How often do you eat just for the ‘sake of eating? It’s time that we take a hard look at our diet and how it’s influencing our physical and more significantly, mental health.
I stopped eating all kinds of meat around 3 years ago. My main reason to give up fish, lamp, chicken, pork, etc. was spiritual and even though I don’t regret giving up all my favourite dishes ( hello, mutton curry, hilsa fish curry…mmm) but it has not been easy to transition from a hardcore meat lover to eating dal as a form of soup in a restaurant because that’s the only veggie option available.
The truth is, when I started being a full-time vegetarian, I was pompous about nutritional choices and I genuinely assumed that I could get away by eating anything, anytime, since meat was not a prospect anymore.
Basically, in my naivete, I assumed being vegetarian meant being healthy. Simple. But boy, was I WRONG. In my initial days as a vegetarian who was on a moral high ground ( Ah, you silly fool!) I ate all kinds of high-caloric items at whatever times I felt like it.
Besides the everyday normal food, frappes, pizzas, pasta, and french fries were a daily occurrence and soon it started showing its effects. Yes, add on top microwavable lasagna, frozen butter baguettes, and chocolate brownie from Starbucks…it was a lot. And here’s the weird part, even though I was eating often, I was still constantly hungry! How about that?
My Mental Health Took A Hit
I was frequently a little low and melancholic. It is hard to explain how I felt at that time but it was like I felt continually heavy ( mentally and physically) and not hopeful. It was a strange time also because of the COVID pandemic, locked up inside the house, uncertainty about life and its meaning…phew…I am so glad that phase passed us all. Also Read: I Added These Protein-Rich Items To My Diet
Did I Stop Working Out?
No, and on the contrary, I worked out even more intensely and trained around 4-5 times a week, a minimum of 45 min. I was spending a lot of time in the gym but I did notice that my waist was getting thicker and the lower belly pooch was just getting….poochier. Looking back now, I wish I knew that my high-carb and processed food diet was the culprit but it was a hard lesson I needed to learn on my own.
But when no amount of workout helped me feel and look better, I needed a new plan. But trust me, I was very unhappy to reluctant to make the changes I needed. But I did it anyways.
I Changed Things Around…Slowly
The first thing I did to get some control back is by starting Intermittent Fasting (16:8) and boy, was that an experience worth telling as well. Even though it was tough and my pangs of hunger pangs were out to end me, it helped me to control my cravings. Read here: Why Hunger Is Good For You
But here’s what caught my attention and made me stick to my fasting routine – within one month of starting IF, my pooch belly was starting to noticeably shrink and that gave me the motivation to carry on. Also Read: This Is How You Get Rid of Stubborn Lower Belly Fat
How Are Things Now?
Oh, so much better, thank you for asking. I have continued my fasting journey and fast for a minimum of 16 hours a day and on a good day, 20 hours.
Here’s what I am doing differently now:
- I pay attention to what my body is craving and why. Eg: When I start fantasising about lamb curry and fried chicken, it’s a sign that I need to eat more protein and healthy fats.
Solution: I mash an avocado and eat it with a boiled egg. It fills me up quickly and meat-eating fantasies fade away
- I eat a maximum of 2 meals a day. I break my fast with a small meal of mostly soaked almonds, and mashed avocado, and then eat dinner. I DONT SNACK AT ALL.
- I work out a maximum of 45 min, 2-3 times a week instead of obsessively planning my workouts.
- I don’t drink any soft drinks at all.
- No more frozen food.
- I cook mostly all my meals and supplement my diet with vitamins like Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Iron, Biotin and more.
Many of you may feel that, ohkay so she just ate healthily and cooked at home and recommends that we do the same, big whoop! Don’t we all know that already? I am sure you do my friend, at least theoretically. But unless you have real hand experience with the hurdles that accompany a processed diet, you will not understand how hard it is to make the right changes.
So, in case you feel a connection with my experience, then begin by asking yourself this question: Am I addicted to Ultra Processed Foods? And start from there.