We love our labels: gluten-free, fat-free, dairy-free, vegan. We live in an absolutist culture where things are either good or bad and diet trends reign supreme.
First we cut out fat (including the good kind) in the 80’s, then all carbs in the 90’s with the Atkins diet, and now it’s all about gluten.
But what about the middle ground? Is it really healthy to just cut out major food groups? And why are we so quick to label ourselves when we do?
You know how it is: you are invited to a dinner party and asked to bring a dish to share. But someone is vegan, another guest is gluten-free and someone else is on a raw food diet. So what are you supposed to make?!
Honestly, I don’t believe any of these labels or trends are necessarily the answer to eating more nutritiously or living better. And I am quite sure that they don’t help us listen to our bodies.
But I think that is part of their appeal– we believe that following a diet or cutting out a food group should automatically make us feel better because it’s “healthy,” (even though eliminating one thing doesn’t mean we are compensating with healthier alternatives).
As a result, we just don’t take the time to listen to our bodies, and we really have no idea how they feel after we eat things like dairy or wheat. Maybe we do feel better if we eat less of them, but maybe not. So why are we cutting them out completely?
Every body is different, and no one way of eating is going to work for everyone. Just because Gwyneth Paltrow is doing it doesn’t mean your body is going to thrive on it.
Sure I believe a lot of people could benefit from eating less gluten and less meat, since we live in such a bread and meat heavy culture, but do we really need to cut them out altogether?
Of course there are good reasons for cutting out major food groups– namely food allergies. And of course strong moral or ethical beliefs are a good reason as well. Or maybe some of us feel we need the absolute to hold ourselves accountable. But for most of us, those aren’t the reasons we are so quick to label ourselves.
We do it because it’s trendy, and because we don’t actually know how to sift through all the information that is being thrown at us every day about nutrition and health and what we should or should not be eating.
I believe the answer truly lies in moderation and balance– and learning to tune in and listen.
It’s really pretty simple: if you try not to eat too much of any one food group (except those green veggies of course 😉 ) you will probably be just fine. If you find yourself relying heavily on one food group (aka, most meals revolve around it), then try substituting that pasta for some rice, or that turkey for some extra veggies.
Once you start to mix it up a little, really pay attention to how your body feels after each meal. (A food journal is a great idea!) Do you feel sleepy, lethargic, energized, bloated?
Once you pay attention, you will find that some foods make you feel really great, and you should keep them in your diet. Other foods might not make you feel so hot and you might cut down on those a little more. This doesn’t mean you have to be super restrictive and cut things out completely, however– just find moderation and balance for your body.
I think we can all benefit from a little less labeling and a little more listening.
Give it a try!
If you want to find out more about how to eat a balanced diet and listen to your body, click here!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on labels– do you feel like they serve you? Or not? Post a comment and share!