Vege-WHAT-anism?

Hi… my name is Whitney and I’ve been a vegetarian for about 2 years now.  This post is certainly not going to try to talk ANYONE into being a vegetarian.  I actually probably would NOT recommend it.  Limited choice of meals and recipes… nasty meat replacement products that I rarely touch with a 26-foot spatula… annoying, “does that have chicken broth in it” questions… limited restaurant choices.  Basically… I’m annoying.  I’m definitely not one of those vegan people who believe that dairy and egg products are of the devil… I still eat my cheeses and eggs, etc.  Just not animal flesh.    

I don’t think many people know the actual reason I became a vegetarian 2 years ago (which conveniently corresponds with the timeframe that I began losing weight).  Pretty sure the people in my life who knew I was one thought the reason was because I watched the documentary called Food, Inc. and my already germ-a-phobe ways went on red alert and exploded into a billion pieces of… oh, no I didn’t just see that.   That movie certainly helped to strengthen the vegetarianism resolve… but it wasn’t the actual reason for the vegetarian ways. 

It’s still hard for me to talk about the reason.  It brings up a lot of darkness and despair and pain and alone.  I was talking to my sister about this tonight and telling her that I didn’t think I could write about it at this point.  Her reply… why not?   She had a point… I couldn’t really answer her question with any valid reason… sure, I could make things up… my toe gangrene explodes upon any mention of that past… or my nostril flares up when I think about it and I spend the rest of the day with my finger stuck up the other nostril.  Both debilitating reasons… but oh, so not true (do not call the Gangrene Council of America… I do not have Gangrene!  Lawsy… lie a couple of times and suddenly you are labeled a liar!)  So, I’m jumping in… head first at this point… hope the concussion don’t last too long.   

Pretty much since the day I got my driver’s license at the age of 16 until the day I became a vegetarian, I practiced what I like to call marathon eating.  Definitely not as prestigious as running an actual 26.2 miler… but it was the only marathon I thought I’d ever complete.  Marathon eating was me driving to several different fast food restaurants and ordering as much as I had money for in the space of a few hours.  Why did I go to several restaurants on the same night?  Because it was too embarrassing to order all that food from one single restaurant… they would think I was a pig… slap a sticker on my butt and call me Wilbur!  Then, I’d pull into an abandoned parking lot somewhere in the dark and eat it all… every last scrap of it.  I can’t give you an actual menu from those days.  So much of my memory from those times is fogged over, but I do know it was never one hamburger… more like 4 or 5 or 6 complete with fries and nuggets and ice cream and…   Anything that was high calorie and high fat and could stuff whatever emotion I happened to be feeling down further into my gangrenous toes.  I remember there was crying in that darkness and there was a feeling of complete and utter alone… me and my bags of grease… and at that time I felt that was the only thing that would ever provide me comfort.  Because food doesn’t judge and doesn’t view you as a disappointment and happens to be a fairly inexpensive, easy fix… 

One day a few years ago, I found myself in the same situation… eating in a darkened parking lot… and I had this sudden sense of disgust come over me.  I looked down at myself and my bags and bags of food and I was utterly disgusted.  I’d never had that in the moment of eating.  Sure, after I’d downed a meal fit for 47 kings, I’d always feel the disgust… but that would be quickly forgotten the next time I was in need of a fix.  That moment of clarity I had sitting in my car in the mall parking lot changed my life.  I threw away all my bags of food and vowed that night that I would do something to change my ways.  The best thing I could think of?  Become a vegetarian.  If I was a vegetarian, I wouldn’t eat the hamburgers and the fried chicken and the baconator… I’d have to find something else to fill that need.  So, I became one.  I became a vegetarian and I began being more conscious of what I was putting into my mouth… eating more fruits and vegetables… which eventually spurred on more good choices and change.  I can honestly say, sitting here today, I have not had a fast food hamburger/fried chicken/baconator, etc., in over 2 years’ time.  And you know what… I don’t miss it.  I’m not saying I’m completely healed… there are other foods that don’t contain meat that can be used as an emotional crutch… but I got rid of my biggest culprit.  The one that was slowly moving me into my box 6 feet under. 

