Hi my angels!
Second post of the day because I am officially back from Hawaii and just can’t get enough of you. But really… when I’m gone I really, really miss writing to you guys. Instagram is one thing (I treat those captions like a long-form blog post, let’s be real), but there is nothing like a good heart-spill post on the site.
This is a topic I have wanted to share with you guys for a while now, but similar to other things I have been experimenting with lately, I knew I had to live it for a while before I announced it on blast. Many of you know I have had a rocky history with veganism, and when I ditched the label to find more balance in my life — shit hit the fan.
I wasn’t about to do any unnecessary boat rocking again because what I went through publicly during that time was gruesome, to say the least. I was picked to SHREDS by the vegan community, and between that and recovering from an eating disorder and trying to understand how non-plant foods fit into my life again… I swung really majorly in one direction. And that direction had nothing to do with plants.
That was almost four years ago. Three years and 9.5 months to be exact. It’s crazy to think that much time has passed, because I really do remember it all like it was yesterday. I became the poster child for orthorexia. (No really, if you look it up on Google you’ll find photos of me splattered everywhere, and “The Blonde Vegan” is a subcategory under the eating disorder.)
To this day, not one day has gone by that a reporter hasn’t emailed to be in a story about orthorexia. For the record, I stopped doing orthorexia interviews about a year and a half ago. After hundreds upon HUNDREDS of news interviews, I couldn’t tell the story a single additional time without going mad.
Running from Orthorexia //
After I announced my split from veganism, I was at a loss for how to move forward. I knew I had to leave my eating disorder and disordered view of food in the dust, but I wasn’t just doing it for me… I was doing it for the hundreds of thousands whose eyes were on me too. Millions, if you count the news stories, night shows, CNN articles, magazine stories, and beyond.
So what did I do? I did what any extreme personality HSP empath does best, I jumped to the extreme. I wanted to please myself and everyone around me. I wanted to show the world and MYSELF especially that I could eat red meat, poultry, dairy, and sugar. I wanted to show them all and show my insides that I could handle it, I was strong, and it wouldn’t kill me.
I will spare you the details of what happened with my stomach during that time, but you can read all about it in my book if you are interested. My body FLIPPED. I felt like complete SH*T on the inside, and not to mention I gained at least 15 pounds, developed cystic acne and chronic fatigue, and a myriad of what became chronic health problems over the last handful of years. And again, I was at a total loss for what to do or where to go.
The New Me, ALL the Protein //
I started working with some great nutritionists and a functional medicine doctor, and all of the advice I was getting was to lean toward a protein-heavy diet. Not quite labeled, but if it were labeled it would be very much paleo / ketogenic. Very low carb, lots of quality animal protein, smoothies with protein, lots of healthy fats, almost no fruit, no sugar, almost no starchy veggies.
I listened and soaked it all in. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to feel like I was living in MY body again. I willed my body to adapt to this new way of life. I begged every inch of it to let go of the stress, the pain, the bloat, the extra pounds, the exhaustion, the hormone imbalances, all of it. It wasn’t really about losing weight but rather feeling like myself again — it was killing me, every inch of me, not to feel like myself in my own body.
I exercised like a fiend. I ran a marathon. I fell in love with exogenous ketones. I willed them to work for me and “fix me” and make me feel like me again. They didn’t. I fell out of love with exogenous ketones. I fell out of love with HIIT & distance running. I got into Ayurveda. I got into meditation, kundalini, and reiki. I learned more and more and more about the mind-body connection. I fell deeper in love with restorative yoga. I fell deeper in love with self-care, and plants, and whole real foods again, and massages and facials and Panchakarma treatments and travel. It all helped, but I was still doing stuff that didn’t work.
I ate eggs daily. I ate bacon. I ate burgers and chicken. I drank coffee like it was my job. I ate a ton of salmon for b12 and omegas. I listened to the protein-heavy diet advice that was coming at me from all angles. In Bali, I realized with INTENSE awareness that I felt like absolute crap.
I had no energy left inside… no Ojas or “life force” as we say in yoga. Jonathan willed me not to pick my face, or scratch my ever-expanding full-body rash, or get upset when our Balinese massage therapist asked me if I was PREGNANT because I was so bloated from my body’s reaction to food. My body felt like anyone’s but my own.
