The Ashley Diet

I’ve never been one of those people who believes there’s one ‘perfect’ diet out there that works for everyone. I know I talk about the benefits of a plant-based diet a lot, but that’s because it works for ME, right now. If paleo works for you, or being a pescatarian, or omnivore or whatever, that’s great!

The one thing that bugs me, though, is when people really try to push their diet on other people. It happens a lot within the vegan community, I’ve noticed. The majority of people I follow on Instagram are vegans, especially LFRVs, and some of the commenters on their posts are super pushy about how not only how veganism is the only way to eat, but that you can only eat high carb raw vegan, or eat no added oils, etc. And then, of course, there’s pressure from the Internet as well, like how sugar is a toxin and how salt is bad for you (oh, wait, maybe it isn’t) and all of this conflicting advice can make your head spin.

Well, guess what? You don’t have to listen to all of that. What foods make YOU feel your best? You don’t have to eat to fit within a certain label or category if that doesn’t work for you. For example, I eat local raw honey. A lot of strict vegans shun other vegans who eat honey. According to my nutrition class, honey IS technically vegan because it’s not a product of animal metabolism (such as cow’s milk) but rather a waste product of bees. I classify myself as a vegan, to make it easier to describe how I eat, but eating honey probably makes me a plant-based eater, rather than vegan. I honestly don’t care, because I like honey, and I believe it’s a lot more nutritious than the common vegan alternative, agave.

This bar has honey in it, but I still like it.

This bar has honey in it, but I still like it.

What else do I eat that other groups say is ‘bad’? I’m a big proponent of extra virgin coconut oil–after years of fearing the saturated fat in coconuts, I’ve finally seen the light and realized that coconut oil is one of the best oils to include in your diet. I also eat plenty of other plant-based fats, like nuts, seeds and avocados, that LFRVs would tell me is toxic and horrible for my digestion. Well, after eating a low fat diet for years in fear of fat of all kinds, I’m not going back to that way of eating again. Including a moderate amount of fats in my diet keeps me satiated, as well as keeping my skin and hair healthy. I use sea salt in moderation–I don’t generally buy many packaged foods, and those that are are fairly low in sodium anyway, so I don’t feel bad about adding salt to my homemade guacamole to amp up the flavor, along with spices. Some raw vegans completely eschew spices, even salt-free spices! I love my spices, and I think they can really add depth to a dish.

Roasted butternut squash and Hannah yam with plenty of spices.

Roasted butternut squash and Hannah yam with plenty of spices.

Don’t even get me started on the topic of sugar. I do believe that processed sugar has no place in our diets, but if you like to enjoy sugary desserts on occasion, go for it! When I want to satisfy my sweet tooth, I stick with more natural sugars, like dates, maple syrup and stevia. I eat at least 3-4 servings of fruit per day and I’m a total fruit lover–there’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying fruit. I know most of the sugar I consume in a day comes through fruit but sometimes, a girl’s gotta have a Hail Merry raw tart sweetened with maple syrup–and that’s okay! Most of the ‘sweet’ food I consume is either naturally sweet (like fruit) or sweetened with stevia, so I definitely don’t feel bad when I choose to make a dessert with raw honey or maple syrup…or even when I indulge in a delicious vegan cupcake from a restaurant. The point is, consume sugar in moderation and choose more natural sources and you’ll be fine!

A chocolate peanut butter vegan cupcake from my favorite restaurant. This was naturally sweetened, but still amazing.

A chocolate peanut butter vegan cupcake from my favorite restaurant. This was naturally sweetened, but still amazing.

I also don’t feel the pressure to eat certain foods, or brands, unless I genuinely like them. For instance, I tried to get on the kabocha squash bandwagon…it just doesn’t do it for me! I much prefer butternut squash and yams, and that’s okay. I LOVE romaine lettuce and baby spinach and eat them daily, and I eat at least one banana a day (usually in the form of banana softserve) and I like pumpkin but I don’t put it in allthethings. I’ve never tried a Quest bar, and I don’t like oats and that’s okay! I have a slight obsession with Larabars and I go through dates and dried figs and raisins like it’s my job. I actually prefer kelp noodles to regular pasta, and I try to avoid wheat, but sometimes I just need a locally-sourced veggie-filled pizza from one of my favorite restaurants. I’m sketched out by kombucha and I include clean, plant-based protein powders (like Sunwarrior and Amazing Meal) in my regular food rotation even though they aren’t considered real food by lots of people.

