The extreme diet and anti diet ends of the spectrum is not where most of us live. Is it possible to find a place in the happy middle ground of it all?
Most of us struggle living in a confined box. And that box can be seen at both ends of the diet spectrum. Strip away the labels and it's a very similar place.
The Diet Spectrum
When we first started changing our diet to a mostly plant-based centered approach, I had no idea that the food world was filled with such extremes.
On one hand you have the diet side: vegan, keto, paleo, whole 30, the list goes on and on. And on the other end, you have team anti-diet.
The online vegan world
From the very beginning, I felt like I didn't belong. I would cringe at the bully like behavior that some of the online vegan food world portrayed.
The overall aura is very much all or nothing. You either jump in with both feet or you're out. There is not middle ground and they will let you know. Eventually, it started to wear on me and my underlying anxiety.
I started to question myself and if creating plant-based food to share with the world was something I really wanted to do. The thing was that I actually really loved it.
The anti-diet movement
I started to search to find a "place" that I felt more connected with. This is when I found the anti-diet culture corner.
At first glance, I connect with the overall idea of anti-diet culture. I don't like all or nothing things, I believe that food should be a positive experience and celebrated, I think we should be fluid in our food choices.
My issue started when I began to see some of the same extreme language, just packaged differently. I fully understand that those with eating disorders need to be careful when it comes to the details of what they surround themselves with. And if this is you, get professional help.
However, much like how I believe we don't have to be all or nothing with eating plants, we also don't need to be extreme when it comes to the anti-diet movement either.
For example, I think it's okay to use the word healthy. Some people in the anti-diet culture arena, say that we should be using that word when we talk about food. When I talk to my audience about healthy, I talk about the overall health of both body and mind. So when someone talks about how they made an unhealthy choice when they ate that big bowl of ice cream, I actually argue that it was for the health of your mind. It brought comfort which is taking care of your mental health.
The Why Behind Choices
We all have different reasons why we make changes, start new paths, make new goals. While many of us may be going towards the same goal, we may have different reasons for doing so.
This came into play a lot with our choice to eat mostly plant-based. Our why was health. When it comes to health, it is not only the food you put inside your body that matters, but it's keeping things like stress at bay.
For us, having stringent constraints on how and what we must eat brings high anxiety and stress. Having to worry about what we can and can't eat when we go out isn't something that works for us. So we choose not to worry about it because we keep our focus on our why, which is overall health.
However, if someone's why was based on ethical reasons, then stress may be something like accidentally consuming an animal based product. So going out to eat would bring on more stress. We are all different, and that is ok.
Raising Kids with a Healthy Food Relationship
Along with my own mental health, I have my kids to worry about. I want them to grow up with a healthy relationship with food. I don't want them to look at food as taboo. I want them to see it as the happy enjoyable amazing thing it is.
We have always told them our reasons for changing our diet. They know it's because of dad's health, and they know that it may affect their health too. But they also know that they are allowed to try things they want to try.
One day they will need to make their own decision on what and how they eat. I want them to be loaded with information and personal experiences when the time comes. And to us, they need to try things on their own to make the best decision they can.
The Online Food Police
One thing that became very apparent when I first started in the online food world was that some people thought they were given the job to police others. If someone didn't agree with them, you better bet they'd let them know how wrong they were.
But here is the thing, there is no food police. You can do whatever you want when it comes to what you eat. If one person believes you must be black and white with your eating, that doesn't make it true.
Most of us lie right in the middle. Extremes don't work for us. My goal is to share awesome recipes that happen to be made from plants. If everyone that wanted to try one of my recipes was told you can only try it if you promise to only eat plants from here on out, very few people would comply.
We all can use more plants in our diet, but there is no reason it has to be an all or nothing thing. Extremes just push people away from experiencing things.
I personally hate labels. The only reason I use them in my business is for SEO and search purposes. I want people to find me because I want them to try the delicious things I make. But in the real world, I don't classify my food. I simply make and serve good food. The fact that the food is made from plants doesn't change that.
I hope you are able to find that happy middle ground in your food. I give you the permission to be fluid in your choices. Food is amazing and it should be enjoyed!