My Food Story
My name is Jil and I am a recovering junkfood-aholic. I have always loved food but, growing up, I was a notoriously picky eater. Man, do I mean picky. My diet as a child consisted of hotdogs, chicken nuggets, fries and toast mostly. And that’s not an exaggeration. As a teen I liked two vegetables: potatoes and corn, but only if it was on the cob. Add on to this my love for junk food (chips, chocolate bars, etc.) and you’ve got one cranky tummy but that’s just how I thought things were for everyone.
Fast forward to university where my friends nicknamed me The Frozen Gourmet, due to the fact that I ate mostly frozen processed foods but had the innate ability to pick out the best tasting ones or at least make them into something delicious. I ate what I wanted and when I wanted and boy, did I pay the price. I remember complaining about feeling sick almost every single day, to the point that one of my roommates snapped at me once, claiming I couldn’t feel sick every day and that I was exaggerating. I wasn’t.
Upon graduating from my first degree and while pursuing my second, I started to take notice of the different foods that made me feel sick, dairy specifically. I systematically started limiting my intake of dairy which made me feel immediately better.
A year later, during my first replacement job (I’m a teacher), I had a really bad stomach attack. At the time, I thought my appendix was exploding or at least that I should go to the emergency room. My dad’s friend (a doctor) took a look at me and figured it was a muscular thing since I had been in a car accident the previous June but to keep an eye on it.
It eventually passed and I realized soon after that it was probably trapped gas along with an inflamed bowel. How did I figure this out, you may ask? By actually seeking out a healthcare professional (I’m stubborn and hate going to the doctor so this was a big step for me). She asked me a series of questions and finally diagnosed me with IBS or, irritable bowel syndrome.
Then the journey really started. I began tracking what made me feel sick (lots of things) and what didn’t (not so many things). Eating became a real struggle for me and I became fearful of what each thing that I ate was going to do to my body and how it would react. Because of all this growing food anxiety (along with my already present anxiety), I sought out the help of a nutritionist – what a godsend! Unfortunately this was after suffering through the pain for over 2 years. If only I had gone sooner!
The nutritionist told me that he did not believe that I had IBS to begin with but instead that my body could not process animal proteins. He suggested that I cut out all animal products (meat, fish, eggs, dairy, honey) as well as added oils and see how my body reacted. If my ‘IBS’ attacks stopped than I did not have it, my bowel was simply inflamed because of my diet.
At that point, I was only eating chicken and fish along with eggs occasionally so the transition was not a difficult one for me to make. Because dairy caused me to feel so sick, I had already almost completely cut it out. Beef and Pork had the same effect so all that I had left to do was stop eating the rest of the meat and begin systematically checking everything that I ate for eggs and milk. It was tedious at the beginning but became very rewarding for me as I slowly but surely began to feel better.
It has now been a year and a half since going completely vegan and I honestly couldn’t feel better. Do I eat amazingly healthy? No. But am I trying? Hell yes. Eating mostly plant based has completely gotten rid of my inflamed bowel and, while I am still trying to get used to eating totally plant-based with little to no processed foods, I am doing the best that I can. Things are looking up!