Today we’re talking about plant-based diets and whether they can be beneficial or detrimental to certain health conditions. Some see plant-based as a ‘cure-all’ whilst others find that it can lead to nutritional deficiencies and that a higher protein diet can help their symptoms.

We’ve teamed up with HealthLabs, who offer a range of home testing kits-including a ‘should I be a vegan kit?’  which can help you figure out if you might be intolerant to things like dairy, egg and meat- and whether going vegan could work for you. They’re looking for bloggers to share their vegan and vegetarian journeys-so we asked Jenni from Chronically Jenni to share her plant-based ‘What I eat in a day with POTS.’

My POTS Journey

When I was first diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), a form of dysautonomia, and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) a connective tissue disorder my diet was the first thing to change.

I discovered that the tummy troubles I’d had all my life could be attributed to these conditions. I’ve been a vegetarian since my science teacher showed me a video about battery farmed chickens when I was 12, but, as I discovered my intolerances to gluten, lactose, refined sugar and caffeine, people started asking ‘What DO you eat?’.

My normal reply is ‘more than you think’ and over the years I’ve definitely shown that. However, ever since I turned veggie my mum has also worried about me getting the nutrients I need and it just got worse as I cut down on my dairy and eggs. This has made me more conscious of making sure I get the right stuff into my body especially protein and iron.

Breakfast

I always used to skip breakfast but after a doctor told me I must eat it every day I discovered how important it is and I can’t imagine life without breakfast now.

Despite the fact I love the idea of avocado toast and homemade granola my POTS and my student budget just don’t allow it, so I keep breakfast simple. I think most people with POTS would agree that mornings are the most difficult time of day. Whilst I’m medicated to help me get out of bed without hitting the deck, it’s still difficult to be upright for long enough to make anything complicated. I usually start my day with gluten free, low sugar cornflakes with some banana chips, raisins and a splash of almond milk (who likes soggy cornflakes?!)

Lunch:

Since I knew I’d be making dinner for the rest of the household I needed to save my energy on lunch too. With my POTS, I also find it better to eat little and often so although this shows all my lunch on one plate I tend to eat it throughout the afternoon, so I don’t overload my digestive system. My main staple is a lactose-free or vegan cheese toasted sandwich on gluten-free, seedy bread followed by a packet of ready salted crisps to keep my blood pressure up. I’ll then snack on some raw veggie crudités, rice cakes, fruit and/or fruit and nut bars until dinner time.

Dinner:

Today I was cooking dinner for my mum and brother and making sure I had leftovers for work the next day. None of my family are vegetarian but, under my influence, have found how interesting veggie and vegan food can be. Now we regularly share lentil Bolognese (my ultimate favourite), mushroom risotto and beany Shepard’s pie with sweet potato mash. This Butternut Squash and Chickpea Thai Curry with Brown Rice was originally inspired by a Deliciously Ella recipe but has been adapted and evolved over time and can really include any veggies you’ve got spare in the fridge and is naturally vegan and gluten. With my EDS, I can find chopping very difficult even with the help of my ergonomic knife, so I got my mum to chop the butternut squash before she left but when I’m at uni I use the pre-chopped version straight from the freezer.

Dessert:

By 8 o’clock I was craving something sweet. I found cutting my refined sugar intake was important in helping my POTS. For a long time, I didn’t eat any refined sugar at all. These days I’ve found the balance of how much my body can handle, but finding a good low sugar, gluten-free and vegan dessert can be tricky, so I decided to do some late-night baking.

This cake may look naughty but it’s actually pretty good for you; the main ingredients being oats, nut butter, a little maple syrup and chickpeas! I love eating it warm with some oat cream. But for every baking success there is always a baking fail as I tried to use the chickpea water to make vegan meringues and ended up with a painful elbow from whisking and a black mess on a baking tray from leaving the heat on too high, maybe that’s an experiment for another day.

So, it turns out you can be a gluten, lactose and refined sugar intolerant, chronically ill, vegetarian and still enjoy food, and a wide variety at that. What are your veggie favourites?

This is a collaborative health story sponsored by Health Labs-who offer a range of testing kits for all sorts of health conditions!

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