The What-Works-for-You Attitude

March 25, 2010

Occasionally, I have a topic on my mind to blog about and while I’m waiting for the ideas to build and the words to formulate themselves, I come across a post that says exactly what I was thinking. This happened to me just a few weeks ago.
Developing and practicing my food and health philosophy is constantly evolving task for me. While three years ago I would have described myself as completely lost (even though at time I thought I was healthy), now I consider myself moving in the right direction, but still far from perfection.
That is, if you even believe that perfection exists in these areas. I have to say I’m not sure that it does. Sometimes I think perfection with healthy eating is just an imaginary goal that we strive to achieve without every really getting there. Why? Well, because things are constantly changing and everyone has a different idea of how perfection is defined.
Now to that post I mentioned earlier.
My Google Alerts end up finding me all kinds of interesting things to read when it comes to food, real food and fake food. To Be, or Not to Be: Omnivores, Herbivores, and Deciding What’s Right For You posted at the Health and Happiness Club is an example of this.
Let me correct myself. Not just an example, but one of the best, respectful, well-balanced posts on the subject that I have yet to read. As I read everything word for word, which I should mention doesn’t happen all that often (yes, I’m a scanner), I realized I couldn’t have said it better myself. It was as though the thoughts in my head were right there on the page.
I encourage you to read it, but I will summarize a bit for you here. It is about how different people are meant to have different styles of eating. What works for one person, may not work for another. That means that some people are perfectly happy eating meat, others it doesn’t agree with so well whether due to personal beliefs or in physical digestion. Some can thrive on only vegetables or raw food while it makes others feel as though they are missing something nutritionally.
I happen to fall into the meat-eater category and I’ve especially realized this through my running. Before I started training for this half marathon I probably would have told you that I would have no problem becoming a vegetarian, although I’ve never really desired to proclaim myself as such. We eat a lot of high-protein vegetarian meals and I go many days without any meat. And you know what, personally, now I can tell when I do. I need the nutrients that humanely raised meat gives my body. However, you may be completely different.
My choice is not to push my beliefs on others verbally, but to show them by the way I live and eat. I haven’t always been like this, but there are a couple reasons why I have developed this philosophy.
One, preaching to others will make you a hypocrite. Yep, if you are going to work hard to spread the word about what you believe is right and wrong with how to eat you better not get caught going off the path you have paved for yourself. I’m an advocate of non-processed foods and have eliminated a lot of them from our diet, but I can’t promise you I won’t eat an Oreo at the next family picnic. I’m human, and I do love desserts.
Two, I really do believe that different eating styles work for different bodies. You just have to find what makes you thrive. I feel confident that I’ve found what makes me thrive and perhaps you have to, but we should be open to the fact that we might both be wrong.
Sometimes I think people may feel that this type of attitude means you aren’t standing up for what you believe in. You know, the whole, “if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything.” However, for me it is about respect. I respect the meat-eater, the vegetarian, the vegan and the raw foodie to name a few. I may not agree with the associated philosophies for myself, but I respect a person who has the ultimate goal to be healthy. Agreeing is different than respecting, of course. Respect is essential my book, agreeing is optional.
With all that being said, I think there are some things that most of us can agree on. Fast food and processed sugar aren’t going to help us out any. However you might believe the old saying, “everything in moderation” while I happen to believe there are some food-like substances that were never meant to be consumed.
However, I’m not going to preach what not to do. I’m going to do my best to be an example and live what I believe is right path for health while respecting your choices at the same time.
What is your food philosophy? And if you read the post I linked to, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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  • Christine Claire Reed March 25, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    I was a veggie for ten years. But as I got a bit older, I got more and more exhausted.

    First, let me say nuts and beans DO NOT agree with me, and I am allergic to soy, and I don’t believe in “replacer” fake foods.

    I had to go back to being an omnivore for my HEALTH. Most people understand this.

    But a lot of veggies don’t.

    I never preached when I was one and now I get all these LOOKS for not being one anymore.

    We eat organic and try to get local as much as we can. We haven’t owned a car (intentionally) for 9 years. Come on! My body needs meat. I was built for it, and I get tired of defending it.

    Now that I dance HOURS a day, I especially need that protein.

  • Candice March 25, 2010 at 7:51 pm

    Great post!

    I just wanted to drop in and say hi because I haven’t in a long time. I used to be at brand-new-sidewalk, but I’ve since switched my blog to chiaseedme.com

    I do eat vegan 98% of the time, but I hate labels, and I totally agree about everybody being so different and needing to find what kind of lifestyle suits them best.

    Glad to see you’re doing well!

  • Lori March 26, 2010 at 5:03 am

    Christine – Thanks so much for sharing your story. Sorry to hear about all those looks, I’m sure that is tough. I’ve often felt I’ve had to defend my eating choices as well. It is tiring to say the least. Thanks again for sharing your experiences. You certainly have our respect and understanding around here. 🙂

    Candice – Hey there, glad you stopped by! Great news about your new blog, I will check it out. I am with you on the labeling!

  • Tangled Noodle March 26, 2010 at 5:40 am

    My food philosophy is that there is no such thing as ‘bad’ food. Now that might get some people going; however, it is based on a perspective that looks not only at the health and nutritional aspects of food, but also at social, cultural and historical elements.

