One of the BEST pieces of advice I’ve received around health and eating is to be a flexitarian – adopting this ideology has shifted so much for me, and completely transformed my relationship with food!
I used so be SUPER strict; following this diet, or that diet, and I hear this all the time from the women I work with – I’m paleo. I’m a raw foodie. I Zone. I’m vegan. I’m vegetarian. I don’t eat carbs. I don’t eat sugar.
There are so many different modalities available, and they all have their benefit, but what I see ALWAYS as the constant thread amongst all of these eating systems is that they ALL lead to binge eating in some form. Yes. ALL OF THEM.
When we rigidly adhere to any one ideal, we create stress in the body and the mind. We’re constantly telling ourselves “I can’t eat that. I’m not allowed to eat that” and this fuels our desire for that thing even more. We become obsessed, constantly consumed by thoughts of food and eating, until eventually we can’t take it anymore, we lose all control and the binge begins.
Another thing that happens when we strongly identify with one particular ideal; such as “I am vegan” or “I do paleo”, is that we become closed off and unable to see signs that our body is telling us about something we may be lacking, or something that may not be serving us.
If we’ve been strongly identified with being a vegan, we may miss our body’s cries for protein, and continue to lose muscle, not recover well from our exercise or get constantly sick.
If we call ourselves paleo eaters, we may miss the signs our body is struggling with higher quantities of fat and protein, or going without starches (such as if you are going to the bathroom, and your waste is super runny, smelly and it takes 3 flushes to clear the toilet bowl! This is NOT how it’s supposed to be people!!!)
Now, I’m not saying being vegan, or paleo, is bad; they both can provide incredible benefits BUT they may not be suitable for you, through various times and stages of your life.
Being a flexitarian means you follow what works for you in this moment, in this life stage, without rigidly identifying with that particular way of eating. It means being open to the messages your body is telling you every day, about what she needs, and responding accordingly. It means feeling in to what serves you best in the moment.
Feel like you need a vegetarian day, or week? Go for it. Feel like your body needs some meat? Fire up that barbie. Finding it hard to get in enough fuel, and your muscles aren’t recovering well? Cook up some rice and eat that with your meal. Feeling like you need something warm and substantial for breakfast in winter? Get yourself a big bowl of porridge and nourish yourself.
NONE of these make you a bad person. None will make you fat, ALL will nourish your body and give her what she needs to perform, and look, her best.
Life is meant to be enjoyed – FOOD is meant to be enjoyed. Release yourself from the shackles of rigidity around your food. Your body, and your soul will thank you for it. Promise.