The notion of diet and eating is a personal subject, fraught with judgment and emotion. As such, some of this might piss you off.
I see diet and eating on a spectrum, like the colors of the rainbow. Or like the autistic spectrum which, truth be told, I think the eating spectrum more closely resembles.
At one end of the spectrum are the extreme omnivores – the folks who eat everything. You probably know, or have at least met, that person who expresses great pride in having eaten something like, let’s say, a half dozen eggs of partially developed eaglets; acknowledging that the fetal birds’ position on the endangered list only enriches the flavors.
I suspect an extreme omnivore would eat a hammer if it was prepared well and wrapped in bacon. And I’ll admit it, I’d watch that.
At the other end of the spectrum are the breatharians. These are people who *say* they get their nutrients from light and air only, saving innocent plants and animals from slaughter. Among the startlingly few who make this claim is the woman whose life’s goal it is to be a human Barbie. I tend to think this doesn’t say much for the breatharians. But that’s judgment on my part.
After all, I don’t personally know any breatharians. Or human Barbies.
Hardcore carnivores* linger near the extreme omnivore end of the spectrum in their unflinching willingness to eat all things animal. Some may go so far as to insult those who don’t eat sheep balls as being “girls” (which makes them sexist too). While closer to the breatharian end are what I call the militant raw vegans* who exclude from their diet anything cooked, as well as anything that came from or actually was an animal. And they seem angry about it. I’m putting my ass on the line just putting them in the same paragraph as the carnivores.
(*Not to be confused with everyday meat eaters or peaceful vegans.)
Then there is everyone in between – people who do not have the time, money and/or interest to devote a large chunk of their lives obsessing over what they eat and who may well consider Subway health food.
One consistency I’ve observed though is that the closer one is to either end of the eating spectrum and the more extreme their views on eating, the more likely their need to either imply or tell me outright that their diet will save me from my miserable life.
And that’s when I gotta call a time out.
The cold hard truth is – everyone has the right to eat what he or she wants. And whenever I’m victimized by someone with such dogged focus on diet and eating, I always wonder if they’re avoiding some deeper issue.
I wonder this, because it sure as hell was the case for me.
For twenty years, I was a hard-core vegetarian. And an annoying one at times.
I made the choice for many reasons. But it took me two decades to recognize that I was more concerned with what went in my mouth than what was coming out of it. I was frequently speaking shit that was more B-A-N-A-N-A-S than the actual fruit. And analyzing everything I ate and subjecting myself to deprivation had given me the illusion of control I craved. Meanwhile, I stopped hearing what my body actually craved.
It took me years of therapy, yoga, self-study and, I’m not gonna lie, eating disorders to get to the point where issues around eating no longer consume me. That doesn’t mean they’re gone. But I’m aware they’re there like an annoying younger sibling and I can live with that.
Mindful eating for me means listening to the cues from my body.
And if my body (or really my brain) is craving a Kit Kat bar or Doritos then I allow them, because deprivation doesn’t do it for me anymore. It never actually did. And I usually know when a craving is healthy and when it’s an attempt to fill a void. I might not arrive at that realization until after a third cupcake. So be it. I’m only human.
Nothing is fool-proof. Especially humans.
For the most part, I still consume a predominantly plant based diet. On occasion I add fish, birds or fellow mammals when I feel my body calls for them. I’m careful in such cases to know their sources and how they were treated and to thank them, because that’s important to me.
But that’s just me. Your story will be different. Maybe a bacon wrapped hammer is more your speed. If so, I hope you’ll let me know. I’d love to watch.
Steph Ruopp is a freelance blogger/writer, yoga instructor, caregiver and lapsed vegetarian who appreciates a good Reuben.