30 Bananas a Day!

Two sides of me are dueling right now—one side that wants to go HCRV, and one that does not. The issue is, obviously, giving up my favorite cooked foods. The scientific literature has convinced me, except for a few key points, so that's not the issue. The issue is the cravings I'm experiencing on this diet, and the inevitable giving into these cravings.

What happens is that I'm raw all day, I'm doing well, then it hits: a craving. Sometimes it's for anything I'm not allowed to have, sometimes it's for something crunchy and/or salty, and sometimes a specific food sounds good, like fried rice or something. But the responsible adult in me yells out, "You're not allowed to have that! Don't even consider it!" But then the spoiled brat in me grumbles, and eventually it gets louder. I think what happens is my inner brat is thinking, "I want peanut butter! I'm an adult, why can't I just have some f****** peanut butter? I should be able to eat whatever I want. No one tells me what I can or can't eat. I want curry, so I'm going to eat some f***** curry because I can."

I've discovered that I HATE restriction. Sometimes I genuinely want bad foods, but oftentimes I want to eat cooked food just for the heck of it. To rebel. Because restriction makes me feel frustrated. That's why I failed banana island, because I hated being told that I could only have bananas when I wanted something else ("You won't get sick of bananas" COMPLETE AND UTTER LIE). Contrary to what people said about emotional healing and better moods, I experienced the opposite on banana island. I was more cranky and did not look forward to my banana meals. I got snippy with people, and I felt like destroying my pile of bananas with a baseball bat to vent my anger. "Why can't I just eat what I want to eat? This is stupid," I thought. Keep in mind I love bananas and they are my favorite fruit. But Jesus, I don't want to eat them all the time! I want variety.

I think I know a few underlying reasons for my cravings, as well as some reasons for my resistance to transitioning to HCRV for good. 

1. Comfort and self-care. I'm an emotional eater. I know that. One of the ways I'm an emotional eater is that I like to treat myself to my favorite meals if I've had a rough day, or I feel like I just need to give myself something. There's this one Indian restaurant that I love because the staff is so friendly and the environment is so serene, not to mention the food is godly delicious (their yellow lentil dhal... oh man). I enjoy myself a lot there, so that's why I like going. But on HCRV I'll have to give up that restaurant, as well as my favorite sushi place and my favorite place for salads. I can't have tea anymore either, which is something that I drink when I want to relax. No more hot chocolate either, which I drink for comfort. I'll have to stay "good" all the time; no more treats. That's merely one form of deprivation I experience.

2. Love of cooking/social. I love to cook. It's one of my favorite activities and modes of expression. Obviously, cooking does not fit into the HCRV lifestyle. No more making elaborate meals for holidays, no more baking with friends, no more exploring different tastes. No more experimenting with different cuisines or exotic ingredients. No more of my favorite ingredients: chocolate, matcha green tea powder, peanut butter, beans and lentils, cruciferous vegetables, and no more cooked food at all. My close friend from up north is coming down to visit me soon, and as we are also cooking partners (cooking is our favorite thing to do together), we were planning all sorts of feasts we were going to make together. We were going to have an Indian meal, an Asian meal, an Italian meal, and a meal themed off of foods flavored with tea. But now when she shows up, I'm going to have to say, "Sorry, I'm not allowed to have fun with food anymore." One of my biggest hobbies right out the window.

3. Emotions/nostalgia. I connect certain foods with certain emotions and memories. I know you're not supposed to do that and the food won't bring back the experience and blah blah blah, I get it. That still doesn't change my feelings. Why do I love rice and Asian food like sushi and tempura? Because it reminds me of the two weeks I spent in Japan, which were the best two weeks of my life. Why do I like buttered noodles? Because it was my late mother's staple (she didn't really "cook", more like heated food up, lol). Why do I like pop such as root beer and grape drank? Because it's almost like a ceremonial drink for me, when I reunite with friends, that's what we drink. Aren't I allowed to enjoy food? Come on! If I eat only raw fruits and leafy greens, there's going to be no "treat" food, nothing that makes an occasion special. Every meal will be a ho hum affair. It sucks.

