Me two years ago: Hello I’m a foodie who will eat absolutely anything, I am on a budget so food costs are low, I eat a lot of pizza and drink a lot of wine
Me one year ago: Hello I’m a vegetarian, I want to just eat as cheaply as possible and stay healthy. I like pizza but I now eat lots of salad.
Me 6 months ago: Hello I now buy things like organic apples and ground flax seeds, I drink smoothies for breakfast….with kale in them…. and I want to spend more money on food for my health. I still like pizza but now I make things like “Vegan pizzas”.
Me 2 weeks ago: Hello I’m a vegetarian who is mainly a vegan and I now buy things like hemp milk, I rarely eat pizza and I have been told I’m low on protein in my current diet
Me today: Hello I’m a vegetarian, I drink smoothies for breakfast….with kale, and cashews, and flax and hemp in them…..I spend more money on food than anything else (except rent), I tend to write down everything I eat whilst I am trying to make good habits stick and I have been looking at recipes for “Raw pizza”
Because when I started as a vegetarian I was on a big diet I was in the frame of mind that snacking on apples= good idea, snacking on nuts= bad idea. It was a purely calorie counting exercise without thinking about whether it meant my body was getting what it needed. Sure I lost loads of weight but I was always hungry and also it would lead to binges of bad foods because I’d feel deprived. I also felt that keeping my meals as simple as possible = good idea, adding things like flax seeds, sprouted beans, nutritional yeast etc = bad idea because in my mind that was just an added cost and a bit of a diet fad.
I’ve learnt so much over the last year but I can’t help thinking that I’m seriously over thinking my own diet and I really want to get back to basics! I went to see a dietician/ personal trainer last week who asked me to keep a food diary for the week before hand. I went in feeling pretty smug because I’d had tonnes of fruit and veg that week and not many snacks. The guy took a red pen and a blue pen and he said the red would represent all of my carbs/sugars and the blue pen would represent all of the protein and things like dark greens.
Well my whole page was red except for one morning of eggs, the greens in my smoothies and a bean stew I had for dinner one night. I realised that I have been literally just eating vegetables and carbs and thinking that I was super healthy (vegetable soup and bread, vegetable stew and rice, vegetable sauce and pasta etc etc!). I also ate far too much sugar from fruits so I have had to pick and choose my snacks more sensibly. He showed me some examples of meals where I could improve, for example:
Before – Smoothie with banana, soya milk, spinach, strawberries, blueberries
Now – Smoothie with hemp milk, spinach, strawberries, blueberries, 2 tablespoons ground flax and a handful soaked cashew nuts.
Before – Scrambled eggs with toast and ketchup
Now – Scrambled eggs with a big portion of stir fried kale, tomatoes, paprika and chilli
In my lunches I have been adding things like lentil dip or seeds and white beans and for dinner I have cut out the refined carbs by eating more bean based meals with lots of dark greens and colourful veg and the occasional portion of wild rice or sweet potato wedges. I’ve been doing this for approx 2 weeks now and I do feel great, I’m not hungry and I have actually maintained a weight loss. I feel like just tripping it back to basics has helped me, now I just think “Ok this meal contains some protein, something green, something with good fats and not too many carbs”.
I have also been snacking on almonds and walnuts to help keep away any afternoon cravings and this is another way of getting some good proteins, fats and nutrients into my day.
I think having an understanding of food is important but I found myself reading so many conflicting opinions and diet options and foods we should/ shouldn’t eat that I just got lost in it all and ended up eating things that if I had just stood back from all the reading I wouldn’t normally eat. As a vegetarian everyone goes on about protein and I’ve read plenty of vegetarian articles showing how “loads of things have protein in them” and “how easy it can be to eat a lot of protein” which is all true, but you have to know what to eat, understand the different food groups and eat a variety of foods in order to get the right amount of protein.
Learning about food is a life long process and one I plan to enjoy as I go so I never beat myself up about a bad week or worry too much about whether my choices now are the best I can make for myself because in the future I know I will still be making choices, worrying about the environment and having bad weeks of junk food! The thing I do make sure I think about is whether I am moving forward in the right direction or not. For me these small changes I have made over the last two weeks are just another step in the right direction