How I Started Changing My Relationship With Food
I know as women we tend to struggle with food. Some more than others and obviously in different ways. But out of the desire to be healthy and happy, we have to consider the role that food plays and how those foods affect our bodies. It would be simple enough to just accept the "healthy" foods we need to eat and not worry about the rest, but it's not that easy and mentally we have to be committed to something so that in those times of temptation or cravings we can make a more educated decision on whether or not to indulge. That is why we have to factor in our mind when it comes to eating, why we have to work on our relationship towards our bodies and food so that there is a healthy connection between the two.
I have always been looking for a "plan" or "program" to help me decide what to eat and what not to eat. I will be honest and say I appreciate the structure and rules (most of the time). And though I am still open to different eating styles, I have finally found a lifestyle that satisfies my desire to feed my body and soul well.
I became a Pescatarian.
Now, if you are unfamiliar with what pescetarianism is, basically it just means I don't eat meat but I do eat fish. I will occasionally eat animal by-products such as eggs and dairy but I am slowly working on phasing the majority of that out.
I had attempted to do this once before in college, but unfortunately, because I wasn't really educated on the best way to do it (and ballin' on a budget) I struggled to feel full and so I turned heavily to carbs to fill me up (and not the good kind). This resulted in a weight gain, frustration and eventually, after only 2 or 3 months I gave up. Fun fact, I was standing in line at a Chipotle and at the time they did not have a vegetarian meat substitute and basically, I said eff it and ordered the chicken...not my proudest moment...and why it was chipotle that did me in I have no idea.
But 5 years later when my husband TJ brought up cutting out meat I was again prompted by the desire to do this and now having more nutritional education under my belt felt like it would be easier. We had, of course, watched documentaries, read books and spoken with other vegetarians as we consider making the change. Ignorance is bliss and unfortunately, we were no longer ignorant to the food industry. We could no longer ignore the practices and feel good about eating meat.
We wanted to be thoughtful about the switch and did not want to make the change so drastically that we felt immediately restricted and frustrated. So we started with allowing ourselves to eat meat twice a month and the rest of the time we had to look for alternatives. After a couple of months of doing that we no longer really even felt like eating meat and made the switch completely. I'm pretty sure my last meal was Chick-Fil-A and I feel like that was a pretty good way to go out.
I worried at first that we would not feel full enough, would not get the proper nutrients and that our lives would be majorly inconvenienced. However, none of those things were the case. First, I bought a ton of cookbooks, my favorites being the Oh, She Glows series. These were so helpful in teaching me how to put together full meals that still allowed me to get enough carbs, fats and proteins but from plant-based sources. And they were DELISH! I even made one of the meals for a dinner party one night and it was a huge hit!
Second, we started planning our meals ahead of time. Going into the week we would grocery shop, order meals from Snap Kitchen and read any menus on restaurants we knew we would be going to that week. This helped up prepare in case we would not be able to have many options and took a lot of the stress out of what to eat and having food available. These days, especially in a big city like Dallas, it is so much easier to cut out meat!
Some people still ask us when we will be out of this "phase" but I can honestly say that through this experience my outlook on food and what I can eat has completely changed and for the better. Eliminating something that I felt strongly convicted about taught me that there are so many other options on the menu outside of what I was used to ordering. It narrowed down my options at restaurants and I LOVED it. Instead of struggling to order the salad or fish and veggies rather than the club sandwich or the burger and fries, the decision was made for me. I know to some that might seem frustrating but these new decisions not only aligned with my morals but my health goals as well. I was eating a ton more veggies, researching unique protein sources, testing out new flavors and foods that I never would have before and overall feeling like I finally was creating a healthy relationship with the food I was putting in my body.
Of course, there are things we still struggle with and it is not always super easy but I don't crave meat anymore and the only time it sounds nice is if it's convenient and even then I'm still not super tempted. I know that not everyone feels convicted about this, and that is ok. We are all called to do different things at different times in our lives. I think if you have ever considered this eating lifestyle or are curious you should do your research. Just look into it because there is a reason I had the desire and my sister has never considered it once (which is fine!). It works for some people and does not work as well for others. But there are changes that need to be made in the food industry and we have the power to impact, we just need to look past convenience sometimes and really think about the overall implications of eating meat.
Someday TJ and I hope to be fully vegetarian and I think we are progressing towards that, especially in our home. It has been a slow and intentional process because we wanted to make sure we stuck with it long term. As we continue to read and research things may change even sooner for us but so far this is where we stand!
I will not go into detail here but if you are interested in learning more I recommend watching Food Inc & Forks Over Knives on Netflix as well as reading the book, Eating Animals. Like I said I love the Oh, She Glows cookbook as well as The Forest Feast cookbooks (and they are SO pretty!).
What do you think about giving up meat? Do you have any favorite vegetarian recipes?? If so, please share :)