4. Frustration. It all started 3 years ago when I went vegan for ethical reasons. That actually went over quite smoothly. I had my fake meats and cheeses. I was proud that I could restrict myself like that and stick to it. But then I started getting into healthy eating, and one by one, I had to omit more ingredients from my diet: first processed foods, then non-raw nuts, then gluten, then sugar, then vegetable oils. Every time, I've resisted the new restriction, but I did it. Gluten and sugar in particular were monumental challenges for me, but I recently accomplished a gluten and sugar free diet. I was also limiting grains of any kind. So my diet was super strict: only fruits and vegetables, the only oils were cold-pressed olive, coconut and flax oils, raw nuts and seeds only, legumes, and the occasional grain. I felt accomplished. But THEN I read 80/10/10 and I learn that I'm STILL not done. When does it end? How much do I have to give up? Will my diet never be good enough? After all this, I've had lapses where I just gave up completely and ate whatever because I didn't want to think of all the additional changes I have to make now. It's frustrating.

The worst part is that I thought I was better than this. Stronger. I'm seriously letting food get the better of me? I cannot defeat food? Seriously. FOOD is my biggest obstacle in life. Are you kidding me? After all I've been through, the crazy crap that I've moved past, the emotional pain I've dealt with on my own, I can't get over some stupid cravings? I got over my depression, for crying out loud, but I can't fix my diet yet. I had an alcoholic mom, lost her when I was 13, lived with an abusive step-dad, ran away from my secure home one year ago and moved across the country to make my way through life on my own. I have a car, a job, and ambitions. I'm going to school. I've made it, I'm going somewhere. I proved my dad wrong that I won't be a failure on my own. And this entire time I've gone it alone. I haven't relied on anyone. In this regard, I am strong. I haven't let my past hold me back, and I haven't needed anyone else.

Everyone else thinks I'm strong, too. Self-sufficient, tough, independent Mia. That's how they see me. But it's not true, apparently, because I can't handle merely changing what I put in my mouth. This. Is. Humiliating. I'm the first person my circle goes to if they have questions about nutrition because I'm the expert. I'm studying it in school and I've researched it for years, ever since I went vegan. I'm the healthy one. Someone offers me cake, and my friends and family say, "Oh, Mia doesn't eat wheat or sugar." And they smile at me admiringly, silently congratulating me on my self-control. Meanwhile, I'm inwardly laughing because it is a lie. I can't control myself. I am not healthy. I have a belly I hide by sucking it in and wearing baggy shirts. Healthy, active, strong, successful, independent Mia! Yeah right!

Who knows, maybe it's because of all the emotional crap I've built up that I have issues with food. Maybe my suppressed emotions manifest themselves through cravings. So I'm going to have to go deeper and ask myself the underlying cause of my cravings if I want to stop them.

People talk like it's so simple. "Just eat only raw fruit and leafy greens, and plenty of them." Hell no, it's not that simple. We're talking about turning my life upside down, digging out my deeply buried feelings with a rusty trowel, abandoning the lifestyle I've lived for 19 years. This is serious s*** right now. I'm only half joking with the melodrama. 

So here I am, eating white rice flavored with soy sauce, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Why? Because I can. Because rice is nostalgic for me. Because I want something savory and not more effing fruit. Because why not.

There it is. I have serious problems with the way I view food. I am not emotionally strong. I am weak, hopeless, oversensitive, and undisciplined. I won't be able to make this transition without any hiccups. It is not that simple for me. So when I get lectured about being impatient with weight loss and to stop worrying about body image, I'm sorry, but I don't have the strength to not nitpick at my body yet. If I admit that I went out and got Chinese food, I'm sorry, but I'm not strong enough to defeat my cravings yet. If I am being overemotional about food and can't think rationally about it, I'm sorry, but I am not strong enough to gain emotional distance from food yet.

I still want to do the HCRV lifestyle. I'm just expressing the difficulties I'm having. I am going to read this new book, Women, Food, and Desire: Embrace Your Cravings, Make Peace with Food, and Reclaim Your Body . It sounds like it might help me with uncovering the emotional reasons behind my cravings. That will be the first step I take. I also think it will be beneficial to treat myself in other ways, like taking scented baths, reading a good book, or having a harmless cup of herbal tea. If I do that, maybe I won't want to comfort myself with food so much. I should also distract myself with stuff besides food. Not obsess over it and think about it constantly. Maybe I'll finally start writing a book, or begin an online business, or take up painting again. Anything to get my mind off of food.

