest and whole grains -- maybe some kale too! Kale is my brain food! Just make sure to stay away from processed foods and sugar (they'll make you crash) or any foods with really long digest times (like animal foods)... load up on whole grains (and I mean grains not "whole grain" bread or cereal) and some fruit! Good luck!
Q: I have been struggling with cold sores since my teenage years. I'm vegetarian. I did read that some food can trigger them, but do you know of any similar situations about it?? I intend to become 100% vegan in the near future but I don't want cold sores all the time.
A: I'm not a doctor, but my understanding is that cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
The treatment is usually a prescription cream, which you'd get from your doctor. I've seen commercials for over-the-counter creams as well, but I imagine the prescription stuff works better.
I know stress can also be a trigger. General advice online is to get a new tooth brush, lip balm, use a different towel every time you wash -- until it heals. (Source)
I couldn't find any online source that linked food to cold sores -- at least not on any reputable or trustworthy website. (It's also not something I've heard of before so I'm not sure if certain foods are or are not a trigger... but I don't know or hear everything ;)
A few websites I don't trust for medical information said to avoid dairy, eggs, almonds, grape juice, peanut butter, chocolate, caffeine, nuts, artificial sweeteners, arginine (found in supplements), oatmeal, and wheat bread --which I suppose could be worth a try. (Source)
Just about every skin issue you can think of, dairy is the biggest trigger/culprit and since you're still eating dairy and eggs, I'd get off those ASAP.
If it continues once you are 100% plant-based, I would talk to your doctor as it may be wholly unrelated to diet and just "good timing."
Q: I am interested in hearing your opinion. I have an infant who I am breastfeeding, as well as a toddler who we recently switched from a vegetarian diet to a plant-based whole foods diet. I want to make sure that I am getting everything that I need while nursing my baby. Should I be taking supplements?
A: The official position of the American and Canadian Dietetic Associations is that a plant-based diet is suitable for all stages of life, including infancy and breastfeeding. I've also worked with many women who had beautiful vegan pregnancies, nursed, and now have vegan kids.
If you're nursing, you need to take in extra calories and possibly maybe B12 (as a supplement). See this post on B12 for more info.
You should also check with your doctor. For what it's worth, a friend of mine was eating a primal/paleo-like diet and ran into all sorts of deficiencies during her pregnancy and again when she was nursing. Thankfully, she's mostly plant-based now, but eating meat and dairy didn't seem to insulate her from medical issues as people like to lead you to believe ;)
Pregnancy and breastfeeding is very taxing on the body and most doctors recommend prenatal vitamins, and supplements postpartum, as a precaution, regardless of the mother's diet. Please do talk to your doctor :)
For more info, see my post on vegan pregnancy.
Q: Just wondering if you have ever considered selling versions of your cookbooks as e-books instead of paper books? I would swoop one up in a second! I know I am not the only one who is using their iPhones and iPads more and more.
A: All of my cookbooks are available in ebook format. You can get the ebooks from Amazon (Kindle), B&N (Nook) or iBooks in the Mac store.
Q: For those days when you haven't prepped ahead and just don't have time to put together a lunch to take to work - how do you feel about substituting a vegan meal/entree/bowl from Amy's Kitchen brand?
A: They're all really junky--even Amy's stuff is full of sugar, oil, sodium, etc. I can't recommend the meal plans enough. You make all your healthy meals for the week in 2-3 hours and reheat all week long.
Canned beans, frozen rice, jarred salsa -- way faster, cheaper and healthier than Amy's :) Even refried beans on a tortilla is faster/cheaper/healthier. Or hummus and veggies.
For more quick meals, see this post on 20 Healthy Meals that are Faster than "Fast Food" . Your health is worth three extra minutes :)