My Food Story (Plus A Buddha Bowl Recipe!)
At one point in my life, I ate whatever I wanted.
And I mean, whatever I wanted.
That was around the same time my extra curricular activities included chasing around boys or chasing down the uniform in front of me (read: high school track). Life was easy; my legs were fast; and my metabolism was high.
Freshman year of college, everything changed. This was both biologically expected and socially...I mean it was college. It started with partying too much, then self medicating my hangovers via the McDonald’s drive thru. [Can anyone relate?]
This lead to crash diets, hiring a nutritionist, and binge eating.
I survived off chicken and broccoli during the day only to eat everything in sight at night. Diet after diet, and I only felt worse about my body.
I was angry at food. I felt like food was OUT TO GET ME.
But food is food—not the enemy. It does not have ulterior motives or a conscious. I projected my feelings about myself on the plate sitting in front of me. I was so hard on myself I felt that no matter what I did, I would never lose the weight of feel good about myself.
As soon as I stopped letting food be the bad guy, I got a better grasp on who I was.
(You can read more about how I got into Intuitive Eating here.)
It wasn’t an overnight fix. I started by eating foods that I KNEW to be healthy (not low cal—healthy). I switched to eating four-to-five small meals a day. And of course, I moved a helluva lot more.
I immediately noticed a difference in my body. And while you might read that sentence and think the first changes were physical, they weren’t. My first changes happened within my mental headspace. I KNEW I was on the right track. I no longer restricted myself. I ate fewer and fewer bad things and drank more water. The more I moved, the more that movement encouraged me to eat better.
If I didn’t eat well, I felt it in my workouts. For the first time, I understood the phrase, “fueling my body.”
All in all, I took things SLOW.
Diet mentality is terrible, really.
You go from eating whatever you want, to not being “able” to eat certain foods at all. You purge your cupboards by eating every last bite of “bad food” just so it won’t be there in the morning (anyone else every do that?).
I don’t know about you, but every time I’m told I “can’t” have something, I want it 10X more. I will jump off a cliff or sneak out of the house just so I can eat that candy bar.
If you struggle with these thoughts now, start with something small.
Drink more water. Then ween off the sugary drinks. Add more greens. Take it one week at a time.
Once you conquer those small steps above, then maybe—MAYBE—swap out a dessert for a healthier version. Take things slow, and you are more likely to succeed and stay on the right track.
One thing that worked for me: meal planning and meal prepping.
[You can read more about that here.]
Having a super on-the-go lifestyle makes it dangerously easy to get off track. What’s a quick stop at the drive-thru? Why not just stop at the local coffee shop for a pick-me-up? NO. You have NO IDEA what ingredients are really in that “healthy” smoothie, and frankly, it’s expensive AF.
I look at my week ahead and plan for what’s going on. I prep the basic necessities (for me, that’s quinoa, tofu, chickpeas, and beans). Most of my protein sources are plant-based, as I’m mostly vegetarian/pescetarian. Read the word mostly again. I am eat mostly vegetarian for health reasons, and I will not return to those restrictive thoughts for the sole purpose of foregoing a slice of bacon every six months. Those thoughts will never be worth it to me, in any capacity.
When I have my basics prepped, I feel like my week is set up for success. This post is specifically about my lunch prep: Buddha Bowls. These are my favorite lunches because they’re SO EASY to switch up. Plus, they’re so easy to whip up as the week progresses. Plus, I get in the habit of eating the same thing all the time, so if I get a chance to get creative with my bowls, I will!
Tara’s Tofu Buddha Bowl
⅓ cup cooked quinoa
4-6 oz air-fried tofu (did you see that I’m OBSESSED with air-frying lately?)
¼ cup of steamed broccoli
¼ cup cherry tomatoes
⅓ cup arugula (or spinach)
8-10 kalamata olives
2 Tbsp yellow peppers
1 Tbsp feta crumbles
Handful of sunflower seeds
2 Tbsp lemon tahini dressing
Quinoa is cooked at a 2:1 ratio. If you have 2 cups of water, put one cup of quinoa in the pan. You can double the ratio and have it prepared for the whole week. Here is a foolproof way to cook quinoa.
Tofu is made in my air fryer. Press and cut up the tofu into cubes, then cook for about 18 mins at 350 degrees. I use Special Shit seasoning, almost every time. What can I say, I’m a creature of habit. Also, I like the name.
I like to put the quinoa on the bottom and layer all the stuff on top of it from there. Mix it with the dressing and eat it up!
Serving size: 1
I personally just buy my dressing from Sprouts, but here is a good one you can make from home.
The best part about this bowl is that you can put different stuff in it EVERY WEEK.
Some days I’m feeling mushrooms, or want it to be spicy and I’ll throw in some jalapenos. Some days, when I’m super hungry, I’ll add hemp seeds and hummus; or when I want some more crunch, I top with croutons. The base always stays the same: quinoa and tofu (or chickpeas) with all the veggies on top.
Food doesn’t have to be expensive, extravagant, or super creative. It has to work for YOU. And you today may be different than you a year ago. Always listen to your body and your stomach.
Everyone has a food story, what’s yours?