MY FOOD HISTORY – from toaster waffles to vegan calorie counting to orthorexia until now

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Food and I never had an easy relationship. I felt inspired to share my food journey with you and hope I can inspire you to change your food habits for the better and maybe even share your own food journey.

Childhood – Candyland and body dysmorphia

As a kid, I was a really picky eater. liked sweet foods, lots of carbs and simple foods. I didn’t eat eggs, milk, red meat, almost all cheeses, fish and I didn’t like some fruits and vegetables. I did eat foods that contained eggs and milk (including hot chocolate, milk in tea) but I never ate eggs and milk in their pure form. My favourite foods included: pasta without sauce, Indian chicken korma, pancakes (or the Austrian version “Palatschinken”), noodle soup and (I hate myself for having to say this) Chicken McNuggets. My mum was working full-time and didn’t have lots of time for preparing food. I remember that my brother and I loved the toaster waffles topped with icing sugar or Nutella for breakfast. Apart from that my mother was trying her very best to feed me healthy food. Apples, carrots, cucumbers and other raw fruits and vegetables were part of my snacks and school lunches. I liked the apples and raw vegetables but I always loved sweet foods like chocolate, cookies, dairy desserts and more. I kept this eating habit until my teen years. At the age of 8 or 9, I started to dislike my body shape and felt “too fat”.

Teens – bulimia attempts, becoming vegetarian and eating disorders

When I grew older I had a body that reflected my habits: I hardly did any exercise and ate lots of junk food. I had a normal weight and looked thin but was super weak, had no endurance and was what you call “skinny fat”. Plus, it was 2008/2009 so thigh gaps were in and eating disorders very common. This is the part I’m not proud of and feel awkward thinking back. I spent a lot of time in my school since it ended at 6pm (some students even stayed there 24/7 since there was a boarding school option) and it was known that girls at that school were doing a lot to look a certain way. Girls were throwing up in the bathrooms after lunch and skipping meals. It’s easy when parents are not around to watch what you’re eating. I started to have an unhealthy relationship with food. It started with eating the same junk food but feeling guilty after it and eating less. I was also on the verge of getting bulimia but fortunately, that phase ended when summer started and I changed schools in autumn so I wasn’t in that toxic environment anymore. Then as the years passed I became more aware of health and became vegetarian. Fun fact: I went vegetarian because I didn’t enjoy the taste of meat anymore so I just stopped eating meat thinking I’m just taking a break from meat for a week and stuck with it since then. I slowly discovered that thing called calorie counting that fitness bloggers nowadays promote as “tracking”. That’s when my relationship with food was at its worst. I limited my calories and became crazily obsessed with it. It is something that is hard to get rid of and some people even say that you’re never going to have the same relationship with food as you had before an eating disorder. I lost a lot of weight very quickly during that time – something that is not sustainable (the quicker you lose weight the more short term it is). My body dysmorphia got worse and worse and I wanted to lose more and more weight. It got a little out of control and I started to have extremely negative feelings (like crying, hating myself etc) when I ate “too much”. That’s when I discovered Freelee the banana girl. She’s a crazy Youtuber who basically retired now but her message was that you should eat vegan as well as eat as much as you want as long it is healthy and you’ll still look thin. I slowly got interested in the vegan diet and became vegan – still limiting my food intake to a minimum.

Vegan recovery – orthorexia and weight gain

After a few months, I decided to stop counting calories and eating intuitively. I did, however, limit my fat intake to a minimum since that was something Freelee promoted. I was much happier. I started to eat “rawtill4” which is basically only eating fruit for breakfast and lunch and having a low-fat dinner. I loved this way of eating as a way to recover from my eating disorder. But when you start eating again after an eating disorder you experience the Jojo effect. I immediately gained a lot of weight – more than I started with before my eating disorder. I wasn’t happy about it but overall I was so much happier with eating lots of vegan and healthy food. My mind became healthier again as well. I looked at old photos of me and was shocked how thin I looked – something that I didn’t see when I was in my unhealthy state. The vegan low-fat rawtill4 diet or “lifestyle” as everyone calls it, was still a bit restrictive and I still was a little too obsessed with it. I felt bad after eating out where they used oils and salts (which is a no-no for this diet) and would feel guilty for every fatty, salty or sweet food I had – even when it was just a handful of nuts or avocado maki. My anorexia turned into orthorexia –  which basically is the addiction of eating healthy. I also started to read more about health and about the science, environmental impacts and moral impacts of a vegan diet.

From then – stability and health + the power of working out

Since then I started to listen to my body more. I still don’t use oils and salts when I cook at home because I noticed that I don’t feel good afterward. I do eat junk food from now and then (vegan Ben & Jerry’s everyone?) and accepted that unhealthy food is good for your soul. I now feel when I eat too much junk food and need to go back to my healthy food routine but I also feel when I need something sweet. I don’t eat strictly rawtill4 anymore. I sometimes have porridge or pancakes (see my recipe here) for breakfast or lunch and I don’t feel guilty when I have lunch at a restaurant with my boyfriend. I do mostly have smoothies, smoothie bowls, fruit platters or juices for breakfast but my diet is much more balanced now. I also increased my fat intake and I include more nuts, seeds and avocados in my diet now.

I’ve come a long way and so much has changed over the years. I’m still very interested in health and I’m still amazed by raw foods and the health they can bring to your diet. I focus on whole foods now and avoid processed foods because that’s when I feel my best. I’m not afraid of eating vegan junk food anymore and enjoy burgers, milkshakes, ice cream, popcorn and more from time to time. I love that I don’t care about how many calories a food has anymore. I absolutely love the vegan lifestyle and I’ll never go back to eating animal products and I can recommend eating vegan to everyone – especially to those who struggle with eating disorders. Something that also helps me with my body image is exercising. I workout regularly now and experienced the power of moving your body. I feel grateful for my body because I am able to run, lift weight and get endorphins from it. I want to feel strong instead of skinny. Sometimes I do experience some setbacks when it comes to orthorexia and I obsess a bit too much about eating healthy but I’m still young and have lots of time to have a good relationship with food.

 

I’d love to know your food history! Tell me in the comments or write me a message!

Author: liviavanheerde

My name is Livia and I blog about a sustainable, ethical and vegan lifestyle. I live in Vienna and London where I study Environmental ScienceI. I am especially passionate about fair, eco-friendly and vegan fashion and you'll find lots of outfit ideas on this blog and my Instagram page.

One thought

  1. I’m so glad you found your balance! I feel like it took me so long to find myself being comfortable with a certain type of diet. I went vegetarian about 9 years ago when I was in college, but wasn’t eating healthy at all. I didn’t eat enough fruits and veggies, a lot of processed food was involved and I wasn’t aware. It wasn’t until I moved out of my parents home that I started to really focus on wholesome mostly vegan foods and recipes, and now after 9 years I can say that I am finally in love with the healthy food that I eat. I fall of the wagon and eat junk food every once in a while, but not feeling constricted makes me crave it less. Each person has its own path towards a healthier lifestyle and I’m glad that even though are paths were different, we have arrived to a very similar place 🙂

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