Tales of a Recovering Junk Food Junkie

I’m a recovering junk food junkie.

Tales of a Recovering Junk Food Junkie

Struggling with anxiety and depression leaves me feeling stressed a majority of the time. Whenever I get too overwhelmed, I eat. Basically, I eat my feelings. I don’t just eat any kind of food though. I eat junk food.

CHILDHOOD

Before I started my journey towards a healthier lifestyle, I used to binge eat junk food very frequently. How was this possible? Growing up, I stayed very thin. This was probably due to high metabolism, so it never really impacted me (or so I thought).

It also didn’t help that I was a little bit of a picky eater. Okay, I was a major picky eater. Seriously, my daily diet consisted of chicken fingers, mac n cheese, pizza, and french fries; however, the most important food group in my diet was chocolate.

I fell in love with chocolate at an early age. My mom still insists my first word was chocolate. True story. That’s how much I LOVE chocolate. I begged for any kind of chocolate treat whenever my mom went grocery shopping. I craved it every time I finished a meal. If the saying “you are what you eat” is true, then I was a delicious, rich piece of chocolate cake. It completely consumed me.

In addition to chocolate, I consumed lots of candy in my childhood. My favorites were Starbursts, Fun Dip, Mike & Ike’s, Necco Wafers, Pez, etc. I could go on listing at least ten or so more options. I think you get the point.

Eventually, I ate whatever junk food I could get my hands on. Donuts, cookies, cupcakes, cake, pastries, pies, ice cream. The list just goes on and on.

Tales of a Recovering Junk Food Junkie

I couldn’t stop, and I didn’t want to. I didn’t care if I got a tummy ache later. In the moment, it gave me a sense of security through it’s decadent taste, and there was no way I was going to end that feeling.

COLLEGE

I stated earlier how I eat my feelings whenever I’m stressed. Well, college was definitely the most stressful part of my life up to that point.

After I started college, I began working in retail. If I wasn’t in class, I was at work and vice versa. I didn’t have too much of a social life outside of work and school. I barely had enough time for myself and the person I was dating.

Somehow I balanced it all and finally graduated in four and a half years! Yay! But one significant factor I didn’t balance was my diet. What a shock, right?

Why would I do any better in my early adulthood during college? It was my first time away from home making my own decisions, but my mindset on food didn’t change. I still wanted to eat the sugary food I craved because it didn’t have much of an impact on my body. I didn’t gain the so-called “freshman fifteen” or any weight for that matter. Tums alleviated my upset stomach on the rare occasion I needed it.

Additionally, I ate lots of fast food on and off campus. I tried grabbing a few healthier alternatives when I went grocery shopping every now and again, but it wasn’t enough. I continued blinding myself to the reality of the awfulness of what I consumed because I didn’t care about my health back then.

Tales of a Recovering Junk Food Junkie

AFTER COLLEGE

After I graduated college, I remained working part-time in the retail store where I worked during college. I persisted in my full-time job search, but nothing happened for several months, so I needed a second source of income. Then, I started a second part-time job at a bank.

Sometimes I had to work very long days at both jobs. My stress levels were very high, and I resorted to my biggest vice: junk food. During this time, fast food reigned over all other foods. I ate McDonald’s, Lil’ Caesar’s, or Subway almost every day for lunch and dinner. Some days I didn’t have enough time to even eat fast food for dinner, so I ate candy (mostly Reese’s cups) on my fifteen minute break. This was my life every day for six months. 

My life changed quite a bit in the year after I initially started working at the bank. I left both part-time jobs; began a full-time job; raised a puppy; started a new relationship; and left the full-time job. In this span of time, I noticed different changes to my body I hadn’t previously paid attention to before. I gained weight, and my head and stomach seemed to always hurt. The worst part was my moods. I felt down and irritable a lot and almost on edge of breaking down entirely.

Tales of a Recovering Junk Food Junkie

Then, I finally broke. My unhappiness was my breaking point. I knew something had to give, but I still wasn’t sure where the root of the problem was coming from, let alone how to fix it.

One day, I was sitting on the couch at home cruising through Netflix. I saw a documentary called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and decided to watch it. It’s about a man who is very unhealthy and decides enough is enough. He goes on a journey to improve his health by partaking in a juice fast for 60 days. It was such an eye opening experience.

It became clear after I watched it that my problem was my health and eating habits. Now I didn’t go as extreme as he did with the juice fast. Instead I started my own healthier journey through different steps, and now I’m here.

NOW

Final question: Do I eat junk food anymore?

  • Answer: Yes, I occasionally indulge in junk food, but in moderation. I’m careful by trying not to overindulge and taking control over my mind, body, and emotions. I’m a vegetarian, and every day I research more healthy and natural alternatives to food I eat and products I use. I rarely have stomachaches or headaches anymore. Most importantly, I feel happy very often and thankful to share my experiences in the hopes other people will learn and grow from them.

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RESOURCES

Feel free to check out the link provided here for more information about the documentary Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.

Tales of a Recovering Junk Food Junkie

 

Five FAQs About My Vegetarian Diet Answered

I choose to live on a vegetarian diet. Whenever I say this, I end up explaining what this means and how it affects my life.