I used to feel the need to fit in with bloggers, Instagrammers and the people around me in terms of what I ate. But now, I’ve finally found what works for me and I don’t really care what the newest food trend is. I eat the things that make me my healthiest and happiest, and I’ll let you eat what makes you happy and healthy. Don’t feel pressured to eat something just because so-and-so does, or to stop eating something because some article tells you it’s bad. Do your own research, figure out what works for you, and just eat. 

Do you conform to a certain diet or just eat what works for you? 

 

Confessions

Confession #1: I haven’t posted on here in…ummmm…almost a month. The time has just gotten away from me, between waiting for my computer to get fixed (the one downfall of having a tablet without a bluetooth keyboard is that writing blog posts was torture), getting through the first 3 weeks of my last semester of school and all the craziness that’s ensued since that. But I’ll discuss that below! Point is, I’ve missed blogging regularly BUT I can’t promise I’ll be back to it anytime soon.

Confession #2: I’ve been doing a LOT of online shopping lately. It’s my weakness, but as long as I don’t let it get out of control (and try to keep it to the ‘necessities’) then I don’t see anything wrong with a little retail therapy.

My first order from Nuts.com! They have a lot of awesome raw snacks and superfood-type stuff for cheaper than in stores.

My first order from Nuts.com! They have a lot of awesome raw snacks and superfood-type stuff for cheaper than in stores.

Confession #3: I think I may be (almost) ready for fall weather. Since early last week, it’s been a little cooler and a lot rainier than average for this time of the year, and it’s been nice to not be sweating in my apartment when the A/C hasn’t kicked in yet. I still love summer, but I want to start wearing boots and scarves! The cold weather and snow can stay far away though, I’m happy with sunny skies and 70 degrees.

Confession #4: I feel so so guilty for the floods in my state. If you haven’t heard, Colorado has been dealing with extreme flooding since late last week. It’s hit most of the state, including my hometown and where I’m living for school, but I’m incredibly lucky to not have experienced any loss or damage from the floods. It just makes me so sad to hear about the hundreds of people still unaccounted for, the people who have unfortunately died in the aftermath and the damage caused to some of my favorite places in this beautiful state I call home. I’ve been blessed enough to have escaped three natural disasters in my area in the past 2 years, and seeing all this destruction and loss really hits home for me how precious life is. Please keep Colorado in your thoughts and remember to tell your family and friends how loved they are, because you never know what could happen at a moment’s notice.

One of my favorite vacation spots in CO is under a lot of water.

One of my favorite vacation spots in CO is under a lot of water.

Confession #5: Senioritis has been hitting me HARD. I didn’t really have it much my senior year of high school, but now that I’m on my last semester of school ever, I’m so unmotivated, yet more inspired at the same time. Like I’m getting more frustrated in group projects when people don’t do their part, because I need to graduate in December, yet I really dread doing readings and taking notes. Just 3 more months…I can do this!

Confession #6: I’ve technically been a vegetarian for the past 2 weeks. I announced via Twitter a few weeks back that I wanted to reintroduce eggs into my diet. I’ve never liked eggs, like ever, but I know that they’re basically a nutrient powerhouse, and I was sick of missing out on certain recipes because they contained eggs. However, after these 2 weeks, I think I’ll probably go back to veganism. I’ve tried egg whites in a few recipes that ended up as total flops (coconut flour waffles = epic fail) and even the one that did work tasted really eggy to me. Ehhh, you win some, you lose some. However, I have yet to try eggs straight up, but I plan on buying some local, free range eggs this weekend from Whole Foods and I’ll let you know the verdict! (P.S. Julian Bakery paleo bread will probably be my one exception to the veganism thing–it’s so good, fiber-full and packed with protein and simple ingredients).

See those egg whites hiding in my Whole Foods haul?

See those egg whites hiding in my Whole Foods haul?

Confession #6: I love my hipster glasses. Best $15 investment. Ever.

I'm guilty of the car selfies (not while driving).

I’m guilty of the car selfies (not while driving).

Confession #7: I still haven’t gotten around to transitioning this blog over to my new one. Whoops. I also have several recipes I want to post (and I don’t want to miss out on Vegan MoFo completely) but I’ve just been too busy. I never want to promise posts or recipes because I know I might not deliver on that promise, but I need something to motivate me to actually do it!

What are your confessions?