Monday, December 05, 2005

The accidental vegetarian

I've noticed this happening for a while, but it's getting more and more pronounced. I'm turning veggie, almost by accident.

I've always been a meat eater, and given my traditional hatred of vegetables, vegetarianism was never really for me. I do have friends who would exist on a "vegetarian" diet of margarita pizza, cheese on toast and baked beans, but I never really went for all that. To me, vegetarianism involved vegetables and wasn't somewhere I wanted to go.

But the more I do this, the more I realise that I'm moving towards that diet, and that I prefer it. At the party on Friday night the buffet consisted of chilli, bean chilli and mexican chicken. I took the bean chilli without any hesitation. On Saturday in Edinburgh I saw somewhere that had a lentil and nut roast. I ordered it without hesitation. I'm not even so sure that it's because I think I will lose weight eating it as much as the fact that I know that I'll enjoy it.

I seem to have got into a good little seam of new vegetables too, and it's surprising me. Whereas I used to eat meat maybe twice a day, for lunch and in the evening, now it's more of a twice a week thing. I always have a vegetarian lunch, and more often than not a vegetarian meal when I get in from work. My protein of choice is pulses rather than meat. I can go for days without meat, and it doesn't bother me at all. I still eat meat, but it's becoming less and less of a staple to me. If I can choose from a meat or bean version of the same dish (burgers, chilli etc), I tend to go for the bean version every time.

It's funny how my tastes have changed. I ate a waffle on Saturday too. I'd promised myself a bit of a treat and as my eating had been surprisingly good all day (the lentil and nut roast with a bowl of tomato and basil soup earlier in the day), I went for it. It's really quite disappointing when you realise that you don't even enjoy that stuff any more. Sometimes I really want to be able to treat myself, but I can't find anything indulgent I want to treat myself with. Either I don't fancy it at all, or I know it's not good enough to be able to justify to myself.

Sometimes I find myself in the ridiculous situation where I'm actually trying to persuade myself to eat something indulgent. Go on, have that bar of chocolate, it's allowed. But I just don't want it. Or most of the time I don't anyway, last Thursday I got to the stage where nothing but chocolate would do. I ate yoghurt, and fruit. I had a nice balanced meal of chicken and veg. I was still craving chocolate, and I knew that only one thing would do. I ate it, and I was right.

For me this is key to not feeling deprived. I've taught myself to like healthy food more than I like unhealthy food. Unbelievable but true. And as I allow myself unlimited healthy food, within reason, I don't feel like I'm starving myself.

Of course, there have to be some limits I suppose, and that's what I'm struggling with this week. I want to have two good weeks before I go on holiday, and get myself out of the increasing snack cycle I've been getting into. Nothing overly unhealthy particularly, I just know that I've been eating more than I need to and that I wouldn't miss out if I cut down a little. Plus, it would be good to get two good weeks in before the Christmas splurge, to mean that I'm not giving myself too much to do in January when I get back down to it properly.


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