Food & Drink Magazine

The Fat Switch: Why I Stopped Cheating on My Vegan Diet

By Chuck Underwood @brandnewvegan
the fat switch

The photo “Diet Police Fridge Magnet” by Lydia courtesy of Flickr.

That’s right, I finally stopped cheating on my vegan diet.  And it took a very long time before I realized why I can never cheat again.

But let me start off by saying that I don’t know if there really is such a thing as an actual Fat Switch.

But it sure seems like it.  Let me explain….

Anyone who has tried a vegan or vegetarian diet knows that after a period of time – they finally reach that magic point where it all comes together.  You are steadily losing a pound or two a week, you have more energy than you know what to do with, those afternoon naps are a thing of the past, and people actually start commenting on how good you look.

Finally!  You’re there!  Diet nirvana.  This is what you have been working so hard for.

And then….

Turning on the Fat Switch

… you say to yourself the 4 words that will stop any diet dead in its tracks:

“I deserve a treat”.

That’s all it takes.  That first bite of cheeseburger, that first chicken finger, just one tiny strip of bacon, and it’s all over.

This invisible ‘fat switch’ inside your body flips to the ON position and all that hard work comes to a screeching stop.


How do I know?  Oh it’s hard to tell right away.  In fact, at that very moment you feel like a million bucks.  You say to yourself, “I’ll just get right back on track tomorrow”.

But it’s too late.  The switch has been tripped.  And it’s much harder to switch it back off than it was to turn it on.

Symptom #1:  The Bathroom

The first sign you’ve flipped the switch is usually in the bathroom. Or – not in the bathroom I should say.  Ask any vegan and they’ll tell you about the wonderful effects of all the fiber we eat.

Daily trips to the bathroom.
Multiple trips a day to the bathroom.
Where does all this stuff come from?

I know, it’s not exactly dinner conversation, but it’s true.  Fiber sweeps you out.  Keeps you regular.  It’s doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.  Or …. it did until you flipped the fat switch.

And now it’s stopped.
You’re stopped.
As in all stopped up – for a while anyway.

Symptom #2:  Bloating

Of course now that you just ate that tasty little blockage, and you can’t go…..  you’re going to swell up.

The bloating has begun.  You’ll feel it.  The ring doesn’t go on as easy as it did.  The jeans are a bit tighter.  The scale just went up a pound.  Just one cheeseburger did this?  Yep.

And because you now have that lovely little clog blocking your intestines, it’ll all start to bubble and ferment a bit.  Nice.

I’m not saying that healthy people don’t get gas – because we all do.  But the longer you stay on track – the less it becomes a problem, frequency wise or smell.

But now that you just introduced something foreign to your system – well – just be careful with lit matches and maybe avoid enclosed public places for a while.

Symptom #3:  Energy

You’re body’s defenses will now kick in trying to digest and get rid of that ‘thing’ you just ate.

You just introduced mandatory overtime for your gut – with no extra pay.  And all this work, or energy, that is being used ?   Well that used to be free, excess energy for you to use – but now it’s strictly reserved for your digestive system.

“Gee I’m tired”.

Yep, you’re going to be.  Better grab that extra cup of coffee or energy drink,  maybe a nice nap.  Because we’re going to be here for a while.

 Time Is What Turns Off the Fat Switch

Ok, so the damage is done.  You feel like crap, the weight is coming back on, even though you’ve been back on your diet for a week or so now.   How do I get back to that “good feeling” I had before I ever ate that stupid cheeseburger?  


You simply have to stay the course and don’t cheat anymore.  Because here’s the kicker –

The more you cheat – the longer it takes to get back to normal.

Real life example:  I went back to Indiana this fall to see my dad.  I used the excuse every new vegan has used before… “It’s too hard to try and stay on our diet while traveling, we’ll start again when we get home”.   Guess what?  I’m just NOW getting back to normal.  I ate garbage for a week and it took me 2 solid months to get back on track.

But I am back to normal.  The weight is coming off again, the ring fits, the headaches and tiredness is gone.  And yes – I have plenty of reading material in the bathroom.  Thanks for asking.

Was it worth it?  Well – in my case it wasn’t just one cheeseburger, it was a weeks worth.  And the answer is definitely no.  I think this is why people give up so easily on any change to their diet.  For one they never last long enough to get to that nirvana feeling, and if they do they instantly think they deserve to cheat and have to start all over again.  Way too much work.

Stay the course.  Don’t cheat.  You’ll thank yourself later when the compliments start pouring in.

Do you have similar stories to tell?  Maybe different symptoms?  Be sure and comment, I’d love to compare notes.


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