As I start educating more people about real food, I realize that I’ve been on my own food journey since I was a teenager. Let me preface this story by saying that most of these changes have come rather easy to me. Something inside me just clicks and I can literally just stop eating a food I love if my mind decides it’s a good idea. Not everyone is so lucky, but there are ways that you can make changes to your diet in a way that works for you.
Age 15: Goodbye Cola
I was about 15 years old when I heard that drinking colas stained your teeth. So I stopped drinking them. It was also about this time that I decided that I wanted to be a vegetarian. I announced the decision to my mother. It was received with a, “Then you are going to start cooking all of your own meals.” Hmm. I wanted to do good by the animals, but I’m also terribly lazy. I decided to wait on that one. (Note that she supports my decisions and cooks for me now, it was probably just too much during my teenage years!)
Age 16: No More Value Meals
Around 16 or 17 years old, I decided to give up fast food. This coming from a girl that went to McDonald’s almost everyday after school with her friends and ordered a #2 Value Meal. So, I stopped eating fast food for the most part. (About a year later a friend and I decided to stop into a Checkers for a burger. I felt so sick afterwards!)
Age 18: My Veg Calling
At 18, I was in college and living in the dorms. I soon realized that I was already cooking all of my own meals (or buying them!), so now was a good time to go veg. I went home for Thanksgiving, ate my “last supper” and went back to school as a vegetarian.
I’m not sure when I cut out coffee and all sodas, but they, too, went off the menu within the next couple of years.
Ten Years Later: Focus on High Fructose Corn Syrup
When I got pregnant at age 29, I started cutting out High Fructose Corn Syrup. I couldn’t believe how much stuff it was in! It got me started on reading labels and allowed me to start questioning what all of these other ingredients were.
2011: Food Dyes, Oh My!
And though all of these changes may sound like a lot, they were nothing compared to the transformation I’ve undergone since 2011. I started learning more about food dyes and started working getting those out of the foods my kids were eating.
Whole Food, Vegan
After seeing Forks Over Knives, I went converted to a whole food vegan diet. The movie really impressed upon me that processed food had to go. In fact, I don’t support any specific diet for anyone, except that of a Whole Food diet…cutting out as many processed foods as possible.
As for the dairy, cutting out cheese was a major step for me, as it was something I actually did enjoy eating (at almost every meal). But once I really realized where milk came from, I was done. In fact, I was so inspired I wrote this article for Care2, Cows Don’t Make Milk.
It was at this point that I feel like I really started eating healthy for the first time in my life. Remember, a vegetarian can eat spaghetti all day and still be veg. Now, I eat vegetables until they come out of my ears. And I love it!
It’s Not Just a Trend, I Feel Better! Gluten-Free
Once I went vegan, despite reading online about how everyone felt full of energy after going vegan, I wasn’t feeling it. In fact, I had a sore throat almost everyday for a year. If I stayed up too late at night, I would likely wake up the next day with a bad sore throat and the beginning of a cold along with it. At one year vegan, I visited a doctor, not regarding my sore throat, but to get some blood work done. I was concerned I might be missing something. I mentioned in passing to the doctor about my sore throat. He checked an told me I had chronic post-nasal drip. Though he prescribed a nasal spray, I instead turned to the internet. Dairy or gluten sensitivity, my dear friend Google informed me. Well, I wasn’t consuming dairy, so I cut out gluten. Goodbye sore throats! Amazing. I did that for about a month and never had a sore throat. Later, I added gluten back in and proceeded to get a bad sore throat/sickness for about 3 weeks. Cut it out again and they have been gone since.
2013: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Vegetarian
At this point, I have added eggs back into my diet and consider myself a dairy-free, gluten-free vegetarian. I eat a wide variety of vegetables daily, and almost never feel that heavy feeling in my gut after eating. My food energizes me. The only issue is that I do get hungry often, and it’s difficult to eat out.
As you’ll learn through this site, my family eats very differently from me. We have meat eaters in the house, as well as cheese and the rest. And I cook it for them. We have, however, converted to an almost entirely “real food” house. My children eat more and more veggies everyday and we are making great progress in changing the way we all eat.
Please feel free to share your story or ask questions! Thanks for reading about my food journey.