There's so much talk about how we "should" or "shouldn't" eat. Everywhere you look in the healthy and/or fitness world there are articles and promotions about the optimal diet for this goal or that goal. Usually all of the goals are leaning towards one common thing, weight loss.
Before I get deeper into this topic I want to start by saying that obviously I'm a strong advocate for a vegan diet/lifestyle. I'm mainly going to be sharing my view on certain diets within the vegan community but this message can easily transfer to any other diets as well. Throughout this article I have that in mind just because I believe that veganism is what we should mold our diets around. But I do understand, accept, and support those who are not 100% there yet, no matter how far off they are, on this journey.
Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to the good stuff.
Diets. Let's see. In the vegan world there's high carb, starch solution, raw till 4, 801010, fully raw, high fat....
*tries to think of more and fails while realizing that naming diets is not important*
Okay, so the specific diets do not matter because we're not here to review them all individually. Although, I could do that because I have given each of those a decent attempt. But I'm not - because like I said, not important.
What's important here is that none of that matters. Within the vegan community we have all of these different diets that are all marketed with the same goal in mind which is... you guessed it, weight loss.
Eat 3,000 calories today and as long as you're eating high carb then you'll lose weight!
Fully raw diets are the only way to reach your optimal weight.
The only way to lose weight is to eat this, this, and this while avoiding all processed foods that will cause bloating and inevitable weight gain.
You catch my drift.
Why are we not saying, "Eat a lot of plants to fuel your body and give you energy to do all of the things that you want to do."
Or, "Gaining a couple of extra pounds is completely okay because your body is not stagnant, but in a constant state of flux and that is healthy and okay.
And just one more for good measure. "Eat that ice cream and pizza for dinner with your friend and then wake up tomorrow morning and go to a delicious pancake brunch because food is just food and the amount of fat that you do or don't have does not equal your worth."
I'm just tired of seeing all of these things online promoting one thing as the only proper way to eat. It's not realistic and it doesn't send a good message. There are too many people out there in the world who have deep vulnerabilities and sensitivities surrounding their bodies and their weight. By strongly expressing our beliefs that there's only one proper way to do things creates all of these not so great feelings attached to those tender feelings.
I don't want this to seem like an attack on any one person who promotes any diet/lifestyle that they've had great success with. I love hearing what works and doesn't work for others. It's fascinating to see the variety of things that work for everyone. No two bodies are alike and something that works for you could totally help someone else. It's great!
I just think that it becomes a problem when we promote something so strongly that it's seen as the only way to do things to achieve a certain goal. When you think about it there are tons of ways to achieve the same goal. You and I could both have the goal to become a yoga teacher and do it in very different ways. We could even be taking the same teacher training. But our individuality could put completely different spins on the experience. We could have different study habits which could alter how much or what knowledge we obtain. One of us could be more outgoing than the other and participate more in class which could give us a different experience. There's so many factors that would go into it. We could go through the same program and come out of it with two very different, yet great, teaching styles because we are two different people.
What we eat and how we feel when we eat is very similar. It's great to learn and observe what works for others but ultimately we need to figure out what works best for us. Personally I don't think that we should be so concerned with weight loss. It easily consumes us in often negative ways. It's a slippery slope that I don't think should be promoted, especially in the ways that it is. There aren't really any foods that we "should" or "shouldn't" eat. Sure, eating broccoli is probably a good idea but if you don't like it then eat cauliflower instead. Don't feel guilty because you don't like broccoli. And the same goes for cake, too. If you want to bake a cake, do it. Then proceed to have a slice of the cake. Cake isn't something that you "shouldn't" eat. Sure, you probably shouldn't eat a half of a cake everyday for 3 months. But that's probably not something that's going to happen anyways. Eating some cake here and there is wonderful.
We need to work together to change the way that we talk about and view food.
It's something that is meant to create joy in our lives. People come together surrounding food all the time. It's an opportunity to bond and have a great meal. Two beautiful things put together.
It's an opportunity to be a signal of love. Spending time making a birthday cake for your friend. Taking the time to bake it, carefully decorate it, and proudly give it to her in a time of celebration.
There are so many reasons to create beauty around food. If we start changing our perspective on it and seeing it in the light, then we can start to show others the light of it, too.