Either way, I will do this. I just need time. I need to work through it. It isn't as fast as "Tomorrow I'm going to start only eating raw fruits and leafy greens for the rest of my life!"

Please be patient with me.

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Comment by C. Fruity on January 28, 2015 at 2:16am

Food is a huge obstacle for most people - don't worry it's not just you.  That's why there are so many books about it, and that's why so many people can't even eat as healthy as you already are.  You are in charge on your body and what goes into it, but nobody is perfect all the time.  Everyone makes "mistakes" and I put that in quotes because that has a different meaning for every single person.  I really like this new community here because it lets us all express our struggles.  Just don't let the little things get you down, and keep moving forward! You can do it!

Comment by Mia Chandler on January 26, 2015 at 10:43am

Thanks guys for your advice and encouragement. You're all right, I need to change my mindset from restriction to gaining health and choosing not to eat cooked food rather than not allowing myself to eat it. I'm going to do my best to stop the self-criticism, embrace myself for where I'm at now and put this negativity behind me. This blog post was part of that, I just had to get all of it out and express it. In the meantime I'll shift my focus somewhere else, like my hobbies. I won't be so rigid about living 80/10/10 to the T (which will be torturous for my perfectionist self) and allow myself the occasional treat meal.

Thanks guys for your support and kind words :)

Comment by Amelia on January 26, 2015 at 6:00am

Hey this really helped me maybe it will help you. When I first started doing 801010 I was frustrated too, because in my mind I'm thinking wow no more raw vegan cheesecakes, or fake meats/cheeses, no more soda, etc. This is an all or nothing attitude.

I did this trying to go raw too, I pysched myself out; I LOVE rice/potatoes/sushi/noodles/etc...so the thought of never eating them again is very saddening.

Try changing your mindset(easier said than done I know :( )

But instead of thinking "Oh I can never eat _____ again." think more along the lines of "Today I'm not going to eat ____ but I can have it whenever I want to."

That really helps me get in some raw days here and there. Instead of freaking myself out over how I will never eat cooked food again, I just let myself know I can eat it whenever I want...just maybe not  today.

Also another thing that helped me not feel as restricted is thinking in terms of averages. As long as I on average stick to 801010 I'll be fine. Some days I'll get some vegan pizza with the daiya/fake meats and enjoy every bit of it. Others I stick to raw till 4, and some days(usually only in summer) I might have a fully raw day.

I used to suffer with eating disorder tendencies, so it's very important to me that I don't feel restricted. Most days I love eating the way I do, but somedays I just wanna start my day with a nice tofu scramble ya know? Or have a vegan burger(at the only place in town that has them) with friends and get some curly fries/soda :)

You can still be healthy even if every once in a while you eat like crap(as long as it's vegan). I figured I went so long passing up good vegan junkfood and just going for salads...and I really do feel like I missed out...not just on the food but on the experience with others. I've been vegan over 2 years and only tried daiya recently because I first went vegan while I still suffering from an eating disorder and would avoid all fried/fatty foods.

Ps. It might help to get a nice ceramic non stick pan to make some of your fave dishes oil free ;)

Comment by Indigo Sky on January 25, 2015 at 12:56am

Hi Mia, I read the whole thing and had a couple things to say to maybe help.

First of all, I FEEL you on most of this.  I totally get what you mean about just wanting the damn food that you want, and why can't you just eat it?!  I get it.  I struggle just like you.

I wanted to say though, one thing that has helped me is a shift in FOCUS.  So, instead of focusing on food, focus on something else you love.  Like, for me, I try to shift my focus to exercise.  When I wake up in the morning, I think, what exercises am I gonna get to do today, and I get all obsessive and excited about what I'm going to do.  And then, on top of that, after I do exercise, I FEEL great and proud and stuff, so it helps me stay on track. 

But you could shift your focus to something else, like art, or reading, writing, music, I don't know, but become obsessed with something else is my point.  Easier said than done, I know, but it has helped even me, so I think it could help anyone.

