After years of unhealthy eating habits, BA grad Angela Liddon became a vegan, but she didn’t lose her sweet tooth. Her online vegan bakery, Glo Bakery, features homemade energy bars made by hand with names like “chocolate brownie bomb.” And there isn’t a trace of tofu in sight.
Her 10-year struggle with an eating disorder began at the age of 12 and led to a 20-pound weight gain in university. After graduating from Guelph with a degree in family studies and psychology, she went on to pursue a master’s degree at York University, but the stress of graduate school combined with a research job that left her feeling unfulfilled took a toll on her body.
After hitting “rock bottom,” she decided to turn her life around and launched her blog, Oh She Glows, which documents her road to recovery. “I decided to start the blog because I was really struggling in my life,” says Liddon. Inspired by other healthy living blogs, she was also compelled to help other women develop healthier relationships with food and their bodies.
The blog also gave her the confidence to leave her research job and start her own business. Finding a market for her baked goods was made easier by her readers, many of whom became her customers. Liddon makes all of her products in her Milton, Ont., home and packages them herself. Her recipes are the result of experimenting with different ingredients and modifying family recipes to make them vegan-friendly. She has been featured in the National Post and health magazines like Self.
A combination of therapy and a strong social network helped her overcome her eating disorder. She says her readers also became a source of support. She stopped counting calories and got rid of her scale. Even her husband eliminated pop from his diet and reduced his meat and dairy consumption by 75 per cent.
Liddon dabbled in vegetarianism as an undergrad, so veganism wasn’t a big shock to her system. Going vegan exposed her to ingredients she had previously avoided in favour of low-calorie, processed foods. “As I started cooking with more food, I started experimenting with lots of grains and beans and all these foods that I had never tried before,” she says. “Once I started doing all this cooking, I realized that I could make all of these satisfying foods without needing to use meat or dairy products.” She also became more aware of the meat industry and its treatment of animals, which made her even more determined to remove animal products from her diet.
Liddon says she isn’t trying to convert anyone to veganism, but she recommends trying a vegan recipe, adding that people are often surprised by how delicious they can be.
No healthy lifestyle would be complete without exercise. As part of her fitness routine, she began running and has participated in half-marathons. Her attitude toward exercise shifted from a focus on burning calories to having fun, which helps keep her motivated.
Liddon says one of the biggest mistakes people make with their diets is the quality of food they eat. “Everything is packaged into 100-calorie convenience foods. If you read the label and you see what’s really in it, most of it isn’t even real food. You have to ask, ‘what am I putting in my body?’ If people focused more on eating whole foods, vegetables, nuts and grains, they would feel a lot better.” Liddon is also trying to use more local foods in her recipes, including those harvested from her own vegetable garden.