When I was born… the closest Mcdonalds was a 3 hour drive away.
On the day it opened in my town – I was taken there for a meal.. instead of school. My parents loved me very much but my father enjoyed showing his affection by buying me the foods I loved. These foods unfortunately were fatty, sugary, fast foods in the forms of KFC, Mcdonalds, and pizza to start. I mean, don’t all children love these things if given a chance? I know I did, and it showed. I was overweight for most of my elementary school life.
Those years were the hardest. I was that child that was picked on, ridiculed and often isolated. There was a commercial on at the time for the Church of Latter day Saints where two boys are choosing their teams for a sporting event. They choose each child one at a time until there is one left standing. The last boy to choose says “Eh, you can have’er” That child would have been me. I didn’t enjoy sports because of this, and because of my weight I was not able to keep up with other children. This left me feeling worthless, and was alleviated only by the cycle of more fast food and sweets. I was on every diet a young girl shouldn’t be on… Topps, Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Slim fast, even Richard Simmons’ deal-a-meal (still one of my favourites).
It wasn’t until I was 12 that things began to turn around. I was doing volunteer work at a local SPCA and because of my love of animals had decided that I’d rather cut them out of my diet. The president of the SPCA and her husband just happened to be vegetarians. This was the first time I had heard the term and I was intrigued to say the least. The duo took me under their vegetarian wing and helped guide me in the beginning stages. 23 years later, I haven’t eaten meat once. During that time I also started to lose weight, I attribute it to the lack of vegetarian foods available at all those fast food venues. No point in going to KFC if I don’t want chicken. It didn’t take long for me to lose all my excess weight and start my road to recovery and ultimate health. This of course was a very long journey. For years and years I continue to battle with self esteem issues stemming from my time at elementary school. I also battled with nutrition, though I had cut out meat I hadn’t replaced it with all the right foods. The battle waged on and the discoveries continued. Each year brought new food discoveries and recipes, today, eating healthy and helping others is my passion.
Today it’s not about counting calories, it’s about “counting” nutrients, and eating a balanced diet with plants as a focal point of each meal. It’s not about labelling myself “vegan” or “vegetarian” , it’s about labelling myself healthy!