Thinking about how I used to eat gives me shivers. Seems dramatic, but I really do feel that I ate one of the worst diets of all time. This was verified once I looked through all the food photos I have posted on Facebook. The difference between then vs. now is insane.
I wanted to share my old habits because I want to show that it is possible to change your habits. It is normal to have bad habits (especially with food), and fixing them so that you can become healthier is doable. I did it, and so can anyone else.
Let me first say that there was a point where I thought I would never want to eat healthfully. I was so addicted to sugary, fatty, salty foods. The idea of eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes sounded pretty unappetizing. Now it’s just about all I eat, and I love it!
I was going to take a bunch of new photos of meals that I eat now, but it turns out that the stuff that I have posted on social media tells the whole story. Let’s see what I used to eat.
Now…you may think that these are just special moments or occasions…what’s wrong with an indulgence every now and then? Well, absolutely nothing, and trust me, these are not rare moments…just the ones that made it to the internet. This was the norm for me.
March 2012: All I was looking forward to when I went to Las Vegas was getting to eat this big cookie jar sundae at Sugar Factory. yeah, this was vacation. It’s forgivable, but at least in future vitas, my mom and I decided to split one of these. Dairy has always given me the worst stomachache so I have no idea what I was thinking when I ordered one of these for myself.
Summer 2012: I saw this post on Pinterest about ‘Wanna Be Butterfingers’. I had to try them: they’re cheez its, peanut butter, and chocolate,and surprisingly, they did kinda taste like Butterfingers. Crazy, right? I ended up making tons of batches of these and they would rarely last longer than a day. I think that was my biggest issue: I would over indulge. I am perfectly content now with one piece of cake or one cookie at a time (or two….lol). Back then, I would feel stressed until I ate every bit of junk food in front of me.
Winter 2012: This was my favorite meal back then: crescent rolls (covered in butter), pepperoni, and cheese. I was obsessed. We made huge batches of these all the time and I would eat a bunch of them. Needless to say that my current vegetarian self finds this pretty disgusting now. I do want to try and create a healthier, vegan version, though….just haven’t figured out how to go about that just yet.
February 2013: My 2nd favorite dinner: Ham n Cheese Sliders. Another meal I so want to veganize. Having one or two of these may not be that bad (though we may have define what ‘bad’ means in this situation), but having as many as I did is just not healthy. Again, we made these all the time…this is not a one-time instance.
2013: Brookies. Brownie cookies. Super delicious and again, something I SO want to veganize (adding it to list right now..) Again, fine to have one or two, but I probably ate closer to 8-10 in one sitting.
June 2013: My 19th birthday. I used to love having Donut Cakes. This is forgivable…it’s my birthday..though I don’t think that I will be eating a dozen donuts in two days on my birthday this year….I will still indulge, but I definitely know when to say when now.
November 2013: I would eat fast food on the regular (at least 2-3 times per week). I would get all kinds of chicken, burgers, fries, soda, etc. Occasional fast food is fine. Matthew and I still have bean and rice burritos at Taco Bell every once in awhile if we want something quick or don’t have time to eat in between errands. However, having it all the time is just not healthy. We can probably all agree on that.
December 2013: Lots of people have ham or turkey on Christmas. Not my family..we are all about nachos (I even had vegan nachos this last Christmas). My mom and I split this batch. It was Christmas…no big deal to have a lot of them, except that I we make them on a monthly basis and I would drench them in sour cream..
March 2014: Two years later at Sugar Factory… at least my mom and I split this..
January 2015: I am sure that this sounds amazing to some, but this makes me gag now. The only thing appetizing about this is the fries. This is a fried mac n cheese burger with a hot dog on it. I ate all of it. I felt like crap after.
March 2015: Surprised that I did not share the other photo of our food at Burger Bar in Las Vegas. We ended up having a big plate of mozzarella sticks, fries, buffalo wings, and onion rings, oh, and these milkshakes. We were stuffed and still ate dinner a couple hours later.
Spring 2013: I was obsessed with making cupcakes last Spring…super understandable since cupcakes are fun to decorate. I wish I had shared more of them, because with each dozen I would make on a weekly or biweekly basis, I would eat at least 6.
