I’m always growing in my real-food diet. It’s been a journey from the first time I picked up a book on veganism and renounced meat for good, working in a used book store to now, through a struggle with my eating disorder, to now – confidently eating and cooking organic veggies, grains and meats.
I was a vegetarian for 4 years, and a vegan for a year and a half of that time. I was 19, I had left an unhappy home and it was a stressful time. I was starting out on my own in my new apartment, a vegetarian because it was cheaper and easy to cook. I had a two burner stove top, a microwave, and an Easy-Bake Oven sized toaster oven. My diet consisted of veggie chicken nuggets, pierogies, garlic bread and alcohol. I was running every night and had started to become concerned about my weight.
That winter, I was the victim of a sexual assault. It went unreported and I didn’t talk about it. It was someone I’d seen every week and I was so stressed, I was beginning to unravel. I needed something in my life I felt I could control. I found myself falling, very quickly, into purge-type anorexia. The weight gain from hormonal birth controls coupled with the pressure on my body of eating processed foods, day in and day out caused me to gain ten pounds. Apparently, those ten pounds were what set me over the edge. It was a really dark time.
After about a year of hiding my diet-pill-and-diet-coke diet and two hour workouts, seven days a week, I decided I’d change my mind about veganism, and “go paleo”. I didn’t understand what paleo was, and I figured that my best bet was just to eat lots of meat because that would help me put more muscle on, and more muscle meant that my basal metabolic rate would be higher, burning more calories daily. It didn’t work because in order to have enough meat to get me through my new high-protein diet, the quality of meat suffered. I gained weight, and that was more stressful.
After about six months of this, I found my first blog on “Real Food” eating. I decided that the best thing I could do for myself was to make real food – quality vegetables (organic if possible), limiting chemicals and boxed products, humanely-raised local meat, and cooking things myself. I sat my fiancé down and had a conversation about how we could afford these foods and we determined that we could do everything but the meat – it was too expensive. So, we set about on our new, real food, vegetarian diet with the promise that I would become accountable to my fiancé about my calorie intake and my purging habits.
We cooked better, we found great recipes, we felt healthier. Both of us lost the weight we’d put on – for me, it was about 15lbs, for him it’s been almost 20lbs, and he’s still losing. I felt more confident about myself, not due to me being skinnier, but about the fact that eating had become a method of fueling myself and I truly enjoyed the act of cooking. Eating is not scary, it’s not something to be calculated and counted and stressed over. It is now an art and a hobby. Grocery shopping is something I look forward to every week. I’m even looking at becoming a Registered Holistic Nutritionist! Aubrey took up baking breads, and we started working towards self-sufficiency together. I’d be lying if I said a negative-thought about food never crossed my mind, but I now put it aside and think about the positive things that I love about eating real food. Today, at 22, I’m feeling the healthiest I’ve ever been, I feel I’m being responsible to those animals I read about almost five years ago that made me turn my back on meat to begin with, and I feel like I’m honoring myself. I love my body, I love what food does to heal me, and I’m proud to be an example of how food can not only physically heal your body, but emotionally heal your soul as well.
Best wishes on your real food journey and I hope my experiences can be a push to heal yourself as well!