WARNING: This post may cause some upset or offence to people who have strong opinions on certain diets.
I feel like there’s so much pressure on people when it comes to what they eat and what their typical food diary looks like. I’ve noticed people love to voice their opinions when you eat something that they wouldn’t eat and try to put you off.
I was a vegetarian for 10 years from the age of 10 and I’ll tell you my story…
When I was 10 I watched ‘Kill It Cook It Eat It’ and that particular episode was about where beef comes from. I can only remember the part of the episode where a cow was hung upside down and it was cut open and its insides pulled out. From there the viewers were then shown how a beef burger is made. I felt sick to my stomach from watching this and that very same night guess what I was given for dinner? I took one look at the burger and chips on my late and said ‘nope’. The chips I quickly ate but I remember turning to my mum and saying ‘from this day onwards mum I’m never eating meat again’.
I was a chubbyish kid and LOVED meat and pretty much anything food related, so I wasn’t taken seriously. I would still be given meat for dinner and told that I was going through a phase which wouldn’t last. But I stood my ground and didn’t ever consider going back.
10 years passed and I was happy with my choice and turned my nose up at the thought of eating meat again. I couldn’t even touch it. My boyfriend, family and friends would eat it around me and it didn’t bother me at all. Nor did I ever crave it or want to try any. Most people think that vegetarians are healthy but I for one was quite the opposite.
My typical daily diet would look something like the following:
Morning snack: Chocolate bar
Lunch: Endless snacks – probably junk/maybe an egg sandwich
Afternoon snack: Chocolate/more chocolate
Dinner: Margherita pizza (most popular choice)/ pasta with a sun-dried tomato sauce.
I ate a lot of Quorn food and some fruit and veg as well but if I had to be honest, this was what a standard day would look like. I checked everything I ate to avoid consuming gelatine which is found in most sweets.
You can lack a lot of essential vitamins and minerals when you’re a veggie. My iron fell dangerously low and I was diagnosed as anaemic and having low blood pressure. I took iron tablets for a few weeks but as with most things, I got lazier and stopped.
Within the same period of time as becoming a vegetarian, I was also struggling with anorexia.
The weight started dropping off me dramatically fast when I cut meat out of my diet. I became addicted to the feeling of my body being slimmer. Don’t get me wrong I have never been ‘large’ or had a ‘curvy’ frame but I was a tad chubby as a child. Being able to fit into UK size 6 clothes and for a year or so even size 4 felt empowering. I thought it was something to brag about. HINT: It’s really not.
I’d love to tell you all how I’ve overcome my anorexia but if I’m completely honest it still niggles in the back of my brain now and again. I no longer deliberately starve myself or feel body shame so although I really should eat more I’m not torturing myself like I used to. Since I’m now pregnant at the time of writing this I am literally forcing myself to eat by thinking of the baby!
I could write a long post about my anorexia story but it’s a long one so I’m going to create a separate post for this topic.
Going back to my food habits, when I was a vegetarian I was extremely unhealthy. Even now when I think of a vegetarian I think of someone slim who eats lots of greens and fruit & veg with a healthy, well-balanced diet. Well, that wasn’t the case for me at all.
I used to survive dependently on junk food and chocolate. I consumed so much sugar, at least 10 times over your recommended daily intake. For about a year and a half, my breakfast would consist of a chocolate bar and a coffee with three sugars. Once or twice I consumed an entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange before 9.30am and over the Easter period a whole Easter egg. Yep. Plus I never drank water and survived off of coffee, full-fat Coke, Cream Soda and Monster energy drinks (Oh boy did I get dangerously hooked on Monster, but again that’s a whole other story).
Guilty but not sorry
To back myself up somewhat it’s also relevant to inform you that a few years after I became a veggie I developed Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS) which involves an allergic reaction to most fruit and veg- bananas, tomato, kiwis, pepper etc.. I suffer from dreadful hay fever and OAS is a huge part of it. If I consume any of these foods even now, then lumps appear all over my tongue. (Mainly on the side of the tip). My mouth and throat get insanely itchy and my lips puff up.
As much as people would moan at me about my addiction to sugar I couldn’t have cared less. At the time I didn’t see anything wrong with my habits. Then I began getting sleepy around midday and would be lucky to still be awake by the end of the day and not slumped over my desk with my mini fan blasting in my face to bring some life back into me!
I was constantly lethargic, getting headaches and generally always felt ill. I didn’t really snap out of my bad habits until I was so fed up of being so tired all the time. In reality, I don’t think I will ever get rid of my sweet tooth. Although I don’t have anywhere near as much chocolate and sugar as I used to. (Well, most days anyway).
If I do overindulge, I’ll make sure I drink more water than usual and throw a few grapes in my cake hole to silence my inner self-disgust.
Now my daily food diary looks a little more like this:
Lunch: Ham salad sandwich/meat pie with gravy/egg & cress or cucumber & marmite sandwich
If you’ve just thought to yourself- ‘Eugh cucumber and marmite?! Why??’ Don’t mock it until you’ve tried it man that’s all I’m saying!
Dinner: Pizza/pasta/chicken & broccoli
Snacks: Pistachios/protein bars/protein shake/strawberries/grapes
Of course, it could still be a lot healthier, but at least I’m actually having meals now rather than snacking on junk.
What does your typical food diary look like?