Have you tipped the scale on balanced nutrition weighing too heavily in any one food camp such as raw, gluten-free, vegan or paleo? Or do you swing from one extreme to the other – clean eater by day but ravenous sweet freak by night? Or are you a weekend wine warrior who on Monday becomes a juice fasting fanatic?
Just for the record, I have been every one of these and more. I’ve taken a trip down the Atkins lane, devoted a year to 100% raw and lived on nothing but juice for 30-days. I’ve paleo-ed, been carb-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy, nut and corn-free. I’ve eaten chicken but not beef, fish but not eggs and then eggs but not fish. I’ve imbibed to excess on a single day and then spent the next seven consuming nothing but lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper. I’ve put myself on the no-fruit diet, the all fruit diet and pretty much every diet in between except the breatharian diet – I enjoy food way too much for that.
So what did I learn during all this eater experimentation? In each case, my diet du jour became my identity. Yep! I admit…my identity became the stuff of food. I began to link who I am to what I was eating and forgot I needed to be eating for who I am.
I would say things like I AM VEGAN. The truth is, I am NOT vegan. I am Tina and like to eat a predominantly plant-based diet. See the difference? The latter invites flexibility and the opportunity for us to evolve.
Flexibility is essential to our wellbeing because as humans, our dietary needs change with the climate, seasons, the demands of our day, levels of stress, activity levels and states of wellbeing.
There literally is no one size fits all diet and by being label-defending eaters, we ignore what our bodies truly require.
Let’s look at a real life example. Susie has labeled herself a raw foodie. She regularly noshes on salads and dehydrated crackers, nut patés and kelp noodles. She follows the diet with vigor…so much so that on a rainy, 40-degree day and despite her body screaming for hot cereal, she takes a green smoothie to the face.
She wonders why she’s more gassy and holds onto weight. It’s because, even in the name of good health, she isn’t balancing circumstance with the demands of her body. What she really needs are warm, grounding and comforting foods on colder days and to keep her regular, dehydrated crackers with near every drop of moisture sucked out should be avoided.
This type of diet defense despite thinking what we’re eating is good for us happens all the time. Too often, we implement a program of eating in an attempt to lose weight, increase energy, combat disease or bring a glow of health to our complexion. Unfortunately we do it with such conviction, putting more attention to defending our eater identification that we stop tuning into the song of our systems.
We ignore the call to eat what best serves the health of our biologically unique bodies.
You may very well know I have been following a mostly plant-based diet for quite some time and the reason is doing so best supports my physical and spiritual wellbeing. That said, if I want a soft-boiled pastured egg with lunch or a bite of tuna sashimi for dinner, I am going to have it. All the time? No. Because I feel I have to? No. Because doing so creates harmony in my body digestively? Yes.
This is key! If you are not absorbing, assimilating and eliminating food with efficiency you are compromising your health.
I am not suggesting that if you lean into plant-based eating, you go out and eat a big steak or if you suffer from gluten intolerance, that eating some sourdough is a good idea. What I am saying is that it would serve us well to start tuning in more.
We need to listen to our gut (literally) and make food choices from a place of mindfulness and not as a means to strengthen eater identification.
Curious how to eat more mindfully and truly for YOUR body? I write about all of this and more in my latest book Balanced Raw.
Here’s to Happy, Healthy and MINDFUL eating!