Now if you know me, you will know that the cold and rain in winter is something I cannot stand. So taking the opportunity of my eighteenth birthday, I have escaped to Fiji for a week’s holiday with my family.
It is so beautiful here, the lush growth of nature is breathtaking, and really reminds me to appreciate our earth, to take care of it. The culture is unique and the locals are all very friendly. I’m thoroughly enjoying my stay here!
Of course the first stop we made after our arrival was to the local market! I was able to buy bananas, pineapples, watermelons, oranges, papaya and root vegetables all at such a great price. I bought enough to last me the week, so that is me sorted! Okay enough of my rambling, now onto what you came to this post for:
Near a month ago, I decided to make a lifestyle change and became vegan, since then I have received many emails and Instagram comments with your questions, which I will hopefully be able to answer for you in this post. But first I feel like it’s time for me to tell you all my story, by giving a brief outline of my health and diet over the past few years- If you are easily triggered or would rather not read the following long paragraphs, please feel free to scroll past to the Q&A’s.
Before my diagnosis of anorexia in 2012, my life was what I would call near perfect, I was involved in a huge variety of activities (dancing, swimming, cheer-leading, horse riding, badminton, piano, just to name a few), I had amazing friends, I was doing exceptionally well in school and most importantly I was happy. However, within the short span of those months, my whole world became obsessively revolved around food, numbers, size, appearance; I was consumed by those feelings of guilt, remorse, exceedingly negative thoughts, and constant urges of suicide. All that was on my mind was how to eat less, weigh less, care less, constantly devising new lies to convince others I was “fine”, that I “wasn’t hungry”…
For a long time I struggled to recover, rebounding back and forth between recovery and relapse. It wasn’t till near the start of this year (2014) I was able to fully commit to recovery. Many of you girls have emailed me asking how I did it, what my motivation was, how I pushed through, and my answer is always the same, you NEED to put your health first. Why? Because without your health, you have nothing. You will never be able to experience all the wonders in life or accomplish your goals. You to understand and believe (even if it means forcing yourself) that health is your ultimate priority- how small the numbers on the scale are, whether your thighs touch or your hip bones, ribcage or collarbones show… they are all vanity and mean nothing at the end of the day!
In April this year I discovered Freelee’s Youtube Channel, I ended up spending the next four hours watching her videos, I just couldn’t stop! I was so astonished and enlightened about the vegan lifestyle, I love how she refers to it as a lifestyle of “abundance”, because that is such an accurate description! After a couple weeks of research, I was convinced that this was the change I wanted and needed to make in my life. Not just for my own health, but for the benefit of the animals and to make our earth a better place. I communicated with my parents about becoming vegan, explaining to them that it would mean excluding all animal products and byproducts from my diet. Initially they were quite against my decision, concerned that this “restrictive” diet may cause me to relapse. But over time as I was able to prove to them that I was doing this for my health, the planet and the animals. I constantly showed them videos and articles regarding the benefits of veganism- both physically and mentally, like myself they were also very surprised. After a month, I think I have successfully convinced mum about the benefits of being vegan, she even told me that she’s deciding to make this transition too in the near future!
So that is my story in three concise paragraphs! Now onto my update of being vegan. I feel beyond amazing, it is the first time I feel as though I have rediscovered my life before anorexia. I have so much energy throughout the day, I’m completely satisfied after meals, my digestion has improved immensely (sorry for the possible TMI..) my skin is more glowy and has cleared up, my hair has become softer and stronger again, my nails no longer break easily (for those who have asked what I do for my nails- other than nourishing my body with the abundant vegan diet, nothing else!)
What do I eat as a vegan?
I follow a High Carbohydrate Low Fat (HCLF) vegan diet, meaning I receive the majority of my daily intake from carbohydrates- I generally aim for 85%-90, I keep track of this using cronometer. My diet which mainly consists of fruit and vegetables, these are the purest and best forms of carbohydrates for our body to digest and assimilate. ALWAYS buy organic if you can!
