Have you ever thought about trying to eat plant-based? I had, but I never thought I would – or could – actually do it.
There were many reasons why I thought eating plant-based wasn’t really an “option” for me.
For one, I was really into chicken for a couple years; it was legitimately my favorite food. I also didn’t want to give up other animal-based foods: ice cream, Greek yogurt, and more.
Plus, it just didn’t seem like a healthy option for me because I have a background of disordered eating, poor body image, and an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise.
Whenever I read or watched documentaries about the positive effects of eating plant-based, I could feel the knot in my stomach that forms whenever I’m exposing myself to too much “triggering” nutrition or exercise information.
It’s really hard to explain, but because I have a background that’s consistent with the signs and symptoms of orthorexia, certain information about food or exercise can be triggering to me.
Because of this feeling that would come up whenever I would learn about plant-based eating (or any kind of eating habits), I would immediately return to my diet culture mindset, even if the information I was being presented was not promoting the same things diet culture does.
In my mind, “healthy” eating and “healthy” movement were so deeply entwined with diet culture that I’m still working to unravel that mess.
So for a while, I tried to basically ignore a lot of things that I learned about nutrition and exercise. Not because I thought these things were wrong, pointless, or bad advice, but because the only way to truly protect myself from spiraling back into diet culture was to block everything out for a while.
Because of my love for animal-based foods and my history with diet culture, I didn’t think I would ever be in a place where I would feel fully comfortable eating plant-based, even though I knew that it could be extremely beneficial.
But all that changed when Nick and I randomly decided to watch the documentary The Game Changers on Netflix.
It was a random weeknight in November, and we wanted to watch something before bed. Normally we would pick a light-hearted TV show and watch an episode or two, but we came across this movie and thought it looked intriguing.
I was skeptical because I had never watched a documentary about eating without having a bad taste in my mouth afterwards (pun intended), but Nick was really interested, so we decided to try it out.
We ended up watching the whole thing, and then staying up to talk about it and learn more online afterward. It was after watching this documentary that, for the first time ever, I felt like I was in the right headspace to try eating plant-based.
Mostly, I wanted to try it out because it’s been proven to help with a lot of chronic health conditions, and my family has a history of heart problems. I was diagnosed with high cholesterol in elementary school, so I wanted to see if this would be a natural way to keep that in check – because I don’t want to rely on medications for the rest of my life.
I also knew that eating plant-based can have a substantial positive impact on the planet, so that was another motivation for me.
After learning all of the facts this documentary laid out so well, I was actually excited to try out this new way of eating.
However, I knew that I didn’t want to immediately go back into a restriction mindset because that would most likely send me into another spiral of disordered eating. So instead of telling myself I couldn’t ever eat animal-based products again, I made a point to myself that I could truly eat whatever I wanted.
If I wanted to eat meat or cheese one day, I could do that. If I wanted to eat all plant-based one day, I could. It didn’t really matter; I just wanted to try eating MOSTLY plant-based.
It felt so good to know that I was trying out plant-based eating for the right reasons. I wasn’t doing this because I wanted to lose weight or felt pressure to be as healthy as I could be; I was doing it because I wanted to experiment!
my plant-based eating experience (so far)
Well, let me tell ya, the experiment went better than I expected it to.
I didn’t really have any expectations, and I haven’t had any “wild” outcomes in my plant-based eating experience (so far), but I did learn some new things about my body!
For one, the painful bloating and stomach pain that I had been experiencing on-and-off for the last couple years completely disappeared. Just like that.
It took me a while to notice, but it was such a relief once I did realize that I hadn’t experience stomach pain in a while.
This pain that I would get usually occurred after eating (not every time I ate), and it was often associated with heavy bloating and gas. Often times, I would have to lie down so that my stomach could “stretch out” in order to get comfortable.
Sometimes the pain, which could usually be pinpointed around the middle of my stomach, spread upward toward my chest, which was really hard to deal with.
I had visited my nurse practitioner about it in high school, and then a nutritionist this past spring, but no one was really sure what was going on.
But when I started eating mostly plant-based, I no longer noticed the stomach pains.
In my plant-based eating experience (so far), the only times I’ve had stomach discomfort is when I ate quite a bit of animal products, so I feel pretty confident in saying that eating plant-based has resolved those issues.
Another thing I’ve noticed since I started eating plant-based is that my stomach feels a lot “lighter” after eating because meat isn’t my primary source of food anymore. It’s a lot easier to digest other foods, and my meals don’t feel heavy on my stomach.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get my cholesterol levels tested since I started eating plant-based, but I’m looking forward to doing that in the next few months (hopefully)!
The biggest disadvantage that I’ve through my plant-based eating experience (so far) is that it’s more difficult to come up with a wide variety of meals, but this is mostly due to the fact that I haven’t been doing this for very long.
I’ve tried quite a few new things, which has been really exciting for me, but I’m still working on finding enough recipes and meals to cycle through, so that I’m not eating the same things every week.
Nick and I did get a couple vegan/vegetarian cook books for Christmas, and we’ve tried a couple things from it, all of which were delicious. But it’s definitely challenging to make new meals all the time because we don’t normally have a ton of time to cook, and we don’t want to buy a lot of extra ingredients unless we’re sure we’ll use them.
But all in all, the advantages I’ve run into throughout my plant-based eating experience (so far) outweigh the disadvantages by quite a lot.
If you’re interested in trying to eat plant-based, I say go for it! Just make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. (: It’s okay if you’re not in a headspace to try this, or if you’re just not interested. You do whatever works for you!
If you enjoyed learning about my plant-based eating experience (so far), I would love for you to share this post with family, friends, even strangers! (;
And if you resonated with anything I said, I’d love to hear about that, so leave a comment below!
Thank you so much for reading all about my plant-based eating experience (so far), and I can’t wait to share more with you next week!