My friend Leslie (check out her awesomely amazing blog here) asked me to write about what exactly changed my attitude towards food and made me start liking/craving healthier things. She specifically asked me “What made it all click in your head?” Sadly, I wish I had a straight-up answer for her, but the truth is I don’t. It was all a very gradual, weird change in my mind (and tastebuds); but I’ll give explaining it a try…
I guess I should start by telling you a little bit about my eating habits pre-op: they were awful. I never ate vegetables, and my diet consisted of over-processed food and TONS of fast food. I’m not exaggerating, it got to the point where the people at my near by Burger King already knew me, ok? I was a very emotional eater (still dealing with that, actually) and I loved to eat and snack on very unhealthy things. Fast food, chips, frozen food, diet coke, pizza, Chinese food, really mostly just restaurant food. Anything that required me to make any effort in cooking it was not an option. It was sad, really, I felt lousy all the time not only physically but emotionally as well, which made me keep eating and it was all just a vicious cycle. Needless to say, this style of eating (and my very sedentary lifestyle) led me to be over 300 lbs. After a lot of consideration I decided to have gastric bypass surgery, thinking that would automatically fix things for me. Well, everything changed but the surgery didn’t “fix” me. I still wanted to eat the same things as before, only now I got super sick from it. The first 4-6 months after surgery was basically a lot of trial and error with food that I used to eat a lot, and then eventually since I got sick of feeling crappy, I decided to start trying other foods and see what happened.
I started slow, some spinach here, a little Cubanelle pepper there and little by little I started adding different, healthier things to my diet and finding out that you know what? They were kind of awesome. It was around that time that I started dating my current boyfriend Mark, who is a total vegetable lover and amazing in the kitchen; so I got to try a LOT of different ways of eating vegetables and found out that they can be so, so delicious. Really, it’s all about how you prepare them. Perhaps growing up my parents didn’t really do vegetables right (my mom mostly overcooked them until they were bland mush) and that’s why I didn’t get into them, and as an adult I fell into the trap of “easy eating” and never gave them a chance (I wouldn’t even have tomato or lettuce in my burger!). Now I’m so glad I did. I also noticed that when you start eating healthier, home-cooked meals you feel a lot better physically. I no longer feel sluggish and heavy and gross all the time, but have a lot more energy to exercise, which I’ve also come to enjoy. It’s still a struggle with my emotional eating, when I’m upset or hormonal I still crave ice cream and pizza, but slowly I’ve been coming to terms with that and I’m doing a lot better. It’s okay to indulge sometimes, it’s just finding a balance that’s right for you. Over-indulging leads to feeling crappy, I just have to remind myself of that and make better choices.
A very important thing I’ve learned to do: read labels. You’d be surprised at all the additives they add to “healthy” or “diet” foods; it is so, so scary! High fructose corn syrup hides everywhere! Seriously, that stuff is pretty bad for you, so I try and stay away as much as possible. I can’t really avoid artificial sweeteners (splenda, equal, nutrasweet) because too much sugar makes me super sick still, so that’s one thing I use frequently (much to Mark’s dismay). I’ve been recommended Stevia which is supposed to be healthier but I’ve been kind of a wuss to try it out (if anyone has tried it, let me know how you like it).
I still have a long way to go, I think, until I’m totally a super-healthy eater; but I have come a long, long way. I won’t sit here and say that it’s easy to completely change your eating habits but I will say that it’s not impossible. It’s a daily battle and sometimes it’s just as simple as picking a banana or apple to snack on instead of a candy bar or chips. And mostly it’s just thinking before putting food in your mouth; ask yourself “Do I really need this right now?”, “Am I actually hungry or just bored?”, “Is this the best thing I can eat?” and so on; it really helps a lot. So, that’s my story; I hope this helped in clarifying how I changed what I eat and how it has totally changed my life.
How about you? Have you always liked healthy food or were you a fast-food junkie like me? What helped you start eating healthier?