I enjoy and welcome the curiosity; however, most of the time I am met with concern and even annoyance.

I understand why people react this way because I used to react similarly before I converted. Now I want to answer the top five questions with the hope of promoting knowledge and peace on this subject.

I’ll start with the most basic question:

WHAT IS THE VEGETARIAN DIET?

A vegetarian diet is based around consuming fruits and vegetables also known as a plant-based diet.

There are different types of vegetarian diets including lacto, lacto-ovo, pesco, semi, and vegan. A lacto-vegetarian consumes dairy products. A lacto-ovo-vegetarian consumes eggs and dairy products. A pesco-vegetarian consumes fish, eggs, and dairy products. Semi-vegetarians usually consume some form of meat including chicken or fish, but normally do not consume red meats. Vegans are the strictest form avoiding all animal-based food products including dairy, eggs, fish, chicken (poultry), and meat.

*Disclaimer: Keep in mind labelled diets such as the ones above can be subjective and don’t have to follow specific guidelines.*

 WHAT VEGETARIAN DIET DO YOU FOLLOW?

I consider myself a lacto-ovo-vegetarian with a few limitations. I do not actively drink dairy-based milk or eat eggs on their own anymore. I drink and use milk produced from nuts (Almond milk) and only consume dairy and egg products when they are already cooked into food.

I do not eat fish, poultry, or meat anymore. Now I center my diet around fruits and vegetables.

My main goal is to balance my diet with nutrient-rich foods. I feel confident knowing I’m on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. 🙂

WHY DID YOU BECOME A VEGETARIAN?

Simple answer: I am a vegetarian because I want to rescue animals, my body, and the environment from suffering. That might sound a bit exaggerated, but I wholeheartedly mean it.

Complex answer: I was unhealthy and unhappy every single day. My diet was based primarily on the consumption of meat and junk food. Almost every night I had issues with my stomach hurting, and I felt constipated. I started gaining more weight, which turned mostly into fat. As a result, I felt depressed and irritable.

I didn’t understand why this was happening to me.

Then, I discovered a few documentaries on diet, health, and nutrition. Suddenly a lightbulb went off in my head. That’s it!

I’m unhealthy and unhappy because of what I’m putting into my body.

But there was another issue as well. Deep down I always had issues with eating animals. I continued eating them because I thought it was important to health and survival.

I began researching nutritious ways to improve my eating habits while helping animals and the environment too. I found humans can live healthy, happy lives on vegetarian diets.

Also, there are ways of getting the same nutrients provided in animal meats (protein, B12) from alternative plant-based food sources and vitamins.

I felt relieved. This was exactly what I wanted and needed. Now I can look at a cow or a pig in the eye and genuinely smile because I’m making a difference.

DO YOU MISS OR CRAVE MEAT?

To be completely honest, at this point my answer is not really, but I’m still fairly new to vegetarianism.

Before I fully converted, my favorite meal included salmon. Yes, sometimes I think about how much I used to enjoy eating salmon. No, I don’t crave salmon anymore.

I see a lot of advertisements on TV about different meat-related products. I watch the Food Network channel almost every day which also features meat-related products. There’s some form of meat in my fridge and freezer right now because my boyfriend, Slade, still eats meat.

I’m surrounded by it all of the time. It doesn’t bother me. My body doesn’t involuntarily twitch when I see it. I don’t want to vomit at the sight or smell of it. It’s just there, and I know I’m not going to eat it.

My mind and stomach no longer process meat as appetizing. I crave other foods now in place of meat.

I think people expect it to be lot harder than it is. I weaned off of meat for about a month until one day I decided I wanted to completely stop all meat consumption. It’s really that simple.

HOW DO YOU GROCERY SHOP OR GO OUT TO EAT ON A VEGETARIAN DIET?

 Grocery shopping for a vegetarian is easy. Going out to eat is a little bit more difficult depending on the situation.

The community I live in provides numerous grocery stores. The one I shop at most of the time is Kroger. Kroger has a large organic section and a decent selection of fruits and vegetables. They also provide a weekly circular with deals, which almost always includes discounts on produce.

*Disclaimer: Kroger did not compensate me or sponsor this post. I wrote the above description only for the purpose of honestly describing where I grocery shop.*

 Most of the time I stay home and cook with Slade. We don’t really want to go out to eat very often because we buy and cook with delicious, fresh fruits and vegetables.

Occasionally we decide to be lazy and go out for dinner. When that happens, we look up restaurants with vegetarian options beforehand. If both of us want two different types of food then we’ll either compromise on one or get what we each want from two places.

Going out to eat with family or friends is another situation entirely. I’m the only vegetarian (that I know of) in my family and group of friends, so normally I’m the odd one out at meal times. I don’t really mind because I understand it’s my choice.

Sometimes awkward situations arise, and I feel like I inconvenience people. In the end, I know it’s a small hassle because they support and love me for who I am.

RESOURCES

  • Information about the types of vegetarian diets provided from Ask Dr. Sears.
  • For additional information regarding vegetarianism and the vegetarian diet, check out North American Vegetarian Society.
  • If you have more questions about my personal experiences with vegetarianism or just general questions, you can go to my Contact page and leave a message or email me.

Five FAQs About My Vegetarian Diet Answered