Have you ever been in the midst of doing something ordinary and every day and realize just how far you’ve come from who you used to be? I once thought I was so healthy and ate the very best things for me. Until this afternoon, when my boyfriend’s children were eating Chef Boyardee ravioli for lunch. It literally makes me want to vomit watching them eat it. And then I remembered that I lived off of those in college. Like seriously lived off them. And I thought they were amazing! Who doesn’t want to pop open a can, throw it in a bowl in the microwave, and have an instant meal?? That’s pretty much how I lived for much of my college days and even into my early twenties, thinking I was this healthy, nutritious girl doing her thing. Boy, has that drastically changed!
I’ve definitely seen many changes since those poor college girl days of Chef Boyardee and ramen noodles (I mean, who DIDN’T eat ramen noodles?!). I thought cooking meant throwing some noodles in a pot and bringing them to a boil, then throwing some sauce and parmesan cheese on them. Throughout my life, I’ve had stomach issues, but never really attributed it to what I was eating. I didn’t have a lot of skin issues when I was younger nor did I gain weight very easily (god bless a fast metabolism). Plus I was always really active, so eating a ton of carbs was normal for me. Having some eggs and toast for breakfast was normal; then a sandwich (I went through the first several months of my vegetarian/vegan stage eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for lunch…can we say healthy??); and generally some sort of ravioli or pasta for dinner (but it was from Trader Joe’s, so it was definitely healthy, right??).
I was a vegetarian for about 4 years and a vegan for just about 1. I went this route thinking that it would help me have more energy and not be so tired all the time. Except I was an “unhealthy” vegetarian. I ate the frozen meals and frozen veggies and fake meat products – I mean, come on. If I didn’t want to eat meat for health reasons, why would I think that the fake meat products were any better? Have you ever seen the ingredients on those things??? I decided to become a vegan after I started having more skin issues (namely acne). I thought taking out the dairy products would help. I mean, I literally stopped eating EVERYTHING except veggies, quinoa, rice, beans, and sweet potatoes/potatoes. Oh, and don’t forget the “healthy” sweet treats I’d make with coconut sugar and coconut flour and cacao nibs…because THAT was healthy! Lo and behold, I was tired all the time and my skin didn’t get any clearer. I can remember calling my mom in tears because my face was so badly broken out and that there wasn’t possibly any other food I could take out before I was eating dirt! It was so frustrating because I thought I was doing everything right. I had learned how to cook and use fresh foods instead of the frozen foods; I wasn’t eating dairy and was gluten-free. But nothing seemed to help.
Until I came across the 21 Day Sugar Detox and the Whole 30 and I started doing some more research. It wasn’t necessarily just what I was eating, but how long I’d been eating that way, as well as the high number of antibiotics I had taken as a child. It was also the high amounts of sugar I was eating…I learned I was addicted to it!! I *needed* it! Just like I needed coffee at the time. I learned that all of those things mess up your stomach and digestive tract (very technical here, I know, LOL). I learned that you had to heal your digestive tract first before you were able to start eating whatever you want (in moderation). So I cut out all grains (yes, even rice and quinoa…the “good for you” grains), all sugars and alcohol (I actually stopped drinking for several months to heal everything), and beans.
I ate real, whole foods…I found easy recipes to make, and let me tell you…when I first started cooking this way, it took me FOREVER to make anything. I’d spend hours in the kitchen getting one meal prepared. But over time, I started making the recipes mine and learned that I actually love cooking! I love making my own food and nourishing my body with the things it absolutely needs. And it doesn’t take me forever anymore, LOL. And I know what affects my body now; I can do a little bit of dairy every now and again; gluten and grains don’t really agree with me; and almonds tear my stomach up. I can tolerate a little alcohol every now and again, but when I start going crazy, I can tell…I sleep poorly and my face starts breaking out and I get super irritable. I’m pretty sure it’s the sugar and how it affects me, but at least now I know.
It’s still a work in progress…shoot, I’m still a work in progress, but I’m light years ahead of where I used to be. I make smart choices because I know that I will pay for eating certain things. A little piece of yumminess isn’t enough to make me want to be miserable for hours or days afterwards. And more often than not, I find much healthier alternatives, so I get my “fix” but still feel good about it.
What are some things that affect you when you eat them? Do you need a reset like the Whole30? It’s not something that you do for life, but it’s a good reset of your system to learn what affects you and what doesn’t. And we could all use that every now and then, right?
I hope you’ve had a great weekend! Once again, I can’t believe it’s already Sunday, but it’s been a great one, and an absolutely beautiful, productive one :) Enjoy the rest of your day!
With love and wellness,