I sometimes struggled with my best friends honourable efforts to eat vegan food at home and either vegetarian, chicken or fish dishes when we went out. When we went out I would always stuff my face with too much food, and most often I chose a red meat dish because I always knew I’d enjoy it. I didn’t understand how C could turn down a juicy steak or a hamburger and go for boring fish! But, after my separation from J, I felt the need to get healthier – to get rid of my extra chub, become stronger and feel better about myself. I bought lots of books (but didn’t read them all) on how society eats too much protein, and learned that there is less cancer in cultures that eat less meat. I watched a number of documentaries on Netflix (see the bottom of the post for a list of some of them), trying to convince myself that I needed to convince myself to eat better. In the end, I realized it wasn’t that hard to eat better and I didn’t need a justifiable reason to do it. I simply had to know that eating more vegetables and grains is an easy way to eat better – and I just had to do it. Sure, I had to think a little bit more about what I was going to buy at the store and what recipes I was going to make with those groceries… I also knew I had to use all those veggies before they went bad because I didn’t want to throw away my money!
I really started with baby steps – at the beginning I still ate some of the leftovers from the freezer because I felt bad about wasting the food – burrito pie with ground beef, gnocchi with sausage… but now I don’t even concern myself with it. I’ll give the leftovers and vacuum sealed meat away to someone who will appreciate it.
I bought more vegetarian cookbooks and got more creative in my searches on Pinterest. My favourite cookbook by far is The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen. If you want to own only one vegetarian cookbook, I highly recommend it.
I even hosted a vegetarian potluck with a dozen friends – only 3 of whom were actually vegetarian! People were concerned that they’d have to stop at McDonalds on the way home from the potluck – starving with a craving for a beefy burger! But everyone brought so much good food that no one went home hungry and numerous recipes were shared amongst many people! I was so happy that good, healthy food could bring strangers together and get people interested in thinking outside the box for recipes.
I will still eat chicken and fish/seafood, but not all the time. I will slowly use up the chicken, turkey and seafood in my freezer and I’ll probably order fish/seafood at restaurants when I go out. I recently cooked a whole chicken and added it to salads for three days and put some of it in the freezer. I made a couple Mexican pizzas with it and put one in the freezer. One chicken is a lot of meat for one person! Not only am I adjusting to cooking and eating much differently, but I’m also adjusting to cooking for one. Some food just does not freeze well, so I really have to think about portions and the reality of cooking a big batch of something.
I found a great grocery store that primarily sells fruits and veggies (and some very well-priced dried herbs). If you’re in central Calgary you should really check them out – H & W Produce – Unit 441-3508 32 Ave N.E. They have weekly specials and their regular prices are very reasonable. Most of the produce was good quality – no worse than my local grocery store, that’s for sure. They also sell locally made pitas & hummus/tzatziki, cheese and tofu, etc.
I lost 15 pounds in 2 months without trying too hard. I did exercise here and there (I enjoy the Beachbody – 21 Day Fix videos), but most of the weight loss was simply because I ate better. I ate more consciously – less food, less meat, and way more veggies and fruits. I learned to enjoy the feeling of being just a little bit hungry and I learned to really dislike feeling bloated and logy. I regularly came home from work, changed, exercised, and then cooked myself a healthy meal. I suppose it may be a bit easier to do all this without having to care for a couple of kids and a husband (for example), but I still have my 2 dogs and a big house and a big yard to take care of on my own.
I have to give thanks to my vegetarian and healthy friends. Without them I probably wouldn’t have been inspired to give up red meat. I really don’t even miss it! There are so many amazing flavour profiles that vegetarian dishes can take on. And of course, still being able to eat cheese and make creamy sauces is a bonus (I could never go vegan)! I never thought I would love meatless meatballs made with ground walnuts, or tofu in 50 different ways, but I do 🙂 Brown calrose rice cooked in vegetable stock with a glob of coconut oil is my new staple. What kind of monster have I become!?
Please share your experiences becoming healthier!
Here is a list of just some of the food documentaries on Netflix:
- Food, Inc., 2009.
- Food Matters, 2008.
- Hungry for Change, 2012.
- Super Size Me, 2004.
- Forks Over Knives, 2011.
- PlantPure Nation, 2015.
- Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, 2010.
- Fed Up, 2014.