I have changed my diet for different reasons a variety of times. My first few years of uni, like most students, I put on quite a bit of weight. My diet was filled with takeouts, Mi Goreng noodles, eggs on toast and eating at restaurants (I was lucky that most restaurants in Hamilton have cheap student nights).
One summer I read Dr Libby’s book ‘Beauty From The Inside Out’. I had already started to take an interest in going to the gym but after reading her book I decided I needed to work on my diet, lose some weight and get “super toned like all the Instagram girls”. (Not really the message of Dr Libby at all but somehow that is what my mind got out of it).
This started my dieting obsession. I went through phases of trying every type of diet; vegetarian, gluten free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. I was very strict on myself giving myself a cheat meal once a week and that’s it. Food and the food I was putting in my body were constantly on my mind, especially whether it was a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food.
I was going to the gym twice a day. At 6 am I would go to the gym to do fasted cardio, come home and eat breakfast followed by a snack, lunch, afternoon tea, another weighted gym session and then dinner. My life was involved around the food I was putting in my mouth and the exercise I was putting out.
When I got a cheat meal, it was more like a cheat three meals than anything. I would get a combo from Mcdonalds followed by cupcakes thinking it was okay because it was my “cheat meal” and wouldn’t harm my health. I would sneak chocolate bars into my room and eat them where no one could see me “cheating” on my diet.
Looking back I was miserable and not living my life at all. I had to force myself to the gym, force myself to eat ‘healthy’. The hardest part during this time is that physically you are getting the results you want, your are looking better but you still feel like something is missing. My emotional, spiritual and mental aspects of life were not being fulfilled.
I love food and eating, I always have. It is a big part of my family and to me, food and eating is a way to bring people together and share good times with one another around amazing tasting food. I took all of this away and hid it in a corner because it didn’t fit in with what I think I wanted and the body that I wanted.
After spending countless nights eating alone in my room and never really seeing any friends, something clicked. Thanks to a lot of friends pushing me to get out and skip the gym to hang out with them or come out for cheese and wines I started to realise it’s not a big deal if I don’t go to the gym one day or eat some cheese and enjoy a wine.
I started to enjoy living again and learnt not to feel guilty about eating so-called ‘bad foods’. I read more of Dr Libby’s books and discovered the real meaning behind whole food eating rather than my skewed meaning of this when I read the first book.
Even before my diagnosis, I started to embrace more of an 80/20 diet lifestyle. 80% of the week I would eat generally healthy whole foods. Not particularly following any particular style of eating (vegetarian, gluten free or dairy free) as I didn’t have any known allergies at this time. I would eat plenty of veggies, fruits, and meat in their whole food forms and removed processed foods from my life. The other 20% of my life I would eat whatever my body wanted and not feel guilty about it.
Just like anyone, motivation comes and goes and some weeks my dietary lifestyle is more 60/40 depending on what’s going on in my life but I don’t let it get me down or feel guilty.
This style of whole food balanced eating allows you to concentrate on your physical aspect and liking what you see in the mirror as well as improving your emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing as well. Since this style of approach to my dietary lifestyle, I have never had more energy, happier or looked this good.
It is a long process, a lot longer than a quick weight loss fix, but it will be worth it long term.