Today I wanted to talk to you about my move towards eating vegetarian from being mostly vegan (I did very occasionally have treats of fro-yo). A lot of people ask me why I went vegan in the first place. As a child I could only manage to eat chicken in terms of meat without me either chewing on it for an hour or throwing it back up and even then it was only in the form of chicken nuggets, dippers, fingers etc so not even real chicken! I then just got fed up of having these and went veggie. When my ED hit and I was put into clinics I suddenly changed to ‘liking’ chicken again simply because my anorexia did not like the vegetarian alternatives which ALWAYS consisted of full fat cheese and this was a big no no for my illness. Chicken seemed like a safer non-fatty option and so I made myself go with the safer option simply for the sake of my weight gain. How ridiculous. When I got back home it was safe to say I went back to being veggie but with safe options, non-fat yogurts, egg whites, non fat cottage cheese and I practically lived on these along with fruits and veggies so I never faced my fear of fats and gained any weight. When I decided on recovery I wanted to face my fear but in a healthy way. I knew that it could be possible to gain weight in a way that I could cope with. So I turned to veganism. As a vegan I would have to face my fear of fats; nuts, nut butters, higher fat protein alternatives, hummus, oils, dark chocolate. I convinced myself that this would be okay to cope with. They were healthy and even though I was terrified of the change, making that change would be important in staying away from my ‘safe foods’ and giving me a chance of recovery. It turned out that the decision turned out well…:)
So the past few months I have turned back to dairy now that I no longer have foods that I label as ‘bad’ and am quite content with how I manage myself in terms of diet. Dairy has been a controversial aspect of our diets for a while now. You’ll find so many articles out there on why going dairy-free is good for you. There’s stuff on helping your digestion, helping acne, helping all kinds of problems. But the fact is, is that we are brought up on dairy from birth so there must be some good in it. Okay so obviously there is the calcium aspect that prevents osteoporosis (important for underweight people, previous sufferers of an ED and elderly people) but of course there are plenty of other non-dairy sources.
I feel personally dairy is just something that either works for you or doesn’t. If it gives you problems and you find eliminating it helps you health-wise, then great. That is the same with me and gluten. Since being gluten free I have had far fewer stomach issues and on the occasion when I’ve given in to gluten, I have noticed the effects and been ill for days at a time. If dairy does that to you then I know from experience it’s just not worth the pain.
For me personally though, adding dairy back into my daily diet has had a huge benefit. I loved being vegan, I really did and I still eat probably 60% vegan and it is still a huge passion of mine, especially the raw vegan aspect, after the wonders it did in my recovery. But of course I had to watch out for milk in products all the time so more is now available to me which is nice. But with my gluten free diet too, well it was definitely more of a restriction..I didn’t find it impossible though and I coped with eating out well every time so it never prevented me from going out for meals. However now I only have to look out for the gluten aspect and eating out has become a lot easier again. More importantly though for me, it has helped me health-wise.
Since eating dairy I have not once ‘binged’ or felt out of control with my eating. I do still have indulgent days as every sane human should! But being vegan I had phases of day after day binging, especially in times of stress and it did really upset me. It felt very much out of control and despite my efforts to cut back, restrict even, of course it always backfired on me even more. Eating dairy I feel more satisfied and never hungry but never stuffed until I am uncomfortable. I feel like the amount I eat is in control, is a healthy amount for me, and although I managed to maintain my weight despite my occasional ‘binges’ being vegan, it is far easier to do so now that I’m in control I finally feel at peace with my eating and this has had a major positive impact on my mental well being and in fact I have even managed to lose some body fat with my new fitness plan added.
And as far as other problems that people link with dairy, well I’ve had none. My skin has never been perfect since my teens but it hasn’t gotten any worse. I just have the usual breakouts particularly at that time of the month. I can’t link any of my digestive problems to the times when I eat dairy. So all in all, for me it works.
What do you think about the dairy debate?
Have you added something back/taken something out in your diet? Why?