Eight years before I became a vegan, I was on a bus full of tourists on our way to a swamp tour down in New Orleans. This being my first time in Crescent City, I asked where a vegetarian like me could find meatless dishes. Everyone had a good laugh at my expense when the bus driver quipped, “Down here we don’t eat to live, we live to eat.”
Since then, my eating regimen has switched from vegetarian to vegan, back to vegetarian – all in an effort to discover what foods work for and against my body. Now I’ve settled on a dairy/meat-free, plant-based diet, with a very low interest in most processed foods. In going through these transitions, I’ve learned a few things:
• Dairy foods cause inflammation that disappeared when I stopped ingesting them.
• The high sodium in processed vegan foods were just as unhealthy as a McDonald’s hamburger.
• Eating foods as close to their natural state as possible helped them to flow through my digestive system easily.
I learned a lot more about what my body needs to feel satiated and energized without the bloating and heaviness that I felt eating eggs, most breads, and deep-fried foods.
Now, I’m realistic so once in a while walking past a bag of Munchos (My absolute FAVE potato chip!) is impossible; and on that rare occasion, I buy the bag, eat ‘til my taste buds are satisfied, and throw the rest away. But 99 percent of my eating regimen is based on essential foods – those plant-based options that I feel my body needs to function well: all vegetables, fruits, water, oats, healthy fats (avocados, coconut oils), and yes I have to admit: COFFEE! It’s not as healthy as tea but drinking it with non-dairy creamer and no sugar is about as close as I’m gonna get since giving it up is not an option. (I love coffee)
I still giggle when I think of the New Orleans bus driver, but living to eat – even as a vegetarian – is how I gained weight TWICE in my life. Now, at 57 years old, it’s time for me to listen to my body and eat to live.
Welcome to my Essential Eats life!