*Trigger warning for eating disorders*
I’ve been following a mostly plant based diet on an off for the past year or so. It doesn’t sound like much, and yes, it’s not, but I’ve changed a lot during this period of time.
In my teens, I was the one constantly munching on chocolate bars, stuffing herself with cheap and artificial candy, eating chocolate pudding (but at least home made) for dinner or only eating cupcakes/cookies for days straight. When I wasn’t eating sweets, it was sandwiches or instant ramen.
Ramen persisted to be my main food throughout my young adulthood, up until last year (I’m 25 now).
I started noticing that sugar and empty carbs caused major mood swings and depression, due to blood sugar imbalances. I also had never felt anxiety, knowingly, because I was so deep in that I didn’t even realize that that was the feeling I kept suppressing to the point of rock hard shoulders.
It was after a while with yin yoga that everything really came to the surface, and I was overwhelmed. I thought there was something wrong with me, and called it an emotional “cancer”. For the first time in my life, I consulted a psychologist, but over the 1.5 years that have passed since, I can’t say the mental health system did me much good, other than finding out I was iron and vitamin D deficient.
Due to my realization about carbs and mood swings, I decided to quit carbs altogether and go keto. Can’t say that worked out, and maybe for the best. I did lose weight, but mainly because of undereating.
A while into my low carb diet, I decided to quit proteins and fats, to only eat vegetables and fruits, but only the ones with the lowest amount of carbs, such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, mandarins, kiwi…
As you can imagine, I wasn’t eating enough, and getting myself to and from university was a struggle. Not so much physically as mentally.
I also dabbled in intermittent fasting, which doesn’t go well with calorie restricting. At least once a week, I would binge, but still lose weight.
Although I never measured my lowest weight, as I didn’t have a scale, I’m suspecting it was something close to 37 kg, which isn’t really that low, considering my height of 148.5 cm. It isn’t far off my healthy weight, but every kg makes a difference for small people.
The super restricted phase lasted for about a month, September last year. When October came, I entered what came to be several months of binging, with only short bouts of attempts to restrict again. I couldn’t really restrict properly, because the moment I wasn’t eating, it set off my body’s natural instinct to feed itself to protect me from starving, or perhaps just the torture of waiting until it’s ok to eat. I ate bigger portions to rebel against my past habit of limiting portion size. The more I ate, the more I wanted to eat.
That lasted into this summer.
There were times in this period in which I ate meat, refined foods and sugar, as well as periods of healthy eating, so you could say I’ve gotten a good look on what works and what doesn’t, and for what reasons.
Chicken gave me migraines, refined carbs made me anxious, fatty foods made my back hurt, vegetables or beans alone equalled bloat, fruits caused sugar cravings, lentils made me tired, and so on…
In August, after having tried to eat without any restrictions whatsoever (meaning a lot of ice cream and chicken) for a couple of months, I saw the change it had done to my face. It had more redness, felt rougher and was off in general.
That, and the increasing migraines, was the tipping point.
In August 27 I turned vegan/ plant based.
During the month that has passed, I’ve lost 1 kg of fat without meaning to (at which point I increased my food intake), had better recovery after workouts, had a more consistent energy flow and almost no headaches. My skin looks more glowing, I have more endurance and am happier.
Other factors to consider:
- I’ve started taking ashwagandha (an adaptogen herb that is good for leveling blood sugar and decreasing stress, amongst other things)
- I’ve been using an acupressure mat on a daily basis
- I’ve been exercising both more and less (in other words, more evenly–not excessive and not too little)
- I’m taking new supplements: Collagen and B complex (in addition to iron and vitamin D3 that I was already taking, at the recommendation of a doctor)
In sum, all of these factors together have improved my life significantly.
Not everything is good, of course. There is much in the external realm that I have no control over, but I do feel like my shield is getting stronger, and this time in a healthy way, as opposed to when I suppressed my emotions, overate to numb myself or restricted to manage my emotions.
I mentioned that I tried healthy eating before, and because I was a nutrition noob, it didn’t work out well. The reason it does now is because I’ve spent hours upon hours doing research, as well as above-mentioned trial and error phase. Protein complementation in particular has been very helpful to learn about.
There is much more to be said about this topic, but if I would describe what I’m feeling in one way, it would be this:
I feel closer to the way I think a healthy person is supposed to feel.
Note that I didn’t say how they feel. I don’t know how people feel, but the way I’m functioning now feels more “normal” than the way I was before, with the exception of a few details that deserve their own post, so I won’t talk about it here.
I would like to provide more insight into my transformation process, and I think that a lot of the things I’ve learned along the way can be valuable to other people as well, so I will try to write about it here.
Thank you for reading, and please comment if there is anything you would like to know more about, or if you can relate. I would love to hear your stories.