I avoid labels like the plague.
All kinds of labels, but dietary labels get the most attention and inspire some of the strongest response from people.
I usually eat a whole food, plant-based, mostly organic diet. Basically I eat plants. Lots of plants. Plus some high quality animal products.
Am I vegan? No.
Am I vegetarian? No.
Do I follow a paleo, or any other specific diet for that matter? No.
Am I gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, corn-free, sugar-free….? You can see where this is going.
I usually squirm at these questions. Can you relate? But they have been popping up more and more from friends and family since I overhauled my diet about 18 months ago, so I’m addressing them once and for all.
I'm gonna be straight with you. Yes, I avoid dairy. Yes, I avoid gluten. Yes I avoid soy. And, yes, I avoid sugar.
But I can already see the box that is quickly closing in on me and I haven't even begun to list the different grains, fruits, sweeteners and health foods I do or don't eat. I choose to see it from a different perspective. I focus on the variety of foods that I do eat and that make me feel good, as opposed to those that I don’t eat or make me feel less than dandy. Plus I’m not going to claim to be completely dairy-free when I have occasionally been known to enjoy a slice of brie at a dinner party. So shoot me.
So, no, I don’t fit into a box nicely, and I know this bothers some people or makes me ‘difficult’. The difficulty is sticking to your guns when it seems everyone else is trying to stamp a label across your forehead so that they can get their own heads around your eating habits. Or even so that you can get a handle on it yourself.
Just because someone puts a tidy little box around you doesn't mean that you have to stay in it. The box is only there if you believe it is.
It is still important to be understanding of other peoples’ reasons for labelling but it is your choice if you let this limit you or make you feel like an inconvenience. It might even be that you just imagine or assume they will label you. Get out of your head and into your body.
Our bodies are continually changing and adapting to our environments. What we need today may not be the same as tomorrow, let alone years from now. Simply put: I won’t be pigeon-holed just so someone else can get their head around my eating habits. I have described my diet as 'whole food, pant based' but I am reluctant to get more specific than that because the details may vary. Yes labels have their uses, but they also encourage detachment from our bodies. And we need to listen o our bodies.
Any time I use a label it will likely be for simplicity’s sake. For instance, when I am at a restaurant, categorising a recipe or using hashtags so that others can find one that suits their needs. This does not mean that I subscribe to a certain diet or follow a set of dietary rules and regulations. Sure, I have some guidelines that I follow for the most part because my body feels better, but there are very few foods that I just won’t eat (unless, of course, they taste gross too!).
Declaring foods as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ just makes what I eat more likely to determine how I feel about myself for the rest of my day. "Today was rubbish - I ate chocolate. I’ll have to start all over again tomorrow." I just know that some foods serve me better than others.
Ask yourself what feels the most nourishing for you right now?
What labels (food related or otherwise) do you or other people place on you that make you feel uncomfortable? Share in the comments and show your commitment to living life according to your own desires.
P.S. Did you see last week’s post on Why I Eat The Way I Do, Soul Food + 5 Steps To Improve Your Diet? If you liked this one you might just like that one too.
P.P.S. The graphic above is Instagram friendly! Feel free to share it on Insta and tag me (@fmaspero) or #mygoodnessme so I can see.