Also, YOU CAN STILL COOK for others.  I cook for my husband all the time, and I enjoy it a lot.  I love the smells and the act of doing it.  I never taste it and have learned the proper amount of things to add without tasting it.  And I get a satisfaction from just smelling and handling the food.  This could be torturous to you, or you could just still get to do one of your favorite hobbies without harming your body.

I think you need to try and shift your attitude from deprivation/restriction to GAINING health, vitality, and a connection to the earth.  With a mental shift, you can go from feeling deprived to appreciative.

Good luck :)

Comment by Banana Blueberry on January 24, 2015 at 1:40am

Hey Mia, I read every single word you wrote and you're going to be fine. I am very sorry for your mom, I can't imagine how hard it is to go through life without her. In your case it is ok to be confused.

First of all, stop with the self-criticism. Love yourself and how far you made it without the help of others. You're stronger than you think. People rely on you because of that, if this is not a reason to be strong I don't know what is.

Maybe only fruits and veggies only is not for you. Try Raw Till 4 for week, let me know if you need help (you can add me as a friend if you really want to talk)

Be patient with yourself first, put all of this bad feelings behind. You have plenty of reasons to have a new start and in your own pace. 

Comment by Brandon M on January 23, 2015 at 9:21am
Oh wow Mia, you've got a lot going on here. I don't know where to start but back in high school I would use food as a way to cope with stress and a long day(which was basically every day for me) I had little friends, was bullied, my home life was toxic, and I was trying to find myself and see what I wanted for my future all at the same time. Every day I'd come home from school and just binge out on a ton of food to feel better. I did that for years and hated myself for doing so. Finding this lifestyle helped me to overcome my food addiction and emotional eating issues. I agree that eating enough and staying high carbed does help to curb the "cravings" but sometimes when you have emotionally rooted issues then that won't be the only thing that can help overcome that. Youre going to have to do a little work in that department to resolve what's causing you to emotionally eat and different ways to deal with it without using food. When I transitioned from RT4 to fully raw I realized that I couldn't just numb my feelings or dope myself up with HCLF raw vegan foods. I had to sit with them, figure them out, and get over them if I was to be able to say goodbye to my problems. At times it was hard but I'd say it was definitely worth it. If you are craving something on a raw diet, I do believe you can try to recreate many things you used to eat if you have the right equipment(high speed blender, food processor, dehydrator, etc) I only had a cheap blender and a $10 mini food processor so I could only do so much and still found myself coming up with new things to make, it all depends on your know how in which different foods create which different flavors you are going for. There are tons of different raw plant foods to mix and match for hundreds of combinations. But if you miss the nostalgia of having certain cooked foods or going out to a restaurant, don't think that that's a bad thing or something you are missing out on. People usually go raw for health and vitality but that doesn't mean you can't get it with HCLF cooked vegan foods as well. You shouldn't look at it as not being able to have certain foods but as, " Hey, is this going to serve me and build me up or bring me down?" If having certain vegan dishes you miss make you feel better and you aren't feeling like crap after then I'd say it's bringing you up.(and to go for it :D) no one should have to feel like they are being deprived in the food department. If you are craving something sweet, salty, crunchy, fatty, spicey, etc then maybe it's a nutrient your body is wanting and needing. Do you log in cronometer to make sure you are meeting daily nutrient goals? If there's anything you are lacking then research to see which foods can give you those vitamins/nutrients/minerals so when you do feel like you are craving something it'll be easier to satisfy it. At the end of the day you are vegan which to me means no one has to suffer/die for you to have food. That's great in my book, and you don't have to be raw 100% of the time. I'm not anymore and at the moment that's okay but I strive to be as raw as possible because I know it's where I feel my best at. But if I want cooked food I'm going to have cooked food without feeling guilty or bad because it isn't either of those things. If what you are having isn't 80/10/10 one day and doesn't follow that, its okay. There are days where we all may fall a little short or a little higher in that department. It's just a guideline for us to use and not something you need to follow to an exact T. On this lifestyle I've learned to just live my life, eat great vegan food (mainly HCLF) and be this big ball of light for myself and those around me. If you want to eat cooked food then I'd say go for it, you'd obviously feel better and you'll be able to enjoy the food you and your close friend make and at the nostalgic restaurants. X]

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