March is such a great month, not only because Spring is starting to emerge, and there is a glimpse of hope that the snow is going to melt once and for all, but also March is National Nutrition Month (although in my mind, every month is National Nutrition Month). Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes, informs, and emphasizes nutrition. Each year they have a different theme, this year’s NNM theme is “Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle.” Last year, their theme was “The Taste of Eating Right” and I actually blogged about that when I was first getting my blog started. Check that post out here: http://cookinglittle.blogspot.com/2014/03/enjoy-taste-of-eating-right-national.html !
So what does “Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle” mean to me? I definitely can relate to this theme, especially since going vegan last Spring. I’ve wanted to talk about the difference I’ve found between “dieting” and “living” for quite a while, so the fact that this is the theme for this year’s National Nutrition Month worked out perfectly!
When I first started looking into veganism, I saw it portrayed as a lifestyle, not a diet. I strongly dislike the word “diet” because I think it’s a very negative word, and is used to describe something short term, something that isn’t meant to last forever. It isn’t used in a way that describes why you eat how you eat, who/what is impacted by what you eat, or even in a passionate way, to me that is called a “lifestyle.” Becoming vegan made me realize that veganism isn’t a diet, it’s truly a way of life. It’s how someone lives, vegans choose what they eat rather than following a certain set of rules even if they don’t want to. It’s not that I can’t eat cheese or milk based ice cream, it’s that I choose not to. This is why I like to refer to veganism as a “lifestyle” rather than a “diet.”
I think when you make healthy eating a lifestyle, and put passion in it going back to old habits and foods is much more difficult. When you make eating purposeful and have a true meaning behind it, it becomes a part of your life and something that becomes personal. Your diet (or as I like to call it, your lifestyle) should be personal, fit your life, and represent what’s important to you.
Finding veganism was about a four year process for me. It slowly became not just the food I ate, but it is now a reflection of myself and a representation of the type of nutrition I promote and believe in. When becoming vegetarian back in high school, I did it just to test my self-discipline and see if I could do it. Slowly, I began to fall in love with how I was eating and what I was eating and it began to become a huge part of my life. I began to cook more, eat less processed foods, research nutrition, and ultimately it helped me decide I wanted to study nutrition in college. I made this a lifestyle, not just a diet, I put passion in the way I was eating and also living. After lots of my own research and experiences, I decided to go vegan in the Spring of 2014. This was a huge step for me, and I quickly saw how it effected my lifestyle. Becoming vegan, for me, helped me to revamp the way I live as well as my thoughts and feelings on the food I choose to eat.
Soon after becoming vegan I found that I felt a lot happier, and became passionate about protecting the animals that are being abused every day just for human consumption and pleasure. This is how veganism became a lifestyle for me, although this doesn’t have to be true for everyone, it was for me. I found that once I eliminated animal products, my body was filled with positive energy. I genuinely felt like my body was no longer filled with negative, pain, fear, and hatred but instead love and happiness. As “hippy dippy” as that sounds, it is so true. I almost immediately began to feel better, in my mind, body, and soul. I soon saw that the way I was eating in the past was full of hatred and abuse, seeing and feeling how veganism was full of love and peace helped me stay with this lifestyle. I found a passion to protect, love, and care for all animals; not just cats and dogs, but cows, pigs, chickens, horses, birds, fish every animal deserves love and respect. So that’s how veganism became more than a diet for me, but a lifestyle.
Making the food you eat a lifestyle, and changing your diet from just a diet to a way of life will help you put passion into your own health and maintain it. Diets are usually difficult for people to maintain because they are viewed as rules, regulations, limitations, elimination, and are thought to only last for a little while before returning to however you were eating before. A lifestyle is formed to fit you, it is made to last for a long time and become a part of you. This should be how people eat, and live, not through short-term diet plans that don’t actually provide you with a change in anything other than the foods you are putting in (or not putting in) your mouth. Changing your lifestyle is way more effective than just your diet. Making the food you eat, and your personal health goals a lifestyle can potentially last the rest of your life rather than just a few months.
When someone tells me they are thinking about going vegetarian or vegan, I always ask them why, this helps them create a motive and passion to remain on this type of living. I think this is how everyone should begin a healthy lifestyle, with a specific motivation that they can keep looking to that will help them remain positive and passionate. The foods you eat should fit you, your goals and your passions. Taking a “bite into a health lifestyle” is an effective way to live out your “diet” and make it part of your entire life. Let’s stop dieting to eat healthier, and instead start living a healthy lifestyle!