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  • Naná

Diet & Leveling Up: The Predicament of Fitness vs Flavor

In order to level up, it is necessary to start by making changes from within, one of those changes being what we choose to put into our bodies. Before we can see ourselves flourish, there is one thing that needs to be put in order - our health. Mental wellness and physical wellness feed off of one another, so neglecting one might be to the detriment of the other.

The best way to improve physical wellness and, thus, mental wellness, is to eat healthy; however, it can be difficult to do so, especially if you are away from home. We often (or at least I often) use travel as an excuse to eat whatever we desire and tell ourselves that we can worry about the consequences later, but usually those consequences go completely disregarded once the trip is over.

Being a picky eater since birth, I can definitely say that eating healthily is only that much harder when your tastebuds reject so many foods that others deem tasty. As someone who habitually eats pasta and rice as my main dishes, I tend to rely on meat to give me the energy and nutrients that I need to go about my day.

Of course, by now, I realize the detriments of this type of diet, but working on changing it has been a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. Given my sweet tooth, eating enough fruits, and varied fruits at that, has never been the problem. On the other hand, eating different vegetables, other than the starchy ones and spinach, is where I always go wrong.

Raise your hand if, like me, you have tried countless times to become vegetarian/vegan/plant-based. Raise your hand again if, like me, you failed time and time again to maintain these lifestyles. At some point, I was ready to believe that these lifestyles were a lost cause. After all, it is easy to get discouraged after failing to permanently change your eating habits.

Many of us come from cultures and backgrounds where meat is a necessary part of the main dishes, and everything that is cooked has rich flavors. I can say that I have experienced similar deep, delicious flavors from vegan foods only twice in my life. Little as that may be, now I know that it is actually possible to achieve such flavors without meat, which means that either I have not been following the right recipes or that I need to improve upon my cooking skills.

Interestingly enough, I tend to eat healthier at home, but cannot stick to one of the aforementioned diets; however, when I am traveling, it is easier to adhere to one of these diets, yet I tend to eat more unhealthily while on them. It is easy to gravitate towards fruits when you are in a tropical area and if you are in Italy, for example, your pasta will taste good whether it has meat in it or not, but fitness and health should not depend on location.

Sometimes I wonder if there is any hope for my taste buds, but I refuse to get fully discouraged considering that this is an indispensable part of my level up journey, not to mention the fact that my success might mean I can influence other black women in my circle to do the same. That way, we might all flourish!

Naná is a proud Brooklyn native and aspiring digital nomad. She enjoys travel, nature, and art. Her other hobbies include reading fantasy novels, binge-watching series on Netflix, and language-learning. Find her @blackbelletravels

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