Shifting the Conversation About Food and Body Image

Gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, organic, raw foodie, etc. These labels have transcended just food and have become major labels for how we identify ourselves.

I myself sway between vegetarian and vegan. When people ask me what I am, my pocket response is always, “I’m a vegan, but I cheat with cheese on pizza. And sometimes I have an egg when I’m feeling low on energy. I still wear leather, but I'd like to eventually move away from that.”

Whoa. Wait. Let’s slow down. That explanation is ridiculous. Can it just be, "I eat what feels good"?

Because the truth is, we're not just one discipline.  What we eat is so intertwined to how we live our  life and what we nutritionally need. 

I like cheese. It gives me pleasure and the fat helps satiate me. I can’t go HAM on a cheese plate, but I can enjoy cheese with other wonderful foods like nuts and olives. And sometimes I crave eggs, probably because I grew up in Austin. The breakfast taco capital of the world :) When I eat eggs, I get this amazing energy source like I did when I was a kid.

There was a time that when I would slip from my vegan ways into eating cheese and eggs and I would develop this feeling of guilt or shame - like “who am I? Why can’t I just stick to being a vegan?” or worse, I would order a cappuccino and chocolate pastry and feel like as a health coach and trainer, I’m not being true to what I teach.

This is too much though. I know a lot of my friends and clients in Los Angeles are thinking the same thoughts.

"Is coffee okay?"

"What about fruit, does it have too much sugar?"

"I had a sandwich for lunch, is it okay to eat gluten?"

Enough.

Let’s shift our approach from what the food is to how food can nourish you, give you energy, healing and pleasure. 

So, how do we do this?

From experience, I have found that meditation and yoga work best for me.

I try to meditate before I leave the house for work and again before I eat dinner. That time helps slow down my nervous system and brings my more in tuned to what my body, which leads to better food choices.

Through yoga, I always end my practice on a mini series of gratitude thoughts, always starting with my body, then mind, people, experiences, and generally where I am in that day and time. This helps me stay thankful for all of me, even the parts I wish could change.

Other helpful ways to avoid slipping into an orthorexia state of mind, might be:

The 90/10 Mentality

Meaning you’re eating clean 90 percent of the time, but when you reach for that pastry, chocolate, burger, whatever it may be - you’re thoroughly enjoying it. Most of the time when you’re having a craving towards a certain food, you may just need it to feel satiated, nourished and relaxed. Think more about where the craving might be coming from, emotionally speaking rather than avoiding it completely.

Enjoy a variety of plant-based foods

Get some color on your plate. This will help balance your nutritional needs!

Make food a shared experience.

If you’re having friends over for dinner, bring them into the cooking process. Give them a knife and have them chop while you two create an experience together. 

And most of all, enjoy your life!!

This is a big one. I love food, for so man reasons. It hits on all your senses and bonds you to experiences and memories. If you genuinely enjoy yourself and you’ll enjoy the food you eat.