There’s really no way around it: My dietary journey has been a long and strange one, and at times, it just doesn’t make sense at all. What also doesn’t make sense: the fact that, after a trip to the supermarket this weekend, I have a full fridge for the first time in about two years. What is this world coming to? I guess this is what they call “being an adult.”
Anyway, let’s take a look at a few pivotal moments of my dietary history in chronological order to get a better understanding of how I got to where I am today.
Age 5: My mom had a pretty simple dinner table policy growing up. We were never forced to eat anything. If we were going to consume broccoli, it’d be because we were willing to do so ourselves. What she wouldn’t do was cook up something separate to appease our picky palates.
I remember one night in particular. My mom made salmon, and I had no intention of touching the icky pink slab of fish on the table (which, I should mention, was probably delicious since my mom was — and still is — a ridiculously good cook).
Now, fish is probably a touchy ingredient for any child. But in my home, I had only two options. 1) I could give it a chance, or 2) I could make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In other words, I was welcome to abstain from dinner; I just wasn’t getting a separate meal.
To make a long story, well, kind of long (sorry about that) I tried the salmon, and I liked it. To this day, I credit my mom’s steadfast rule for my expansive taste buds and willingness to try (almost) anything.
Age 10: My diet was incredibly varied by the time I entered the fifth grade. Steak, fish, chicken, Gushers — you name it, I ate it.
As you can imagine, another major part of my personal food pyramid was chocolate. Naturally, this couldn’t be helped. I grew up with a dad who made (and still makes!) chocolate for a living. There’s really no escaping it — not that anyone would want to.
Age 15: My metabolism was incredibly kind to me as a teen, powering through somewhat gross amounts of cookie dough, chocolate, gummies, milkshakes and more. I could easily polish off a 16 oz. steak on my own. Easily. Most of the time, I often did. Nothing was off limits, and nothing was portion controlled. Fortunately, you’d never know from the looks of me.
Age 18: I began to grow more conscious of my nutritional choices — and how they made me feel — around the time I went off to college. Rather than cinnamon buns, I began to contemplate fruit for breakfast; salads slowly began to replace meatball hero lunches; turkey meat took the place of red meat on taco nights.
It was a slow transition, and I can’t say I stuck to my guns all the time; I still doubled up at Dunkin Donuts (because who can actually choose between jelly and strawberry frosting?).
But, as they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither is a healthful lifestyle.
Age 21: About a month after I turned 21, I returned from a four-month stint in Prague. I had traveled Europe and lived in the beer capital of the world, and my palate knew no bounds. While I managed to sneak in two or three runs a week (to the dirty glares of urban Czech dwellers who know not what exercise is!), I nevertheless ate — and drank — just about everything in sight during that period, and by the time I got home, I was in dire need of drastic change.
Senior year was around the time when I began to really play with what I was eating and, perhaps more importantly, how it made me feel. I’ll be honest — at times, it may have been extreme. I blame that on my own lack of nutrition education. When you’re not sure how to approach the matter, the whole subject – chia seeds! cleanses! omegas! — can seem incredibly confusing and overwhelming. One hardly knows where to begin.
It doesn’t have to be scary though.
These days, there is a wealth of information available — on blogs, in magazines — that just didn’t exist in abundance back when I first became interested in how certain foods affect one’s well-being — inside and out. At the same time, I think that it’s because I was forced to be playful and creative that I’ve been able to find such a sense of balance now.
So here we are. Here I am.
Where’s here? Well, I like to think that I’m in a really solid place in terms of how I eat and — like I said, more importantly — how I view food. Moderation is key, and accepting that we can’t always be expected to eat carrots and Greek yogurt is part of getting on the right track (that is, in my opinion). Sometimes, humans just crave sugar, or meat, or beer, or an entire box of Pop Tarts. And when these foods call, denial isn’t the answer.
To be clear, I don’t avoid processed foods, and I’m definitely not vegan. When possible, however, I try to choose whole foods over processed ones and vegan options more than not. Moreover, I eat the way I do because of how it makes me feel. And then I run and stuff.
