Eat to Fuel YOUR Body

The other day, I was at one of those typical backyard BBQs with a pool and music and miscellaneous homemade dishes.  When it actually came time to eat, I opted for coleslaw, gooey mac n cheese, and a zucchini muffin.  Others at my table loaded up with burgers, hotdogs, and/or chicken.  Obviously, they noticed my lack of meat.  It took awhile for anyone to actually ask me about it, which I thought was kind of funny; it’s just food!  “Are you vegetarian?” I smiled, knowing this conversation could go one of two ways: 1) shame the shit out of meat and processed foods or 2) explain that I’ve experimented with food until I found what worked for my body and what didn’t.

Don’t worry.  I chose the latter.  Why bother stirring up unnecessary tension and hostility?

This discussion got me really thinking about food, cultures, our bodies, and how different they really are.  For example, my best friend’s family immigrated to America from the Philippines (an Asian island), and they were shocked at the food portions and choices in here.  Where they’re from, meals were much smaller, first of all, and they didn’t eat atypical American breakfast foods – i.e. pancakes, omelets, etc.  Instead, the focused on foods similar to those pictured below: eggs sunny side up, rice, fish or pork, and pickled veggies.

http://redblackapron.tumblr.com/image/21646230556
Courtesy of Red + Black Apron, a typical Philippine breakfast!

To someone who grew up in central Pennsylvania with an abundance of home cooked donuts, blueberry pancakes drowned in syrup, and crunchy, greasy bacon, I never would’ve considered eating anything like this that early in the morning!  Their way of eating was just so different than mine, it threw me for a loop.  But is it okay for us to eat so differently?

Is a raven like a writing desk?

(Yes, the answer is yes…) Very few people throw a fit or become overly judgey when it comes to different cultures eating different foods or at different times in the day.  We think it’s interesting, hence foreign cuisines being a massive part of taking vacations.  So then why, here in the world’s largest melting pot, do people feel the need to shame other people’s food choices?  Who cares if you dislike chocolate or avoid red meat or only buy whole foods?  It’s your body and your goals.  You know what works best for you, not the other 300 million Americans trying to force their own diet upon you.

The number of social media accounts, commercials, even books dedicated to body shaming are endless which is totally awesome, because our bodies deserve love and appreciation.  But, uh, I think you guys forget to mention other things that go along with body appreciation.  I don’t know, like, the custom diet each unique body fuels itself with?  If our bodies are as different as we have come to believe, then why do our food choices have to fit into a certain mold as well?  Come on, a marathon runner wouldn’t maintain the same diet as a crossfit athlete.  I mean, look at them!

Matt Fraser – Fittest Man in 2016 and 2017
Edna Kiplagat – winner of 2017 Boston Marathon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yeah, I know this is an extreme comparison, but it gets the point across.  Both of these amazing humans have worked out what the best food is for their specific lifestyles.  Marathoners, like Edna, focus their meals around carbohydrates and fats such as peanut butter sandwiches.  Crossfitters, like Matt, work their meals around protein and complex carbohydrates such as chicken breast with a sweet potato.

Whether someone lifts or runs, avoids animal products or can’t get enough of them, calculates exact macros or flows more intuitively, that person does so for personal health.   I, myself, enjoy vegetarianism.  Since I weightlift so frequently, however, I needed to make adjustments to ensure I got enough protein.  After some trial and error, I’ve found which foods help me perform at my best and which foods hinder my abilities.  That’s all I need.   It’s none of my business why someone follows a certain diet, and he/she shouldn’t feel pressured to defend that diet.  Respect other’s choices, because they don’t really affect you.

Life’s too short to fuss over what diet your friends are on or which snacks the celebrities are skipping.  Eat what makes you happy and feel good.  It’s that simple.

Your feelings are NOT inadequate!

Ooooh if I had a nickel for every time I heard, “well at least you’re not _____” or “but so many people have it worse than you” or “why are you making such a big deal?”, I could afford quite a few college text books, a mini fridge, and a parking pass for all 4 years of college.

This is the most ridiculous attempt at sympathizing with someone I have ever come across.  It’s not that their effort is unappreciated.  It’s the fact they are trying to make someone’s situation seem petty or trivial even though it may be destroying their life.  “Oh sure, your son is in the hospital, but at least he isn’t dead yet.”  “Why are you acting so depressed?  At least you have a family and friends.”  It demonstrates such a blind level of understanding.  The level of pain you are able to handle is light years different from the level of pain someone just down the street can.

pain-is-relative

If this is a foreign topic for you, check out Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Empathy.  Here is the link.  She says that empathy is feeling with people.  It’s a vulnerable choice that enables you to connect with another through shared feelings of anguish or guilt or loss.  Through empathy, you understand that you are not the only one who has felt this way.  You realize that you are allowed to feel however you feel in that moment.

For so long, I thought that since I have two parents, a house, a few friends, and a strong school career that I wasn’t entitled to the darkness creeping up on me from my repressed anxiety and depression.  I told myself I was overreacting, being a wimp, being ungrateful.  It took a close encounter with suicide, a year (and counting) of therapy, and a loyal best friend to convince me that feelings are feelings.  Mental illnesses don’t discriminate.  My chemical imbalance isn’t something I can change.  If you are a billionaire with a dream job and a massive group of followers, your feelings of loneliness are not stupid.  If you are a great student with an admirable GPA, you can still feel far from perfection.  If you are on a beautiful vacation at a tropical island, you are allowed to feel sad and betrayed.  It doesn’t matter what your current state is.  

YOUR FEELINGS ARE VALID.

I will not shame you for them.  You will not shame yourself for them.  Do not accept when other people shame you for them.

Stay strong, beautiful friends.