Hungry Haley

it's more than food

change

Update on Eating

Life, Health, ThoughtsHaley Hansen8 Comments

If you're not caught up, catch up here. Super long story super short, I'm no longer vegan, so here's an update on how my body and mind are making the change (and loving it)! 

two egg sammies + one egg & veggie bowl from  Honey Hi .

two egg sammies + one egg & veggie bowl from Honey Hi.

My original "plan", which I tried to keep loose and flexible and barely a "plan" at all, was to begin with just eggs - maybe one or two every couple days. Then, I'd try a bowl of yogurt and maybe some cheese, carefully adding in lactose because I knew my body had certainly lost most of its ability to digest lactose (via the lactase enzyme) after two years without the need to. Then, maybe I'd consider some fish, and maaaaaaybe some chicken after that. 

Thank God for instilling within me the confidence and strength I didn't know I'd need - I definitely moved this process along much quicker than what my original "plan" laid out, which probably just goes to show that this diet change was, well, meant to be. My first step was a fried egg with dinner one night (with one of my newest yet closest friends), and then about one or two a day for the next week. Immediately, I felt much more satiated and much less bloated after each meal. I didn't feel as though I was still craving a little something more. I didn't think about when my next meal or snack would be. 

one of my new FAV bars.  RX , I luhh u. 

one of my new FAV bars. RX, I luhh u. 

I purchased my first tub of Greek yogurt - Siggi's, to be exact, because everyone raves about it - less than a week later and dove right in the way I used to: mom's strawberry jam, fruit, and a heaping scoop of nut butter. Man, I missed that. I'd forgotten all about my favorite breakfast bowl! But I made up for lost time and made sure to squeeze some version of it into my day as either a snack or a meal. Just too. dang. good. 

Ahhh, and here comes the unexpected step. So, in my original "plan", meat did not have a place, at least not so soon. But, I did not tell my body "no" to anything and I didn't rush into anything, either. I was visiting my best friends up in San Luis Obispo and we planned a night out for happy hour + dinner at the farmers market. Before I even went vegetarian (halfway through my freshman year of college), my absolute favorite thing to get at the market was a grilled chicken teriyaki bowl from a local, family-owned restaurant. I remember it being some of the tastiest chicken I'd ever eaten and one of the most feel-good meals I'd ever found at BBQ/street-fair-type thing (the awesomeness of our weekly farmers market in a nutshell). Keeping my mind as open as possible, I didn't set my thoughts on that as dinner, but I couldn't stop thinking about it, and I'll admit that a small part of me tried to convince myself out of it because meat wasn't in my "plan" this soon. 

I shoved the thoughts out of my mind, let myself have a jolly ol' time with my friends - sipping mojitos and munching on the best d@mn jalapeno cornbread that has ever entered my mouth - and before I knew it, I was drooling over my favorite chicken bowl once again. Of course, my friends had to document the event of my first bite of chicken in over two years. Nonetheless, I enjoyed every. single. bite. and I felt genuinely good when I finished. I loved it. And that was that. 

grilled chicken teriyaki bowl from the Downtown SLO Farmers' Market

grilled chicken teriyaki bowl from the Downtown SLO Farmers' Market

Throughout the rest of my visit, I discovered gems I hadn't tried yet, but that everyone seems to love in SLO - Batch ice cream sandwiches, Sally Loo's breakfast burritos and grilled chicken sandwiches, locally grown eggs and dairy products (which are also sold at several of the local restaurants), and more. Again, no tummy issues presented themselves, just feelings of satisfaction, satiation, and pure happiness. 

I came back to SoCal to my parents' house and we all decided on grilled salmon for dinner, which also used to be one of my favorites. To say I was excited would be an understatement. Salad, bread, and veggies accompanied the grilled favorite, as they usually do, and I took my first bite and fell back in love. A big smile forced itself upon my face and contagiously spread to my parent's faces, too :) 

grilled salmon (long-time love of my life) + fresh salad + grilled veggies + bread & wine on the side. 

grilled salmon (long-time love of my life) + fresh salad + grilled veggies + bread & wine on the side. 

