Even though I have been eating my whole life I don’t feel like my food journey begin until I was in my tweens. What I mean is, until that moment I wasn’t doing much thinking about what I was putting in my body. You see, I was a chubby child (probably overweight at times). I wasn’t eating a ton of food, but I also wasn’t eating the right types of foods a lot of the time. I don’t think it clicked for me until I received a call from my doctor’s office saying I had borderline high triglycerides. I started eating more vegetables (this wasn’t terribly hard since my mom was a great cook) and added in more fruit to my diet.
Then I started college and moved away from home. My freshman year my eating habits were terrible-I had no set meal times and wasn’t eating very much. During my longer days on campus I could go all day with a granola bar and a bag of chips. I have no idea what I was thinking. Looking back on that I have no idea how I managed because nowadays this girl would be hangry if she went without food all day! I’m not sure what happened, but that changed after that first year. I ate more and found out that I tended to do better if I had prepped snacks around. All I will say about that is that I ate my weight in cantaloupe and pineapple during those days. Due to my newly found appetite I had my firsts with Thai food (to this day I crave pad thai like nobody’s business) and sushi (I love the raw stuff).
It wasn’t until after I was out of college that I really started paying attention to nutrition. I feel like this was when the light bulb truly went on for me. The switch that turned on that light? Food blogs! I had never been so excited about food. I started reading nutrition labels AND ingredient labels. I found out about shopping the perimeter of the grocery stores. I was already eating fruits and vegetables, but I was still eating quite a few processed foods. Instead of giving up on the foods I loved (pre-made baked goods ugh so good!) I started making them on my own. I knew exactly what was going into my food. It was wonderful!
Okay, so it was wonderful for a while until the day that I had the worst craving for some ice-cream. Yes, I could have tried making it myself, but I felt like I NEEDED some Ben & Jerry’s. I had never intentionally deprived myself of any type of food during all my years of living. I tried to fight the craving, but it just seemed to get stronger. I have had people tell me that when they have cravings for sweets, they eat fruit and it’s magically gone. My friends, I am not that person. I ate the fruit and I still wanted ice-cream. What is a girl to do? This girl got the ice-cream, ate the ice-cream and magically the craving dissipated into thin air. Funny how that works…
This episode lead me to finding out about the 80/20 lifestyle. I ate whole, nutrient filled foods 80% of the time and let myself eat whatever else the other 20%. This may sound crazy, but I actually love vegetables and sweets equally. Due to that love, I don’t need a ton of ice-cream or a ton of pizza to satiate my craving. I am okay with having a big salad and a couple of slices of pizza so the 80/20 lifestyle really seemed to hit home with me. It felt like something I could stick with!
It was something I stuck with until I started noticing some odd behaviors in myself. I felt guilty about not getting in my fruits and veggies. Life is filled with parties and dinners out and lunches and brunches and other fun things, but I wasn’t making any exceptions for these things. I had started eating 80/20 to not feel deprived and be able to eat what I wanted. Instead it seemed that I was just being harder on myself for not always meeting that 80/20, so I stopped.
I wanted to be able to cherish the moment and seize the day, not be concerned about my veggie intake all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I still eat nutrient dense foods a majority of the time. I just don’t beat myself up if I go a day (or three) without it. Once I stopped trying so hard to control my food I realized that my body would find balance. If I happen to have a weekend of eating that doesn’t contain as many nutrient dense foods then my body usually craves roasted vegetables and apples with peanut butter. There are days where all I need is a piece of dark chocolate for my sweet tooth and I crave whole foods the rest of the time.
I am happy to say that I feel like I have found balance with food. It hasn’t been smooth sailing to get here. I have had to fail (multiple times, mind you) to get to this place, but THIS place is wonderful!