Just kidding. I still worry about things. But I do eat more vegetables!
Also a little warning to you: this is a long post about on my current food journey with my health coach – no reviews or recipes this time.
When I started this food journey back in October (though I could argue I’ve started and restarted this journey many times, like when I got a Fitbit a few years ago or anytime I went on any kind of diet) I tried to eat more vegetables. But then I would only eat vegetables and nothing else because I thought that was the “healthy and proper” thing to do – pretend to a vegetarian (who didn’t eat any protein because maybe protein was too fatty? who knows).
I tried to convince myself that this was the only way I was going to eat.
“Goodbye, desserts! Goodbye, chips and salty snacks! Goodbye, bread!
For I hath now declared that I am now super healthy and I am now only eating healthy dainty vegetables and proper salads with low fat dressing because I’m on a diet forever!”
This new “diet” would invariably lead to me feeling like I was starving and constantly thinking about food and last approximately three days (if that). My fuel deprived brain could only think about my next meal while my stomach growled at me in anger, insisting that it be fed more food. I would be tired, hungry, and angry at myself since I was deprived. And since I didn’t know what I was doing wrong, I would end up getting fast food, or binging on chips or crackers and then sneaking in pieces of chocolate candy and boxes of cookies because they were “off limits” because I was on a diet and I had to “be good”.
I had a love-hate relationship with my food.
A lot of vegetables I didn’t want to try or eat because I thought they were gross. Like bell peppers! I didn’t love the taste of cooked bell peppers but as my taste buds changed I decided to try them again. My friend put them into a bag of veggies for my drive home from LA to San Diego and I discovered that hey… bell peppers aren’t as bad as I thought. If that’s the case with bell peppers, what else did I trick myself into thinking I didn’t like?
[Bell peppers are good dipped in hummus.]
I’m more willing to try different vegetables now. I experiment with what I like and don’t like [roasted broccoli, I’m looking at you – I prefer broccoli stalks to florets]. I add more vegetables to things (like eggs [mushrooms, tomatoes, zucchini, spinach], or burritos, or in soups and stews [kale, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans]) to “sneak” in vegetables for myself and Jake. That’s how my journey to enjoying vegetables started – very slowly.
My health coach, Katelyn, told me to simply add vegetables into what I was currently eating. I didn’t have to restrict or change my meals, but simply add more vegetables to what I was eating. To create a more balanced meal, one that contained more vegetables, along with much needed protein, and a healthy fat to help balance my blood sugar, which in turn balanced the way that I felt.
I started noticing that on the weekends when I ate less vegetables (carb fueled weekends), I felt more sluggish. I felt more tired. I felt like I wanted to do less because of this lack of energy and it made me feel like I was in a rut. I didn’t like this feeling.
When I added more vegetables and fruit into my meals, I felt better. I was more awake. I didn’t have as many stomach problems (which is something I was plagued with for awhile). I had more energy. My body was happier with my choices. This is something that slowly dawned on me. This is what my body craved and what my body wanted and I started to like and enjoy vegetables more often because I knew that overall it would make me FEEL better. As an added bonus, vegetables make me feel more full!
I load up on vegetables first along with my proteins and I still have dessert if I want to. I have a little bit of ice cream, or some cookies, or a few pieces of candy. I find that I tend to eat a little less dessert because I fulfilled my needs with the food I ate.
[Meyer lemon cheesecake. I made this for Super Bowl Sunday. Tasty!]
I still love dessert. I will always love dessert. But it’s hard to think that I used to refrain from dessert because I thought it was “bad” food. That if I ate it, I would gain 10lbs instantly and all of my hard work would be down the drain. That I wouldn’t be able to control myself and eat an entire box of cookies, which after restricting and telling myself no all the time, is a thing that sometimes happened. All that restriction did was make me want it more and then eventually give in to eating it, which caused me guilt and stress for not being able to control myself when really there was no reason to restrict it in the first place.
Having all foods just be food instead of categorized into “good” and “bad” has made a world of difference for me. I still get cravings, but I no longer feel like I am going to go crazy if I don’t have the thing I’m craving. I don’t sit and daydream about the foods I can’t have. I don’t see a photo of something and immediately start wishing for all of the things I wasn’t allowing myself to eat. Instead I appreciate all food and find a place for them in my life with less feelings of guilt and shame.
It took awhile to get to this point and I’m happy with how things are for myself. I’m happier in my body. I’m letting go of perfection and letting food control me. I realize that I am the one in control and that in moderation, I can eat what I like. I listen to my body and listen to the cues to know when I’m full. I listen and try to understand how I’m feeling before I eat something (mindset is everything, I swear). It will always be a journey and there’s no end point to get to – it’s simply life and how I live it.
[I add lots of texture to my salads for variety – plus chicken and avocado as my protein and healthy fat.]
These days I find myself wanting to eat more salads – with a variety of crunchy things! – and to eat more vegetables with my meals. But sometimes if I feel like skipping vegetables and I already had some that day, I can feel free to skip them and just enjoy what I’m eating without the feelings of guilt and wondering if I’m “being healthy enough”. Because there are no rules. There are no “healthy food police”! They aren’t going to arrest me and throw me in food jail because I didn’t eat a salad with every meal. It’s not a thing!
Every day is a new day and I hope to continue along my path and this journey and to continue learning my body, trusting myself, understanding my emotions, deciding what I want to eat, and exploring the world around me.
I have about one month left with my sessions with Katelyn and looking back, I can already see how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time. There will always be more options to continue learning in this journey and learning more about myself. I’m open to the experience now and I’m trying to not shy away from my emotions anymore. I try to let them happen, to journal about them, and to understand how I’m feeling and to honor those feelings instead of trying to stuff them down with food so I don’t have to feel feelings. Sometimes it is really hard just to sit and “feel my feelings” but the knowledge I glean from just helps me to understand myself better and allows me to show up for myself even more.
I’m planning to really shift the focus away from restaurant reviews here on This Tasty Life and to focus more on the things I’m cooking and the ways I’m incorporating what I’ve learned into my life. I hope you’ll continue along with me as I try and shift and make this change. There will still be restaurant reviews and travel posts, but I’m working on creating more cooking and recipe content.
Here’s to continuing learning and to more food exploration and journeys!