Friday, April 30, 2010

Becoming Vegetarian

Aloha! About a week ago I received an a comment that I would like to elaborate on......

"Maybe I missed a post on this topic awhile back but I wondered if you wouldn't mind talking about how you cut meat out of your diet (something I'm wrestling with) and weight loss... I have about 10ish pounds to get back to my comfy weight and wondered what thoughts you might have? How do you stay away from the junk food? (Or maybe you just don't get tempted by it?) How do you stay full on fruits and veggies? I try but I just get hungry for protein! :) "

I get asked this question fairly frequently so I'd like to take a minute to address it.....

I became a true vegetarian at the age of 16 ( I think...I'm now 34 ). I was on Spring Break at my father's beach house in L.A. with my friend, Rachael ( I remember this date because the L.A. Riots started the day we left...weird).


I was reading a magazine article one afternoon while laying out in the sun about the fish and meat industry in America. All I can really remember about the article are all the pictures of dead animals along with the statistics of food borne illnesses associated with these dead animals...... Already a severe hypocondriac and emetophobic I showed Rachael the article and after reading it, we decided to try and be vegetarians for the rest of the week......

At the time I wasn't the biggest meat eater to began with. I had already cut out red meat and pork two years prior after a rather heavy Portuguese Sausage filled trip to Maui at the age of 14.  However, I was still a big fish a chicken eater. After our "bet" I seem to recall eating a lot of "fat free" pastas and frozen yogurt over the next few days. Once we were back home in the Bay Area I kept going....I seem to recall that Rachael did not. In fact, she probably doesn't even remember this ( but I bet she remembers the sunburn she got that week! )

Carnivore withdrawals: I seem to remember really missing chicken for awhile but that's about it. I can still taste it actually. Chicken tastes good. However, after almost 20 years you couldn't pay me to eat that dirty bird ever again. Against popular belief I didn't become a vegetarian for weight loss reasons. In fact, I actually did nothing but gain weight over the next few years.....I was a teenager though. Isn't that the norm? Did I have emotional issues with my weight back then?? Yes, Yes I did. In fact, I actually had a major eating disorder that lasted until my early 20s.

I was curvy.....people use to refer to me as "voluptuous" A word that I used despised. To me, "voluptuous" was a more PC word for "fat".  I felt fat too, looking at old pictures from high school  I don't recognize myself......At my high school reunion 6 years ago an old friend thought I was some body's guest instead of their old classmate.....strange.

Circa 1993-I'm on the left ( obviously )

Sorry...I have much better pics but I don't have a scanner. This is one of the only ones I could find from High school. I had to swipe it from Facebook......Anyway, this was before the "Freshman 15".

I'm not sure what caused the 35 pound gain from the age of 15 to 23? Everyone in my family was/is very lean. My younger sister ( by 18 mos ) was as skinny as they came....She was a size zero, flat chested,  a"Blue Bubble Gum" ice cream eating bird. I hated her sometimes.....I was angry a lot as a teenager and I think the frustration and struggle I had with my size was the cause of this. I was jealous of my tiny friends and I was hurt that I couldn't wear a tank top or v-neck t-shirt without getting some lewd ( or jealous? ) comment. It's sad because I would have given anything to have avoided such attention. For awhile, I actually resorted to diet pills, starvation, exercise bulimia and on certain occasions ( like a dance or cheerleading competition ).....duct tape.  At age 19 I almost had a breast reduction.....I look back now and I'm thankful I did not.

I was a vegetarian all through this time. However, when I look back I don't remember eating any vegetables. I seem to recall living on fat free frozen yogurt with pounds of rainbow colored sprinkles mixed in. I ate a lot of rice cakes with aspartame laden jellies and then I'd eat boat loads of white rice and soy sauce. I would NEVER have eaten a fat ridden avocado, peanut butter or a coconut back then. Olive oil and butter literally scared the crap out of me. Fat made people fat right?? In college I seriously had a fridge filled with fat free Ranch Dressing, Snackwell Cookies and fat free cream cheese for my big fat white flour bagels.....Looking back now all this stuff makes me feel nauseous.

Then, in my early 20s something changed in me....... I started to give into the fact that I was not going to be a size 2 or even a 6. I was really starting to be okay with this idea too..... So, in celebration of this I started to eat the things that I was always so scared of......guacamole, REAL cheese, nuts, green leafy salads with healthy oil based dressings, chocolate, wine, etc. Then, slowly, over the span of several months my weight started to melt away???

With this new revelation I continued to eat and I was eating really delicious things! I was "full", "satisfied", and I no longer felt like I was "missing out".  Being vegetarian had a whole new meaning to me many new colorful dishes to make!