So, that's about as far as the story goes, in terms of my progression in re-introducing animal products. Onto the questions!

WHAT WERE THE EASIEST FOODS TO RE-INTRODUCE? THE HARDEST?

The first thing I ate was a fried egg, whipped up oh-so-perfectly by my girl Jeannette. My first bite was a liiiiiiittle strange, as I did come to find egg yolks kind of disgusting, but I kept an open mind and actually ended up loving it! From there, I went on to eggs more often (one or two everyday) and then a little bit of fancy cheese. From what I can remember, the cheese didn't give me any stomach aches. 

Surprisingly, I didn't really struggle to re-introduce animal products. Red meat has never really sounded appealing, so I don't see that coming into my diet any time soon, but other than that, with only a little hesitation the first time, I've bitten into plenty of old favorites like grilled salmon, fried eggs, fancy cheese, and ice cream without a second thought!

Hearty Grains bread from  Breaking Bread SLO  topped w/  NuttZo Peanut Pro crunchy  + honey. 

Hearty Grains bread from Breaking Bread SLO topped w/ NuttZo Peanut Pro crunchy + honey. 

HOW DO I PREVENT DISORDERED EATING THOUGHTS/BEHAVIORS TOWARDS FOODS I HAVEN'T INCLUDED FOR SO LONG?

Take every step slowly. Breathe. Be mindful and present in the moment. Listen to my body and rid my mind of "good" foods and "bad" foods. 

Those are my main reminders when I'm feeling iffy about anything food-related. Though I've never really struggled with binge-eating, I know the feeling of long-time restriction followed by freedom, and what the diet-mentality can do in that situation. This is probably the first time EVER I've been the most "free" and "flexible" with my diet. Before I went vegan, I was deep in my eating disorder, so everything I ate was just a certain number of calories, protein, fat, carbs, sugars, etc. When I went vegan, I found other ways to restrict and prolong my eating disorder. Now, I'm breathing all of that out, letting it go without a kiss goodbye, and just allowing myself to be. To eat. To live. 

Again, I'm not saying that a vegan diet is horribly restrictive and creates eating disorders. It was actually helpful for me in recovering from mine in some ways. But, I'm just following what God puts on my heart and, right now, He's leading me out of veganism. 

ice cream cookie sandwich from  Batch  in SLO. 

ice cream cookie sandwich from Batch in SLO. 

HOW DO I FEEL IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS?

Ten times better. Ten times happier. Ten times more included. Now, I'm not saying that going vegan will automatically exclude you in social situations and change your relationships for the worse. For me, however, food is HUGE when it comes to community. I see it as a way to bring loved ones and friends and even strangers together. When the menu wasn't vegan or, worse, didn't have any vegan options, the community aspect for myself changed.

When I ate vegan, specifically with others (i.e. at restaurants, family dinners, get-togethers, etc.) I often felt like the "odd one out". Sometimes, I'd be eating a simple meal of tofu and veggies and the like, and other times I'd find a yummy vegan burger or something. The former often left me feeling more excluded than the latter, yet both options seemed to do the same, to some extent. During my first year-and-a-half-ish of being vegan, this didn't bug me as much as it did recently. I knew that my vegan food choices benefitted the environment and the animals I care about, benefits that outweighed a little bit of perceived social exclusion. And that's all I thought it was - perceived. But, the more I saw others enjoying their meal and sharing it with each other - exchanging bites off of plates and "mmmm"-ing at each dish, the less perceived and more real the exclusion felt.

Being a vegan, social situations and gatherings didn't always offer plenty of vegan options, aside from salad and veggies, for me to do the same. However, as of late, I began to resent that exclusion more and more and feel that God was telling me it isn't just perceived. It's real and it's affecting my enjoyment of time with loved ones, especially around food, which is probably my favorite type of social situation. 

Now that I'm not vegan, I feel more relaxed in all food-involving social situations. I feel more included. I no longer feel like I'm standing outside the circle, looking in, at everyone else. I don't feel like "the weird one" over there eating tofu (which isn't weird to me, but its not uncommon for others to see common vegan options as weird) and whatever else is meat-, dairy-, egg-free. 

