Six weeks ago, this would have been a nightmare.
Tables of free food without calorie counts posted? Huge crowds? Chocolate around every corner? I would have laughed at the mere suggestion of attending such an event.
Even now, I struggled quite a bit with the idea of going. I spent countless hours on the event website and, on multiple occasions, flirted with the ticket order form with credit card in hand. But with my birthday last week, which led me to eat far more sweets and restaurant meals than usual, the fear of going to yet another place that would take me out of my comfort zone was overwhelming. It took until Friday night to make the decision to go Saturday, and by that time the tickets were sold out. I decided this was a sign that I was better off waiting until next year.
But inspiration struck Sunday morning. I had to go. After all, the more I learn about cooking my own healthy and delicious food, the more comfortable I am with eating it. And since this blog is still but a fledgeling, how could I miss an opportunity to attend an event that captured the very essence of what I want to celebrate on my blog? So I pushed my fears aside and went.
It was, indeed, VERY crowded.
Did I make the right decision? I'm not quite sure. I was packed with anxiety as I tasted almost everything the fair had to offer. Some guy yelled at me when I accidentally cut a line, which led to an near panic attack. And being around so many other vegetarians/vegans made me feel that I'm not good enough. I know this is ridiculous - I've been vegetarian my entire life and so much of my time is spent preparing healthy meals. But I don't grow my own grains and vegetables, I sometimes use the microwave, and I occasionally grab a vegan energy bar when I don't have time to prepare my own snacks. Not to mention my anxiety over consuming an unknown amount of calories was so strong that I ran to the gym as soon as I got home - the first time in months that I exercised compulsively to compensate for eating.
But, I will forgive myself. Just because I fell back into an ED behavior does not mean I need to collapse completely into the vicious cycle. Today is a new day.
There were some positives to going to the fair! I got a hug from this guy:
My mom apologized about 80 times for the blurry picture
And I found out about some great vegan restaurants in my neighborhood that I didn't even know exists. Plus, I ate a marshmallow for the first time in my life, thanks to Sweet and Sara! Growing up, I frequently faced resistance when I had to explain and defend the reason why I couldn't eat marshmallows ("But how could they contain animal bones? They're so soft and fluffy!") While I enjoyed the treat, I don't think I was really missing out on much. They're so sweet that just a few bites were enough. Still I couldn't resist buying a sample pack... I can certainly see why they make the perfect companion to hot chocolate! I also tried daiya cheese for the first time. It tastes just like dairy cheese from what I remember. Just like with the marshmallows, it was a nice treat, but I seem to have lost my taste for cheese since becoming vegan. It might be nice to include it in meals occasionally, but I've always preferred to explore the different tastes the plant world has to offer than stick to dairy/meat substitutes.
Some other highlights? I watched a Vita-Mix demonstration with love and longing in my eyes. Those things are amazing. I wish I could give one a home. Perhaps one day in the future, but right now paying that much for anything is out of the question. I had a huge refreshing kombucha for only $2! Surprisingly, one of my favorite vendors (and where I spent the most money) was Sheffa Foods. This is shocking because their products (specifically their snack bars) are marketed as "sweet-free." How could I possibly enjoy this so much in a stadium full of chocolate?! I picked up a bar in each flavor (to me they taste like different types of bagels) as well as a spanish onion salad topper and a coconut/dried fruit mix that is the perfect mix-in for oatmeal.
I now present to you, the loot!
Quite a plentiful harvest, I must say!
I must admit that it is slightly stressful to have such a large stash of novelty, previously "banned" foods in my house. It's a true test to my recovery that I did not only buy marshmallows, cookies, chocolate, and even a chocolate peanut butter-covered smore, but I also plan to eat them. I do feel some guilt, but this this a great way to exercise my acceptance that it is ok to enjoy these treats in addition to my healthy meals, and that doing so will not cause me to automatically gain weight.
Despite the anxiety, I'm glad I went! I'm already looking forward to next year, when I'll be more comfortable with trying different foods and enjoying them, and maybe even talk to some people who share my values! Only 364 more days...
Did you try any new and exciting products recently?
Have you ever been to a vegetarian food fair?
How do you deal with anxiety around eating former fear foods?