February 21, 2014

my long journey with food and why I eat the way I do. {plant-based/vegetarian/vegan}

As I sit here to write this post, I'm not totally sure where to even start.  My journey with food has been so up and down and fluctuated tremendously throughout my life.  It's only been in the last year and a half that I have really listened to what my body is crying for and actually completely changed everything about my eating habits.  I have always been interested in health and would almost always choose something healthy over junk food.  I always considered myself knowledgable and healthy, but it just never was quite good enough and I really didn't know as much as I thought.

Let me rewind to about 2 years ago.  I have always had a sensitive stomach and tried to band-aid the issue with bouts of healthy eating and then would find myself slipping back into weaknesses, such as ice cream and other treats and sugary-processed foods.  But 2 years ago my stomach had had enough and really let me know it.  I felt like my body hated me.  I still ignored the issue though and it wasn't until after Nick and I got married that I really started to worry.  I would wake up in the middle of the night curled up in pain, crying, and screaming.  (Talk about a fun way to be a newlywed- poor Nick!)  It felt like every time I would eat, my stomach got mad and eventually I would dread putting anything into my mouth for fear of the pain and ending up doubled over.  I couldn't even eat an apple anymore without pain.  I was constantly lethargic, completely unmotivated, feeling depressed, and totally embarrassed that I felt this way at my age.  I ended up at the doctor at least twice a week, had countless blood tests done, had an endoscopy and a colonoscopy, and I saw a 2 G.I. specialists.  After all of these tests I was told that I had severe inflammation in my stomach and sores along my colon.  If I wasn't careful it could get worse, and I would need to be careful to watch my diet in the future otherwise I would experience flare-ups.  I have IBS.  Thankfully, it could be worse, but it still easily affects me to this day if I am not careful.

I began this journey extremely frustrated.  The doctors did absolutely nothing to help me except to just put what I felt like were more band-aids on the situation (i.e. medication).  I tried all of the pills they gave me and hated every second of it.  I felt even more lethargic than before and it didn't seem to really get to the root of the issues and it bothered me.  I hate the idea of putting medication into my body especially all of the time and decided to dig in and do some research myself and took matters into my own hands.

During this time, Nick found several documentaries on food that we watched and immediately we were both disgusted by what we learned and decided that change was necessary.  That combined with the research I had been obsessively doing led us into a primarily whole foods/plant-based diet.  We cut out all meat (with the exception of some fish now and then // by the way, for those of you wondering, Nick is actually the one who first asked me if we could be vegetarian- it was his idea!), dairy, refined sugar, and nearly all processed foods.  Some people probably read that and freak out.  "What do you even eat then?"  "That must be so hard and limiting!"  "Where on earth do you get your protein from?" (By the way that is the most annoying question!)  I won't dive into extreme detail in this post, but to put it simply:  A whole new world of food has been opened up to us in the last year and half.  I can truly say that I have never ever felt as good or healthy as I do today.  Some people worry about counting calories, and that is something that I never need to do.  We eat a plant-based diet which allows us to get all (and yes I mean all) of the nutrients that we need and to eat as much as we want and always feel satisfied.  Steering clear of foods induced with unnatural hormones and chemicals has really changed how we feel.  This doesn't mean that we don't indulge now and then, because heck, if I want a Sprinkles cupcake, then I am going to eat one.  If I want some triscuits, then I'll eat a few.  But as soon as I feel my body crying out for help and feel a flare-up coming on then I cut back.

This is not a diet, it's a lifestyle.  I am passionate about this.  I have seen first-hand in my own life and in the lives of close family members how food plays such a role in how we feel and the way we can operate in daily life.  I am considering going back to school for a degree in Holistic Nutrition even though I already have a degree with some nutrition background.  People need to be educated.  One of the new goals I have in this blog is to inform you of some of what I have learned and to show you how easy, delicious, and wonderful this lifestyle is.  I want to share some of my recipes that I've created as well as some of my favorites that I've tried from other sources. 

I will be shocked if you made it through that to the end of this post.  But if you did, thank you so much for reading and I really am so excited to share with you some of what I've learned and what I continue to learn throughout this journey!

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  1. Oh my goodness Jenn, what an inspiring read. I am so glad you and nick both took a stand and together are living a healthier lifestyle! I cannot wait to read more!

    Happy Weekend to the Johnson's :)

    xo, Kylie Rae

  2. Jenn, I am enrolled in the holistic health coaching program with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Check it out, it seems like it would be something you might be interested in?!

    Miss you!


Thank you for your sweet comments - I read each one!