This is the first year that I'm having a processed product on my plate since going vegan. Yeah, that's usually the goal for someone who's concerned with the health and nutrition content of the food that they're eating - less processed foods. But you know what else is a component of being healthy that we often disregard? Our mentality around the foods that we're eating. You can be a raw vegan god(dess) and never touch anything but kale and avocados for 6 years straight but if you're mental state around those foods isn't truly healthy, then I think it's safe to say that you're not as healthy as you think.
I've had a long journey with my relationship with food and it's not over yet. Honestly, I don't expect it to ever be over but that's okay because the more solid of a foundation that I can build upon, the easier it will be for me to get it together when I'm doing something that I know isn't a truly healthy habit.
I've wrote a lot about my relationship with food in the past but here's a quick recap. I learned that dieting was a way to lose weight and I was taught (through society, ya know) that being skinny equals your self worth at a young age, like 13 - although probably younger and 13 was just when I decided that I could control it. So that's what I did for way too long when I should have been focusing on at least attempting to pass pre-algebra although I doubt that I would have cared about that even without the food issues because it's all good now and I still think that I'd rather run naked through my hometown in a December snowstorm if that meant that I never had to attempt any math other than the basic adding, subtracting, dividing, and multiplying.... usually with a calculator, thank you.
So after I got deep in the cycle of being obsessed with the number on the scale and the calories on the back of the processed junk food I was eating when I chose to eat I joined the gym and added in some obsessive exercise to the routine because WHY NOT. Seemed like a good idea at the time. As time went on I started to try to get out of the disastrous mindset that I believed to be normal (well almost normal) and get a healthy relationship with food, whatever that even meant because at the time I had no idea.
I started to eat "healthier," bought Intuitive Eating, read it front to back about 34 times, and was on my way. It sounds easier than it was, but for recap purposes just know that it wasn't easy. But it was totally worth it.
My new road to healthy also included figuring out some health issues which ultimately lead me to that gluten free life and that lead me to, drum roll please... veganism!
It doesn't end there though because that high carb vegan lifestyle seemed oh so appealing and I basically turned from one version of disordered eating to another. I was on that high carb health train for too long and when I got off of it I found myself in a very similar place to when I began to seek out a healthy lifestyle. It was time, once again, to discover the meaning of health for me.
After about a year and a half of repairing the damage I've done from the decisions I made and reintroducing gluten into my diet, I can confidently say that I truly have a healthy relationship with food and that is why I made a Gardein Holiday Roast for Thanksgiving this year. It's not only a celebration of getting together with my family, it's more of a celebration for myself and how far I've come with my food relationship.
I can go to Whole Foods after yoga and grab a donut, eat it, and have no issues with doing so. I can eat ice cream one night and go out for burgers and fries the next day for lunch. I can eat nothing but smoothies for breakfast and salads for dinner every day for a week straight. I can be flexible, intuitive, and stable in my choices. I can find my worth and confidence in places other than through the numbers on the scale or the size of my jeans.
And the reason that I share this today is because I have been where so many people are today, tomorrow, and throughout the holiday season; struggling with themselves and making promises to "fix themselves" after the holidays to cope with the shame that they hold deep inside from growing up and learning that loving themselves only happens once they can cross off all of the things on the list of societal standards and learned habits.
My experiences over the past year and a half surrounding food have been enough proof for me to gain a solid sense of stability with the things that I eat. Nothing bad has happened, in fact it's all been good. I can go out with friends and eat tons of sweets at 2 p.m. to fill me up to the point that I don't even eat a single thing for the rest of the day because I'm so full without any regret. I can also eat nothing but vegetables for days on end and not feel deprived because that's what I want. It's flexible, mostly effortless, and brings a sense of freedom that I didn't know existed before I discovered it.
All that I did was follow a small knowing deep inside myself that I could have a "normal" relationship with food. I didn't know how to get there or what it would look like. I just took it a day at a time and did the best that I could with my feelings and intuition until I was able to build up what I have today.
I didn't really know what I would write about this post when I sat down to work on it. I just felt like I needed to share something and I guess that my message in this post is that if you're feeling lost or anxious about a holiday season surrounded by food, embrace it. Let yourself be guided by that knowing within you; it's there and it'll be ready to expand once you are ready to take the journey towards achieving a healthier relationship with food. There's no better time to start than now.
Health is much deeper than how many vegetables you can fit on your plate. This year for me it's all about the roast that will be on my plate and the meaning behind it, the celebration of it.
What will you be celebrating this year?