This month has included a lot of kitchen time. I am making meal plans for a handful of clients, which means countless hours of sifting, marinading, baking, sauteing, searing, and chopping. I have been covered from head to toe in tahini and lemon. I have thought long and hard about my clients and their food rules, I have taken their tastes into deep consideration.
“How would someone who eats animal products feel about this cashew cream sauce?” I’ve asked myself. “How can I make authentic foods with a simple dedication to health in mind?” In addition to my food rules, I now have Adam’s food rules, and Teresa’s, and Laura’s on lock. I put myself into their shoes as much as possible and I just cook.
At the end of the day, it can be hard to remember not only who’s tastes are who’s (whom’s tastes are whom’s?) but which tastes are mine. The past couple of years have been almost entirely devoted to listening to my heart, my mind, and my body when it comes to how I eat. For posterity’s sake, I would like to share with you my non-negotiables.
–I eat at least twice the amount of recommended servings of fruit and vegetables per day, because my body is worth way more than the bare minimum, and because I like them. A fair amount of people have asked me why bananas are “so fattening” lately, and I’ve struggled to respond with anything but more questions. Who told you bananas are fattening? What does fattening mean to you? Have bananas proven to be “fattening” for your particular body? (no one has ever answered yes, although, I am sure people with very low tolerance to carbs may have difficulty with this fruit. ) I love bananas. I consume them almost daily, in addition to tomatoes, carrots, broccoli, kale, berries, cucumbers, lettuce, dates, and avocados. Some fruits and vegetables may not be my cup of tea, but I consider them all to be good.
-I don’t eat animal products. This is an ethical, environmental, and health based decision. I don’t want them, and I don’t need them.
-I eat a lot of carbohydrates. For a good year of my life, I fell pray to the idea that carbohydrates were inappropriate fuel that would destroy the lean body I have worked so hard for. That might be true for some people, it is not true for me. Grains, beans, corn, fruit, and starchy vegetables feel awesome to consume. I am not really into sweets, generally, and gluten feels like shit to me, so refined carbohydrates naturally weed themselves out of my diet for the most part. I feel great about that.
-I consider calories, but I do not obsess about them. I know that on the rare occasion that I want dessert, I probably want it to be a piece of raw vegan cake, and that 9 times out of 10, those will basically be a coconut oil block with nut spread as frosting. I am aware that even one slice has probably more calories than I usually consume in an entire meal, and that it might make sense to eat some lighter stuff during the times around my delicious cake, or maybe split the piece. I am not going to feel unnecessary hunger over a piece of cake I ate last week, I am not going to crave the cake relentlessly but not allow myself a bite. My body and calories have a very mutually respectful relationship, and I don’t distrust my body to give me appropriate messages about what I should eat. Part of my body is my brain, though. I listen to the whole of me.
-I enjoy fats. I am ambivalent about oils, but am remaining curious. For now coconut and olive oils are the only ones that I use and I am leery of canola oil. Soybean oil can go fuck itself, as far as I am concerned. Really, I prefer my fat be coconut, nuts, or avocado, as those are whole foods.
– I don’t drink. For me, there is really no use for alcohol. I think it is totally unfriendly to my body composition, it dehydrates people, and I feel hung over if I drink even a thimble full of boozy brew. I used to kind of like to get drunk, but now I feel significantly more stoked when I can find an uproarious good time completely sober. It’s true, it doesn’t happen as easily, but when it does, it feels more real.
-I eat dark chocolate daily. I am not tryin’ to be all I eat it for the antioxidants, because whatever, I eat tons of fruits and vegetables, it’s not like I need to supplement my diet with a chocolate injection. I just like it! One square always satisfies.
-I don’t eat high fructose corn syrup or hydrogenated oil. Like gluten, those things are bullshit for my body, and I am entirely comfortable without them.
I am someone who loves my body, as it is, right now, and I have food rules. This is not in opposition to my position as a body image warrior and an advocate for finding health with any body, at any size. I am someone who eats intuitively, who’s rules come from experience, not societal constructs. I don’t feel the need to break my food rules 99% of the time, because they haven’t been instated by someone aside from myself. No one else made these rules for me, and they don’t exist out of fear.
My rules for food exist out of love for myself.
(Some people will find my comfort with food rules to be an assault to body image activism, and I will respectfully disagree. Some people will find my food rules to be entirely too loose, and again, I will respectfully disagree. I tell you my food rules, because more and more lately, people ask. My food rules should never be your food rules, I hope you know that. What I do has almost nothing to do with what you will choose)
How do you feel about food rules? What are yours?