I forgot, until recently, how much I absolutely LOVE appetizers like fancy cheese and sardines, though the sardines are mostly a thing between my dad and I. I forgot how powerful of a rope food is when it comes to tying people together. So, all in all, I'm loving the cheese before dinner. I'm loving the salmon at dinner. I'm loving the ice cream dates with friends. I'm loving that I can say "yes" when offered a bite of someone's cheesy grilled chicken panini from my favorite local cafe. I'm loving the "mmmmm" I can share with everyone at the table :)

ice cream assortment from  Bert & Rocky's  in Claremont. 

ice cream assortment from Bert & Rocky's in Claremont. 

HOW HAS MY BODY HANDLED THE CHANGE?

Like. A. Champ. And as I said before, I'm taking this as God's way of assuring me and encouraging me in this change. 

I feel stronger, like my muscles are loving the added protein and iron. I feel more energized and focused, like my mind isn't constantly thinking about food/when my snack or meal is/how bloated the last meal left me. My skin did breakout a little bit during the first week, probably because of the dairy, but it wasn't unbearable and it has disappeared. Other than that, I'm easing myself into meat because the protein is definitely filling me up quicker than tofu/tempeh/beans did and eating too much protein is just not fun. 

Oh, and I'm not saying correlation = causation here, but there's gotta' be something to the fact that I can run again?! I'm not logging 10-15 miles a week like I used to, but even the 2 miles I am running feel amazing and I'm excited to see where this could go!

Siggi's (omgiloveyousiggi) plain yogurt  +  NuttZo Chocolate Power Fuel  + white nectarine for a post-workout breakfast.

Siggi's (omgiloveyousiggi) plain yogurt + NuttZo Chocolate Power Fuel + white nectarine for a post-workout breakfast.

HOW AM I STILL KEEPING SUSTAINABILITY AND ETHICAL TREATMENT IN MIND? 

I'm buying local as much as possible. Lassen's is just down the street from me at my place in SLO, and finding locally produced eggs and cheeses is easier than I thought! Meat hasn't yet made it in my shopping cart, but I know of a few local farmers who produce chicken and the like, so I will have a friendly face to turn to when I'm ready. 

Some have asked me how I can stomach animal products when I now know the "truth" behind animal agriculture. Honestly, I didn't think I ever could, but God has showed me that, right now, my own physical and emotional health and my relationships with loved ones are more important than worrying about animal agriculture. Besides, how much of a difference would I be making or not making by switching from vegan to a diet that is most just eggs and yogurt, some meat here and there? I don't know. I can't explain much of this answer, but all I can say is that this is what God is calling me to in the moment. I can't control animal agriculture, but I can control the products I purchase. 

So, that's all I've got for this update! I hope anyone going through a similar transition found it helpful - you're not alone. I hope I haven't offended anyone, but that I've encouraged you all to follow the directions God lays on your heart because, though they may seem scary sometimes, He will not mislead you. 

Still have questions? Comments? Leave them below or send me an email. I love to hear from you! 

my #1 girl. 

my #1 girl. 

another gem,  Jeannette  :) 

another gem, Jeannette :) 

happy hour at  Luna Red SLO  ft. burgers + lotttssa dranks + my favorite girls!

happy hour at Luna Red SLO ft. burgers + lotttssa dranks + my favorite girls!

Feeding My Soul (Hint: I ate an egg for the first time in 2 years)

Life, Health, ThoughtsHaley Hansen15 Comments

KAY. So, I've wanted to write this for a while because it's been not only on my mind but also on my heart and, let's be honest, once God lays something on your heart, there's no going back. I've talked about this with myself, my family, and my closest friends - the people who know me best. 

Most of all, I've just listened to my heart because I know that's where God speaks to me, encourages me. 

*deep breath*

I am no longer following a vegan diet.

vegan & GF donuts from  SLO Do Co. 

vegan & GF donuts from SLO Do Co. 

