You know why I loved being a vegan? NO GUILT!
No dietary guilt. As long as I stayed away from processed foods, I could eat whatever fruits and vegetables I wanted, as much as I wanted, without any animal by-product guilt for consuming foods containing dairy or the fat or body fluids of an animal. More fruits and vegetables stabilized my digestion, regulated my elimination, burned calories for weight loss, and wiped the agony of worrying about what I was eating completely out of my mind. I could literally exhale – phew!
But I gave it up.
After three years of guilt-free eating, I gave up the vegan life for personal reasons – absolutely NONE against veganism – and went back to being a vegetarian. And with that transition I re-introduced bread, eggs, and cheese back into my diet, along with a laundry list of processed foods I’d been relentlessly craving. HOWEVER, I didn’t forget the lessons that veganism taught me: fruits plus vegetables plus every meal and snack time equals optimal health and nutritional peace.
Fruits and vegetables are what our bodies need to keep all the carbohydrates, dairy, and meat (if that’s your preference) moving through our digestive system, so that the waste from all that doesn’t permanently move in. One thing I noticed when I left the vegan world was that
elimination segued from regular to irregular, understandable since the fruits and veggies intake was struggling to provide enough fiber and fluid to eliminate my near daily doses of potatoes, rice, home-baked bread, and okay yeah I do love a good bag of Doritos now and then. So, I had to step up my game a bit and exercise a lot more discipline and portion control as a vegetarian than I ever had to as a vegan. I wanted to be able to eat the foods I like AND not bust out of my medium-size clothes or compromise my health. But it helped to remember the golden rule:
More fruits, more veggies! More fruits, more veggies!
So what does this mean? It means that within reason, I can have the foods I like to eat. For example, these Checker’s seasoned fries pair nicely with a beet-spinach salad; and making my salad a medium to large, and my fries portion smaller, allows me to satisfy my craving for french fries and not be afraid to step on the scale in the morning.
Or let’s say I’m craving Doritos for breakfast after working my night shift (Yeah, I do that sometime) – especially these Jumpin Jack Cheese flavored ones (They’re back!) – a good balance is to have some fruit, particularly something juicy like oranges, pineapples or watermelon. But any fruit works, especially bananas, touted to aid in balancing sodium in our bodies.
Reaching back into my vegan world, many days I have no problem making a meal out of whatever veggies I have – especially salads, broccoli florets, or spinach – and topping them with melted cheese (veggie or dairy), coconut flakes or Parmesan cheese.
Despite my size increase from small to medium when I gave up the vegan world for the vegetarian one, I feel more nutritionally balanced these days – even if some of that nutrition is bad. I do my best to limit my junk food moments, load up on the fruits and veggies, and I’ve nixed the guilt of allowing pizza or bread monthly invitations into my life. But the good thing is, I’m less likely to overeat them when I observe my “more fruits, more veggies” mantra.
What’s your favorite veggie, fruit, or veggie-fruit combo to eat?