I will refrain from using this online space to complain about all of the responsibilities that I am unsuccessfully juggling at the moment. But, let’s just say I’m dealing with a bit of stress. The last few days have been filled with activities and looming deadlines, and I’m merely keeping my head above water (queue the theme music!). In times like these, I find that eating a vegan diet becomes challenging for me. I’ve only been strictly vegan for the past six months, so that in and of itself has been a significant transition in my life. With a busy schedule, I’ve had to be very purposeful in figuring out how to make the diet work for me and to make sure that I always have healthy options. Unlike before, I can’t just go to any number of fast food joints near my campus office to grab a quick bite to eat. Though, a vegan “fast food” cafe just opened up steps away from my office. And, therein lies the problem. Yes, the food is vegan there, but they do not offer only healthy food choices. No, they have a “B”LT sandwich, and my god is it good! The sandwich is made with deep fried tempeh, lettuce, tomato, sprouts, and vegan mayonnaise spread generously on a grilled bun. And, they have the best cupcake in town, and it is vegan! So, when I’m feeling like I’ve had a good week diet wise, I don’t mind indulging in a few vegan treats. Problem is, right now, I’m snacking on Mi-del Swedish Style Ginger Snaps. They’re All Natural, 0g Trans Fat, and 120 calories for 5 cookies. That justifies me eating the entire bag, right?
Here’s my confessional: when I’m stressed, I become a vegan junkie. Yesterday, I almost finished off an entire container (I won’t admit the size) of Valentine’s candy hearts. At least they’re vegan *shrugs shoulders*. It’s easy to do that when you’re sitting in front of your computer writing a proposal that is due that day. A few weeks ago I wrote about how going inward helped me to slow down and stay focused and balanced. I took the time to prepare healthy meals and to savor every bite. When I lose my center, all bets are off. Thankfully, centering is an act that is continual and ongoing. Sometimes you get off, but you can get back on. This happens with eating and dieting all the time. I have the best intentions, but I am human.
I’m learning that when I have a particularly stressful week ahead, it is a good idea that I plan accordingly. Here are some of the ways that I combat my vegan junkie tendencies:
1) I make sure that I have lots of healthy snacks on the ready. Some of my favorite standbys are chips and salsa, unsalted cashews and almonds, Boom Chicka Pop sea salt popcorn, and hummus and pita chips. I also make sure that I always have a banana, an apple, and an orange with me. I’m much more likely to grab for the banana over the candy hearts if I have it with me.
2) Eating a few squares from a diary-free dark chocolate bar can usually satisfy my sweet tooth. And it’s good for you. And it’s chocolate!
3) I just admit that I don’t really like salad, and I don’t try to force it into my diet. I will eat grilled, steamed, and roasted veggies all day long, but I’m just not a huge fan of salads. I think there are certain misconceptions about what it means to eat a vegan diet, i.e., most times when I’m at an event and I ask for a vegan option, they give me a salad. There is much more to eating vegan than eating salad. And, I’m not hating on people who love salads; it’s just not for me all the time.
4) I make sure to have canned black beans and chickpeas and frozen bags of brown rice on hand for quick dinner options, especially for the nights that I teach late or have evening events to attend. Without those options, I’m inclined to polish off my bag of ginger snaps and call it a night.
5) I permit myself to have a night of Amy’s frozen no-cheese vegan pizza, that “B”LT from the vegan cafe, or a black bean and grilled veggies burrito from Chipotle. Sure, it may be processed or fast food. But, you have to live a little.
Most importantly, I try to maintain my zen and not let life stress me out. Ultimately, I’m better able to make good decisions about my health and diet when I’m centered. And, eating well and eating right is a radical act of self-love and self-care. I must make it a priority.