This morning I have a rare, amazing amount of time to sit and be with my own thoughts. In this scarce "down time" I love listening to podcasts, reading, writing (of course), but this morning I did something I do a shamefully small amount of - reading blogs.
I have a blog, so often feel guilty I don't spend more time reading other peoples' work and getting inspired. The truth is I barely have enough time to blog myself, let alone do any reading, but this morning I could and it was wonderful. I found a post from a non-vegan blogger about her thoughts on the "Raw Till 4" diet, which I happen to be quite a big fan of, despite not following it specifically.
Her post was well written and very inspiring, the major point being: don't expect any diet to cure you or make you a perfect person. Self love has to come from you and not from trying to achieve a perfect diet or lifestyle. I completely agree with this, but I also see these inspirational sentiments as counter-productive in some ways. Self improvement can and should AID self love. Becoming healthier should never be a bad thing, but there are always people who will abuse or misinterpret a healthy idea.
In my opinion, there is advice for those who may abuse a diet, who are suffering in some way, and then there is advice for everyone else! The logic that applies to one pool of people shouldn't be applied to the other, but SO often is. Don't shut yourself off to bettering yourself, or your diet, just because the diet may not work for everyone. If you are not recovering from any form of disordered eating, there is no reason to not try and eat as healthily as possible and certainly no negative of following a high-carb, vegan diet! The Raw Till 4 diet is not as extreme as you may think... It's not all Raw, for starters, but also it's about abundance, realistic living and keeping people VEGAN for life - not just for a six month cleanse.
Raw Till 4 was invented as a progression from the standard Raw diet because the amount of people who actually succeed and stay long term on all raw is painfully low. Raw Till 4 keeps the basic principals of staying high-carb, high calorie, high fruit, but allows cooked vegan food as well, which, we all know, isn't BAD for you! The Raw diet loses a lot of intelligent people when they try and say cooked vegetables are "toxic" or not optimum. In my opinion - what is optimum is a stress-free, healthy, sustainable lifestyle that people enjoy and can thrive on.
I have done nearly every diet out there. When I was trying to lose weight I did a week of soup, I've done juices, I've done Raw, I've done calorie counting.... It's very easy to let food rule your life. It takes over! The most intelligent and brilliant of women become compete illogical nut-jobs over food and it's staggering. I consider myself a relatively intelligent person, but there was a time when I was so ruled by my calories and my meal planning that I wouldn't eat, even if I was hungry, because it want "time" for my designated meal yet! As if my food planner has a better understanding of my body than I do?
Any diet or lifestyle that makes you ignore your own body? Not good. Far more toxic than a cooked mushroom.
What drives me crazy, now that I'm out the either side, following no food plan, just eating when I'm hungry, is seeing how many people don't know how to eat anymore.
I read articles, emails, messages or have real-life conversations with women that terrify me. So many people, not just women, don't know how to eat anymore because they've been following diets too long. The most basic of human needs has made into a minefield of misinformation and competition.
THIS diet is best! No this one is! Potatoes are bad! Potatoes are good! Coffee is acidic! Coffee drinkers live longer! Yogurt is a healthy snack! Yogurt is high in cholesterol! You should eat three times a day! You should eat six times a day! Eat no carbs at dinner! Eat nothing but carbs!
It's an absolute, fucking, ridiculous minefield.
Food is food. What is it's most basic purpose? What is food to you? My answer (now that I'm a bit more zen about it) is that it's fuel. Plain and simple. It's fuel for the most precious vehicle you have. Your amazing body that needs looking after and needs the best kind of fuel you can give it. What's good fuel? Well that's where the minefield begins, I suppose, but really - it's not hard to know some things. It's not hard to know we need a lot of fruits and vegetables. Can we agree on that? Vegan or not - fruits and vegetables are key. They contain nearly ALL of the vitamins and minerals your body requires to perform and thrive - that's fuel. Can we agree that deep fried shit isn't fuel? Please. Or even taste good enough to justify the shit-storm it's doing to your insides.
Can we agree that chocolate and chips and candy and shitty refined sugar is bad for you? Good. Can we agree fast food is bad? Okay good - thanks. Let's strip things right back to basics and help everyone remember how to eat again. Of course some people want to eat what is optimum, I consider myself one of them, but overthinking food can be dangerous. Your relationship with food should be a relaxed, educated and personal one. You should eat what YOU want assuming it's coming from an educated place. You should know about what is bad and what is good, but never at the expense of your peace of mind or other areas of your life. At the end of the day, it is just food.
I now also would argue that, in our day and age, food is a responsibility. The food you eat says something about what you stand for. What your vote is. What your place is in the world. When you buy cheap meat, you are voting. You are paying people to breed and lock up innocent, thinking and feeling animals, pump them full of hormones and slaughter them. That's what you are voting for. I love to be the one to tell you - that ain't good for you, it ain't good for the animals and it's certainly not good for our world. It's kind of a lose-lose situation. You get sick, animals are being murdered and our food system falls further down the crapper. It's all so illogical my fingers hurt trying to get the words out because I can't rant as much as I want to. Can you hear me yelling through your screen? USE YOUR VOTE! Don't be a mindless idiot who thinks what they do doesn't matter. It does.
You matter. What you DO matters. If you are lucky enough to have money to buy groceries, if you're lucky enough to be reading this post on some kind of computer, perhaps you're drinking a coffee or relaxing at home or distracting yourself from work, you are someone who can make GOOD choices. People may disagree about what they want to eat, they may disagree on what matters - but there are some things we all must agree on. We must agree that consumers have power - consumers influence industries. While you pay for shit - you will get shit. While you feed shit companies, they will grow. Why NOT feed good, ethical, sustainable companies? Companies that care about the environment, companies that are vegan, companies with a sustainable and moral ethos? Buy local, minimise imports, cut out needless animal suffering and support brands that don't exploit people and operate out of horrific sweat shops. Open your computer, spend a few hours educating yourself and get invested. It really isn't much more expensive and even if it is - it matters! You can make it work if you choose. I am the poorest person I know and I make it work.
Make food more than just "will this make me fat?" "How many calories are in this?". Yawn. Make food really matter. For something other than yourself.
I find it empowering to see my actions as a part of something bigger.... If more people were capable of this we may actually have a chance to turn things around.
If you can feel good about the food you eat, on a level that's deeper than your own body, you will have an overwhelmingly more positive relationship with it. You will grow and be more informed and, dare I say, more enlightened?
And, if you don't care about any of the ethical stuff, but just came to this post for some dieting advice, then I would say - eat when your hungry, stop when you're full and eat food you know isn't crap.
No shit - that's honestly what hit home for me. As long as the food I'm eating is GOOD (which, in my case means plant based, high carbohydrate vegan) then I just eat when my body wants food. When it feels full, I stop.
This approach has been working very well for the last four years and I know, 100%, I am forever out of illogical dieting hell.
Please use your money to vote. Please use your food to make ethical choices. Please see yourself as a part of the big picture.
Unlike deep fried food, It's a win-win situation.
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