I tend to write novels. So I beg your pardon for any long winded posts I end up putting on here!

I happened across this whole thing by accident (searching something along the lines of 'quinoa vs oatmeal') and spent a good few hours over the course of the last week reading articles and posts on here. What a find indeed!

For a start, I'm 24, 5'2", and about 115lbs. I'm in art school (which means I spend an absurd amount of time pent up sitting on my arse painting and drawing and listening to lectures and doing research and writing papers) and will be graduating in May. Avid outdoorsperson, I thrive on those hiking days in the summer with my dog, hill walking, and we tend to go jogging a few nights each week. I'm also a horse-lover but am far too broke to afford one of my own (someday!), so I take lessons and occasionally lease when I have the money.

Food and I have a rough history (well, truthfully it's more like "me and myself have a rough history and used food as the scapegoat"); from age 14-21 I struggled with anorexia. Somehow, and it still boggles me today, the eating disorder just slowly faded away into a very small weak little thing that sat in the back of my mind, easily ignored, easily shut-up. I realized that food, and even my weight, were not the problem; that was something deeper. I've never been overweight and, thanks to good parenting, have always been a fairly 'healthy' eater (but the proverb 'a 6 inch line is short relative to an 8 inch line, an 8 inch line is short relative to a 10 inch line' comes to mind..). My relationship with food is now a normal one; I no longer pin it as the source of my problems, nor do I use it a source of pleasure.

That said, I have other issues with food; for the past number of years I've wondered what the hell is it that I'm eating? I look at my great aunts and uncles and my grandparents; they grew up in a very rural setting on the coast of Ireland, eating their own home-grown things, fresh fish, animals they raised themselves...generally everything was raw, homegrown or wild, and unprocessed. Life was not easy, much work goes into sustenance farming, but they were active and have such a love and appreciation for life. They are the epitome of healthy, especially at their old ages, and I am in awe whenever I visit them. The rest of the people where they are from have a history of long and healthy lives as well; 'back in the day' when healthcare wasn't given to them, when they weren't really connected to the rest of society (as it became more and more industrialized), they were living to ages above 90 years old, which was exceptionally long at that point. Now it's different, even for them; the newer generations and islanders aren't as healthy overall. The other side of the family is a different story; different location (cities/suburbs of America), background, culture, and full of heart disease, obesity, heath problems, mental problems, short lives. I couldn't help but wonder what the heck was going on to cause such a difference, and my conclusion is a difference in lifestyle, and primarily diet. Naturally, I want to avoid being like the latter part of the family as much as I can.

So here I am now. My goal is not about weight loss, and more about learning to feed myself what my body actually needs (eat to live, not live to eat) and what is going to be good for it. Also, what's better for the environment (I really want to focus on buying local and organic). It's lent, and so I'm currently sans-processed foods, as well as I can anyway, there are certain things I have to put restrictions on because of time, money, resources, and some bad habits; milk, flours, coffee, spices, bread (I'm currently eating that sprouted bread stuff). Most everything is processed, at least to a degree, but the question is where to draw the line.

As I said before, this is my final semester of school, and it's full of all sorts of stress and anxiety. My thesis has taken over my life and I'm a chaotic mess with everything that's going on in regards to that, so starting full-force PB is probably not a good option right now. I'd be setting myself up for failure and probably more stress. So my goal is to sort of....wean some things out of my diet, and then come the time when my thesis and work is all finished, to start a big switch. I'm also a smoker, and I cannot take it anymore. I loathe everything about it. Everything. I even hate admitting it; it's thoroughly embarrassing. A lifestyle switch is what I need; proper diet, no smoking, proper exercise, wholeness. I don't do well with subtlety.

Even my dog is slowly switching over to a raw diet it will be easier come summer when I'll have the time to really deal with making him meals.

Woof. So there's a novel for ye.

I'm really looking forward to this. It seems to be exactly what I've been looking for.

Does anybody have suggestions of what I should begin to wean off of first? I suppose that might be a tricky thing to suggest without knowing exactly what I eat, but anything would be a start (i.e. cut out anything high in such-and-such thing, limit daily intake of such-and-such to this-ammount, etc). I'm really not sure where to start myself.

Thanks all and I look forward to...everything