I am constantly striving to be a better version of myself and my diet has always been something I work towards improving. After watching numerous health and food documentaries this summer, I was nauseated by the truth about livestock farming. I made the popular decision to try out veganism, and considering I took a nutrition class, I was confident I could stick to my new regimen.

Going cold turkey was the wrong decision. 

guacamole, sweet, vegetable, avocado
Jessica Kelly

I decided to approach this change with the “go big or go home” mantra. I cut out all dairy and meat sources overnight, which is where I went wrong. I did almost no special preparation to supplement the absence of essential nutrients with appropriate substitutes. I worked around whatever I already had in my kitchen. Breakfast was usually avocado toast, and for lunch, a salad. Dinner consisted of a variety of roasted vegetables and rice or buckwheat. If I was particularly hungry, I would fill myself up on fresh fruits.

My biggest obstacle was not being able to cook the balanced recipes I found online because my kitchen lacked ingredients. Of course, this was easily avoidable on my end, I just didn't act upon it. I was not properly nourishing my body. I found myself overeating carbs and not eating any substantial source of protein.

My body was severely affected.

I did not allow my body to react and adapt to my new lifestyle. I forced it to make due with what I was offering. I was craving nutrients and sustenance that I wouldn't allow myself to indulge in. But when I noticed that my jeans were fitting a little looser, I felt fulfilled. This seemingly positive journey towards a healthier me turned into a game. I wanted to see how little I could eat and still function. I sacrificed my energy for pride and the satisfaction of saying I “successfully” completed a day as a vegan.

The dynamic mix of the stress of a demanding job, the stress of the upcoming school year, and the unexpected loss of a family member made it seem like everything I had known was slipping through my fingers. 

Being able to strictly dictate what I was eating gave me back a false sense of control. I was able to manipulate my body, and challenge its potential to survive on little food. The stress I was putting on my body was a way for me to physically express some of my insecurities.

What started as a desire to be healthy, became anything but. 

pepper, carrot, tomato, vegetable
Christin Urso

I began to obsess over everything I was putting into my body. My desire to be healthy progressed into not wanting to eat something not because it wasn't good for me, but because I was scared the food would immediately deposit on my body. Even though I was cognizant of the fact that this was totally unrealistic, I couldn't rationalize my fear. 

I became exactly what boils my blood and made me want to study nutrition and health in the first place: a girl with a confused and messy relationship with food. I would scold those around me for this kind of behavior, while I was doing the exact same in private; I was a hypocrite. 

Thankfully, I'm no longer in that mindset. 

My obsession with continuing this unhealthy lifestyle did not last long. Moving back to Boston made me realize what kind of life I want to live and what I want out of it. The lifestyle I was leading back home would not have sustained me in the long-run.

While I still hold close the values of a vegan diet and supporting my health, I no longer define myself to a specific diet. I am listening to my body and listening to how it reacts to different foods. I lead a more active lifestyle now, both mentally and physically. I know I need to nourish my body so that I can be alert, strong, and most importantly, present.

Do your research. 

Katherine Boatwright

For anyone who is thinking of changing their lifestyle, please do your research and be as informed as you can. Knowledge is power. Also know that not every popular diet works for everyone. Listen to your body. Our bodies do so much for us, the least we can do is fuel them with good food and love.