Ironman athlete Brendan Brazier seems pretty normal for a granola-cruncher. Now 38, the Canadian-born elite athlete began to realize how much eating healthy, non-meat foods helped his recovery from strenuous activity way back in high school in British Columbia.
At that time, his sights were firmly fixed on being a professional athlete. But two decades later, he’s here to speak to audiences at two Lee Memorial Health System hospitals about quality of life and health for the long haul.
He’s vegan. No meat, no dairy. So no cheese, no eggs. But even for the average American on the average American diet, he brings good news about small changes making big differences in a person’s life:
1. To make a change for the better, don’t even think about giving anything up yet. Just add a few new good foods to your diet. The easiest way to do that is to embrace the smoothie. Make your own with fresh fruits, greens, hemp seeds, whatever you like and drink that for breakfast.
2. Your palate really does change. It may take a while, depending on how long you have been eating high-flavor, processed foods. “It takes a bit of a time investment,” Brazier said in an interview with The News-Press. “For some people it may be just two to three weeks. For others, who’ve been eating a typical American diet for four decades, maybe six, seven, eight months.” But before long, Brazier said, you’ll be able to taste the subtle differences in types of lettuce, even. And you won’t crave the old food anymore. “At that point, it doesn’t feel restrictive even,” he said.
3. All those things people used to say about not getting enough protein if you’re a vegan are false. You need not combine beans and rice in any particular way, as nutrition experts once said. It can be as simple as eating a big enough salad with some decent variety: Spinach and kale are great sources of protein, he said. Try chia seeds, hemp seeds. Try something new.
4. It’s getting easier to find good food, wherever you are. If your only option is a convenience store, you could pick up some bananas, some nuts. Go ahead and graze, eating small amounts whenever you need them all day. It will help boost your energy level.
5. Eat good, whole foods and you’ll need less sleep. Processed foods and sugar make your body respond with stress hormone, cortisol, which interferes with deep sleep. (Go easy on caffeine for the same reason. )
For more about Brazier, attend his talk from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at Cape Coral Hospital Auxiliary Meeting Room or noon to 1:30 p.m. at Gulf Coast Medical Center Community Room, both Wednesday. Seating is limited, though, so call 573-4508 to reserve a spot first.
Or check out Brazier’s books, “Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide” and “Thrive Foods,” and his website, thriveforward.com, where 40 videos about everything vegan, including making the transition to a plant-based diet, are available for free.
Research Scientist Consultant @ U-VIB
PhD, Doctor of Philosophy in Counseling
NREMT-P (National Registry of Paramedics)
– 911 Medic for over 10 years
– Search Scientist for over 7 years
– Runner for LIFE