I felt like I was in a prison. Not to mention, feeling ill day in and day out. Having my stomach flip turn before, during and after every meal. Literally feeling my blood sugar rising and falling, dipping and crashing, taking my adrenals for a loop and coursing imbalanced hormones through my body. I tried everything I could to get it under control, for THREE and a HALF YEARS, and I really, truly felt like it would respond to nothing at this point.
The Plant Experiment //
With my growing intuition and my relatively newfound love for self-care, slowing down, shamanism, reiki, kundalini, channeling, and the rest… I knew (KNEW) that plants were calling my name, LOUDLY. I even had an incredible shaman named Ashley Brothers, who I want to have on the podcast soon, tell me that plants have been a part of my soul and past-lives for centuries upon centuries, and she sensed that the plant-based way of life was shouting out to me. To help me uncover and remember, and heal and BE.
Even the “forbidden” fruits that I had been so intensely afraid of because of all of the info that was being thrown my way by so many professionals I was working with. (I don’t discredit anything they say, at all, but my body was not, simply not at all, responding to that diet or way of life. Point blank. I am sure it works great for so many.)
After a particularly difficult few days food-wise and health-wise at the most BEAUTIFUL place on earth — Nihiwatu in Sumba Island, off the coast of Bali — I pledged to myself and to Jonathan (someone’s gotta hear you say it out loud! At least in my case) that I would not touch any of the foods that were killing my body from the inside out until I felt better. That included eggs, meat, coffee, and refined sugar.
And guess what? I haven’t touched one single bit of any of it since.
Just a few weeks later, I decided that my heart and gut was pulling me desperately into the plant-based way of life. I didn’t want to put a label on it, and I am glad I didn’t / haven’t, but predominantly plant-based (about 95% of the time) is how my body is feeling the best right now.
Plants have been healing me from the inside out. They are anti-inflammatory, delicious, nurturing, and actually speak to my soul. I have a long, long history with plants (not just here in this lifetime, but in many lifetimes) and I believe they are my medicine. My wisdom. They heal me on the deepest of levels. That is true for me, not with everyone… but for me, I feel it in my bones.
I didn’t give them the credit or the love they were screaming out for for so long. That goes for veggies AND fruits. Leafy greens AND starchy veggies. Kale AND potatoes. Plant-based smoothies AND lentils, rice, beans (all pressure-cooked), kelp noodles, low glycemic vegan desserts, and more.
It’s not about depriving myself with sugar-free green juice the way I once did… it’s about finding a healthy balance so that I am getting all the protein, vitamins, minerals, and life force energy that I need and deserve.
So many intuitives in my life who I am deeply close to, from Kelsey Patel to Lauren Roxburgh, immediately picked up on my body’s innate need to go back to a largely plant-based way of life. Their permission meant the WORLD, even though I know it;’s all from within… I needed to hear people tell me it was okay. Sometimes we all need that.
The Ayurvedic Way //
It was perfect timing to do my Panchakarma at Surya Spa, because there I ended up going on a kitchari diet for about three weeks… which is inevitably plant-based. All full of rice and mung beans, so not lacking in nutrients or substance in the least.
I then had a consultation with Martha, the head Ayurvedic doctor there who I resonate with on such a deep soul level, and she told me that for me specifically (with my pitta dominance & vata imbalance) to eat predominantly plants and have animal protein rarely, and “only as needed.”
THAT STRUCK SUCH A DEEP CHORD.
To be allowed to eat animal protein / products such an collagen, bone broth, ghee, etc. AS NEEDED. There doesn’t have to be such a strict one way or the other rule. And while I know I have been preaching that for YEARS now… I still felt so, so, so stuck in eating animal protein every day because I felt that I HAD to in order to “not be a vegan.”
I use the word ALLOWED because when you live with chronic stomach problems and health issues, you do get very attached to what you “should” or “shouldn’t” have. How beautiful to have someone give me permission to be plant-based, AND give me permission to eat animal protein / products as needed.
Now I have been plant-based with the occasional bite of fish, sip of bone broth, or collagen smoothie once in a while.
I was about 100% plant-based for all of January and February with the exception of ghee and collagen. And I had my first few bites of fish when I was in Hawaii this past week (so good, not raw though because of my parasites!), and I had a tiny piece of organic chicken at Erewhon the day before I left because… guess what? I CAN. My body was ready for a few bites, and I said HERE YOU GO. Lovingly.
