Do you have food anxiety? Do you avoid going out with friends because you’re not sure if the place you go will have food you can eat? Do you fear family gatherings and holidays because the rest of the family eats differently than you?
I DID! I used to have very bad food anxiety but with better planning I have come a long way. I have better control of the anxiety that would take over when I knew I might be in a situation that could leave me either famished or eating something that would make me sick.
Since most of my family and friends still eat traditional foods that contain meats, cheeses, and dairy, there usually are very few options besides salad that are available to me. Sometimes salad isn’t even option so thank goodness for fries! (Taco Bell’s Tostada without cheese will work for me, personally, in a pinch when traveling or I’m desperate.)
After working so long on my diet and finding what works for me, I was no longer going to sacrifice my health for any food-related anxiety or the fear that I would inconvenience someone. I’m in charge of what I put in my body and I need to be proud of that. If I did not check food labels, ingredient lists and plan in advance, eating any gluten would leave me in a bathroom for 2-3 days with horrible stomach pains and joint pain. It would ruin my vacation time, interfere with normal daily activities like taking kids to dance and gymnastics, and it used to really affect my ability to volunteer because I would never know when my stomach was going to act up. Once I knew what my body needed to avoid, I started taking better precautions and that brings me to PLANNING!
I have gotten used to eating before I leave the house, checking restaurants menus in advance, packing my snacks for emergencies and even looking to see if there are grocery stores nearby that I can run to if I need to veganize a meal. This is especially important when traveling even if it’s just for a day. I highly recommend trying some of these if you haven’t already because I am telling you it makes things SO much easier to know in advance what you are dealing with. Just as a diabetic or person with anaphylactic allergies would not leave the house without out insulin or an epipen, a person with celiac disease can become very sick when ingesting gluten so precautions need to be taken to avoid this possibility.
It is much easier to plan a few meals and pre-pack food then it is to be sick and suffer the consequences. Now that my family is aware of how much better I feel eating a plant-based diet, it is much easier to plan out my meals first then ask the rest of the family what they would like. By doing this, most of the meal is eaten by everyone and those that want it can add meat or dairy to their liking.
I am very happy to say that there are more and more places offering gluten-free/vegan options as an option. With so many people asking for these choices nowadays, it certainly makes it easier. However, foods following the Whole Foods Plant-Based Diet with no oil or added sugar are not as easy to come by, and sometimes you just want a hot meal not a salad.
The longer you live this lifestyle the easier it gets and the better you feel. The most important tip I want you to take away from this article is be strong because you have the right and ability to put what you want in your body. There are 5 other people in my home, each with a different type of diet, and I can say that yes… it IS possible to make it work. It is not easy and usually doesn’t change overnight but if your health is at risk you owe it to yourself to make the changes necessary for you and your loved ones. Sometimes family and friends will be supportive and sometimes not, ultimately it’s about you and your relationship with food and finding a balance of what works for you.
Make your kitchen a plant-based, happy place one meal at time!