To give you the shortest possible version of my food history - for the past two years, I've been eating nothing but plants. Before that, I ate mostly plants with some fish, some dairy, and eggs. Aaaaand before that, my plate was mostly lean meat and green veggies (not a fantastic time in my life). I chose to adopt a vegetarian diet during my freshman year of college to experiment with food and challenge myself to step out of my basically Paleo comfort zone - try beans, include more grains, and loosen up my rigid food and fitness "rules". Then, with some encouragement from fellow bloggers and my own research on animal products, the cruelty of animal agriculture, and the environmental impact of producing meat and dairy, I just couldn't give myself another spoonful of Greek yogurt or another egg. Veganism called my name and I couldn't have felt more confident in hearing it out. 

God introduced me to veganism as part of my healing process, and it sure did do its job. I've never been healthier, happier, or more comfortable around food. 

Oh, except animal products. Now, this is where we start. 

Dad's newly famous homemade mojitos 

Dad's newly famous homemade mojitos 

I haven't been craving any chicken or steak or even yogurt or eggs, really. Grocery store shelves nowadays are stocked full of dairy-free and vegan alternatives, so I never feel "deprived" of the foods I crave, if I ever do want a fruit and granola parfait over some almond yogurt or some cream "cheese" on my bagel or tempeh "bacon", and so on. 

In terms of nutrition, a vegan diet never left me feeling deprived. In fact, I almost always felt strong, healthy, satisfied, and well-nourished on the foods available to me, whether at home in my own kitchen or out at a restaurant. However, when it comes to community and bonding, I often felt emotionally deprived and left out, as I could not participate in sharing the experience of many foods with friends and family. 

God has, with all the love and mercy and grace imaginable (and probably even more), shown me that food is so much more than I could ever understand. Food is not just calories. It's celebration, emotional medicine, nostalgia and comfort, and more in various situations. I value food and the time I spend with it, whether that be baking cinnamon rolls on a Sunday morning in the kitchen before everyone else is awake, or sharing a loaded pizza with my best friends as we sip our wine and watch movies on a Friday night. 

I no longer look at food only through my nutrition lens. God gave me lenses to see food as a blessing to be cherished and shared and enjoyed on a daily basis. THANK YOU. Now, I can look at packaged foods without disgust. I can purchase food without always checking the ingredient label. I can go out for a meal with friends without inputting the calories of the menu item I planned to order and make sure all the macros "fit" (ugh). And yes, I did all that on a vegan diet for the past two years. No more restrictions. 

zoodles + cashew alfredo sauce + homemade black bean meatballs + homemade panzanella salad (coming soon) + fried egg (!!!!)

zoodles + cashew alfredo sauce + homemade black bean meatballs + homemade panzanella salad (coming soon) + fried egg (!!!!)

No. More. Restrictions. 

Now, I find that even my vegan lenses are hard to look through. I don't look at egg-and-avocado-toast with disgust and I don't question how in the world people can eat Greek yogurt or stir a touch of cream into their coffee. 

For me, veganism wasn't about health. Sure, eggs have more cholesterol than what our bodies might need in a day and meat might have too much protein and blah blah blah. There are, most certainly, health benefits within the vegan diet, but I didn't choose the diet for those reasons. I simply could not bring myself to purchase a carton of eggs from the supermarket after seeing the coops. I could not purchase chicken or fish or even dairy after seeing how these animals are treated on farms and how the agricultural practices required contributed to the environmental decline of the planet we know and (need to show more) love. 

Research and documentaries equipped me with arguments and support and evidence I needed to prove and stand up for myself when my belief in the power of a vegan diet was put to the test (can't even tell you how many times that happened). However, evidence or no evidence, it was always for me. This is MY body and I will take care of it how I know and feel best. At the time, that was a plate full of plants (and sometimes cake, but still derived from only plants). 

