With all the things going on in our lives nowadays, it’s very easy to lose track of one of the most important things for us as living creatures: what we eat.
It seems so simple, yet what we eat is essential to our survival on a daily basis. If we eat something that is poisonous to us, it could mean our last day on this planet. To the contrary, if we eat something nutritious, it allows our bodies to remain strong and vital.
This should be common sense, and for many of us it is. The problems many face today occur when people are misinformed about their eating choices and the consequences of those choices. Even those who think they have a healthy ‘balanced’ diet, may be just as nutritionally deficient as those who have no concerns about what they eat.
My food revolution started as a kind of civil war between my intentions and my actions, with my intentions always being crushed by the secret weapon of modern foods – addiction. I was addicted to the familiar, comforting tastes and feelings present in almost every food product on the supermarket shelves today. For a long time my food choices were so poor that I lost energy, lost self esteem, lost confidence in my physical self and respect for my emotional self. The only thing I gained was body fat and an increased risk of chronic disease. Great! This gradual decline in my health had been going for some time, with a renewed enthusiasm for baking not helping things at all.
I had been becoming more and more annoyed at my eating habits despite my desire to change them, but things for me eventually changed after I had chatted to a friend at work about his own change of lifestyle, with a change of diet being a large part of his approach. He had done the 7lbs in 7 Days plan, developed by Jason Vale, aka The Juice Master. This was a 7 day plan wholly focused on losing the cravings associated with modern western diets, by way of drinking around 5 or so juices a day, each one loaded with fresh, plant-based, whole food nutrition.
It sounded perfect, so I downloaded the app, got myself a juicer, used the app shopping list feature to arm my fridge with the healthiest foods I think it had ever seen, and got juicing! I say armed because eating the kind of foods I knew I should was a battle I knew I would continue to lose without doing something extreme like this. A few days in and I was getting withdrawal headaches from not eating refined sugars and other processed nasties my body was addicted to, but after that it was plain sailing on all the way. All the juices on the plan, bar one, are delicious, and you know even the one renegade juice is doing you massive favours as far as your health is concerned. At the end of the week, my whole body felt refreshed, my energy levels increased, and I had no cravings whatsoever for my usual dietary demons. For the next two weeks, I followed the next part of the plan, which reintroduces solid foods back into your diet, and allows more flexibility. During all three weeks, I had been reading a lot and watching documentaries about how and what we eat, and why we eat the things we know are bad for us, and used that information to formulate in my head how I would go on once the two week plan ended.
During my revolution, I have made some choices which many might call extreme, but for me they were choices which came easily and with obvious benefits. I made the choice to become vegetarian, thereby avoiding a leading cause of heart disease – meat. This also benefits the animals which would have met a grisly end just so I could eat something my body doesn’t need. I have always hated cruelty to animals, and so this is the next natural step for me to express this. I wouldn’t eat a beloved pet dog, so why eat any animal I share an equal amount of respect and love for? It doesn’t make sense to. I have also taken steps to become vegan for the same reasons. Cutting out all animal products and derivatives has been a lot harder to do than just cutting out my direct intake of animal flesh, as food labelling of animal products can be cryptic and difficult to decipher. I’m getting there though, and my increased respect for the life of other creatures increases my own self respect and self esteem in ways I didn’t expect or foresee. If that wasn’t enough, I’m now mainly consuming a diet of raw foods. Many of the nutrients found in foods are destroyed or greatly reduced by heating, so eating raw foods makes a huge difference. I also avoid gluten, and don’t drink alcohol or caffeine any longer.
While many see my choices as limiting, they really, truly aren’t. There are only a few meats most people eat, usually with a burger bun slapped either side, with a handful of traditional vegetables to accompany it. On the other hand there are hundreds, if not thousands, of types of vegetables, each of which can be prepared in different ways. As a raw vegan I now explore that area with enthusiasm and interest, knowing each vegetable probably gives me more nutrition than most cooked meals I ever ate in the past – and a lot of those were pretty big meals! I also consume a lot of nuts, seeds and legumes, as well as fruit and superfood supplements, to make sure I’m getting what I need.
The health and other benefits of my new diet were almost immediately noticeable to me: I sleep better than ever and wake up feeling fresh; I enjoy and appreciate being able to prepare and consume my own meals; I have more energy both physically and mentally; I feel less stressed and anxious; I’ve regained my natural bodyweight… As well as all that, my environmental impact has been decimated to a fraction of what it was before, and I don’t have the suffering of animals on my conscience.
It took me a long time to get here, but it’s been well worth it, and when people say I shouldn’t worry about what I eat, I can honestly say – I don’t.