DISCLAIMER: These are my opinions based on my own experiences in life and I don’t mean to offend anyone or pressure anyone into doing anything they don’t want to. However, I am absolutely against practicing unhealthy eating habits and encouraging eating disorders. In writing this, I tried to be mindful and not write in a way that might be triggering for someone.
I began dieting when I was around 11 due to a mix of remarks about my body from people at school and also through years of comments from family members about being chubby and a little overweight so much so that most of my childhood I had high cholesterol and a good chance of becoming diabetic like my brother had at my age. Moreover, my mom had always been into trying new “diets” out like cleanses, food programs and weight loss supplements/pills. This was definitely not a healthy environment growing up in that regard.
So at 11 I began experiments for what came to be around 6 years trying out different “diet” fads, weight loss pills and intense workout routines. Basically it was limiting my calorie intake and over-exercising what I ate off (and much more). And I remember at one point, after finding in my diaries my diet journals, that I kept restrictions really low between 400 and 600 calories depending on how much exercise I would do that day and was exercising for hours on end, as much as 4 hours a day. Definitely not healthy. And while I lost a substantial amount of weight and stopped being berated by doctors, my skin was pale and my hair was brittle and I was generally very unhappy and prone to mood swings that led me to pick fights with family.
It was also during this time that I became vegetarian and having nobody around me that was (or in particular an adult that was) vegetarian as well, took its toll on me as I was basically just experimenting with my life, not really educated about supplements and what I was supposed to be eating and not finding support from doctors and nutritionists.
And it wasn’t until my last year of high school that I stopped the dieting, became vegan and just began eating what I wanted and how much I wanted but a lot of processed vegan goods which were high in sugar and fat. This pretty much went on until this past year when I really dedicated time to learning how to cook, eating more whole foods and unprocessed foods in my effort to be healthier, and more educated about veganism and low-waste living.
And now, learning more about what kinds of foods my body needs and how it makes me feel, I don’t have erratic mood swings anymore, my skin is clearer and hair is shinier and I’m overall a much happier person. I began learning and finding community in the blog world and on Youtube which reinforced my decision to live a vegan lifestyle and find better ways of being happier and a better person in the world. Overall, I’m just quite against diets because they base themselves on restricting one’s food intake, not-fun exercise and are pretty temporary. That’s why incorporating veganism into my life and not just my diet was so important because it made it a way of life for me, on my mind when I make decisions from what clothes I buy to how I eat out and how I interact with others. For me it’s been more than just staying away from animal-based food products. And I’m also against dieting because, in my experience, those were the saddest moments in my life when I felt most isolated and self-conscious about myself and I’m really not about going back to those sorts of negative feelings. I also think it was quite unfortunate growing up being surrounded by so many negative resources on the internet that promote bad eating habits and eating trends focusing on physical appearance rather than health and happiness. Being so young at the time and not really being aware of the resources around me and generally not having much support during that time was really damaging on my self-esteem and cognition which took a long time to amend. Even now I still struggle with negative thoughts about food and body appearance but I’m working on it.
Now my practice is, like I mentioned, trying to eat as low-waste and whole as possible but not limiting myself to how much I eat, not feeling bad about having the occasional glazed donut (like the one on the cover photo) and not berating people on their own journeys to self discovery or shaming people’s life practices regarding food or otherwise.
The most important thing to remember is that health and happiness are what’s most important and that every body is a wonderful body that allows one to do things like breathe, create art, climb mountains, pet lions and write. And for that I’m very grateful.