A while back (by which I mean the first post I ever wrote for you), I shared some of the reasons why I ate a mostly plant-based diet.
Here’s the thing: I’ve been hiding what I’ve been eating for almost a year now. And, no, it’s not decadent raw vegan desserts, rare-ass T-bone steaks, or white noodles slathered in pasta sauce.
Before I get even realer with you, lemme get real: I’ve always struggled with disordered eating. Food has always been something I can control, and I love me some control. But I also really like to eat my feelings, too, and there have totally been occasions where I’ve lost that control I fought so hard to win.
So I’m going to admit that, even though it wasn’t on the original list of reasons why I went plant-based, being in control was certainly one of the driving factors. This label I put on myself made it even easier for me to say what I did and didn’t eat and for it to look totally normal.
That and it was something to create an identity around. You know, I was that vegan girl at work, which gave me (in my mind) a super legit, super convenient excuse to keep everyone at arm’s length. No ice cream socials for this gal.
I got really good at eating a plant-based diet. I was that person you love to hate (hate to hate?). I made 99.9% of all my food – everything from superfood smoothies to my own freakin’ mylk to go along with said superfood smoothies. I brought my own food with my everywhere. I was always prepared
(I was a real pain in the ass to be around…)
But, one random day in December 2017, I got sick. It started as what I’d describe as a migraine. My head hurt really bad. It hurt to lift my head or move it in any direction. The light was killing my eyes, making my headache even worse, and I had to put my sunglasses on inside. (I don’t wear my sunglasses at night (okay, sometimes, I do) but I totally wear them indoors.) Shortly after getting out of bed in the morning, I was immobile on the couch, fearful I was going to be sick all over the disgusting carpet in our condo that several other people had probably been sick on before me.
But I digress.
I had no appetite. I was nauseous as hell. I could barely keep my eyes open. I also spent a good chunk of the morning in the bathroom. It was like Tracie and the Terrible, No Good Rotten Bad Day.
And, for someone who prided herself on barely getting sick aside from a couple sniffles here and there, thanks to my super-clean, plant-based diet but of course, I was a little miffed, to be honest.
So I went back to bed. In the bedroom, with the lights off and all the blinds pulled shut, I still had to keep my sunglasses on. I tried to watch some TV (I know, I know, technology in the bedroom…), but I couldn’t keep my eyes open. But I also couldn’t sleep.
Around mid-afternoon, I eventually fell asleep. And I slept until the next morning.
When I woke up, I didn’t feel much better. I still didn’t want to eat. I still felt like I could puke at any moment. I still had my sunglasses on. I still had a massive headache. I still felt exhausted. I still spent way too much time in the bathroom.
After the second day, some of the symptoms started to lessen. But I still didn’t want to eat. You know how, when you’ve been ridiculously sick and you’re not hungry but you know you should eat so you have some energy and you’re not some frail…thing…shuffling around the house in super baggy sweatpants with sunglasses on and tissues falling out of your pockets?
The problem was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LOOKED GOOD.
Not even a smoothie. Which I attempted to drink but which put me right back in my old friend the bathroom. Which made me pretty concerned.
I tried to think back to what I had eaten before I got sick (some soggy food from a nearby Mediterranean restaurant) and to the last time I got food poisoning (in high school after a questionable Mexican pizza from Taco Bell).
And then my thoughts strayed even further, as thoughts tend to do, to my everyday diet. If I was being honest with myself, I hadn’t felt good in a long time.
You know how people want to tell you how AMAZING they feel when they changed their diet? How it was a miracle and they never knew they could feel this good?
Yeah, I never experienced that.
I was always tired. I had recurring digestive issues. I was moody, depressed, anxious, stressed to the max…
I was still a pain in the ass to be around.
So, entertaining the thought that maybe it was my diet, I decided to experiment with my diet. I tried some eggs. I tried some honey. I tried some fish. I even tried some turkey and chicken. (Yeah, it happened.)
Let me tell you: I did NOT take this decision lightly. It took me a couple months to even make a decision. I cried. A LOT. I felt guilty. I felt unsure. I felt confused. Frustrated. Sad. Even angry.
But most of all I was tired of feeling like shit.
So, yes, the way I eat has been going through a bit of a metamorphosis. Even though I never really identified myself as plant-based or vegan and I still won’t put a label on how I eat, how I think of food is changing. How I eat food is changing. It’s continuing to evolve everyday. And I’m learning to be okay with that.
I’m learning it’s okay to admit if something isn’t working. To want to eat something different. To not want to eat something different. To listen to what my body is asking for. And what it’s telling me it’s overloaded on.
No, I’m not a full-fledged meat eater. I’m not down with dairy (that one’s non-negotiable, actually, thanks to my sensitive tummy). I’m not paleo. I’m not flexitarian. I’m not vegetarian. I’m not vegan. I’m not plant-based.
I’m just a person who eats food as a way to fuel my body.
And, no, I didn’t tell you this just for funsies. I actually want you to know something: You have the right to feel good. You have the right to change your mind. You have the right to change things if they’re not working.
I’m not going to twist this in to some sales pitch. I just wanted to share a part of my life with you. And I wanted you to know that no one is perfect. That it really is important to listen to your body. And that you can’t believe everything you see on social media.
I hope this post has helped you feel a little better about eating more intuitively. And stressed the importance of listening to your body. So you had some pizza on Friday night and you’ve been relying on frozen meals a little more often these days? Same.
But one meal, one day, hell, one year does not and CANNOT define you. It’s the choices you make the majority of the time that make all the difference. And there's nothing wrong with eating in a way that feels good to you, no matter what that means.