I used to have some pretty bad eating habits. Growing up, I was privileged to be fed delicious quality, fresh, organic foods in a family that loved, mastered and cherished food. This part of my diet (aside from loads of meat, butter, bread and pasta), wasn't the worst. As research has found, eating pure, organic quality foods (even if it's french bread and butter) is better than processed bars and lean cuisines.
That's where I started to go wrong. Conscious of a rich diet from a young age and a struggle with body dysmorphia, I began the most ineffective form of consumption and weight-loss: fad-dieting. Falling for nearly every "nutrition" label and marketing scam, I chased sugar-free, low-carb, low-fat and developed an obsession with calorie-counting. I found myself down a rabbit-hole of nutrition-less, processed foods for many of my high school years. So young.
Here's what my trash-diet actually consisted of in 2011:
- An exact back-label serving size of Special K Red Berries cereal with almond milk.
- 13 blueberries (not one more)
- 1 apple
- 1 FullBar (this crazy processed bar intended to make you feel full after eating it)
- Bowl of pasta with butter and parmesan
- French bread with olive oil
- 1-3 oz of some kind of meat
- A side of veggies
- A side salad
- Skinny Cow Fudge Bar
- Graham Crackers
- Haagen Daas Ice Cream
- Literally whatever else I could get my hands on
I spent the first half of my day dizzy and tired from the minimal protein, calories and nutrients and the second half of my day bingeing my ass off to compensate for my starvation. The dumbest part is, I was getting blood tests for anemia and even lyme disease because I was so exhausted all of the time. Ever thought diet, anybody? Why didn't my doctor ever ask what I was eating? Why didn't someone call my shit out? Sadly, our medical and even nutritional system feeds off malnutrition (pill kickbacks, anyone?) and oftentimes, even professionals are miseducated.
Well the pendulum had to swing, as it always does with extreme/fad dieting. In college I ate whatever the hell I wanted whenever I wanted.
Here's what my trash-diet actually consisted of in 2014:
- A coconut Chobani Greek Yogurt (SO MUCH SUGAR HOLY GOD)
- 1 banana (still a f*ck-ton of sugar)
- 1 multigrain sandwich thin stuffed with organic turkey deli meat, some spinach and loads of sharp cheddar cheese
- Hot sauce always
- A Kind Bar
- Some processed hummus and pretzels
- Maybe some chips
- Lemon chicken breast (in lots of butter)
- Maybe some veggies
- Literally half a cake
- Some hot chocolate
- Maybe a vanilla latte?
I seriously didn't give a shit about what I was putting in my body. I was freeing myself from restrictions, baking cakes, shoveling chocolate and chugging down caffeine whenever the heck I felt tired - even if that was 11 PM.
Once I gained 25 pounds in 4 months from that diet and busted the zipper of my favorite shorts on the dance floor at Squid Roe, I decided this life wasn't sustainable. I was getting sick all the time, my body chemistry was all out of whack and my skin was also trash. Mmm, mm college.
I went on two mind-shatteringly torturous juice cleanses before realizing something had to give. I needed to live healthily. I needed to energize myself.
I spent a summer on Maui hiking every single day and doing my grocery shopping at all the farmer's markets. Fresh kale, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, fruits, avocados, lemons, garlic, onions, limes, basil and cabbage slowly crept their way into diet and my life flipped upside down. I connected so deeply with this incredibly alive produce, that I traded processed for fresh and began enjoying the process of cooking and creating.
In 2016, here's what my non-trash diet began consisting of:
- 1/2 large banana
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1 cup coconut milk
- Pure chocolate vegan protein powder from Sun Warrior
- 3/4 cup organic blueberries
- 1.25 cups coconut milk
- 1.5 tablespoons raw cacao powder
- 2 tsp flax seed oil
- 1.5 tsp spirulina powder
- 1 tsp ashwaganda powder
- 1/2 tsp maca powder
- 1/4 tsp mucuna pruriens powder
- 4-5 droplets of liquid stevia
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 cup chopped raw nuts (almonds, walnuts)
- 1/4 cup fruit (bananas, blueberries, dried goldenberries, figs)
- 1 tsp flax seed oil
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
~ 4/7 days a week, I start my day with a homemade matcha latte with 1.5 tsp ceremonial grade matcha, 3/4 cup coconut milk and 1/2 tsp raw honey. Turns out, coffee is too harsh and acidic for me.
Raw Vegan Pesto Tacos
- 2 red cabbage shells (for use as taco shells)
- Vegan pesto (my fave easy recipe here - use this to "butter" red cabbage shells before filling them)
- 2 cups leafy kale massaged in olive oil, pinch of salt and plenty of lemon juice (to fill the red cabbage shells)
- 1/2 avocado (to top each shell)
- 6 quartered strawberries (to top each shell)
Zesty Avocado Toast
- 1/2 - 1 whole avocado
- 1/4 cup sprouts or arugula
- 6 quartered cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/4 tsp - 1/2 tsp tajín
- Squeeze of lemon juice
- Carrots + hummus
- Mixed roasted nuts
- Sautéed spinach with garlic and lemon
Chickpea Pasta + Veggies
- 1 cup of chickpea pasta (a f*cking GAME changer)
Warm Mediterranean Grain Bowl
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup roasted garlic-broccoli
- 1/2 small roasted sweet potato, chopped into bite-size bits
- 1/4 avocado
- 3 tbsp hummus (homemade is best and cheapest, recipe here)
- Sprinkle of nutritional yeast
- Squeeze of lemon + pinch of salt
Healthy Mexican Mix - make tacos, a burrito or a bowl
- 2 Siete Grain-Free tortillas (another freakin' miracle of a product)
- 1/2 cup mashed pinto or black beans (I always add 1 clove of garlic and 1/2 tsp cumin powder)
- 1/4 cup cooked quinoa or brown rice (optional - great for bowl option, as a filling or as a side)
- 1/2 avocado
- 10 quartered cherry tomatoes
- 3 leaves chopped romaine lettuce
- 1/4 white onion sautéed or chopped
- Guacamole (fave recipe)
- Salsa + hot sauce of your choice (my FAVE here)
- Lime on everything
- A square (or two) of salted-caramel dark chocolate
- An occasional scoop of ice cream/fro-yo
Look at all those flippin' nutrients!
All of these recipes are some of my absolute favorites. I do eat out a few times a week and though I try to make healthier choices, I also don't deprive myself. I have found a newfound romance with greens and veggies, an adoration for innovative vegan and vegetarian meals, and am always looking to add nutritional value, flavor and authenticity to my foods. Doing my best to eat seasonally, locally and ethically is the name of my game. My body (and mind!) is healthier, stabler, stronger and happier than ever.
Questions to ask yourself:
How much coffee/caffeine are you drinking?
How much sugar are you eating?
How many processed foods are you eating?
How much dairy are you ingesting?
How hard are you bingeing at night/the afternoon?
How much meat are you devouring?
Here's my biggest tip in terms of adopting a healthier diet and lifestyle: replace. Don't think of making adjustments as "cutting things out" (though you naturally will), think of it as making awesome replacements. This will help you stick to the good changes in a healthy way without starving or bingeing.
Eat your veggies, ditch the wrappers.
You got this, beauties.