It is completely doable, feasible and healthy to be on a vegan diet long-term. It is not doable, feasible or healthy for me, at this time.

1

(Breakfast: Three coconut-oil fried eggs, spinach.)

I’m eating meat now. I have spent over 8 years of my life as a vegetarian/vegan, and I have been both incredibly healthy and incredibly unhealthy during that time. And recently? I have been beyond unhealthy. I would like to say that the switch back to meat was a hard decision–but it wasn’t. Something needed to change.

Vegetarian, high protein, timing, scheduling, macros–All I was thinking about was food and rules. And once I got started on rules? I just keep making more and more of them, whittling my food down into boring bowls of this-is-safe (but by “safe” I don’t mean balanced, nutritious or good calorie-rich).

2

(Lunch: Baked turkey-balls, sweet potato and broccoli.)

So I’m forgetting the rules. I (intentionally) broke my food/kitchen scale and threw it in the trash. I crumpled up my nutrition plan and deleted my food tracking app. I threw out every fake-sugar-containing product in my house. It wasn’t easy, and I still feel a little panicky when I think about it–which only reinforces how much those things needed to happen.

Along with the switch to meat, I’m taking it back to three simple meals rather than seven rule-filled meals. I’m focusing ingredients rather than recipes, and I’m cooking real, whole foods that I eat slowly and take the time to enjoy. I am no longer reading or fiddling with my phone during meals. Instead, I’m tasting.

3

(Dinner: Broiled tilapia, broccoli and half an avocado.)

Am I getting enough protein, the right ratios, correct portion sizes? Will this set back my figure competition goal? Fuck it, I’m lifting heavy and eating good food, so I will get stronger. That’s just how these things work. It’s just going to be on my terms now. Food will add enjoyment, not stress and obsessiveness.

Not that I’ve been perfect in any of these goals. I slip back into panic, I catch myself mentally calculating calories and protein content, I start plotting meals days in advance. But I’m trying not to worry about even that. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and stressing about stressing about food is just as bad as stressing about food.

(Snacks: Post-workout Greek yogurt; hazelnuts and cranberries; dark chocolate squares.)

Overall I feel so much better. I have more energy and excitement about life and the gym, my skin has stopped sloughing off and constantlyΒ hurting (I felt like a molting lizard for awhile) and I actually have solid poop (TMI? Deal with it.). Is it the food, the sudden decrease in stress, the result of me being kinder to myself? All of the above? I don’t know, but if I feel this much better just one week in? Well, I can live with that.

Disclaimer: Lest this seem like I’m suddenly some paragon of whole-foods perfection, this sn’t about me only eating whole, good food, and it is a glimpse at one day of admittedly healthy eating, not a picture of everything I eat. It’s about thinking less (or not at all) about rules and more about taste, texture, quality and enjoyment.

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