Why I am conscious of my health now
We all deserve to live healthy, long, and amazing lives!
Guys, what if I told you it’s easy to eat clean and it’s FUN too! Before my health and wellness journey began, I looked at healthy eating as if it were an alien. The (AMAZING) individuals who took up vegetarian and vegan lifestyles were on another universe than me. How could one possibly live by cutting out everything but plant-based foods? The idea seemed so foreign.
I was in my second semester of college when I realized I could no longer tolerate sitting down in my chair another minute because I was so uncomfortable. I was having sharp, piercing pains in my stomach constantly… What? Was my diet of pizzas, calzones, and more pizza not cutting it? But what about the toast I had every day for breakfast paired with some pasta and marinara sauce for dinner? There has to be some nutritional value and benefits in those meals for my body… right? Wrong. When I started telling my (at the time recently new) boyfriend about how I was having to leave class halfway through, he suggested something I’ve NEVER once thought of, and that was gluten. Never have I thought of the idea that my body physically was unable to digest one specific kind of food, I mean for Christ sakes it’s just bread! Since when has bread done any harm?! In the bible it was the bread that saved hundreds and thousands from dying of starvation, but why is it hurting me instead of bettering me and my body?!
For the following month, I pitied myself, and for what? Because I was finally feeling better?! No, it was because I couldn’t indulge in my favorite donuts, or grab a slice of pizza with my friends. It was because the drive-through didn’t cut it anymore! If I wanted to eat I had to pick up a spatula and create something. I grew up in a house where the most exquisite meal was box Mac & Cheese and some frozen chicken tenders. Forget about family dinners, we all ate on our separate times and in separate places. With my plate full of processed foods, to my room I went. Cooking was never in my cards, but boy it was as if this gluten-intolerance was a blessing in disguise! I would never have found my passion for cooking if it wasn’t for my situation – cooking (besides Andy) maybe my best friend! As I mentioned, drive-throughs didn’t cut it. Yes, their food is delicious, but what’s the fun in eating something when its so harmful to you? I quickly, and I mean quickly had to adapt. I was researching foods that were GF (gluten-free) and you already know my Andy was right there with me. Heads up, if you recently found out you are GF, do not expect any 5-star dishes coming out of your kitchen anytime soon. I set the fire alarms off a number of times trying to figure out proper cooking techniques, especially when it came to baking! GF flours such as rice, coconut, and chickpea flour is a lot different than the wheat flour I grew up with! But like everything good, it takes practice and it takes time to properly learn!
After two months of being on a consistent GF diet, Andy and I was recommended to watch a documentary called “What the Health”. Now, it was one I have watched in the past but never truly took note of. After watching that documentary, my boyfriend and I went vegan cold turkey (no joke). We watched the documentary before bed and the next day dropped every animal-byproduct we were eating. It wasn’t until truly watching the first of many documentaries that I realized that our “diets” aren’t actually diets, it is our lifestyle. Diets are a fad people try to keep up for two weeks and then drop like a promise we make to ourselves. A lifestyle consists of what you are constantly pouring into your body as well as what you are doing with your body on a daily basis. Like I mentioned, for me, before I was on this GF lifestyle, my old one consisted of sugar and processed foods as well as laying around on the couch all night.
I’ve always had this fear, some may think goofy, but I’ve feared to turned old. I’ve feared to lose my body, my mobility, my memory. I’ve feared growing old and completely forgetting who I am. One thing I never realized or even thought about before watching that documentary is how food truly affects our body. Yes, discovering I was gluten intolerant was my first realization of the direct impact foods my have, but I never thought further into how it effects our hormones, our cognitive skills, or even mood! I never realized how 90% of the American lifestyle is pure toxic! This is not meant in any offense, but no wonder why we have such high obesity rates! No wonder why cardiovascular disease is the number one killer! When I became conscious, and I mean truly conscious of what I was putting in my body, I began looking around me. What were people eating? College students like me, at the time, would run to any fast food place nearby that was convenient, as went for my coworkers on their way into work.
Convenience, that was it, that was the missing piece to the equation! We settle for these lifestyles because they are convenient, easy, cheap! If you want a full meal all you have to do is spend $5 at KFC. If you want a full meal, that is also healthy for you, it’ll be $15 or so! But let me tell you, that KFC meal you had once a week is going to cost you more down the road when you’re drowning in medical bills. Now, I made this blog as a platform where I can speak my mind frankly, so if you get offended easily you may not like what I am going to say but I am sorry, you can’t stop my fingers from clicking away at this keyboard! When I view our society, I see a problem, a big one. I feel it is all a game, a game between our health and money – except were not the players, were just the pieces. We are one of the leading nations in obesity and diabetes rates. That is because we have so much access to greasy, cheap, and unhealthy foods. Foods loaded in sugars and chemicals, causing an actual addiction to keep us coming back for more. I feel the top dogs know this, and that is why we have a McDonalds on one corner, and right next to it we have a Wendy’s. Across from that a Taco John’s and next to that a Popeyes. It is a monopoly of food industries that are going to make your health plummet. Keep this lifestyle of heavily based animal-byproducts and overly saturated processed foods up and in no time you are facing your first health problem. When you go into the doctors, do you realize how they never look for the cause? They always just want to diagnose your symptoms with some antibiotics or steroids that will help you for a week and then you’re back to where you started. Rarely any doctor is ever going to address that it is your lifestyle, what you are eating that is making you so sick. I will never forget the 1000th time I was in the doctors office. At the end of my appointments, I ALWAYS ask what I can do in order to prevent this scenario from happening again, to hopefully avoid another trip in. Instead of giving me the same handout that each doctor has printed stacks of when I asked that question, this doctor turned around and looked at me. He told me it was all based around what I eat, he told me to eat more plants.
I ate animal-byproducts my entire life until I was 19, and as long as I can remember I constantly have swollen lymph nodes and a sore throat. I was one tonsillitis diagnosis away from having to get my tonsils removed. I could never figure out why I was getting sick, so I blamed it on the weather (if you live in Iowa then you’ll understand why)! It wasn’t until I went vegan that I noticed how good I felt, no more swollen lymph nodes! No more low moods and energy! You may be in a similar situation as my old self, finding yourself back at the doctor’s office, letting the bills pile more and more up. They are never going to tell you it is your poor lifestyle that is leading you back to this point. Let’s be honest, our nation LOVES their money. The more doctors visit you make, the bigger their pockets get. The more negative and unhealthy foods you are intaking, the worse your health gets! It is all one big circle.
I’m not saying to drop any and all unhealthy food products like Andy and I did. I’m also not saying plants are the cure to everything. All I am asking is for you to be conscious and aware of what you truly are pouring into your body. Research and learn of different foods, plant-based foods! I wish Andy and I did because there are a lot of vital nutrients our bodies are needing on a day to day basis, and it is good to be aware of what they are and what foods you can find those nutrients in! I know it might seem like a tricky task to do, to research. Or that you may not have enough time, but trust me when I say our health is worth that extra investment of time and money! Buying that humongous (and delicious) salad over the burger is going to not only make you feel better afterward, but that meal alone has the power to deliver tons more benefits to your body than that burger ever could – and don’t worry you’ll still get your protein in! Yes, it might cost a little more out of pocket, but as I mentioned guys, you are worth it! We are worth it, and we all deserve to live healthy, long, and amazing lives!