How Changing My Diet Shifted My Wellness Habits For The Better

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Jun. 11 2024, Published 8:00 a.m. ET

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Growing up in a Caribbean household, the savory dishes of oxtail, curry chicken, macaroni pie, plantains, jerk chicken, and stew peas were meals inherently part of my upbringing. These classic foods are traditions of my Jamaica and Grenada cultural background. So, when I decided to become plant based it seemed to my family, at first, that I was forfeiting the dishes of home. 

When I made the decision to become vegan, it was less of a lifestyle choice and more of an intentionality around the foods that I was putting in my body. In college, I had already transitioned to a pescatarian diet, omitting meat from my consumption – still enjoying dairy items and seafood. So, the choice to go vegan was not an overnight decision. 

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I chose to be vegan officially during the pandemic in 2021 after doing a 21-day vegan challenge. The challenge held me accountable to put effort into the meals I prepared for myself, bulking up on as much veggies and plant protein as I could. It also helped me to not rely on the cooking of my relatives and learn to become my own chef. After the 21 days were over I found myself having no reason not to continue in this dietary choice and claiming a vegan diet. I had more energy, glowing skin, and felt I was being more intentional about the foods I was eating and about my overall wellness goals. A few years later, while I am mostly practicing a vegan diet I like to embrace a plant-based title which is less restricting and focuses more on putting more plants and whole foods on your plate.

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By choosing to eat a plant-based, whole food diet I had to become more intentional about the foods I was preparing on a weekly and daily basis. Intentionality is key to the wellness journey. If you do not have a reason to motivate you then you can lose your intention. My intention to change my diet was not for someone else but for me, just as it is a choice to workout or sign up for therapy or go to church. Your wellness journey is one you must define for yourself.


Perspective is everything. Our individual worldview makes up how we choose to show up in the world and our self worldview. Our perspective can control our actions and inner thoughts. If we choose a perspective that welcomes growth, peace, joy, and love we can welcome that into our daily lives. Wellness is so much more than just a Pilates class but begins from the inside. I learned that through food. What I put in my body affected my perspective and how I felt. If I was eating more whole, natural foods I felt more centered versus eating processed and fast foods leaving me sluggish and less motivated.

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What I’ve learned through being on a plant based diet is choosing what is best for me even when I don’t want it in the moment. It’s fine to splurge on some of your favorite junk foods but the time comes to hit the reset button. Discipline is choosing to remain consistent despite how you may feel.

A smoothie for breakfast may not sound as intriguing as a bacon egg and cheese sandwich but it can possibly keep you going through most of the day and not crashing by the afternoon. After a long day, a nap may sound better than a workout but pushing to do the workout can not only wake you up but help you release the stress from the day. This all takes discipline and is a muscle I have grown just from changing my diet. I became more mindful of consuming whole, plant based foods. Do I get it perfect everyday? Absolutely not! Yet, I am enjoying the journey of becoming a better me each day.

Give Yourself Grace

In an age of social media where it seems like many have perfect lives we must remember that it is all curated content. We are all human at the end of the day and must embrace the intricacies of who we are. When I embarked on my plant based diet it was with the full intention to be vegan but as I went through my journey, I learned that if I slipped and had something that may have some dairy in it, it isn’t the end be all. This reminded me about life. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Take your time, run your own race, and pivot as needed.

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By: Danielle Layton

Danielle Layton is a multimedia and mission-driven storyteller based in NYC. She works in marketing production and is a freelance journalist with a passion for telling stories that encourage, empower, and evoke meaningful change. She enjoys using her personal platforms to encourage the purposeful journey. When she isn't telling stories, you can find her sharing her favorite vegan recipes on her food Instagram @plantifullymade.

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