Meat. I still find meat delicious, but there’s no way around it. Because I hardly eat it anymore, too much will make me sick. It has before.
If there’s an awesome steak, or a friend of mine cooks up tacos using beef or turkey, I won’t make a big stink or turn up my nose. Instead, I’ll have a small slice of steak or make a taco loaded with veggies and with just a touch of the meat.
When given the opportunity (like when I go back to my mom’s house, or when I’m out for a nice meal or worthy occasion) I definitely load up on fish. Among my favorites are scallops, shrimp and tuna. And a few weeks ago, I served up this amazing Mediterranean swordfish during a dinner get-together with friends.
Squirrel instincts. My dad once said that I eat like a squirrel, because I’m constantly snacking on nuts (mainly almonds and Brazil nuts), seeds (love me my pumpkin seeds) and dried fruit. Confession: I keep a little bag with me at all times so that, when I get midday hunger pangs, I can easily reach into my bag and grab a handful of something healthy and crunchy.
Wine. We all know my feelings on this subject. From the weekend, you can see below my white wine, club soda and fresh orange concoction. So refreshing.
The dairy deal. Cutting dairy out isn’t easy, and to tell you the truth, I definitely haven’t entirely and don’t really plan on it. I’m not quite sure I believe the whole “dairy is bad for you” crap anyway, and so I drink skim milk at some times and almond milk during others. I just try to switch it up.
I love Babybel cheese wheels. I love whipped cream. I enjoy the occasional cup of froyo come summer. And in fact, last night, as I drafted this post while watching the Super Bowl, I had a big plate of cheese and crackers in front of me (mind you, the meat slices were for Noah).
Do you remember not long ago — like, earlier this month — when I encouraged everyone to make a New Year’s Resolution that added value to your life, as opposed to restricting all those “naughty” things we do?
For me, almond milk was one of those additions.
I started using Silk Almond Milk about two years ago, when regular milk began hurting my belly but I was still searching for something to put in my morning (and afternoon, and evening) coffee. Almond milk has been a solid go-to ever since, and I’m now a big fan of both Silk’s original and vanilla flavors, and usually just choose based on my mood.
Silk Almond Milk is one of those things I wish someone would have told me about years ago, when I first began experimenting with different ingredients but didn’t know where to turn. I had no idea that almond milk was not only a delicious substitute for dairy, but also loaded with vitamins and, most importantly of all, a smidge of protein for those of us “sometimes” vegans out there whose grandmas are constantly worried about whether we’re eating enough meat.
If, like the old me, you’re unsure of how to actually incorporate almond milk into your life, then be sure to check out these great recipes here . (I am dying to try the Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa , the Key Lime Smoothie , and the Vanilla Walnut Overnight Oats .)
My application of Silk Almond Milk is far more basic, but then again, basic doesn’t detract from importance. After all, I still use it on a daily basis. Here’s how.
Espresso. Good morning, sunshine. I really enjoy my AM espresso, especially after a chilly run. When drinking it warm, I like to heat up the almond milk first and then add in the espresso. Then, I top it off with cinnamon.
Iced lattes. This is one of my all-time favorite drinks to make at home, and it’s actually filling enough to double as a pseudo-dessert. To make, I brew espresso and add almond milk to cool it down. Then, I pour the latte over ice and add a touch of non-fat whipped cream (if my stomach is feeling like it can handle dairy, that is) and cinnamon.
Cereal. I love the way Silk has just a hint of sweetness, which makes it perfect over cereal — especially with a splash of cinnamon.
So, I’m sure that’s not an entirely thorough explanation of the way I choose to lead my life, but if you take away nothing else from this blog post besides a serious case of the munchies, let it be this. Be sure that you’re proud of what you put in your body. If it’s almond milk, veggies and hummus, so be it. And if it’s Big Macs, nachos and Bloomin’ Onions, well, who am I to judge?
Eat what makes you feel best, what makes you run fast, what makes you breathe easy. Eat what makes you strong. Eat what makes you happy.
Regarding Silk Almond Milk: FitFluential LLC compensated me for this Campaign. All opinions are my own.