Submitted by Charlotte Beauchamp on 6 April 2018 - 11:12pm
Balancing my PCOS, being veggie, and bouts of student laziness. As a self-professed lover of all things food being just one of the aforementioned things can complicate meal times enough but recently I've been learning to juggle all three.
To begin with all I had to manage was being vegetarian. I’ve been vegetarian for the last 4 years, although I wanted to be since as early as I can remember. Not to go into the deeper reasons of my I choice it really just comes down to being a big softy when it comes to animals. Since the moment I learned where chicken nuggets or sausages came from the concept didn’t really sit right with me even if I was only 6 years old. But with no one else in the family being vegetarian my mum lacked the confidence that she could meet my nutritional needs as a growing child and so she told me I had to wait until I was ‘fully grown’ before I could be vegetarian. So when my 15th birthday rolled around and I asked my mum on the off chance whether I could be veggie finally she agreed, I guess she’d given up on me growing any bigger. And so for the last few years of living at home it’s been as a veggie, in all honesty I never really struggled giving meat up, and it wasn't too hard to accommodate, especially as my mum likes to think of herself as a ‘part-time vegetarian’ so would often cook meat-free meals for the both of us. And although towards the end I cooked my own meals often enough, if I didn’t feel like it I knew I could rely on a home cooked meal from my mum.
Next thing you know I’m moving into student accommodation at university and soon enough the bouts of student laziness kick in. I’m sure we are all familiar enough with this, you know those nights you can’t really be bothered to cook a meal, so you go through a packet of hobnobs for dinner instead…no?..just me? well in my case at least, I can go through long periods of time where I get stuck in a bit of a ‘rut’ and eat absolute crap for about a week. I think what doesn’t help with this is that to have a nice meal as a vegetarian a bit more effort needs to be put into making it, whereas the guys in my flat when they can’t be bothered (which is usually most days) will get a ready meal. Now ready meals are no delicacy in anyone's eyes, but I can tell you categorically that the vegetarian ones? they’re 1000 x worse. And so I’ll reach for a tub of Ben and Jerrys instead when the thought of cooking something from scratch is just too much.
But I like to think there’s always a natural balance to this though because eventually I get that feeling where really all I want is a good wholesome meal and before you know it I’m back to cooking and baking like there’s no tomorrow, because it is something I genuinely love doing (when I can be bothered). And this is the perpetual cycle I’ve been living in for the last few months, going from responsible foodie to child that’s just been told they can eat sweets for breakfast lunch and dinner if they want, and back again.
Finally we move onto the latest development in my food journey so far. PCOS. Polycystic ovarian syndrome is surprisingly common in young women and just my luck it turns out I’m part of the club too. Due to additional health reasons my doctor couldn’t prescribe me the usual medicine suggested and so I’ve been prescribed the much less fun high protein low carb diet, alongside a myriad of pills, and strict orders not to snack. Spoiler alert, anybody that has classes with me knows I haven't been sticking to this part in the least. I don't think I’m alone in the fact that delicious food can change my mood so quickly. I could’ve had the worst day but then my flatmates suggest we go Nandos or a mate passes me a bakewell tart from her bag when I’ve realised I’ve forgotten to pack a snack and lunch is still 2 hours away (thanks Georgia you’re a g) and I’m the happiest person in the world again. And don’t even get me started on food after clubbing, I mean is there really any point in going out at all if we aren’t going to stop for cheesy chips on the way home? I’m also a big enough person to admit I’ve also gone so far as to buy cheesy chips to eat whilst in the queue to get into a club as well (in my defense it was a very long wait). So you can imagine a diet consisting of no carbs or snacks is my waking nightmare.
I’m not going to lie it has been difficult to follow the dietary plan given to me by my doctor (not least because ‘chicken and broccoli’ seems to be the only two words on it) whilst also factoring in my additional laziness, vegetarian-ness, and just plain intolerance to bland food. However I do know that when I put in the energy I can make vegetarian food that is still both appetising and high-protein/low carb, and I think not having to compromise on my health, happiness, or moral principles is worth that extra bit of effort required.