There are no rules, I am just going with the flow. Flying by the seat of my pants. Loving every second. Feeling more and more like myself with every passing day.
My rashes are going away, and my hormones feel like they’re evening out. My body is starting to feel like my own again. My joints don’t hurt if I skip a day (or a WEEK) of yoga. My clothes fit me the way they once did.
Not everything has been healed overnight… I still have the longterm effects of skin issues, the skin disorders (eczema and hives), parasites, imbalances, and more to deal with — but at least I can deal with it with feeling like ME. That’s all I’ve ever wanted, to feel like me again.
My Tips for You //
My advice for you if you are struggling is: don’t take my words and impart them on yourself and your body. Coming to this very personal conclusion of being 95% plant-based right now in this season of my life took so, dang much personal work, journaling, meditation, channeling, drawing inward, experimenting, listening, believing, FAILING (trial and error, so much of it), courage, going against the grain of what I’d been told, facing my fears, and more. I want the same for YOU, however the outcome looks in your own life.
Because the truth is, this time around I did what I had done before with the slippery slope of listening to others & not my own body… it just didn’t look like so much of a problem as it did the first time. When I was vegan, I inadvertently listened and took in the advice of the raw vegan community and the “40 Bananas a Day” YouTubers. I juice cleansed for a living. THAT was unhealthy, and it looked that way to the outside world and family and friends too.
This time… I listened to a more balanced approach, but I was still listening to others. “Strive for X amount of protein every day, get your body into ketosis, avoid starches and fruits, be careful with the legumes” on and on. I LISTENED. I soaked it in. I was at a loss, and I wanted guidance.
And maybe that’s what I needed for a period of time. Who’s to say. I learned a lot, and I don’t regret anything. I respect everyone I have worked with and sought advice from, and NO ONE is wrong. They just don’t live inside of my body, and living inside of your own body is the only, only, only, only, ONLY place you can get true and real answers.
But in order to do that, you must be deeply in tune. I watch documentaries like “Fed Up” for example, and it’s very clear to me that not everyone is in a position to get deep internal cues and messages from their own body. We all start somewhere, and for some people starting with trusting a nutritionist, doctor, or trainer, is PERTINENT in order to get healthy.
For me, someone who researches and lives the lifestyle of wellness pretty much day in day out, who BREATHES health and vitality and foods that make us feel good… for me, it’s all about tuning in. Drawing in. Listening.
So that’s what I am doing now. If my body asks me for a juicy slab of red meat tomorrow, I’ll eat it. But I won’t quit on my veggies and fruits again. I won’t ditch my kitchari, spices, herbs, or foods from the earth ever again. I won’t turn my back on the healthy foods that ignite me deep from within and are the reason I started my blog in the first place.
Where I Am Now //
For so long, I ran from orthorexia. I was so, so scared of being “STUCK” again with so many food fears and anxieties. But in the last four years, I have grown. I don’t believe in so much of the stigma and labeling and fear that used to rule my life. I worked through it, and because of that — I feel confident AF in this position again. Being almost completely plant-based feels incredibly, sensationally good in my body right now.
The best part? I DON’T HAVE TO RUN FROM ANYTHING. Orthorexia is not chasing me. It’s nowhere near me, in fact. Everything has changed. I have grown. It’s so empowering.
I will keep you guys updated from here on out. Keeping this little dietary way of life to myself (well, only as much as I possibly could…. I feel like I’ve blabbed it discreetly a lot over the last few months — come on, it’s ME lol) has felt really good. I needed to, in order to figure out what it meant and what it looks like for me.
A message for everyone: veggies and fruits have the power to HEAL us. If you are allergic to them, can’t handle them, your system hates fruit, etc. then obviously listen to yourself and not me. But for the majority of people out there, it’s a fact. PLANTS HEAL. A few resources that have helped me get over my fruit fear and my plant-based/vegan-ish fears recently:
– And if you’ve never read my book, Breaking Vegan, it is an account of everything I have described in this post / my orthorexia healing journey. So dear to my heart.
Would love to hear your thoughts on all that I’ve shared, and would love to hear your current approach to food, lifestyle, labels or no labels, health, ALL of it.
Love you guys.
As always, respect and appreciate every type of lifestyle: from vegan to paleo, label-free to diehard keto, fruitarian to mega carnivore. This is a loving, accepting, open space to share your thoughts.