I have lots of experience of eating. I also have plenty of experience not eating. Like all too many women can attest, this is the occupational hazard of the permanent diet.
Eventually time caught up with me and I was put on a road to set me straight, but how easy it was for me (and so many others) to be teetering along that edge of healthy living and disorder for so long. But we’ll talk about that another time.
For the past year, I have very slowly, not always successfully, been turning a hand at intuitive eating (eat when hungry, stop when full.) To be fair, I still binge a lot. I still occasionally make food plans and calorie allowances. And there are still foods I won’t eat. The difference this time is I am not avoiding to lose weight.
Becoming a Vegetarian
There is one substantial difference between giving up meat and giving up any other food, according to my diet at the time. I just do not desire eating animals. When I didn’t eat sugar or wheat or high fat foods, it wasn’t for my health or because I didn’t want them. It was because I was afraid of gaining an ounce.
Vegetarianism isn’t painful, depressing and difficult like dieting was. And I may not be ridiculously thin, but my body has never thanked me more.
Giving up meat has always been an option in my mind. When I was younger, I used to joke that I would go veg when I was living on my own to make washing the dishes less disgusting. At the age of 12, my then-best-friend constantly berated me to go veg and made me feel guilty about eating meat (even though she continued to eat it herself on the sly.) In college, I actually did give up most meat, but that was more to do with being economical (Quorn is a damn sight cheaper than a chicken fillet.) So what was the turning point for me?
In a way, I could say the Internet. A lot of healthy living bloggers and athletes I admire have long given up eating animals. A PETA video or two hardly upped my carniverous appetite. To be honest, I was eating very little red meat as it was. But then, the lovely Aimee decided to go vegan. And that inspired me – it showed me that someone my age could be a vegetarian for the right reasons, not as a fad or a way to lose weight, as I so commonly saw for so long. I saw that you could still eat healthily, that you could show your parents that a life without meat wasn’t the end of the world. Besides, what were they going to say? I was smart enough not to attempt another diet or try and lose weight in such a blatantly obvious way. So I hoped they would know it was for real.
I don’t miss meat, I shockingly don’t miss marshmallows and the symptoms of my digestive disorder have all but disappeared. I have opened myself up to a whole host of yummy new foods like quinoa, lentils, greek yogurt, tofu and millet, and I have plenty more in sight to try out. I have been shocked at finding out what has animal products in them (hello McDonalds fries.) And I have relearned the pain of “So, what do you eat?”
Sometimes its easier to just smile and nod along, knowing that I now eat better than I ever have, knowing that I am deciding what I eat, not ED.