What is with a title? It seems that we label ourselves to make a statement as well as for others to know who we are.
We even have titles based on how we eat. People call themselves "vegan," "vegetarian," "raw foodie," "macrobiotic," and my new favorite... "conscientious omnivore." What in heck does that mean? The English word 'omnivore' has two distinct senses or meanings: 1: a person who eats all kinds of foods; 2: an animal that feeds on both animal and vegetable substances. So, I say it means people that eat all kinds of foods but do their best to buy the best quality.
I have had all these eating titles. From 1994 to 2004, during my high school, college and grad school years, I was pretty much a junk food vegetarian living on soft pretzels, Diet Coke and candy bars. I lived on my mom's veggie side dishes for dinner. Sure, my metabolism was amazing and I was able to lose weight just looking at the treadmill. Oh the good old days! I felt bad about eating cows and pigs but I still ate chicken. Who knows.
When I went to nutrition school years later, I was presented with so many different dietary theories. One day, we would learn about all the health benefits of eliminating all animal products from our diets. They next day, another speaker had just as many arguments about why eating meat is healthy. So, what is a health coach in training supposed to do? Try them all. I started really looking at how food made me feel. I did my own research on our food system here in America. I started to journal a bit about how foods made me feel. I experimented all the time.
I even tried being a vegan for a week. Vegan! Yikes! No dairy or meat. I believed I knew for certain that everyone on the planet would eventually stop eating meat – it was only a matter of when, not if. I started reading all of the PETA flyers and became involved with some amazing animal rights organizations like Farm Sanctuary and The Gentle Barn. I read Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet and I started following her blog The Kind Life. I was pissed off. I have always been an animal lover and really getting into the details of what happens in factory farms really made me angry. I wanted the world to stop eating all meat.
Then gradually, I had a series of revelations. When I told myself I couldn't have animal foods, I just wanted them even more. I started to crave certain foods especially during my time of the month. Oh my! I know now that during my period or during pregnancy, my body needs fat. It needs extra calories. I give it what it wants now. When I was pregnant, I had even more intense cravings for dairy and meat. I met other women who told me they had been vegetarian when they got pregnant but during their pregnancies, it turned out to be impossible to remain vegetarians. Their bodies craved meat. All of them have since come to feel that eating meat is healthier than being vegetarian, and they have remained conscientious omnivores even after their pregnancies ended.
I started to look at local farms. I realized that alot of small farms were very humane with their practices. I started to think about how meat has been in our food chain for centuries. Why all of a sudden are Americans dealing with alarming rates of preventable diseases? Our ancestors have been eating animal foods for millennia. What is going on here? Basically, the food that is mass produced is just not the same quality. Meat that is served at a fast food restaurant is not the same meal that great-grandma used to serve. Great-grandma used the entire animal and made stock, beef broth, roasts, etc. She didn't waste much! She probably didn't eat meat everyday either. Nowadays, we can get whatever we want whenever we want it. Maybe that is the problem. I fell in love with Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin and their views about food. I watched the movies Fresh and Food, Inc. I cooked and cooked and cooked.
I joined a local farm buying club. Basically how it works is you place your order online and you can buy local, fresh food from local farms. It is amazing because naturally you begin to eat foods that are in season. How easy is that? Plus, they put all the food you order in a box and you pick it up every week. S-weet!!!!!
What is your body trying to tell you? Being true to ourselves also applies to what we eat - listening to what our bodies need without imposing mind-constructed judgments on our diets is what is healthy. I fully support anybody who eats only vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, raw food or salt-free because it feels best to their physical bodies and their health. The key is really listening to what your body needs. And guess what? Our bodies needs change all the time. Our time of the month, different seasons, as we travel to different climates, etc.
Do you know what your body is trying to tell you? Want to learn how to listen to your body? I can help you figure it out. Let's chat.
My mission for you this week is to stop with the eating label and begin to listen to what your body wants. I would love to hear your thoughts, fears, questions, comments. What do you think?
Ready to listen?