In the healthy eating world, there are so many types of diet theories: keto, paleo, vegan, dairy-free, vegetarian, pescatarian etc… how do you even begin to decide where you land? My theory is that these labels can be fluid. Why? Because our bodies are fluid. We are constantly changing: mentally and physically. Now, I completely understand people can be 100% vegan or 100% gluten free and that if that works best for you then keep doing what you are doing. Today, I am simply sharing my outlook and experience with diet labels as I know many people struggle with these definitions. And as we get into summer, a time when body image seems to peak in people’s minds, I want people to realize if you try and put the “diet” label aside, it’s for the better!
Perhaps we can look at diet labels as more of an internal personal definition and less as an external societal definition. Let me explain.
In my journey through discovering a healthier mindset to eating, the labels became overwhelming. They made me feel restricted and became a source of anxiety for me. I constantly thought (and sometimes still do, admittedly) on what I cannot eat and less about what I wanted to eat. I would spend time at restaurants or in the grocery store looking at what I could not consume or purchase. It was paralyzing. This type of emotional and physical relationship with food was all but positive because it put me in a place of “do not” and “should not”. Over time, I learned that this was causing me emotional distress. Just know that if you are feeling this too, I totally get it. Now, I simply check the ingredients to make sure I first, know what all ingredients are and second, there isn’t a paragraph of things listed. But that’s it!
So – how can we ditch this external label and gain relief? We cut ourselves some slack. We stop being so hard on ourselves and we look inside. If we look internally, we are listening to our body and not to our mind. There is a huge difference there. I know that is easier said than done. Let me get specific.
My new “diet” is called Kelly. You know why, because it’s what works for my body, and frankly “Kelly” doesn’t like using the category or word Diet because it’s restrictive and how I eat is a lifestyle. Most days, my body wants to eat primarily plant-based whole-foods with a little bit of high-quality dairy, and eggs. I feel good eating some cheese and cage free organic eggs. And I love sweets. I feel no shame! Yes, I am vegetarian and eat no meat or fish. This is because I started to notice the impact it was having on my digestion and fatigue. Eating the “Kelly” way, meat just didn’t sit well with my stomach. I didn’t really realize the impact meat was having until I started to practice BODY LISTENING. I just lived with terrible stomach issues and let it become normal. What helped was really tuning into what my body was telling me before, during and after a meal. I encourage you to start to tune in and practice body listening too.
I embrace a mostly plant-based lifestyle without GUILT or FEAR because it is what makes me feel good, vibrant, and nourished. You are not an imposter if you call yourself plant-based and have eggs for breakfast Sunday. There are no consequences for listening to your body and reacting to its sensations.
To sum up, if letting go of labels sets your free – I strongly encourage it. Be your own label and give yourself permission to change your mind. In the journey of INTERNALLY discovering your health, your body will react differently to different things at different times. It is all a process. Take it slow and most important: listen.