I developed a life-threatening allergy to peanuts/tree nuts when I was two years old, and have remained allergic even into my nineteenth year. This means that I’ve had to carefully examine restaurant menus and beg the chef to be extra safe with the processing and handling of my order. I’ve had to read the back of every single label, scanning the teeny tiny print to find out if the harmless looking cereal bar will make me go into anaphylactic shock. I’ve had to have my own separate brand of cupcakes at birthday parties, and sit at a different lunch table to avoid peanut butter and jelly .
While this may cause one to think that I would be mindful of what I ate, it actually had quite the opposite affect on me: I lived on junk food. In fact, I thrived on it. I ate as much as I could, and I sure wasn’t focused on the nutritional values.
I’m no psychologist, but looking back now at the child Maddie, I’m guessing the reason I ate in such high quantities was that I was just happy that I could eat it. There was so much restriction in my diet that it became mostly just Kraft Mac and Cheese and Pop Tarts.
I try to be as open and honest as I can on here, so I’m just going to say it: there was a phase in my life where I used to make “Pop-tart Cake” and eat it for dessert. My “Pop-tart Cake” consisted of two Pop-tarts (usually cookies and cream flavored) plastered in chocolate frosting. I would stack the two on top of each other, sealing them together with the frosting, then generously coat the outside in another layer of chocolate glaze. These classic Pop-tart Cakes were best served chilled, and more than once I ate the entire thing without sharing.
There are days I miss eating Pop-tart Cake and potato chips and Cheetos and powdered donuts. But my lesson of day thirteen is to keep track of what you put in your body. Healthy is equivalent to happy, because once puberty hit, the sugar rush threw my physique out of whack.
The first time I realized how unhealthy my lifestyle was occurred after watching an eye-opening documentary about how junk food is destroying our bodies. I became aware of processed vs organically grown, and how the future of the food industry was revolving around added sugars and chemicals, an imbalance of ingredients, and misleading labels.
Completely terrified of the effects of my beloved Pop-tart Cake, I transitioned through several phases, between calorie restriction (that sucked), veganism (I missed scrambled eggs), gluten-free (this was just ridiculous, no BREAD? No PASTA?) and eventually to vegetarianism (I’ve never really liked meat, so this was the easiest to maintain).
All of these phases showed me how food truly does affect the body and health, both physically and mentally, and even though they weren’t the most fun to endure, I am glad I have the control and ability to at least give them a shot. Today, I do my best to avoid processed food and eat as organic and natural as possible (I felt the eyerolls at that sentence. Yes, I am that girl.)
In all seriousness, keeping track of what I put into my body changed my life, and even though I still cope with food-allergies and intolerances, I am happily thriving on spinach wraps and sunflower butter-chia seed-banana toast.
But someday, I plan on giving the Pop-tart cake another shot.