    Simply put, I try not to judge a food and the person who eats it if they find some kind of value in that food. It could be sentiment/emotion/nostalgia, it could be a way of signaling social beliefs or group membership, or it could be a marker of socio-economic status. I want to know how they came to the decision to consume that particular item – what variables informed their choice?

    That’s what we have to love about food: there are as many reasons that we eat certain comestibles as there are different kinds of foods. First we respect each other’s choices, then we share each other’s philosophies. I believe that it can lead to the flow of information and knowledge that help all of us to make informed food choices that are best not only for our personal health but also for our community and environment.

    Thanks so much for bringing this discussion to the fore! 8-D

  • kat March 26, 2010 at 7:15 am

    I believe in everything in moderation (not that I always follow that) & trying to eat the best of everything you do it. Eat locally & seasonably to the best of your ability & make as much from scratch as you can.

  • Andrea (Off Her Cork) March 26, 2010 at 8:16 am

    This is why you’re my BFF! 😀

    Yes I fully agree with this post 100%! My body runs best on veggies BUT I do need meat and animal protein in my diet. I can get a good bit of that from seafood but I also need to eat something that has been roaming around on the ground. I am selective about what meat I choose to put in my body. Because I eat meat doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t mean I don’t love animals and don’t want to see them suffering. It also doesn’t mean I’m destroying the earth with my meat eating ways. I do get tired of people trying to turn meat eaters into bumbling Neanderthals grunting their way through life without knowing what a vegetable is.

    Also being a distance runner and someone who also does strength training, I need protein to help me maintain muscle. Long run days means I get to eat lots of protein because I physically crave it. To me that means my body is telling me something and I should listen.

    Dude, I totally just wrote a book! I might have to do my own joint post in response to yours! 😀

  • 5 Star Foodie March 26, 2010 at 9:55 am

    I suppose I tend to follow the 5 stars – with the modern approach and presentations and local/seasonal high quality ingredients 🙂

  • Michelle @ Find Your Balance March 26, 2010 at 11:11 am

    At the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, they term it ‘bioindividuality.’ So, what’s right for you is likely not what’s right for me.

    My diet? Real, whole, clean food 90% of the time. Pizza and red wine with friend 10% of the time.

  • Sagan March 26, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    RIGHT NOW my philosophy is to be mostly-vegan… basically, it means that I’m either vegan or vegetarian during the weekdays, and an omniovre on weekends (roughly, anyway. It changes sometimes). I do what my body feels like. So in a few months… who knows? Things could change again!

  • The Food Hunter March 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Great post!!

  • Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) March 26, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I couldn’t have said it better myself! 🙂
    I think that we have very similar eating styles…I eat a mainly vegan diet for bfast and lunch but I like some cheese and wine in the evening and I like meat and fish for dinner. We don’t have meat every single night, but I’m so glad that I don’t have any “restrictions” on what I can and can’t eat.
    What we try to teach our campers (weight loss camp for kids) is that there is no “bad food” – it is a struggle for me, because like you, I agree that there are some things not worth eating at all…but especially when dealing with kids, it can be overwhelming to tell them they can’t ever have ___ again. Ahh, I could go on and on about this topic!

  • Shari March 26, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Enjoyed reading about your well developed Food Philosophy! We could all learn from your example.

  • Lori March 26, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    TN – I just love your philosophy! What a great way to look at things.

    kat – Sometimes I have trouble with actually eating in moderation what I believe I should have in moderation. Ha! Love the best of everything you do. Eating truly good food is so important.

    Andrea – Ha! Loved your book. I hear ya. I really think with the running the protein and iron, specifically from meat sources is necessary for me.

    5 star – Great philosophy. Local and seasonal are high priority for us too.

    Michelle – What a great term, thanks for sharing. Definitely gotta have the wine and pizza. 🙂

    Sagan – Oh, I know what you mean. Things change and evolve for me regularly too.

    Food Hunter – Thanks!

    Emily – Yeah, I think we do. And I know what you mean. When working with others you can’t really overwhelm them with elimination, although for myself I do practice it in some cases.

    Shari – Thank you, I appreciate that!

  • OysterCulture March 27, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Great posts, and great responses, not sure what I could add to the discussion except that I consider myself a carnivore, but do eat mostly veggies. However like Andrea, I also am a distance runner and need/crave the protein. I appreciate the cultural differences that bring us together and make us unique so am open to trying about anything (I’ll leave myself an out)

  • Marianne (frenchfriestoflaxseeds) March 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    I couldn’t agree more with the need for respect, but agreeing is optional in regards to one’s diet of choice. I could go on about how, evolutionarily speaking, humans are designed to consume food from all sources (otherwise we wouldn’t have the enzymes and biochemical systems to do so), but that doesn’t really matter when it comes down to individuals particular beliefs. If you don’t want to consume animal products, then that’s cool. If you do want to consume animal products, also cool. It’s funny how animal products are where people tend to get their backs up over their food choices, but if someone doesn’t eat tomatoes for whatever reason, no one gives them a hard time or tries to tell them why that’s bad. Ultimately, it’s same thing.

    Myself, I guess technically I’m an omnivore. I just like to think of it as choosing to be as inclusive as possible in my diet, while consuming foods I enjoy, that make me feel good, and I try and do so with an environmentally conscious mind. I often think sure, I could go vegetarian (not vegan – I will not eat faux cheeses), but wouldn’t want to limit myself from the turkey dinner at Christmas, or fresh, wild caught salmon. I’d rather not bother with a label, that way I can eat and enjoy what I want.