Purple Haze shake for Vegan MOFO

For the 2014 Vegan MOFO event I set myself the challenge of sharing new vegan ice cream and wraps recipes almost daily for the month of Se...

For the 2014 Vegan MOFO event I set myself the challenge of sharing new vegan ice cream and wraps recipes almost daily for the month of September. I am starting to feel daunted by the goal but I think it's worth the effort so I'm sticking to it.

Setting goals can be a difficult thing. While setting yourself a clear cut path may seem straight forward and beneficial, simple even, you may find yourself wavering or burdened by the routine. I have this issue a lot. I am often a very structured person. I like patterns and I form habits. While I often think fondly of my routines, I acknowledge that they are hard to break free from. This can especially be true of my food. I have favorites that I stick to and I often create little rules for my eating habits. This both makes food easier for me to tackle and more difficult. While these rules and patterns make dinner choices easier, I often find myself thrown for a loop when variables I can't control are thrown in forcing me to break those patterns. I initially worry about straying from my habits. However, I tend to reflect positively on those moments where I lose control and am forced to adapt. Its healthy. I think rules have a place but also need to be broken at times otherwise they can become destructive. Because of this, I tend to let my patterns take hold but then rejig them or nip them in the bud altogether for awhile so I don't become dependent on them. 

I firmly believe patterns can be dangerous due to my previous battle with an ED. EDs thrive on rules. Planning your food choices in minute detail can easily become dangerous. I learned that all too well.

My eating disorder presented itself at the end of highschool. Like too many teenage girls, the noise about what you should look like, what features are desireable, blah blah blah set in. I started changing my diet in grade 12, cutting calories, literally cutting some meals in half, giving food to friends... I had some unnecessary weight to lose at that time so the reaction I received was generally positive. People asked me at Prom what I had done, what I was eating/not eating. By university my ED was in full swing, low fat everything, lots and lots of swimming and gym time, endless walking around the city. I was not emaciated yet but I was often considered thin. By second year my best friend started to express her concern. She thought I was limiting my food choices too much and had lost too much weight in a short amount of time. I went to the doctor who assured me I was not at akk anorexic but that my friends and family were just unaccustomed to seeing me lighter. At that time my diet was still healthy, if limited. I was always opting for the healthiest options available in every situation. By third year I was very restrictive and miserable. I never went out because I was way too exhausted, I was always fighting off a cold or flu and my complexion was pale and wan. I did however have the coveted flat belly which was enough to motivate me to keep going as my skinny jeans got looser. Fourth year saw a break. I moved in with fun friends and gave myself a rest from all the rules. The scale started to tip the other way though and I felt overwhelmingly out of control again. I quickly reverted back to overexercising and changed my diet to a lean vegetarian plan full of protein and carb restricting. This worked well to change my body but involved way WAY too many rules and limitations that I just couldn't maintain. 

The worst period, perhaps in my entire life, came after university. I moved out of the country and the change and stress of living abroad took a toll on me. I was very very restrictive. I probably ate the same three meals daily for months. My friend and roommate held an intervention, trying to engage me in my love of food and stop killing myself but I didnt want to hear it. I kept going, my portions got smaller, my food choices were more limited. By the time I moved to yet another country I had eliminated the meal of lunch and started to feel the "hunger high" so many anorexics describe. It didn't help that a typical morning consisted of less than a handful of cereal, swimming intensely, diet coke and an apple. My evening meals would be feasts in comparison, pita with hummus, steamed vegetables and peanut butter on apple slices. I lived this way, using my starving hours to roam the streets, for months, maybe years. I hit my lowest weight by the time I moved back home, 92 pounds. I am 5'6 so it was very VERY small. I maintained it painstakingly with a very physical job and, excessive walking and swimming and little to no calories. I was running on pure adrenaline and caffeine as I had eaten most, if not all, of my body fat and most of my muscle mass. I also developed a slow heart rate, and low bone density and hadn't menstruated in years. 

I made a choice. My friends held an intervention after I had attended some drop-in support groups but narrowly improved my situation. My friends threatened to never speak to me again if I did not get some real help. They referred me to a therapist who specialized in EDs. I actually found those sessions frustratingly useless. Each time I went I was asked to regurgitate my story as my therapist scribbled and offered no tips except to eat pb sandwiches, tuna fish and a glass of milk every day. Thank you, no thank you. I stopped going. Why? Because part of my therapy was weekly weigh ins which showed me that I had gained 15 pounds since I first started the drop in group sessions months before therapy and I took that and the fact that the tip in the scale didn't distress me as a sign that I was moving in my own way towards a solution. I started to actively break my habits, I walked less, ate more, surrounded myself with friends and family and slowly pulled myself back together.

I strongly believe that an ED is very hard to recover from. I am technically recovered. My body is healthy, I eat proper meals. That being said, I am still hard on myself and push myself to my limits all too often out of anxiety and depression. I still make little patterns and rules, they just don't result in ill health. Since my recovery began my aim has been to optimize my health. I make informed food choices and try to balance my diet and mind. 

Veganism has actually been a very healthy change in my life. Instead of restricting, I now nourish my body. I don't worry about calories, I instead focus on the health benefits that food can provide me and how that food makes me feel when I eat it. I try to include a variety of foods that make me happy and make me feel energized every day. This makes me want to eat more of them! During my ED days, my restrictive habits stuck because food was boring. I never needed to worry about overeating because why would I overeat something so bland and lifeless?! Now I eat in abundance and don't worry about it because I know it's all going down easy and will benefit me. I love the diverse flavors, textures and scents I expose myself to every day through my food. I never get sick anymore, and I have even healed a few chronic health issues. Walking endlessly often takes a back seat now to cooking which I consider my favorite activity. 

If you or someone you love is suffering in this way, I encourage you to try or suggest a more, or entirely, plant based diet. Once you begin to nourish your body with plant based food, its hard to stop. It became the most difficult to shake habit that I have ever had. Eventually after you adopt a healthier outlook and lifestyle, you tune into your body's needs, eat what it wants and when. This not only improves your health and physical appearance, but also provides a feeling of balance and harmony.

Today's recipe is all about vibrant plant based flavor and colour. The foods used are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and will help fuel your day naturally. One taste of this vegan "milkshake" and I guarantee you will make this again.

Purple Haze Shake
(vegan, can be raw, gluten-free)

  • 1-2 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1-2 frozen bananas
  • 1-2 cups pure water
  • 1-2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • dash turmeric
  • liquid stevia to taste
  • 1-2 tsp liquid sweetener (I used pear butter but you can sub maple or agave or coconut nectar)
  • handful of ice (optional)
Blend everything together in a high speed blender on the highest setting until totally smooth and thick. Serve.

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