I know I’ve always preached on this blog about “everything in moderation.”  And I still preach that… I don’t think there is anything wrong with a fast food burger every now and then… but I wasn’t going to be able to live with every now and then.  Like an alcoholic has to totally abstain from alcohol, I had to totally abstain from hamburgers (which is quite ironic since my mother’s maiden name happens to be Berger… was it in the genes?)  😛  So, family… now you know the story of how I became an annoying vegetarian… you can stop blaming Food, Inc. and the cattle industry… and for goodness sakes, leave Wilbur, the pig out of it!

Question of the Day:  What food is your biggest emotional crutch?

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27 Comments

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27 responses to “Vege-WHAT-anism?

  1. deannawade@gmail.com

    Chocolate. When it’s not around I can honestly say I go “nuts”.

  2. dessa

    I use diet dr pepper to get me through the day for some reason. If I have a big cup of icy cold Diet Dr Pepper right by my left arm when I go back to work after lunch the afternoon speeds right by. Yes Whit, I know you think I am addicted but I’m not.

  3. cl2

    I’d say anything sweet.

    I don’t eat nearly as much fast food as I used to–but for a different reason. I gave up Diet Coke–and when you aren’t going to get a value meal, then what is the point? Which leaves out the fries, too. If I get fast food, it always just the “meat” portion, but I’m rather amazed at how unappealing a fast food meal has become when I don’t need my Diet Coke.

    I do drink Crystal Light Energy for the caffeine–but I’m not “swollen” anymore. I love how my hands feel not puffy.

    • Sweets are a deadly sin for me too… but I’m better at portioning them into actual serving sizes! Not all the time, mind you! Yay for not feeling swollen! Is that what the carbonation does to you? I’ve never really liked carbonation… but I have been swollen a lot… most likely from sodium overload!

  4. Louisa a.k.a. ProudMomOfTwo

    Thank you so much for sharing this story.
    I am so glad you told it. Your sister was right…
    It was time and you have come so far. Getting it out there is therapeutic.
    I can relate to a certain extent b/c I am that way about chocolate. Honestly, if it is in the house, I have to eat it.
    I have taken it out of my house and lifestyle b/c I literally can’t control it. I know this about myself.
    Sweet breads are a close second. I know I shouldn’t deny myself these things all together – like the rest of my life – but at this fragile moment in time, I really need to take them both out. I hope to one day have a healthy relationship with both.
    I have dramatically reduced how much pasta I eat as well. I don’t have as much of a problem with pastas but I know the empty calories aren’t good for me. I work too hard at working out to spend it on empty calories…
    Never thought like that before so it is a new feeling.
    Back in my 20’s when I was skinny, I never gave too much thought to my eating habits b/c I was skinny & active and I took it for granted. I have gained and gained after getting married and having kids but that is no excuse. This is a new way of thinking for me and I am liking the changes I am seeing. I am proud of the choices I am making. Thankfully, my kids and my husband are very supportive of me.

    I am so proud of you for figuring this out and taking control of it and finding a healthy alternative.
    You are an inspiration.

    Question of the Day: What food is your biggest emotional crutch?
    Chocolate & sweet breads ( i don’t mean doughnuts either…I don’t like doughnuts )

    • Louisa a.k.a. ProudMomOfTwo

      I meant to add that I never have been much of a fast-food, fries, or soda person. Thank heavens! I don’t like the taste of coffee and I don’t smoke. There are a lot of candies that I don’t like either. If it isn’t chocolate, I am not tempted.
      I feel blessed that I haven’t had to give up as many vices as some others…
      Talk about HARD…I can only imagine.
      These things have not been hard for me to give up b/c I never got into them in the first place. My kids can have a value-meal as a treat (in the car) while we are coming back from my oldest’s orthodontist appointment and I am not tempted.
      My husband is an ice-cream fanatic but he can eat a whole bowl sitting next to me and I am not tempted. He is one of those sickening people that can eat a bowl of ice cream each night and not gain a pound. UGH

      I will take my blessings where and when they come! LOL

    • I agree, Louisa… it’s all about changing your way of thinking… not thinking of it as depriving one’s self. I never lasted a day on a diet where everything was restricted. I’m going to enjoy the journey! Way to go, Louisa! And yay for supportive family!

