Hi, my name is Michelle and I eat three meals a day. With carbs. And a snack. While that might not sound shocking to you, it’s absolutely mind-blowing to me.
Let me back up a bit. During my teenage years, I was intent on eating as little as possible. Portobello mushrooms and diet pills washed down with a Diet Snapple (and a nap during lunch). Restriction eventually led to binging, followed by years of eating disorders. My weight fluctuated by the week, even by the day. One year I might lose 40 pounds, and the next year gain it back.
It was the era of disordered eating.
I spent my early 20s in New York City and my eating habits changed. I learned how to stabilize my weight. I would start with egg whites in the morning, then eat anything I wanted in the evening and starve myself in-between. I truly thought I had found a solution. But I’m sure you can guess where that solution led me: Those “anything I wanted” dinners became compulsive, and soon I was back in an unhealthy cycle of binging and restricting.
And then, in my mid-20s, I discovered the world of wellness—yoga, meditation, mindfulness, edible hemp. Like Oz, it was shiny, glowing and full of antioxidants.
Here were people living healthy lives and loving their bodies. I became friends with women who were going after their dreams and becoming entrepreneurs. The community was rife with confidence coaches, vegan restaurant owners and people making documentaries on the politics of food. I was hooked and wanted to follow their lead.
Searching for healthy options
My journey to unhealthy eating of ostensibly healthy food began innocently enough in the aisles of Whole Foods. There, with my wellness friends, I learned about gluten-free eating, the paleo diet and the intricacies of living a vegan life. I discovered a thousand different ways to not eat carbohydrates (my favorite: chickpea pasta). I learned what “raw” meant. I jumped in headfirst and stopped eating animal products for a solid year.
It was the era of veganism.
My best friend would offer me a bite of her turkey sandwich and I would have to gently remind her that I was now a vegan. She would say, with so much love, “Michelle, I don't think you really are,” and I would be aghast. I had convinced myself that my body was thriving, but in fact, my body was depleted and exhausted. I was craving animal protein.
As I dove deeper into the wellness community, starting my own wellness-branding company and founding a mind/body/spirit camp for adults, the word “cleanse” began to infiltrate my vocabulary. I discovered that people could drink nothing but juice for days at a time, get all the nutrients their bodies needed, and did not have to worry about food at all! It seemed too good to be true. I jumped in headfirst and stopped eating solid food.
It was the era of juicing.
I decided to cleanse for 25 days straight in order to truly “clean out” my body. To detox. To thrive. I was drinking six juices a day, and getting colonic two to three times a week. My skin was glowing, I was losing weight. Once again, I thought I had found the solution: Juicing, colonics and infrared saunas became my way of life.
I truly was shocked when, at the end of that 25 days, my body went right back into the same cycle. Binge, restrict, binge, restrict. And so for the year that followed, I would continue to dance in and out of “cleansing,” which for me (and, I imagine, for many others) was actually more about restricting.
Back to square one
It had been a few years since The Juicing Era, and I was still trying to find stable, lasting health and vitality. Smoothies became my go-to. I would drink smoothies all day long, and then eat carb-free in the evenings. But, inevitably, those carb-free evenings turned into a binge of multiple cans of beans and box upon box of lentil pasta. (Yes, I found a way to abuse lentils.) And then, finally, I woke up.
I decided to ask someone else—someone not necessarily in the mind/body/spirit/wellness world—what I should be eating. I found a licensed nutritionist, and this is what she told me:
Eat three meals a day plus one snack. You should have carbs, fats and protein in every meal.
When my nutritionist first explained this, I literally thought she was talking about an outdated food plan from the 1950s. Fats and carbs in every meal? It sounded like a weight-gain plan. Don’t carbs make you fat and sluggish? She might as well have told me to start drinking Ensure three times a day. But I decided to try it because my various attempts at vitality had led me into the same cycle over and over again. And I was ready for a new way.
By the time this article is published, I will have been eating this way for more than 90 days, and I am forever changed. This is the way people eat! It’s so simple, and yet I never understood it. But now, as I wake up before my alarm clock, with a bounce in my step—and my body feeling strong, alive, and truly thriving—now I get it. I finally get it.
All of the unhealthy eras are in the past. Now the healthy Era of Michelle has begun.
Read more: 7 Steps to Loving Your Body and 3 Steps to Better Eating
Michelle Goldblum is the Co-founder and Director of Soul Camp, an adult sleep-away camp with a mind/body/soul theme.