For the last hour I’ve been contemplating on having a bowl of bacon flavoured chips. Logic tells me it’s late at night and I should be asleep (and I’ll probably feel the guilt once I’m finished.) But everything else is telling me to go and grab some. So I’m staring at my screen watching episode after episode of Scandal before I make an actual decision. I would also like to point out that I had a running playlist added to my Spotify this week and have received many notifications since – I think someone is trying to tell me something.
For most of my life I have struggled with my weight – and there were no accompanying health issues but I was bullied for it. I had got to the point where I had fluctuated between eating too little or too much. And when I would exercise, I couldn’t seem to give myself a break or rest to re-cooperate. I remember a time when I had shin splints in both legs, to the point where I could barely walk, and I had managed to pull myself from the couch to go for a 20 minute walk. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but with an injury, that’s more than enough to cause more damage and increase the healing time. This continued on for about 4 years. After all of the exercising and healthy eating I thought I was doing, I decided to make a drastic change to my diet; I became a vegetarian for 2 months. And when I hadn’t noticed a difference in my weight and my overall well-being, I decided to become a vegan. I was a vegan for over a year.
For those who don’t know, a vegan is someone who doesn’t eat animal based products (ie. milk/dairy products, eggs, meat, etc.) Oddly enough, I never kept track of how much weight I lost – I think I was more focused on how much better I had felt. When I tell people I was a vegan, most of the questions I get are: did you like it? Would you do it again? Was it hard? Would you recommend it to anyone? To every single one of these questions, I answered yes. Being a vegan is a lot of work, discipline, and time. I tell people that was the healthiest I had ever been and felt in my entire life. It teaches you how to read nutrition labels and it certainly made me focus more on what I was putting in my body. However, like everything else, there were some downfalls. Veganism is very expensive. If you’ve ever browsed your local grocer, you’ll notice just how pricey fruits, veggies and all those organic products can be. Right now, most of my products are not organic (but I do buy organic when I can.) Now imagine having to pay that price every week (or however often you grocery shop). It adds up overtime.
Now that I’ve babbled on and on about my health, you’re probably wondering what the point is. Well, my point is simply this: eat foods that make you feel good and exercise at least 3 times a week. Follow a regime that works best for you and that you enjoy. It’ll all be trial and error based, but it’s always good to experiment and try new things. I think that’s the fun of it all. There are foods and dishes that I never would have imagined myself trying, but when I became vegan I gave them a chance and turned out to love them.
The main point I want you to take away from this is to try out new foods, incorporate others that you enjoy, follow a plan that the suits you and your health needs and that you enjoy – you’re more likely to stick with it. More importantly, do not stress over it. This typically causes food habits to fluctuate between good and bad. Remember, this is your body and you are the one who has to care for it. So enjoy the foods that you like because you’re the one that has to eat it.
For more information on daily recommendations of the different food groups, you can navigate the Canadian Food Guide webpage here: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/index-eng.php
Oh, and for that bowl of bacon flavoured chips, I decided against it. The caramel pecan frozen yogurt was just right.
Alex Newton is a nursing student and mental health advocate. She grew up in a small town and plans on moving to London, England one day and open up her own health practice. She has a cat named Maya who she adopted whilst going through some difficulties. She’s a daughter, sister, and warrior who enjoys a nice cup of tea.