Often at meals my peers will look at my plate and exclaim something akin to, “you’re so healthy!” Or, “What are you eating?” I do follow a vegan diet (with slip ups here and there) and so I tend to place a heavy emphasis on vegetables and other plant based foods. When I’m at school and following a schedule, I find it’s easier to eat healthy at lunch and dinner. Breakfast is a bit of a struggle for me, being a vegan at college I have the option of processed cereals (often laden with hidden sodium and sugars), soymilk sweetened with “evaporated cane juice” (read: sugar), peanut butter (with hydrogenated oils and therefore trans fats as well as added sugar), or oatmeal. Obviously, oatmeal is the obvious choice, and I’m trying to learn to love its slimy, congealing consistency. Learning.
The past few months, however, other foods have been slipping in that I previously avoided all together. “Food” isn’t an accurate description: I’ve been indulging in much more candy and processed food, made entirely of sugar, artificial flavors, and artificial dyes. These had no draw for me in the past, but I think that now that I am vegan when I am in a situation with less than ideal food options I’ll eat anything that’s non-animal based, whether it is healthy or not.
I need to prepare in advance rather than feel remorse looking in hindsight. It is difficult, however, because I find that if I pack food for myself (even if it’s healthy food) I eat it when bored, whether I’m hungry or not. I love the way my body feels when I feed it good, whole foods. I’m energetic and eager to exercise, I feel confident and competent. When I eat poorly, I feel lethargic, unmotivated, and guilty (though food should never inspire feelings of guilt. Ever.)
Time to spring clean my diet and return to my high standards! They may have been mocked, but they make my body happy. No more artificial flavors. No more artificial dyes. No more aspartame or other fake sweeteners. No more partially or fully hydrogenated oils. No more candy that I don’t even like, but that I’m eating because it’s vegan so I technically “can.” No more food that isn’t food. Scientifically, I know it is damaging to my health. Empirically, I know it does nothing to nourish me and only leads to a life I don’t want. I desire energy and clarity, not lethargy or unwarranted feelings of regret.
I eschew the idea of deprivation, and this list of “No’s” seems to be full of that. Rather, I’d prefer to view it instead what I’m encouraging in my life. Vitality. Strength. Self-assurance. Good food. Appreciation. Regularity, if you know what I mean.
The hardest part of this? Sugar free flavors in soy lattes…*
What do you not like in your diet?
Are you going to do any “spring cleaning” in your food choices or exercise regimen?
*in the interest of full disclosure, I’m probably going to still have some soy lattes, on occasion, as a treat. Everyone needs some “fun foods” in their diet, and those are mine!