Finding a healthy balance in your diet can be a difficult task. We are surrounded by so many companies and people telling us what we should and shouldn't do, it all makes for a bit of confusion as to what is right and wrong when it comes to food.
Before becoming vegan my relationship with food wasn't very great. I didn't find food to be important and I definitely didn't view it as nourishment. I would never eat breakfast and usually skip lunch in high school. I'd come home and eat the first thing I found which was usually some overly processed animal products. Fresh fruits and veggies weren't a part of my life and I thought that eating 1,200 calories per day was a good thing. I was taught that dieting was a normal and totally healthy thing to do.
Ever since I became vegan (and gluten free) over 2 years ago I have been primarily plant based. I never went through the "junk food vegan" stage and was totally fine with that. Looking back, it's quite amazing the transformation that I made in such a short period of time. I bought a few books, Intuitive Eating and Food Rules, and read through them which really helped me distance myself from the negative energy that I suffocated my relationship with food in. I began to feel so much better and I had so much fun with my newly found diet/lifestyle. If I was out somewhere that there were vegan junk foods I would eat them on occasion but that was it. I never really desired them and was totally happy eating a salad verses some seitan wings when out at a restaurant.
Things have changed recently though and I've began to branch out more. I've become quite interested recently in trying to count my macros to see how that affects my workouts. I know that it's totally possible to do this in a plant based way but I've been wanting to branch out a bit and try some other foods. Along with that came my decision to try to bring gluten back into my diet. I removed gluten back in 2013 because I thought that it would help with some digestive issues that I was having. It did help and gluten became a special occasion thing since then. I've really been wanting bread recently though, so the other night Darrin and I got some. It was awesome and I savored it so much. The only thing that happened was that I got a bit of a headache from it. All throughout this past week I've been eating random bits of gluten and each time I've been getting a headache. Gluten isn't something that I think I'm going to stick to eating regularly but I'm experiencing and trying out things that I typically wouldn't do.
And to be honest, I am really enjoying this new balance between healthy and slightly processed foods. It's cool to me because I've never been into eating processed foods as a vegan.
Now when I say that I'm eating processed foods I mean that I'm eating snack bars, chocolates, tofu, cereals, etc. and I'm eating one or two processed things a day. My diet is still 85% clean but this is my current experience and thoughts on this topic.
I think that's how to successfully find balance in your diet though. Ask yourself if the foods you're eating make you feel good and ask yourself if your truly enjoy them. If the answer is yes, then I say go for it! Experiment and see what works best for your body. It's that simple. Life is too short to turn down eating a pint of ice cream with your boyfriend on occasion. But it's also too short to spend it feeling sick and down all of the time because of the foods you're eating. Ultimately you know what is best for your body. It's your responsibility to listen to it and make the best decisions for yourself.
You're in charge of your own life, 100%. Each day that you wake up you get to decide what kind of day you're going to have. I wake up everyday and choose to make the best of what I have. I have created a fun and loving relationship with eating plants and I keep that positivity alive by trying new things, switching it up, and not being too rigid in my decisions.
You can do it too.
Don't be afraid of food and calories. They're not the enemy. Eating a healthy, balanced, and intuitive (vegan) diet is a great way to create a healthy relationship with yourself and food. Once you have the foundation of that, everything else falls into place.