Plant-Based Nutrition with Monique Allen
“Just like every other Jamaican child of the 90s, I enjoyed my fill of fried chicken and cheese patty with coco bread. But being the granddaughter of a farmer and spending my school holidays roaming the hills of Clarendon, I gained an appreciation for local foods.” This understanding led Blogger and healthy lifestyle educator, Monique Allen on a remarkably unique journey. Today, she shared her change to the plant based lifestyle with Food.
Her decision to embrace this particular lifestyle, she says, was greatly influenced by the Rastafarian culture. By 19, she had developed a real passion for plant based diet and saw herself transitioning to that diet while pursuing her Bachelors of Science Degree at the University of Technology, Jamaica. But the right of purifying passage really was consciously made during high school. “I developed a nasty allergic reaction to milk products. Following the instruction of my doctor, my parents omitted cheese and all milk based products from my diet.
While attending the University of Technology Jamaica, I decide to go vegan. But I now refer to that stage as being ‘junk food vegan’ - a diet high in chips, bun, cookies, chips, fries, soda, crackers, deep fried foods and soy.”
That passive diet, she pointed out, isn’t for anyone and can actually make people sicker. At the time, she continued to enjoy yeasty, deep fried “vegan” foods. That lasted for a few years, until she began seeing recurring rashes, accompanied by swelling among other symptoms.
The transition from meat to vegan was easy. But from moving from junk food vegan to plant based proved to be more challenging. “Knowing that the main culprits behind my health difficulties were these “vegan”, oily and yeasty foods, I would go into the supermarket and feel overwhelmed not knowing what to eat. I thought I couldn’t enjoy food anymore. I had to study and learn an entirely different way of eating, opening my mind and creativity. And although it was definitely an adjustment at first, it improved my life tremendously.”
It is truly amazing and humbling knowing that I am using my passion to enrich and improve the quality of life for other. Along with having my downloadable guide, I offer nutrition education services that seek to empower individuals to take charge of their diet.
I help people move through the process of giving up unhealthy food because I know the challenges of it. So almost daily I am online working with people going through their shopping list, helping them to find places to shop in their area, developing meal idea for my clients and conducting wellness assessments.
After volunteering around the island in field of dentistry, she noticed an alarming trend in the number of young and elderly patients that suffered with lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, uncontrolled hypertension, ovarian cyst and fibroids. Her firm belief caused her to look at dieting in a different light. Seeing how small changes in eating habits made a big difference my life. And so, she wanted to help others strive to live a healthier life. There began her crossover in being a blogger, healthy lifestyle educator, food advocate and I am in the process of obtaining my international certifications as holistic nutritionist.
“It is truly amazing and humbling knowing that I am using my passion to enrich and improve the quality of life for other. Along with having my downloadable guide, I offer nutrition education services that seek to empower individuals to take charge of their diet. I help people move through the process of giving up unhealthy food because I know the challenges of it. So almost daily I am online working with people going through their shopping list, helping them to find places to shop in their area, developing meal idea for my clients and conducting wellness assessments.”
Prevention is better than cure. Many chronic diseases are linked to poor diet and the convenience foods. It may take more time or creativity but looking at it from a financial standpoint, being sick is much more expensive.
She noted that she would never tell anyone that the transition will happen overnight. It took time and a few mistakes. It can be difficult giving up foods you grew up on your whole life, but she implores you to be patient with yourself and listen to your body. Give attention to your spiritual. It will all be worth it.
Some of the main misconception about plant based nutrition include:
-It is expensive.
Yes, it can be if you choose to eat out often or buy heavily processed Vegan foods products. I avoid this I suggest my clients purchase locals and make use of seasonal foods, like instead of wheat pasta use raw zuccanni or for ice cream use frozen local bananas.
-As a woman if you eat leaves you will lose your curves.
Actually yes, if you eat the leave, only the leaves, you will. But I always encourage people to eat all of the plant, not just leaves. Eat the leaves, roots, stems, seeds, nuts, buds and fruits.
-You won’t be able to enjoy the same foods.
For the persons that still crave the texture meat, and want enjoy traditional Jamaican foods . Many local fruits can be manipulates and spiced to resemble traditional foods. Simple examples would be using sour soup for fish, coconut meat for chicken breast and jack fruit for pork and mashed jack fruit seeds for tuna.
There is no one size fits all diet, each person's will have needs, eating style and personal taste.
But to be general for women:
Get your iron- callaloo is the perfect super food have with orange for a better iron absorptions.
Remember your thyroids- your thyroids are the master glands, support them with sea vegetables
Stop Sugar- Sugar feeds yeast, causes bloating and weight gain.
If you have PMS or fibroids -reduce the exposure to excess estrogen foods
Eat turmeric- to support the function of the liver in reducing the excess estrogen.
Jamaican men take a lot of pride in their sexual health so I would say:
Have your nuts- pumpkin seeds for prostate health, and replenish zinc. Zinc is needed to improve sperm quality and reduce balding
Use cayenne pepper -to support a healthy blood flow and drink lots of water.
And men remember you need less iron than women because you don’t menstruate, excess iron can be toxic to men