For breakfast, I usually have a bowl of oatmeal or porridge (recipes for both can be found on my blog) along with fresh fruits. I have a snack of fruits, maybe 5 bananas and 5 dates before lunch. For lunch if I am home I will have a banana smoothie, consisting of 8-10 bananas- frozen or fresh, dates, coconut sugar and water blended up. If I am out and about, I usually have 18-20 pieces of sushi and some bananas. As afternoon tea I will have more fruits, 3-5 persimmons or 10 mandarins. For dinner I boil (steaming or baking is fine too, remember to keep it low fat!) vegetables, I focus on root vegetables because they are most starchy, but don’t forget about greens as well! An example of dinner would be 2-3 large potatoes, 2 carrots, parsnip, 5-6 small sweet potatoes, 5 leaves of kale, a quarter head of cabbage, 1-2 tomatoes. If I get hungry before bed I’ll have couple more bananas!
Yes, it is a lot of food, for those who have asked, I try to eat around 2500-3000calories a day, depending on my level of exercise (This will vary from person to person, so do not use this as your reference!) The biggest mistake people make when transitioning to the vegan lifestyle is that they do not eat enough! You need to be smashing in those carbohydrates as Freelee says, if you feel hungry during the day then EAT, no don’t wait till your next meal, EAT NOW! Carbohydrates are our body’s fuel and for some reason its all over the media that carbohydrates make you fat, this is such a common misconception and is completely false! Carbohydrates will not make you fat!
Is it hard becoming and being vegan?
The answer to this question will differ between each individual, because it depends greatly on their past dietary habits. Therefore, I can only speak for myself, personally becoming vegan was very easy for me, I have always loved eating fruits and vegetables, but like many others I always thought that fruit contained “too much sugar”. So I was very delighted when I discovered the concept of HCLF, knowing that I was able to eat as much fruit as I wanted! However I understand that it may be more difficult for others, but I promise you if you persist through, it does get easier, and over time the cravings you may have for other foods will decrease and you will feel more attracted towards eating healthy vegan foods.
In terms of the expense, I must admit that the prices of organic fruits and vegetables are quite steep. But personally, my health is something I am willing to spend more money on, even if it means compromising other factors in life. Depending on where you are located as well as where you shop for your fruits and vegetables the price will vary. I always try to buy my week’s worth of food at once, because buying in bulk will be relatively cheaper. I also generally steer away from supermarkets and opt for farmers/ fruit markets, not only are the fruits fresher but they’re usually sold at a friendlier price.
Preparing and eating vegan meals are as easy or as difficult as you make them. If you have a lot of time on your hands, then feel free to put together an elaborate fruit platter. However if you’re in a rush, you can simply grab 8-10 bananas, 6-8 mangos or 10-15 persimmons on the go! When dining out, most restaurants will have vegetarian dishes that can easily be altered into a vegan friendly dish. Don’t be shy to ask the waiter, you will discover that you will still be able to dine out and enjoy a beautiful healthy vegan dish!
Did you experience breakouts during your transition?
Breakouts are one of the symptoms of detox, as your body is undergoing a stage of cleansing and rejuvenation. The extent of these symptoms will vary depending on the individual.
As I was always a fairly clean eater, prior to becoming vegan I had cut out most desserts, and hadn’t had a fastfood meal in over two years. Therefore I was lucky enough not to experience any detox symptoms, my skin is now much clearer and brighter, not to mention those undersurface spots have all gone away. However it is completely normal if you do, and likewise to cravings, once you endure past those initial few weeks/ months your skin will defiantly improve.
Did you gain/ lose weight after becoming vegan?
Again, like the question about breakouts, whether or not you gain or lose weight after becoming vegan varies from each individual. Following a vegan diet is the best way for your body to find it’s optimal healthy weight in the long term; depending on where you’re starting, it may mean weight gain or weight loss. However, it is normal for people to gain weight because you may be eating a lot more that before, but don’t let that discourage you! Please trust your body, your metabolism will eventually catch up, and your body will find it’s happy weight for you to be the healthiest you have ever been!
These were the most frequent questions I received, I’m sorry if I did not answer your question in this post. Feel free to flick me an email an I will do my best to reply.
Now I’m off to take a walk along the beach and enjoy that sunshine! Hope you all have a lovely week!
Love, Jenny xxx