I started enjoying dishes like Feta and Pumpkin Risotto, Goat Cheese Pizzas and Coconut Vegetable Curries. This type of food always seemed so "off limits" before and now I was actually enjoying eating out or experimenting in the kitchen. I would eat when I was hungry and stop when I was satisfied. I no longer craved something "sweet" after a meal. I no longer snacked out of boredom. After about 2 years my weight stabilized to my current size.

 I'm not embarrassed about my heaviest weight but I'm not uncomfortable giving out my current stats either...My highest weight ever was 142 lbs. Today I am 106 lbs. Some days I'm a bit less other days I'm a bit more.....I love the food I eat everyday and if I want a piece of chocolate cake or the cheese platter I will order it. I never think about my weight anymore or worry that I might gain it back. If I did, my man would be more than thrilled...... I've been my current size for almost 10 years now and even though I'm a bit on the thin side I think I'm at the weight I was always meant to be..... Like I mentioned before, my whole family is fairly lean. One of the perks of getting older is you start the care a whole lot less about the size of your jeans and the number on the scale. ( Although I now envy figures like Miss Kim Kardashian's and Scarlett Johansson's) Too bad I didn't think this way back in 1993........ I would have saved myself from a lot of pain and suffering.

As for "Junk" food. I just don't like it. I never crave things like potato chips, processed foods or candy bars.... In all honesty when I see this packaged stuff in the stores it sort of grosses me out. If I'm going to be "bad" I'd rather have a decadent Coconut Milk based vegan "Ice Cream" over "Frito Pies" or football stadium nachos any day......

Over the last two years, my diet has evolved even more. This has happened in the name of health. Not diet or weight maintence. I eat the way I do now because I want to feel my best....not to look my best. Carlos and I invested in a Vita Mixer in 2008. Thanks to this machine a smoothie addiction has replaced my coffee addiction. Now with my Breville Juicer ( Thanks Mom! ) Green Juice has become a very important staple for me as well. I've made a point to cut a lot soy out of my diet as well as dairy. I've also made a commitment to eat more local and organic foods while trying different types of grains, squashes, super foods, leafy greens, alternative sweeteners, exotic fruits and Gourmet Raw Cuisine. You might notice that certain times of the year I prefer a High Raw diet ( like in the late spring, summer and fall ) However, sometimes I crave heavier vegan and vegetarian fare like Vegan Fried Rice or Pasta with Red Sauce. But whatever I choose to eat I want it to be delicious, colorful and whole because I spent wayyyyy to many years eating things that were tasteless, white and processed.

I'd be happy to answer any more questions on this topic. If you have been reading my blog for awhile you will notice that I post my daily food intake pretty regularly. I'm also pretty honest....I don't sneak other foods in and not post it except for (lets say) a "sample" while grocery shopping or a taste from Carlos's plate. If I did eat something "indulgent" then I would want to tell you because it probably tasted pretty damn good:-)

Thanks for reading.....Much Aloha!


  1. Wow, thanks Amanda for this post. I always find it really interesting to find out why people choose to eat the way they do.

    Isn't it sad though how long it take for people to accept their bodies? I remember being so upset with how I looked in middle school / hs. I never resorted to depriving myself...but I did tend to self medicate with food. (emotional eater? hells yeah). And finally one day it just clicked that I wanted to FEEL good. It's amazing how feeling good and nurturing yourself usually correlates with getting to your happiest weight.

  2. Great post! I love your meal and drink posts. You are so creative! Esp. subs for sweets.
    I have to tell you that I surfed for the first time in my life and I LOVED it. We were in Sayulita, Mexico for the seven days and we surfed the entire time! Every single day... 8 to 5! I loved it!

  3. Yey for surfing! It changed my life.....I've heard good things about Sayulita. Love to check it out someday:)

  4. i was reading for the first time tonight....and i was thinking..."i was there when she decided to become a vegetarian!!" and then you posted it...yes i definately remember that and unfortunately i still think about that sunburn!

  5. In your comment "I no longer snacked out of boredom", what did you do to change that behavior?

  6. As for the snacking thing......In the beginning, I completely eliminated snacks from the house....things like cookies,( healthy or not ) tortilla chips/salsa, dips, etc....My pantry and fridge is filled with stuff that takes a little bit of time to make. Then, over the years I learned to just eat when I was hungry and now I can have a box of Tim Tams in the house and not HAVE to eat the whole thing ( Carlos does instead.....).
    This doesn't work for everyone. A lot of people like to have several small meals a day...That just never worked for me :)

  7. Ahh...the voluptuous word. That's what people call me now too. It's funny, I definitely eat more than you do but avoid junk food and don't do a lot of snacking. I can't seem to loose the weight. Maybe I am the weight I am supposed to be?
    It's also strange to hear you talk about yourself in high school the way you do. I was always incredibly jealous of you! I thought you were curvy and gorgeous. I was an awkward stick in high school. I would have loved to have your curves!!
    And now you are thin and I wish I were thinner. I guess the grass is always greener!

  8. Great post! Very thought provoking.