‘Bad’ Food Days: Picking Up & Moving On|Vicki Chamberlain

For many people, health is a major reason for going vegetarian

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A vegetarian diet is much healthier; it’s rich in fiber, vitamins, lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Surely, if we’re not distracted by meat dishes, we’ll be more likely to eat fresh fruits and veggies, right?

This is logical- but ‘logical’ doesn’t always mean ‘true’. Take my diet yesterday, for example:

BREAKFAST: Cookie Crisp cereal and soy milk
SNACK: 3 Quorn cocktail sausages
LUNCH: Cheese sandwich made with white bread (no salad), 3 more Quorn cocktail sausages (I swear they’ve got cocaine or something in them, they’re so addictive), 2 plain crackers
DINNER: 2 Quorn sausages (full size ones this time), 2 frozen potato waffles, small can of baked beans
LATE EVENING: Half a large bag of cheese puffs, half a bottle of vegetarian white wine and more milk chocolate than I want to admit to

Pretty terrible, huh? Everything I ate was vegetarian – but was there any fresh produce in there? No. Fiber? Not as much as there could have been.

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According to Fitday, a website with a huge database of nutritional information for all kinds of foods, white bread contains 0.58g of fiber per ounce, compared with 2.2g per ounce in wholewheat bread.

Quorn is lean protein, as are beans, but cheese certainly isn’t. And white bread and potatoes just don’t do that lovely slow-release thing that whole grains do. And their vitamin content is inferior.

On top of that, I consumed more alcohol than the recommended daily amount for a woman, a load of saturated fat and sugar from the evening junk food binge, and I only had one snack (the late evening intake hardly qualifies as a snack!).

The wisdom of eating three snacks a day was given to me by a hospital dietitian and I know I function better when I follow this advice. So why do I, from time to time, have ‘bad nutrition days’ when even the thought of peeling a banana seems like too much effort?

For the same reasons as many meat-eaters: Tiredness, laziness, the inner rebel coming out to play, lack of time, a bad day at work…and the fact that processed, refined foods and alcohol taste good and can give us a short-term boost in mood.

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Just because we’re veggies doesn’t mean we’re immune from making bad food choices – and just because it says ‘suitable for vegetarians’ on the label doesn’t mean it’s a healthy food.

This morning I find myself looking back at yesterday through the haze of my hangover and wondering if I’ve blown it.

Will that 7lb I lost since going vegetarian pile back on? Will any future fresh produce simply pass straight through me and leave behind no benefits at all in its rush to exit my cholesterol-clogged obese body?

Or was yesterday just one day – an anomaly that will be corrected through continued good nutrition for at least the majority of the time? For the sake of my own peace of mind, I’m going to assume that the answer is ‘yes’. Many nutritionists and health fanatics might disagree with me.

They might point out that one should NEVER eat chocolate or drink wine, and that a pure and perfect diet is the only way to achieve that nebulous goal of ‘good health’.

I say that ideally people would never put these things into their bodies, but humans aren’t just machines using food for fuel. We are sensuous, hedonistic, unpredictable, whimsy-driven souls, free-thinking and strong-willed beings. On being told that we ‘must’ do this or that, we encounter a sometimes irresistible urge to do the exact opposite.

In my case, there are no pre-existing health conditions that could be aggravated by certain foods , and I don’t eat like this most of the time (this was one day in maybe 20 for me).

Why not just accept that rules are being relaxed for a time, enjoy the food and drink, chalk it up to experience and then get back on course as soon as possible?

Why would we NOT want to look after ourselves by choosing to eat healthy? It’s simply not sensible. And yet, I’m nowhere near accepting it without question.

Correct thinking, like correct nutrition and good health, is a journey rather than a destination. For those of you on the same path, I hope that my experience will encourage you to take heart, and continue on your vegetarian journey without feeling guilty about occasional lapses.


Author Vicki (Vix) Chamberlain lives in the vegetarian mecca of Brighton, England, with her husband and two home schooled children. She studies English at the Open University and works part-time.  Vix has been both meat free and dairy free – but never at the same time! Her most recent post is Pro-Choice Vegetarian: I Don’t Care What’s On Your Plate

Vicki has just self-published her first novel for Amazon Kindle –  a confessional-style novel about a young woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

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3 Responses to “‘Bad’ Food Days: Picking Up & Moving On|Vicki Chamberlain”

  1. Yoga Gurl says:

    I used to have many bad eating days and now, it’s only occasionally, mostly when I am under stress.

    My bad eating days in the past were not eating junk food or the wrong foods but mostly simply overeating. It was a bad habit, even though I didn’t gain weight.

    Now I only overeat when I am really tense, stressed, tired and have something due. But it is somewhat rare.

    Totally relate to the feeling “too tired” to make something healthy. I think most feel this way. That is what naps are for!

  2. Savvy Veg says:

    Hi Paul, when you look at the number of times the word vegetarian is used in the article, I think it’s clear the author is a vegetarian. But you’re right – her experience could apply to healthy eating in general, which is a good thing – we all have bad food days, veg or non-veg.

  3. Paul says:

    Seems more like an encouragement of healthy eating generally rather than vegetarianism!

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