      I never got into the soda either… nor have I ever had coffee.

  5. Jen

    I really had no idea that was your true motivation for vegetarianism. Well I think it is a good reason and I admire your willpower. I could never give up a good hamburger or steak for life. My favorite comfort food is a tie between a Jamba Juice or any type of icecream (preferrably smothered in hot fudge).

  6. Lindsay

    Well Sister Whit GREAT JOB! I am happy you talked about it. You have to remember that is NOT you anymore so you can talk about it all you want and hopefully the talking will give you strength to heal and not return to those dark days!

    I think it is mighty impressive you were able to go vegetarian with all your desire to eat fried food. It’s funny how when we just re-label something it doesn’t seem like you are depriving yourself. You just re-labeled no more fatty food as VEGETARIAN!

    It is crazy how our mind works but that is most impressive!

    P.S. I bought that ebay item you made me buy last night at midnight and sure enough found out it was a scam this morning. . . now I am down $50! thanks for advice good ol’ sis!

    Love

    Lindsay (your sis)

    • You should have given me that $50 for the eBay consultation I gave you. And yes… it is interesting if we just change the way we think about things… the mind is a wonder!

  7. Samerah

    Oh Whitney, I have the overwhelming urge to drive down there and give you a hug. You’re totally amazing and brave to not only face your demons but be willing to talk about it publically. Thanks for sharing, and if a random stranger runs up and gives you a hug in the next few weeks please don’t call the police.

    • You’re sweet, Samerah!! I would never call the police over a hug, unless you were wearing a Madonna or Lady Gaga outfit… then I might have to reconsider! Hugs to you too!

  8. makingitperm

    Emotional Crutch?…Anything edible. Anything that would comfort me and make the upset feeling go away in that moment. I could say Chocolate if I had to choose ONE thing but honestly if I didn’t have that anything worked.

  9. This is a great post, I 100% believe in moderation but there are some things that you just can’t be moderate about.

    For me its creamy dessert-type food like puddings and whipped cream. Its not really an emotional crutch because I never ever crave them even when I’m upset.. but if its in the fridge and I have one bite it’s game over. I’m going to eat it all!

  10. Deanna

    I am so glad you shared your story! Actually, I am working on giving up my two crutches. Slow but sure. Coffee and Sweets. I can honestly say that I am addicted to coffee and when it comes to cookies, cakes, candy, ice cream – I have been known to binge when I am emotional. I have a hard time passing anything sweet up. I am on a mission to rid myself of this garbage. You are my inspiration! 🙂

  11. Jenalee Berger

    I think that is awesome you’re a vegetarian! I think it really is a healthy lifestyle! I always talk about doing that but I don’t think I ever really could! Berger’s just love meat too much. . .
    I’m that way with chocolate! If we have anything chocolate in the house I just have to eat it all until it’s gone. . then I try and hide the evidence! I try not to buy treats too often because I know I can’t trust myself.
    Thanks for being so honest! You really are an inspiration!

    • Ha… Berger’s do love their Burger’s! And I can totally relate to the hiding the evidence thing! I became a master at that. If I could do that for a living, I would be excellent!!

  12. Katie Berger

    Great post, as usual, Whitney! You are incredibly honest – -which helps us all with our individual “demons.” Thanks! Truly, thanks!

  13. Jessica

    Coke is my emotional crutch food. I blame it on my grandparents. They are big Coke fans and during beauty school I would go to there house for lunch everyday and they would always give me a Coke with my lunch. Beauty school was a very stressful time (I know that sound so silly but trust me being locked in a dungeon with 40 other high maintenance women for 30 hours a week is stressful) between work and school I never had time to be home and so the hour that I was at my grandparents house was my little piece of heaven…and that little piece of heaven was symbolized in a can of Coke so now if I have had a rough day or am on vacation I spoil myself with a Coke full of caffeine, sugar, and calories.

  14. Janiedoe111

    Ice Cream and Popcorn popped on the stove-top. I am not eating ice cream again until I get down to 215… I am stuck between 219 and 224. This is hard work.

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