Why I follow a plant-based diet
I'm not going to get into the health benefits or even the environmental benefits of following a plant-based diet (of which there are many). I am however going to tell you how following a plant-based diet helped me break free from a very destructive diet mentality, one that kept me in a cycle of deprivation and guilt and at times felt all consuming.
After university I was the heaviest I'd ever been; all those alcohol-filled nights and daily pasties (my weakness was flakey pastry) finally caught up with me. So like many girls I turned to the high protein diet: a diet promising quick results from the 'simple' elimination of carbs and sugar. It sounded simple enough and I was willing to give anything a go. Fast forward a couple of months and I was stuck in a cycle of restriction and binging. I'd follow the high protein diet, lose weight and then fall off the wagon. After I'd consumed a substantial amount of chocolate, biscuits, pizza and ice-cream, administered a huge dose of guilt and self-loathing to myself and gained all the weight back, I'd go back on the dreaded restrictive high protein diet.
This was a cycle I continued for about a year and a half. With each dieting attempt I became more restrictive and the negative emotions grew stronger.
If you're stuck in this cycle you'll know exactly what I'm talking about - it's simply exhausting and feels never-ending!
My mind was a constant battleground of emotions - it felt like every waking moment was occupied with the thought of food. One day after pining for a bowl of fruit, I realised I'd hit breaking point, I was mentally exhausted and literally couldn't stand the thought of eating another piece of meat. I knew I couldn't continue like this, so decided to follow a plant-based diet for 30 days to give my body a break from meat. It was this decision that literally changed my life and lasted more than 30 days.
Immediately I started to feel different! Not because I was eating amazingly healthy food but because my attitude towards food shifted. I just starred to eat whatever I wanted as long as it was plant-based. If I wanted a big bowl of pasta I ate a big bowl of pasta packed with lots of veggies and a homemade tomato sauce. Every time that little voice tried to guilt me into eating less or avoiding foods I simply repeated to myself:
"you can eat whatever you like and as much as you like as long as it's plant-based"
and that's pretty much what I did for the next 6 months - I stopped calorie counting and gave up my obsession with a carb free diet. It was truly liberating!
In those first six months I really started to re-connect with my body. I learnt to identify if my cravings were emotionally or nutritionally derived, and because no food groups were forbidden (proteins, carbs, fats or sugars), I naturally found a healthy eating rhythm that was effortless and sustainable. In those six months I slowly but constantly lost the weight I had gained at university, and did it without restricting how much food I ate - best of all I did it without the guilt, self-loathing or boredom I'd endured on other diets.
Making the switch to a plant-based diet renewed my love for food and cooking. I no longer look at food as something naughty or forbidden, it's something delicious, nutritious and enjoyable. I no longer feel like I'm missing out or beat myself up about wanting to eat bread, pasta or chocolate - I've learnt to make healthy nutrient-packed versions of all the foods I loved. It was this one decision that allowed me to break the dieting cycle for good, take back control, eat real food, lose weight and keep it off! In time it's also improved my overall health and increased my energy levels - I'm happy to say it had a snowballing effect of positive side effects on my life and that's the biggest reason I still follow a plant-based diet.
So if you're struggling with your attitude towards food, or feel stuck in the never-ending dieting cycle you don't have to! Get in touch and organise a free consultation with me, I'd love to hear what's going on in your life and discuss how health coaching could help you break that cycle once and for all!