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re: what do you eat?

Today I would like to share with the honeyhands audience what my journey with food has consisted of, so take this as a response to Hikari’s article ‘What do you eat?’.

Hikariが以前シェアした『What do you eat? (食べるものの決め方は?)』にレスポンスを書く形で、今日は私の食べ物との関係を話すね。

My relationship with food has always been complicated, and it can still be in some moments. The starting point of my journey has been my cultural environment. Being Italian, food is not just nutrition for the body so it can work, but rather nutrition for the soul. Eating becomes then an experience that transcends the basic material need of survival. It’s almost mystical.


Eating ‘good food’ is one of the most important not written rules of my country. I grew up with an abundance of dishes and a variety of flavours. My favourite meals were associated with the most important moments of my life, being surrounded by people who loved me and whom I love. I have always been a foodie, I’ve eaten pigeons and rabbits and I have never been a picky kid when it came to vegetables. Anything edible, I’ve probably tasted it.


I didn’t ask myself questions until my body started to change. Around 13 years old, my body started to hit puberty, and more fat got stored. This is a very normal process, as the body needs lots of energy to boost the growth process, but I started judging myself and my body a lot. I wanted to lose weight. So, from the moment I started associating my image in the mirror (which I couldn’t stand) with the food I was eating, the food itself started to be my enemy.


Following what “the internet said”, I started following a super high protein self made restrictive diet for years and years, pairing it with an unhealthy workout regime. I was absolutely terrified of carbs, which created a huge conflict with myself as carbs has always, always been my favourite category of food and it’s the only way to make me feel truly satisfied after a meal. I am a pasta girl, you know?! I guess many girls have been through this and it breaks my heart because it’s very easy to lose control and fall into disordered eating patterns.


In 2013 I watched an Italian documentary about the meat industry and I became horrified with the conditions of animals. I remember crying and not even finishing the whole documentary. My heart was broken. I immediately stopped eating meat and fish. My parents were first sceptical about it, as they were fearing a lack of proteins but I promised them I would have handled it well through the planning of an eating regime that could give me as much nutrition as possible, so that I wouldn't have had any deficiency. So even if I was totally underweight, I went vegetarian and I started having so much energy, my hair grew so fast, I wasn’t craving meat nor fish, and my skin cleared up instantly. My blood tests were amazing and my parents were very proud of my good decision and actually started supporting me.


*ベジタリアン = 肉・魚を食べない菜食主義

It goes without saying that my mind still wasn’t in a healthy state at all. Calories, the scale, my weight, exercise – this is what my life was revolving around. Still, I was preaching I was vegetarian for the animals – which I was, but at the same time cutting out a category of food that was extremely common, especially in traditional Italian cuisine, had been a very exciting opportunity for my ill mind in various social situations.

身体は健康的になったとしても、私の精神面が健康だったわけではない。カロリー、量、体重、エクササイズ... これらが常に私の頭の中にあって、私は動物たちのためにベジタリアンになったと言っていたけど、(本当のことだけど)それと同時に、とても一般的だった食べ物のカテゴリー(肉や魚)を切り捨てることは、(特に伝統的なイタリア料理では)様々な社会的状況でメンタル面で病んでいた私にとって、とてもわくわくすることだった。

At the beginning of 2016, I became vegan. I had been curious about it for some months, and watched many vegan youtubers online, and was amazed and so intensely intrigued by their big portions of food. My body, hungry from years and years of restricting, was just thrilled thinking about the possibility of eating as much as I wanted without gaining weight. As if that is even possible.


*ビーガン = 肉・魚のみならず、乳製品・卵・はちみつなど動物性食品は食べない完全菜食主義

As one would imagine, I opened the gates and I started eating as much as I felt like. And I felt like eating a LOT. After almost 4 years of controlling every gram of food that was going in my mouth, I let myself listen to my body. Maybe my body hadn’t reached the point of malnourishing, but it still had a caloric deficit that it somehow had to fill.


I was always hungry and always feeling like munching on something, and so, I quickly started gaining weight - but this time, differently than from the past, as much as I was feeling bad about not fitting in my favourite pants anymore and my thighs were getting giggly and started touching, and I had a little belly that had never been there before, I felt free and I started accepting myself as I was. Looking back I see how turning vegan and, most of all, gaining 13 kilos in two months became the opportunity to accept my body as it is, whatever its size. I realized all the things that the body does to keep me alive. I stopped identifying myself as the body only. I said to myself: I have so much to offer.


Then, off to Australia. And that was vegan paradise. Every kind of animal product could be replicated, and the days of white rice and steamed veggies were over.


I started appreciating food as it was, enjoy every single moment and bite. I explored the flavours of every available cuisine from around the world. And that enjoyment was going beyond the health and ethical side. I just wanted to have good experiences when eating. Not thinking about what I was eating, not obsessing about not having animal products. I broke down my whole messed up eating system and the approach I had towards it, and so I started introducing eggs and fish again, and the extremely occasional cheese - as my body cannot really handle dairy products anymore and most of them really stink to me.


Of course, after the first months of eating as much as I wanted, my appetite decreased naturally, and I started eating less and just tailor it to my own biological needs. My only exercise has been walking for the past 2 years and I have lost all the extra weight I was carrying. And I still eat as much as I want and whatever I feel like. I can now say that I know how to listen to my body, and it does it by itself. It tells me when it wants veggies, fruit, pasta, pizza, whatever! I now know that the body tends to be smarter than me when it comes to food choices.


I have felt so liberated, free and more positive towards food since I have stopped putting my mind in the way. I don’t want to see food divided into healthy food, fast food, greasy food, diet food, food that will make me skinny or food that will make me fat. Food is food and food for me is life and part of a GOOD life.


Images by Marvi

Japanese Translated by Hikari

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