I’m feeling super called to write about this.
What I’ve been eating has been changing majorly in the last few weeks - and it feels totally natural.
Soooooo, about 5-6 years ago, I decided to try on vegetarianism. It was something I’d thought about here and there, and one day (sort of out of nowhere) I decided I’d commit to it indefinitely. I was super smart about it- immediately researching the different ways I could get my iron, protein, B vitamins, etc. that I had previously only consumed through meat.
I loved being a vegetarian. I felt awesome and I loved exploring other food choices I had previously never known about. This was also where my interest in nutrition was sparked. Because I had to be more vigilant about getting those nutrients and vitamins, I became more aware of what was in my food and how AMAZING plants were in terms of nutrient density and how great they could make me feel. I started to look at my food as more than just food - it was powerful! It had the ability to cure diseases, ailments, and affect emotions. Beautiful.
A few years later, I slowly started transitioning to veganism. I stopped putting cheese on my food, stopped using cow’s milk, etc. At this point, I had already developed pretty disordered eating including orthorexia and occasional binge eating. This was NOT a result from my being a vegetarian, but rather just my own mind taking me into the extremes, thinking that I had to be the healthiest vegetarian on the Earth (and take it to veganism) or I might as well not do it at all. All-or-nothing-- pretty common for a disordered eater, yep.
During this year of veganism, I started having serious cravings for eggs and dairy, so I decided to add them back into my diet after a year. This was huge for me, and I didn’t do it guiltlessly. But I started to discover health coaches like Jordan Younger, author of Breaking Vegan, who also transitioned away from veganism and didn’t let it define their life.
Fast forward to the present, where I’m now eating meat. For the past few months before adding meat into my diet again, I was having intense cravings for meat. Not just, “Oh, that chicken smells good and I want to try some”, but my body was giving me some deep signals that my usual protein sources just weren’t cutting it anymore. I was always hungry after meals, always needing a little something extra. This craving sensation was really similar to how I felt just before I stopped being vegan- so I knew that I had to do something. And when I decided to take that first bite of chicken soup, I felt totally content. Totally comforted, like I knew this was exactly what my body needed to thrive. Now that I’m in tune with my body’s needs, making the decision to add meat back into my diet entirely was simple.
Why am I telling you all this? What’s the point?
Here’s what I want you to know about my journey from being meatless to turkey lover:
There is no one-size-fits-all diet. There’s nothing wrong with veganism- I think it’s beautiful, and for a while, I felt amazing eating this way. But the point is that our bodies change constantly and we can’t expect for one type of eating to work for everyone all the time. For example, it’s not unusual to crave more meat, dairy, and heavy grains in the winter time and lighter foods such as raw vegetables and beans in the spring. It’s your body’s natural response to the changing seasons and how much heat it needs help producing to stay warm. It’s so vital that we tune into how our bodies feel based on the foods we eat. What do you usually crave? Do you feel hungry for certain foods that you won’t allow yourself to eat? This changes all the time, and there’s nothing wrong with your cravings! You just gotta tune in to leave you and your belly happy.
How (not what) you eat can be a reflection of how you live your life. The reason it was so difficult for me to break veganism was because I felt like I had to do it all the way or not at all. I felt like I had to be the healthiest person EVER or why bother? (And in my mind, at the time, veganism was the ultimate sign of health). I had to exercise harder and longer than every girl in the gym or else why would I even go? But how sad of an existence would it be if we never did anything unless we knew we were the absolute best at it? Unfortunately, it’s how a lot of people live. If you like to dance, paint, run...DO THOSE THINGS. It doesn’t matter if you think you suck-- you should do it because it feels good, not based on whether or not you’re the best at it. And frankly, you’ll probably never be the best in the whole wide world at anything, because that’s a subjective ranking. Make peace with that and go live your life.
My food does not dictate my morality. This was a tough one. I felt so righteous when I was a vegan and so guilty when I wasn’t any longer -- like I had given up on trying. But I learned that listening to what my body needs was exactly the right thing to do. I feel amazing now, and I don’t feel sad for losing the “identity” of the “vegetarian girl”. Because now I get to be “the girl who listens to her body”.
Another thing I had to keep reminding myself was that, just because I eat meat now doesn’t mean that I’ll eat it everyday for every meal. Maybe I’ll only crave it once a week. Maybe I will eventually lay off of it for a while. Who knows? Regardless of what I eat, I'm still the exact same person. The point is that when we ignore what our bodies crave, we totally miss out on the opportunity to have a sensual connection with our greatest ally.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Did you ever try a specific way of eating that just didn’t work for you? How did you react?