My diet is still for me. It always will be. So, to admit that I'm having trouble writing this mainly because I feel the need to explain myself to readers/followers/etc., feels weird. It's my diet, so why should I have to justify it? Well, I actually do want to explain myself because I want to be able to set the best example I can and, of course, always be honest. That being said, I will explain this to the best of my abilities.

roasted sweet potato wedges + cashew cream sauce from Cafe Gratitude

roasted sweet potato wedges + cashew cream sauce from Cafe Gratitude

If I had thought of the vegan diet as "restrictive", I would've dropped it months ago. And I'm not dropping it now because I'm suddenly seeing restriction, but rather because my interests and passions have evolved, just like I am constantly changing and learning and growing, too. Right now, I want to squeeze every last bit of life and happiness and enjoyment from any moment I can. And right now, that means sharing pizza with fresh mozzarella with a friend, or a dinner date of sushi with my dad (it's always been our thing), or that luscious buttery scone from the local bakery that calls my name every. weekend. morning. 

I've said this a million times by now, but food is SO MUCH MORE than just fuel. For years, I chose not to participate in that pizza and sushi and scones - and, even more so, the connection and community that provide the true richness in those situations. In the moment I made those decisions with like 99% total confidence. However, maybe that remaining 1% of feeling like I want to enjoy this time with friends/family/whoever has finally added up and I don't have any more room to say "no thank you, I'm vegan". 

Right now, my contribution to saving the planet by subbing tofu for the eggs on that menu item are not as important to me as bonding with my friends and family over our egg-and-avocado-toast (or whatever the substitution may be). 

Cafe Gratitude: I Am Local Salad + I Am Giving Chef's Seasonal Pizza

Cafe Gratitude: I Am Local Salad + I Am Giving Chef's Seasonal Pizza

As I immerse myself deeper and deeper into the practice of Intuitive Eating, I find through listening to my body that sometimes a *gasp* non-vegan scone DOES sound good. Listening to the body involves more than just hunger cues - how about what my emotions are craving, too? As much joy as I find in discovering a delicious vegan scone, I know I can find incomparable joy in developing relationships and creating memories with my loved ones sans the inconvenience of having to search for a vegan scone or just go home without one while everyone else enjoys theirs. 

Throughout the past two years, the most popular question I've been asked is: what do you miss most/what is the hardest part of following a vegan diet? 

My answer: I miss the ease of food. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely adore experimenting in the kitchen with vegan food. Vegan baking, vegan cheeses, and vegan takes on classic meat-lover favorites - what could be more fun for a college girl? (some might say quite a bit... but anyway) I miss being able to go out for sushi with my dad. I miss sharing fancy cheese with my mom before dinner. I miss licking ice cream off the cone on the beach with my friends. I miss spontaneity. I miss not having to settle for a wimpy salad when I'm out with my friends. I miss the days when "Haley, can you eat something there?" didn't precede every dinner plan. 

Right now, I am not feeling as passionate about a vegan diet as I am about enjoying all foods my body wants and nurturing my relationships with loved ones and new ones. 

avocado toast + fresh watermelon + purple cabbage + homegrown yellow tomato, all shared with @sweatysweetpotato

avocado toast + fresh watermelon + purple cabbage + homegrown yellow tomato, all shared with @sweatysweetpotato

I do have somewhat of a plan for this transition. Oh, and I've been slowly incorporating small amounts of eggs and dairy everyday - my tummy and body and mind and soul are SO happy. I feel absolutely fine eating just a few non-vegan items (i.e. one or two eggs, a bite of cheese, etc.) once a day or so. Because I AM still passionate for taking steps necessary to increase awareness for environmental sustainability and ethical animal treatment, I will be as cautious and informed as possible when I make non-vegan food choices. My family buys our eggs from a farmer just down the street, and we've seen his practice and could not be happier with it. Any dairy I consume, I will check and ensure that the cows are as happy as possible at the dairy. As for fish and meat, I will let you know when I get there. 

Just because I'm not passionate about living a full-on vegan lifestyle at this point in my life does not make me a different person or a bad person or anything different than the girl I am. My dietary choices do not define me, whether it's a kale salad and a veggie burger or an egg sandwich and a bite of salmon (which, by the way, was my absolute favorite food ever). 

I share this with you because honesty is a priority as much as setting a healthy, encouraging, attainable example is. I ask for your support and understanding in this process and appreciate those of you who have already shown me more than I could ask for :) 

red sangria from  Luna Red  - thank you for introducing me to this magical juice. 

red sangria from Luna Red - thank you for introducing me to this magical juice.