July 2015: This is actually an important photo because it is one of the last days that I had my old food habits. I had just celebrated my birthday (ate all kinds of cakes, fatty foods, all that fun stuff) and felt heavier than ever. I remember I really wanted a photo with Matthew for the 4th of July, and I felt so self-conscious in every single one of them. That was the last day where I indulged on these Froot Loop Bars (which I could still eat if I used vegan marshmallows and butter…not that I should), hamburgers, hot dogs, etc. At that point, with the exception of a few binges, I was trying to do better. I was not vegan yet, but I was interested in being healthier.
August 2015: My first month of being vegan was awesome. This is actually the first smoothie bowl I ever made. I was starting to feel so much better to quickly and was learning to really like the food. Things were finally changing for the better.
September 2015: Football Sunday for us used to mean fatty dips, greasy foods, and sugar. We still have nacho dips and snacks, but they are so much healthier. I was beginning to fall in love with cauliflower wings..we ended up having them on a monthly basis (at least).
October 2015: Another thing I was obsessed with: vegan mac n cheese. So delicious, filling, and didn’t make me as sick as regular bacon mac n cheese did (that we would have a couple times a month).
November 2015: I loved having soba noodles, tofu, and broccoli for dinner. It was so filling and delicious. I was really craving everything that is good for me. My cravings for sugar and processed foods were beginning to fade.
December 2015: Another smoothie bowl, since they are so delicious and excellent for a pre-workout meal.
December 2015: A bbq cauliflower wing pizza with a vegan blue cheese spread. A bit of an indulgence for us these days, but so delicious and filled with great nutrients. I learned that I can still enjoy my favorite foods, and that they can still be healthy.
December 2015: Our first time at Veggie Grill in Seattle. We loved our food so much that we are patiently waiting for one to open closer to home (it has to happen at some point…right?…right?). Eating out is still doable on a vegan diet. You can enjoy awesome food and feel far less guilty about it.
January 2015: I was starting to make really good salads and bowls. I was even beginning to crave them for lunch. I never would have thought that I would enjoy salad, but I found a way. I don’t eat it every day, but when I do, I make it delicious.
March 2015: I have always loved cheesy pastas, and I an still enjoy them. This tempeh bacon carbonara was amazing and tasted so close to the real thing (but 10x healthier).
March 2016: Back in Vegas (yes, I go every year) at Slice of Vegas. Matthew and I split a whole pizza, and didn’t feel bloated afterward. Vegan alternatives of standard American food can still give someone the taste satisfaction without the sickness afterwards (both short and long-term).
April 2015: I still eat fairly big portions when I feel like it, but I make sure that they consist of whole foods, such as these super healthy vegan pancakes with fruit and a chocolate sauce made with dates. There is no need to feel guilty for eating when the meals are healthy and filled with nutrients that will make you feel great.
I feel like I have made positive changes for the better, and I think that anyone can! I feel like it is useful to share my top tips for changing habits in diet:
1. Really Want It
If you don’t feel ready for a healthy lifestyle, you will not be as passionate and committed to eating healthier, and this is very important in making a permanent change. It took me awhile to be ready to commit to health, and I have found that it is always best be ready before making such a big transition. There may come a time when you are ready (mine came in July of 2015), and when you are, you will feel excited for change. Don’t try to do something that you don’t want. Be healthy when you are ready to, and the experience gets so much easier and even fun from there.
2. Take Baby Steps
Changing my habits took a long time. Even when I was making better decisions, I still had so much more to learn. I had no idea about nutrients, and I say that it is best to not have it figured it out immediately. All of that information may overwhelm you. I would recommend that you take steps and learn as you go. Health can be a journey, it does not have to be a one-way stop. You can figure things out as you go, and you will be so much more appreciative of all the knowledge out there. I am still learning so much and I still make mistakes. All of it counts in the experience.
3. You Don’t Have to Give Everything Up
I still indulge…all the time! I am just much more selective about i. Being on a vegan diet, I have found that I can have all the same things I used to have, and while they are not healthy, they are still healthier than the original. I enjoy cookies, cheesecakes, mac n cheese, burgers, all those things I used to love, and I still love them, they’re just vegan. I indulgence a couple times per week. Sometimes a little, and other times I get off track for a few days. I don’t fret about it. The biggest thing you need to realize is that you can create balance in your life. You can be healthy most of the time and still enjoy your favorite guilty pleasures.
I can say first hand that I know how hard it is to change lifelong or long-term habits. It takes dedication, determination, and lots of perseverance. I hope that my experience can show you that anything is possible and that changes can be made when you truly want it.
I think that if we all thrive for improvement, positive changes can be made, and each and every one of us can have a healthy lifestyle and a good relationship with food.