Advocate for a healthy lifestyle, really plant-based lifestyle, were the words that stared at me this morning in an email. I was somewhat stunned by this because I never considered myself an advocate because truth be told I don’t give a shit what you eat. Do not act surprised because you don’t care what I eat either. What most people are looking for is some sense of community and belonging and in this manner I do care what you eat.
The reason I say I don’t give a shit is because we have too many labels for our eating habits. Flexitarian, Vegan/Vegetarian, Paleo, Mediterranean, Atkins, Fruititarian and the labels go on and on. So in reality I really don’t care how you eat as long as it is healthy and in the right portions.
Defining healthy is also another problem that I encounter. What maybe healthy for some (avoiding gluten) may be unhealthy for others. I also believe that we need to indulge in order to keep ourselves on a healthy path. For me, an indulgence is a Twix bar that Karen buys for me once in a blue moon. Another indulgence may be to have cookies at the end of the night instead of popcorn or rice cakes.
The point here is that what makes me tick may not make you tick and vice versa but that doesn’t mean that what you are doing is bad for you. Clearly if your meal plan consists of a McGriddle for breakfast, a chalupa for lunch and a Whopper for dinner all washed down with a Flurry then we need to chat. Eating healthy is not difficult but like anything else takes drive and determination and little to no guilt.
If you have a cookie at the end of the day don’t make some ridiculous statement such as “tomorrow I will only eat green vegetables” which is going to be impossible to keep and just create another guilt trip. Instead, understand what tripped that trigger to get you to eat the cookie. Was it stress from work or family? Was there a birthday party in the conference room of your office? Were you bored and needed to pass the time? Whatever the reason understand stand it for what it’s worth, learn from it and move on.
By all means please do not call it a cheat meal. This is one phrase that I despise with every fiber(eat more of that) of my being. On Instagram, on a daily basis, I see a mountain of crap food piled on a plate and the description is typically ‘Cheat Meal’. Really? You decided that you were gong to have 7 Kit-Kats, 4 Oreos and three scoops of ice cream as a meal to help you balance your healthy eating? There is something bigger going on there than that and you should study what is happening.
This past week I was in Charlotte and ate far more, while working out far less, than I normally do at home. I still got in healthy eating and one run but I didn’t beat myself up over it because I knew this was coming and was going to enjoy it. Instead of worrying about it I embraced it and used it as the reset button. I was getting a tad bored and uninspired at home so this trip came at the perfect time. I found two meals while I was away that I cannot wait to prepare. One was a corn cake topped with mashed avocado and a fried egg. Yes, I am drooling too. The other you will have to wait for as I test out my own recipe to see if it comes out in reality as good as it sounds in my head.
I also discovered how to make my own black bean sauce for those days I want an Asian inspired meal without using a spicy peanut sauce. The entire trip was not thrown down the healthy lifestyle drain but instead used as a lesson and a way to prepare myself for the upcoming week.
Advocacy, in my opinion, requires preaching over and over again and that is just not something I am willing to do. I perceive being an advocate as telling somebody they are doing something wrong and my way is right. Instead, I prefer to work WITH somebody in improving their diet to their flavors and desires. If, we to do too much too fast that person is going to end up back where they started and possibly worse off.
Do I advocate a plant-based diet and lifestyle? I do, but I also can appreciate a meal that has meat in it, even if I would choose not to eat it. Healthy living, just like a plant-based diet, is a choice and a choice we all make on our own and no matter how much of an advocate a person is that choice will be made when the other person is good and ready.