Have you ever been down in the dumps? I mean, really, truly, depressed, flailing, lost, sad, emotional?
I didn't think so.
But hypothetically, if you ever had been in such a place, you might start to feel a certain desperation.
That's basically where I've been the last eight months.
If you're at all familiar with my site, there are a few places I've written about intuitive eating and my journey away from yo-yo dieting. One of the things that's made it so difficult to not diet is the fact that eating was the only way I knew how to manage my emotions. Upset, sad, lonely, angry? Pop a bag of potato chips on the couch and get to work! Then once I'd gained 20 - 30 pounds, I'd flip the recipe for emotional management and start using dieting as a substitute for potato chips -- upset, sad, lonely, angry? Shove it away with intense exercise, restrictive eating, under-eating, over-eating, you name it.
Finding the balance, staying in touch with my emotions, eating mindfully -- all these things I'm committed to in my heart, but they take a lot of practice and patience and gentleness (something that dieting doesn't cultivate in anyone!). Not surprisingly, I gained quite a bit of weight in this recent season of life. Our software business is cray. My friendships have been all over the map. I'm in my second year of marriage to a wonderful guy, but WHOA can marriage bring up some gnarly inner stuff. I kept trying to get back in touch with what I knew I needed (gentleness, slow, intentional eating), but instead I would just soooooaaaaarrr past anything healthy, good, or kind for me and devour any and all food products.
Enter: the desperation. I've been in a lot of pain. Many mornings I'd wake up with a stomach so distended I'd swear I was 5 months pregnant (I'm not). I began choking in my sleep, coughing incessantly, clearing my throat like some throat-clearing maniac, and I would sleep upwards of 15 hours a day with my trademark afternoon naps. I could. not. stay. awake. Finally, at the urging of my psychiatrist and therapist, I went to see a nurse practitioner. She surmised it might be silent reflux (a form of acid reflux) and suggested I try to change a few things in my diet.
Intermission: Have I mentioned that my grandmother was a homeopathic doctor (aka a witch doctor)? Have I mentioned that we basically were taught that laxatives and echinacea could cure any and every ailment? Grandma was all about self reliance ("God helps those who help themselves, Amanda!"). So I began researching silent reflux and was convinced that everything delicious in life was now off-limits.
No chocolate, no tomatoes, no fizzy drinks, low sugar, no fatty meats and more.
Something in me clicked.
"I don't like meat that much anyway."
With silent reflux, your stomach takes a long time to process things -- and fatty things like fried foods, fatty steaks, butter, etc., weigh it down tremendously (often causing pain in the stomach because there's not enough acid to process the food).
I knew cutting out meat wouldn't matter that much to me because I only like it when it's topped with lump crab and hollandaise sauce (the latter now also being eliminated for its stomach-heavy toll).
Exit: meat, Enter: curiosity
So I became curious. I knew a handful of friends who'd made the switch to mostly plant-based eating. I've read the research about how large amounts of meat aren't necessarily good for me (or at least, other things were likely more nutritious). So I thought I'd give this no-meat eating a try, though I was a bit cautious.
One of the biggest things about intuitive eating is enjoying the things you eat and finding food that's delicious and satiating and satisfying. I didn't like the idea of just cutting out a few "trigger" foods for my acid reflux. I wanted a way to make these foods delicious and enjoyable and satisfying.
So like all good women on an adventure, I turned to Facebook for advice and was introduced to this cook book.
And the rest is history.
I'm on week 6 of plant-based eating, and I'm tremendously surprised.
I feel amazing.
I'm not napping every day.
Each day I wake up and my clothes FIT (I've only had one or two days where my clothes were a little snug due to inflammation).
I feel optimistic about the future (well, optimistic most days -- entrepreneurism is still tough, y'all).
And I LOVE what I'm eating.
Everything tastes good. I eat as much as I want. I take a break between each bite to smell the fresh flowers that are on my table. And I say "thank you" with each bite.
Thank you, this tastes so good. Thank you, this feels so good. Thank you, I'm here today.
As a way to say thank you, I'm creating a plant-based starter guide for anyone interested in adding more plant-based goodness to their kitchen.
I'll be posting it next week with links and tips.