I love talking about food.
I've been eating pretty healthily lately, and I'm proud of that. After a paper I wrote about plastic in the ocean and how microplastics are already in our food chain, I couldn't help but turn into a strict vegetarian. I've been some form of veggie since I was fourteen (twenty years ago, OMG!), even turning vegan for a few months when I discovered I was lactose intolerant, though back then that meant I subsisted on ramen and trader joe's veg potstickers. That didn't last long, and I was back on cheese as soon as I discovered those little lactase pills. I started eating fish again, occasionally, around 18, and that was my diet for the next decade and a half. No mammals or poultry, but seafood and dairy were all open season.
So, this recent change has been dramatic. I'm not quite vegan; I still consume dairy very sparingly, and eggs occasionally, and honey. I'm approaching food as more of an ethical vegetarian, I guess. It's a plant-based diet that I'm aiming for; it's not about what I'm not eating, but what I am: lots and lots of veggies, fruits, legumes and whole grains.
I've also discovered the concept that there are no healthy oils, so I've stopped cooking with them unnecessarily. I dry-fry my onions, garlic, potatoes, mushrooms, and and peppers, adding small bits of broth to deglaze, and the flavor is astounding. I've been taught my whole life that fats are necessary for cooking, so this realization that I don't need them at all, and then discovering how much better I feel without them, and how great my food still tastes, it's rather a kick in the head.
Learning to cook with a variety of spices has been essential for the success of an eating plan like this, after a lifetime of gooey pizzas, rich desserts, and salty, savory, greasy snacks, my palate isn't accustomed to the simplicity of, say, confetti rice with lentils and veg, without adding a healthy smattering of chili powder, cumin, salt, parsley and thyme.
Mmmmmm, that confetti rice was good, too. And not at all boring! The next day, I took the leftovers, mixed them with some homemade tomato sauce and some more herbs and spices, and made twice-baked potatoes, which were incredible! Other favorite dishes of late have been roasted radishes and brussels sprouts, grilled mushrooms, steamed artichokes, hummus pizza, pesto made from carrot and radish tops, and brown rice cooked with homemade broth.
My very omnivorous boyfriend has been really supportive, when I expressed anxiety that he's not going to want to eat my veganish food, he suggested I cook for myself and only worry about WWBAMT: What Would Boyfriend Add Meat To? Which is amazing, and he eats most of what I'm cooking lately.
Of course, every change in my life has an effect on my head. This one isn't so direct, but since I dropped the oil, my stamina seems to have increased quite a bit. I'm hiking with the dogs nearly every day, going farther and harder, and even breaking into a run in flat spots. I still have to rest for hours after a hike like that; I'm not normally in horrible pain, but I do often experience increased nausea and dizziness from working out more strenuously, and it'll last all day easily.
But, a little barfiness is small potatoes to being able to get my heart pumping and my sweat on for upwards of half an hour. It's nothing short of phenomenal to me that I can do this much. It took nearly two years of living in secluded silence to work myself back from the ravages of the sedentary confinement I'd been subjected to in the middle of the loud city.
Being able to go outside is still amazing to me, some days.
This morning, when I realized I'd made it to the top of our hill without stopping to rest, not even once, I could have cried. It's been a long road, but my progress is finally tangible, and it feels so good to have some measure of my health back.