Happy Sunday everyone!
I decided that today I would talk about something I haven’t really gotten into on my blog before, but if you read my post called ‘Moving Forward,’ you’ll remember that beautytowander.com is going to be open to a whole new world of writing possibilities (yes, I sang Aladdin’s A Whole New World in my head when writing that). I have decided to write about inspires me and how it is effecting my happiness journey, and our topic today is a big one that is influencing me in so many ways right now. The topic, loved by so many: FOOD.
If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen that I have been posting a lot of food photos on Instagram stories lately. That is because I have recently made a pretty substantial change in my diet about a month ago. I finally stopped eating meat all together.
I wanted to elaborate on this change in diet because there were so many aspects that went into it for me. I also wanted to share my tips for staying motivated to maintain this diet because it can be really hard sometimes… (I am currently missing Wasabi House salmon maki so much!).
I would like to note that I don’t like to go by the ‘vegetarian’ label just because I don’t want to put myself in a box. This diet is for me and how to make me feel the most happy and healthy and that being said, if I want to eat seafood or meat on rare occasion I will.
Right off the bat, I’d like to explain what motivated me to pursue this diet in the first place. I have been trying to cut out meat for about a year now due to stomach sensitivities. I started having noticeable digestive problems in the summer of 2016 and could not determine what was causing it. In order to find the verdict, I began cutting out the foods I thought were the culprits. For about a month last summer, I cut out meat (not fish) out of my diet for a month, thinking that the fats and heaviness of the food was causing my digestive problems. During that month, I loved how I was feeling by avoiding meat, but my stomach problems did not go away. I felt like I had more energy and happiness, I never felt sluggish or full from eating a large chuck of steak or chicken and just felt happier that I was consuming less meat. I had never really liked chicken or pork and my family didn’t make steak or a roast enough for me to miss it. After a month, I added chicken and beef back into my diet every so often but rarely ate pork.
After a year of cutting out different foods, I have finally been given an answer to my problems: I am dairy (lactose) sensitive and suffer with IBS, mainly caused by raw vegetable fibre and fatty foods. I am not one to shy away from the topic because I love to get tips from others who experience similar difficulties. After this realisation, I cleared my fridge of anything containing lactose (milk, yogurt and cheese) and started a 100% lactose free, 50% dairy free diet. What I mean by this is that I try to avoid dairy when I can, but will still eat food like feta cheese and lactose free yogurt because these have been staples in my diet for years and years. If I am going to be eating a lot of raw vegetables, I take a Beano pill which helps break down fibre.
Even though it was determined that my problems were not meat induced, I never went back to eating meat every day. I just felt healthier when I didn’t eat it.
About a year ago, Youtuber Marissa Lace began a video project titled #YearOfYou. In these videos, she spoke about wellbeing, happiness and transitioning to veganism. She began doing grocery hauls full of delicious looking vegan food and I realized that I was becoming really motivated to change my own diet through her videos. She looked so happy and healthy and I wanted to work on that too. I have always been a healthy person (I was that kid who had really abnormally healthy food for lunch in elementary school and would binge Mr. Noodles at all of my friends’ houses) but I struggled/struggle with insecurities like every other girl does. I began watching a few documentaries she recommended about the food industry and became obsessed with collecting more and more information about the different foods I was choosing to put in my body (PS, my top 5 favourite documentary recommendations coming very soon).
Finally, after enough research and motivation to do it, I decided to take the plunge and cut out meat, fish and dairy (to an extent). After about a month and a half of changing my diet, I feel awesome! I have found great joy in cooking vegetarian, plant based recipes and have found a few staples that make quick and easy meals. I also feel better about doing my part in supporting local businesses (small farms) and avoiding companies that may cause damage to the environment. I have less digestive issues and overall, just feel happier eating.
How I Stay Motivated
So far, I have picked up a few different ways I keep myself motivated to stay away from meat and fish. The temptation is very real sometimes and I struggle with having willpower. Here are a few tips I use to stay on track.
- Watch documentaries – This is the best way for me to stay on my game. I am constantly on the hunt for new food and health documentaries to watch. They remind me how important it is to maintain a healthy (sometimes plant based) diet. Also, there are staggering facts about eating unhealthy (like fast food) that will blow your mind.
- Find Instagram pages that you love – I follow a handful of different vegetarian, vegan and wellness Instagram accounts that are constantly posting beautiful photos of their food creations. Looking at these photos make me want to eat what they are creating, so I find the recipe and make it for myself.
- Find cookbooks you love and motivate you – I have always been the type of person that having a book in my hand is a much different experience that holding a Kindle. It is the same for me when I am cooking; I much prefer to have a physical cookbook in front of my than trying to look at a tiny Pinterest recipe on my phone. For me, the experience is more enjoyable with a cookbook and I can go through the book and tick off which recipes I have tried and which ones I still haven’t had the chance to. I recently added two cookbooks to my library: Oh She Glows Everyday by Angela Liddon and The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well with 700 Foolproof Recipes by America’s Test Kitchen. Angela Liddon’s books are based around vegan recipes, and I like to have the option to add eggs and cheese so I prefer to have both books. When I find a recipe I would like to try, I put a sticky note on the page to remind me to try it in the future.
- Write down recipes you find on Pinterest – If you are like me, once you save something on Pinterest, it goes in to a folder with hundreds of other pins to be lost for all eternity. If I do use Pinterest instead of a cookbook and find a recipe I love, I immediately screenshot it to use to write down in my hand-written cookbook full of family recipes. This way, I always have it on hand and I am not getting discouraged by the never-ending searching on Pinterest.
- Listen to your body – This one is the most important. I am always listening to what my body is telling me and how my body is feeling after changing my diet. If I am feeling off, I want to know why I am feeling this way and how I can fix it. I am constantly doing research on how to best fuel my body by eating plant-based food, but I am always open to re-evaluate my diet choices if I am not feeling 100%. For me, vitamins are key! I am someone who feels the effect strongly if I am low in iron or B12, which are nutrients that can be more difficult to get from plant-based foods. I make sure to take a multi-vitamin every day to stay happy and healthy!
How do you stay motivated to eat healthy? Let me know in the comments. Stay tuned for my documentary recommendations coming at you very soon!