Eliminating animal products from my diet this week has stirred something up in me. Emotionally, it’s hit a soft spot or a sensitive spot. Whatever you want to call it… And I sorta felt the desire to share a little more about me, more then just my obsession with salads, peanut butter and frozen yogurt. I asked people on twitter how they felt about food bloggers getting all personal and emotional, and I got mixed reviews. At the end of the day, I really enjoy reading blogs where the writer is vulnerable and shares a little extra about their personal life. So I went with it…

This is where I get vulnerable, just honest, and slightly long winded (sorry about that).

I’ve struggled with my body image for as long as I can remember. My earliest memory of trying to be ‘skinny’ was when I was about 6. I remember standing in front of the mirror trying to suck in my stomach as far as I could. I remember feeling disappointed that it couldn’t go in further. So while maybe a lot of 6 year olds see how far they can suck in their stomach, the issue comes with the disappointment that I wasn’t ‘skinnier.’ Which is ridiculous on MANY levels.

Fast forward 22 years (which means I’m 28).

I’ve always (since 6 anyways) strived to be thinner, fitter, healthier. I would beat myself up if I didn’t meet my own dumb expectations. Even as a teenager I attempted diet pills and just dieting in general. That usually only lasted for a day though. I was a very active kid/teenager and my body just NEEDED fuel. I, thankfully, didn’t have the willpower to deny it food. However, I ate like crap. Processed food up the wazoo was my main diet. I changed my eating habits when I was 21. That’s a completely different blog post…maybe I’ll do that soon. But bottom line, at 21 my eyes were opened to many of the evils of processed food…since then I’ve slowly eliminated lots of processed food from my diet. Not all, but most.

In the past, about 5 years, I’ve gained a healthier respect for my body. This has not just been by chance, I have had to work, day in and day out, at loving ME. Even though I have come leaps and bounds in accepting myself and learning what things trigger self hatred, I still struggle, daily.

I can truly say I love my body. Just saying this (well, typing it) is empowering.

I have come to love the capabilities my body has. I grew a child, INSIDE of me. Birthed her and now I provide her ONLY nourishment. That’s just unbelievable to me. My body can do that. I also am a runner. I’ve run half marathons, which takes lots of discipline and training. My body is capable of running 13.1 miles, at one time, and then coming home to take care of my family. Again, unbelievable that my body can do this.

My body has showed me how amazing it is, and it has nothing to do with the way it looks. It has everything to do with how I treat it. If I take care of it, it will take care of me.

When I start to think my body is ‘imperfect’ I remind myself of 2 things:



1. What is ‘perfect’ anyway? The image society has deemed as ‘perfect’ is actually a starving airbrushed model. So um, really, how perfect is that? I used to think the only way to be accepted was to look like one of the models in magazines. Because of this I do not read fashion or girly magazines anymore. I find they only take me down a path of disappointment. Disappointment that I don’t look like an airbrushed model. Which is CLEARLY unrealistic. But in order not to compare myself, I eliminate putting those images in my mind to compare myself too. Remove the temptation, that’s kinda the way I see it.

2. My value and identity are not based on the number on the scale or the size my jeans are. THEY JUST AREN’T. Yes, this is easier said then done. But I remind myself of this EVERYDAY! In the same train of thought, I remind myself what my identity IS in. I am a follow of Christ. I am a wife. I am a mom. Those three things are more important then ANYTHING else in my life. Bottom line.

This may always be a struggle, my body image issue. But I’d like for it not to be. I want to treat my body well. I want to feed my body to give it strength, life, and the ability to conquer the world (ok, that’s a bit extreme).

This week, eating vegan has opened my eyes to a new lifestyle, a new way of eating. I have had to be very conscious of each thing I eat and drink. Not only conscious about making sure I DON’T eat certain things, but being very conscious about making sure I DO eat certain things. Like protein. I’m still nursing my daughter, and protein is important in keep up milk supply. My goal has been to get at least 50 grams of protein a day. 50 grams of protein a day, at least 10 servings of fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. Healthy fats have been avocado, nuts butters (mainly peanut butter, come on now, we know how I love the stuff), raw nuts, and olive oil.

I’ve been enjoying eating very strategically. I have to ask myself this question though:

Am I considering a vegan lifestyle as a way to limit my food intake, as a way of control?

At this point I don’t know the answer to that question. Which is why I don’t know if I will continue a vegan lifestyle.

I didn’t know this was a question I would wind up asking myself when I decided to try being vegan for a week. But a couple days ago I found myself thinking about it. Since it’s has presented itself, I can’t ignore it and I am exploring it now…

I’ll post a follow up in the next few days, about how I felt at the end of the 7 days.

Ok, and finally, to the recipe. A Vegan salad. It’s super delicious and perfect for the summer. It’s perfect for the summer because it can be brought to BBQ’s, picnics, beach days and made days ahead of time. I wanted to change up the traditional potato salad by veganizeing it, lowering the fat and increasing the veggies. So pretty much, this isn’t anything like a potato salad at all. But it’s still real good :)

Gnocchi Salad

Serves 6-8

1 package gnocchi (about 3 cups worth)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

3 green onions, chopped

1/3 cup parsley, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped

Add all ingredients to a large bowl (or Tupperware container to use less dishes). Pour prepared dressing over salad and refrigerate until ready to serve. Toss the salad a couple times before serving.

Dressing

1 tbsp agave nectar

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

juice from 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon salt

fresh ground pepper, to taste

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until the cilantro is chopped to your liking. Refrigerate in a covered container until ready to add to the salad. Can be made a day ahead of time.

Colorful dishes like this make going vegan easy. They are colorful and flavorful, the perfect combination in a summer meal.