Eating a mostly plant-based diet was a very slow and gradual process for me.
Over the course of my (very young) life, I had been on wildly different diets that were hardly sustainable; mostly to control my never-ending rollercoaster ride of weight gain and weight loss.
My Relationship With Food
During that wild ride of all the diets, I learned something about myself: food restriction, obsession, and making abrupt dietary changes would often lead to my diet demise.
I just couldn’t stick to it. I’d do fine for a couple of months, then crash and burn into a pile of sugar, grease, and all things processed. It was frustrating. Additionally, I was so harsh on myself, when I didn’t need to be.
That’s when I decided that I’d slowly transition into a healthier way of eating. That meant focusing more on plant-based, whole-food meals, while still including a wide variety of foods that invited protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
My objective was to consider what I can have, not what I cannot have. There was an entire mental and emotional shift in how I viewed food.
Instead of dropping food into a “bad” and “good” box, I focused on exploring new recipes that included a diversity of nutrients and flavors. As we stand today, I am not perfect at this, but I am still learning to have a healthy relationship with food.
Ten years ago, there wasn’t a name for the type of diet I was eating and I am glad there wasn’t. I didn’t want to be stuck in a restrictive dietary box that’ll rattle me with guilt, had I moved away from its guidelines.
I wanted to be free to eat however I want while emphasizing whole foods on my plate.
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However, this change in my diet was hardly overnight. I was very forgiving and I allowed myself to live a little. But this is what I believed worked best for me and still does.
How Long I’ve Been Plant-Based
So, when people ask, “how long have you been eating plant-based?” Well, that’s a hard question to answer. Because it was truly gradual. And sometimes, I’d “break the rules,” and get right back on track. However, I was and still am okay with this.
Because my motto is, “do the best you can, whenever you can.” If that meant sometimes enjoying my abuela’s cooking, which can often be delicious, yet totally not in-line with the rules of a whole-foods, plant-based diet, that was OK too.
I want my overall journey with food to be sustainable, healthy, enjoyable -- for both me and the planet. Sure, I “mess” up, but I do not want those failings to dictate my diet for the rest of my life.
Does that make sense? For example, if I eat something outside the definition of a whole foods, plant-based diet, I don’t want to just throw my hands up in the air and say, “well, I screwed up a little bit, so now I am just going to just totally give up on myself and my journey with food.”
Instead, I want to say, “meh, maybe that doesn’t totally go in-line with the standards assumed in the plant-based diet, but let’s move on.”
I understand this sort of thinking regarding food and diets, in general, may be a bit unpopular. However, with my history with how I formerly approached food, I want to be kind to myself and my health.
Once I begin to place foods in restrictive buckets, it is when I find a disordered way of eating is starting to tip-toe right back in, also known as orthorexia.
Disordered Eating And Restrictive Diets
Not so long ago, I was entwined by this whole no-oil diet movement. I kept seeing popular food bloggers pushing this notion that oil was the enemy of all things and could kill you.
Slowly, but surely, I began to significantly reduce and sometimes restrict my oil consumption. For a few weeks, I didn’t think much of it - I was just riding the no-oil train ride.
Then I began to think: is it really as dangerous as some folks have suggested? Will it really kill me to add some flavor to my cooked dishes? Why does it always have to be an all-in or all-out approach?
Let’s be real here - I am not a dietician nor a nutritionist. So, any thoughts I have about how food interacts with the body would be an assumption at best.
Sure, I follow some nutrition food vloggers and read science-y articles sometimes, but it’s easy to find data that supports a specific opinion or get confused with the plethora of studies out in the wild.
Long story short, I found myself falling into a restrictive way of eating again. I had to remind myself that balance is key and it’s okay to not eat “perfect” according to the standards of the masses.
Maybe I don’t need to necessarily deep fry my food, but a teaspoon of olive oil can go a long way in my cooked dishes.
Once upon a time, I enforced way too many arbitrary diet rules, that left with me slipping into a disordered way of eating, thinking, and living.
So for now, a balanced, well-rounded diet with the majority of it deriving from a plant-based food seems like a good idea for me.
Why I Define My Diet As Plant-Based
There’s something incredibly uncomfortable with identifying my entire existence with a diet or movement, so I tread carefully with how I explain my dietary preferences.
Yes, I love to eat food with a wide variety of colors, nutrients, cooking methods, and flavors, but it’s merely a preference, not how I identify myself.
There’s a distinct difference there.
I sincerely believe that eating a diet that mostly or wholly removes animal products is a great thing for our planet and its inhabitants. I even think the reduction of animal-derived foods and not total elimination is a step in the right direction, too.
Every little bit counts. It can be a one-day switch for some folks or a decade-long journey and discovery for others.
Do the best you can, whenever you can.
So, Why Am I Revealing All Of This?
I created this blog to serve those who are curious about a plant-based diet, yet want to do this in a way that’s financially feasible and responsible.
When sifting through the massive library of plant-based food blogs, I grew increasingly frustrated when I continued to find recipes with way too many hard-to-find expensive ingredients.
I wanted this blog to be approachable. Additionally, I wanted to create helpful content and point to resources that may benefit the audience I am trying to serve.
Although I love writing recipes and experimenting in the kitchen, I also love writing longer, intimate pieces like this one. I want to be helpful, honest, and me.
My Key Takeaways:
---> Do the best you can, whenever you can.
---> Balance is key.
---->Be kind to yourself.
---> Live a little.
---> We don’t need to force so many arbitrary rules on ourselves that end us depleted of important nutrients, flavor, and enjoyment.