Food & Recipes

Eating Without Food Labels

January 18, 2018

Friends, can we talk about something that has been on my heart to talk about for a while now? I shared on Instagram this week about how very over food labels and rules I am. Keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Whole 30. The entire conversation has worn me down into the ground and driven me crazy and today I want to dig a little deeper into my own journey with food to share with you just why it drives me nuts.

If you spend any time on social media these days, chances are you are bombarded with pictures of what people are (or maybe, more importantly, are NOT) eating. I happen to follow a lot of people who eat keto or paleo and a fair share who are die-hard vegetarians. It’s a strange time in history to eat food, isn’t it? Both sides SO very sure that their way is the right way, that you should or shouldn’t eat certain foods. So many rules to follow and research to read.

The year I graduated college I decided to give vegetarianism a try. It had always interested me, but was something I said I could never do because I loved eating meat. But a month-long experiment turned into a few months and then a few years. Over the last nine years I’ve tinkered with my eating quite a bit, trying to find the exact right formula and eating style for my body. I’ve tried Whole 30, I’ve done a “yoga cleanse” which included a lot of yoga and eating a vegan, caffeine-free, gluten-free, sugar-free diet for a month. I’ve been a strict vegetarian and I’ve done a little of everything while pregnant. And over the years I’ve realized a few things.

Gluten isn’t the enemy for my body, I’m not sensitive to full-fat dairy, occasionally my body craves a little meat or seafood. But where does that leave me? When I say “no” to the pot roast 9 times out of 10 but occasionally say “yes!” to a burger in the summer? In a world where we are encouraged to put our eating into boxes, but your style doesn’t really have a name? Well, it gets to why I truly don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all eating style and why it seems that labels and restrictive eating pushes us to eat less intuitively and fit our unique bodies into boxes.

After Ainsley was born I stopped restricting myself, started eating MORE, starting working out LESS time but more focused in my efforts and allowed myself to eat what felt right for my body it seemed as if I hit a metabolism super charge button. I feel my best, look my best and don’t feel like I’m a slave to food or food rules anymore.

Since I have shared with you all about my food journey over the years, what I’ve found that works for my body looks something like this:

-I eat a LOT both in volume and calories. I’m fairly sure that over the years too much cardio and too little food was causing a lot of harm to my body, hormones and metabolism. I workout much less than I did pre-kids, but I’m smarter and more focused with my workouts using Beachbody On Demand videos that are typically about 30 minutes in length. I’m no longer a calorie counter, because it makes me crazy, but rough calculations are that I consume around 2,200-2,500 calories a day on most days.

-Intermittent fasting has been a recent game changer for me. I decided to give it a try after listening to this podcast and doing some of my own research, and while it was certainly challenging at first, it really has been wonderful to give my body a break each day to not eat. I usually stop eating around 6 pm most days and don’t break my fast until around 8-10 am the next morning. And then I get all my calories eaten in a very short window and feel totally stuffed. 😉

-My diet is about 90% vegetarian. I still prefer to eat mainly vegetarian, but I do occasionally have lean protein at dinnertime with my family when it sounds good to my body or when I’m out at dinner and healthy vegetarian options are limited. I choose health over eating rules any and all days of the week. We live in the Midwest so there are times when the only vegetables to be found are iceberg lettuce and corn. In that case, the healthier choice is the fish, chicken or lean beef and I’m OK with that.

-Vegetables are still the largest part of most every meal I eat. I LOVE veggies and eat a lot of them throughout the day. I also eat a lot of beans and legumes as a source of plant-based protein.

-I don’t drink milk often and prefer unsweetened almond milk, but full-fat Greek yogurt and half and half in my coffee are life.

-Gluten doesn’t bother me. End of story. When I was struggling with sinus infections and sickness it was suggested by some that I eat gluten and dairy-free but doing so didn’t resolve my issues and adding them back in didn’t make my symptoms any worse. I don’t eat refined carbs like white bread, pasta or white rice very often but I do eat plenty of sprouted grain bread, some occasional whole wheat pasta, etc.

-Close to 300/400 calories in my diet each day comes from peanut butter. #peanutbutterforlife

But the thing is, that’s just what works for ME. Your body could be totally different! Finding what works for you and your body is unique and it’s worth the effort to tinker with and discover your unique formula over time, regardless of food rules and regulations. Like I said in my Instagram post, I think the only thing we can agree on is that vegetables are good and sugar is bad, right?! 😉

I would be so curious to hear what works for YOU and your body! I have a feeling we will get a lot of different answers.

Madison

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3 Comments

  • Reply Allie January 18, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, I have had some very similar experiences. Right around the time I graduated from college, the Whole30 and paleo diet became very popular. After reading about them, I became obsessed with what I was and was not eating to the point that it caused me a lot of anxiety. I went gluten free for a while too. Ironically, my husband is a food scientist for a large food company (aka “the enemy” in many people’s eyes) and he was able to help me come to a much more balanced view of eating. It’s much simpler than we make it… we know which foods are healthy and which are not, so we just need to focus on eating a variety of healthy foods. I also began to realize that I was idolizing food rather than being thankful for what the Lord has provided me to eat. As for my personal diet, I’ve learned that I need to eat a lot of protein and healthy fats to keep my blood sugar stable!

  • Reply Alaina Burran January 18, 2018 at 11:43 pm

    Oh my goodness! I can’t believe how similar we are…I could have written this myself in a day of daily eats to a T!

  • Reply Mandy January 19, 2018 at 12:58 pm

    Intermittent fasting reminded me of what it felt like to be actually hungry. So often I just eat out of habit (or just because everyone else around me is) and I’m not actually hungry.
    I found counting calories for a brief time was really helpful for me too. It helped me with resetting my portion sizes and I made much better food choices. Of course this was my experience and not for everyone.

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