Our health is so important, and so is listening to our bodies. Part 2 explains why and how I transitioned from vegan to vegetarian by listening to my body. Let’s continue with the story!
In case you missed Part 1 you can read it here. I would recommend starting there just so you’re all caught up.
A few months into eating vegan I began to notice my face was breaking out a lot. Prior to this I didn’t have too much trouble with breakouts or pimples. My only skin issues were dryness and rosacea, but as long as I kept up with my skin care, things were pretty good.
At first, I brushed it off as detoxing because that’s what I read everywhere! Oh it’ll pass, it’s the toxins, it’s the change in diet, it’s this, it’s that.
2 months went by still having breakouts. 5 months went by, it only started getting worse. At this point I was extremely confused and it really started to affect my self-esteem.
I was eating healthier than I had ever eaten before so why was this happening? I struggled with really bad breakouts for about 8 months.
During that time I switched my makeup, face cream, face wash, night cream, lotions, anything you can think of I changed it. I even went to a doctor who prescribed me some acne creams. Nothing worked, it only got worse.
The more breakouts I had, the more my self-esteem went down.
So, in my normal reaction to most things, I turned to research. It was then that I stumbled upon a YouTube channel called Organic Olivia. She did a video where she talked about hormone imbalance and curing her acne.
I started reading her blog and she also talked about a different approach to healing the body called NAET, which is an acronym for Nambudripad’s Allergy Elimination Technique.
I will write a whole other post about this later because there is so much more to say about it. But I found someone in my city that was certified in the technique. I decided to try it in hopes of healing my acne and finding some answers.
The NAET practitioner told me she believed my body was having trouble processing sugars and that this could be a possible reason for my breakouts, among other things. She wanted me to do some allergy testing but, unfortunately I haven’t been able to get to that point yet.
I did however go to a few appointments and had some success. I didn’t get to complete my treatment and still plan on going back, but my acne cleared up with the little bit of work I did in healing my body.
Based on what my practitioner said, I decided to try cutting back on sugar, what did I have to lose?
Although I love my smoothies, I cut back from having one everyday for breakfast to only 2-3 times a week, as well as not eating so much fruit or things with a lot of sugar. My digestion improved too, that’s always a plus. A little TMI but it’s true!
I started paying attention to my body’s response to the different things I would eat. In the couple of appointments that I went to and the book you see in the photo above, I learned even more about the body and how it’s always talking to us. We just have to take the time to listen to it.
An Unhealthy Mindset
I finally felt I was on the right track. Things were looking up, I was still eating better then ever, and my self-esteem started to rise again.
But then I hit a roadblock.
Nearly 2 years into eating vegan, I began to feel that it was becoming more of a chore than something I was enjoying.
I always told myself that if my thoughts toward being vegan ever changed to a negative perspective, I would have to reevaluate. I never want to live or eat in away the jeopardizes my mental health.
Unfortunately, for me things began to feel restrictive and instead of me saying I’m proud not to eat that, I started saying “Oh if I wasn’t vegan I could be eating that right now.”
Things really hit me when we went on vacation in Portland, OR. There were so many vegan restaurants, it’s actually one of the top vegan friendly cities in the country. But throughout our trip I felt frustrated because we traveled far to eat at some of the restaurants.
Even at breakfast I could only eat oatmeal and a banana because everything else they served at our hotel had some kind of dairy in it. One evening in our hotel room, Eric and I sat and had a long conversation about how I was feeling.
I broke down crying because I realized how strongly I’d come to identify myself as vegan and I never saw it any other way. It was a shock to me that I was feeling this way. And honestly I kind of felt like I was failing.
In my mind, I feared being judged if I did decide to change my diet and lifestyle again.
Eric said he wasn’t surprised because of the things I had been saying months before our trip. He said he knew I was struggling, but that I just needed time to realize it for myself and rethink what was best for me.
He reassured me that I had his support no matter the decision I made, and that a diet or eating habits don’t define who you are.
I had completely changed my lifestyle so to me, it became who I was.
Aside from the mental aspect, I felt my body was needing something. I was taking all my necessary vitamins and still keeping up with doing what I could to get all of my nutrients in so I thought that was kind of weird.
That same night we went to a pizza place and I told Eric I wanted to try a piece of cheese pizza. He said “Ok,” all calm, while I’m having major anxiety about my life choices.
We took it back to our hotel room and…I ate the whole thing! We were both a little shocked and not to mention I didn’t even get sick.
Now this isn’t something I would recommend. Pizza was probably not the best choice as my first dairy meal to have, but that’s what happened so we just went with it.
Vegan To Vegetarian
Once we got back home from our trip, I still struggled with my decision. Vegan – to eat, or not to eat. Oh boy the struggle was real.
I had a long conversation with my Mom too. She told me that she also supported what ever decision I made and that maybe adding a little dairy would be helpful.
This was a very big deal for me because it wasn’t just food or how I was eating. I initially looked into veganism for the health aspects, but the ethical reasons became more important to me. The more I learned about the treatment of animals in the factory farms the more I wanted to continue eating a vegan diet.
However, after a lot of soul searching I decided it was best for me to transition to a vegetarian diet. I came to the conclusion that above all I needed to listen to my body and take care of my mental health.
So, I slowly transitioned into eating dairy again. I started with a little bit of cheese and yogurt. I still don’t eat eggs, not by themselves anyway, it’s mostly when they’re mixed into something else.
Right now I’m very content with they way I eat. I still eat about 80% vegan because I love all of the recipes that I have and it’s what I was used to for 2 years.
I do my best to keep a balance with eating healthy. During the week we cook dinner and most of the meals are vegan. On the weekend is when we like to venture out and eat at different places, or sometimes just get pizza.
I do my best to buy dairy products that are organic and come from pasture raised animals. From what I’ve learned, this is the best way to support farms who protect the wellbeing of their animals and don’t give them antibiotics or hormone disruptors.
This aligns with my strong beliefs in protecting the animals and the environment.
When we eat out, I will say things aren’t always organic. I do my best, but also try not to be so hard on myself.
Overall, my body and energy feel good. My soul is happy and so is my skin. I feel I have found the right balance, not just because I changed my eating habits, but because I listened to my body.
This is why I believe that eating habits are different for everyone. Some people thrive with eating vegan. For me, it was a different story.
With all that I learned, I felt guilty and was afraid of completely reverting back to how I ate before I started this journey. But the truth is, this is me and this is my body.
You And Your Body
I am proud to be someone who tries to eat as mindfully as possible while still enjoying food. Because that’s what life is all about, enjoying the food we eat, people we spend time with, and being thankful for all that we have.
I am so thankful that I started this journey and have learned so much. There’s still work to be done when it comes to healing my body, it’s a work in progress and that’s ok because again, that’s life.
I hope this brings you some inspiration and maybe helps you to feel a little at ease if you’re struggling with eating habits and which diet is best for you.
At the end of the day it’s about you and your body, and no judgements or diet trends can ever change that. Even if you feel a little lost in listening to your body, it’s ok to reach out and ask for help like I did.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! Have you tried changing you lifestyle or eating habits? How did it go?