After just being a part of Huffington Post Live’s segment regarding food and identity I found it really important to discuss a few more details from my own personal journey with food and the role it has played in identifying who I am today.
When I first began eating raw vegan foods it was an experiment. A cleansing experiment that ended up being a longterm lifestyle change. I never consciously said one day that I will never eat meat again and that I am only going to be a “raw vegan foodist” this label was placed on me organically by my peers and society as we all tend to understand things and people better by labeling them. Adopting this label felt harmless at the time, that is until I decided to step outside of the box and eat things that did not fall under the label raw nor vegan. Hello- IDENTITY CRISIS!
From the pressure of fitting into a mold I, for a long time identified myself as a vegan and raw foodist trying to make sense of my new lifestyle choices-trying to find a place where I fit into the world with my unique way of eating.
Along my journey of eating healthier I discovered that my body would tell me when and what it wanted to eat. Of course my mind would also tell me when and what it wanted too. I had to be intune with my body enough to know which choice to make, as we all know it’s far to easy to choose the snacks over the salad. However, over the course of a few weeks of eating healthier I realized that I was no longer the one making the decision as to what I was going to eat next. My body naturally responded to the veggies and began to only crave raw foods- my body was feeling ALIVE, I felt energetic, my body was healing itself with the nutrients; I didn’t have a choice but to feed it what it wanted. Like any great partner, it was treating me too good not to listen to it.
What I discovered was that although every part of my being loved the unprocessed fruits and veggies a big part of me didn’t like the label of “raw foodist” mostly because with the label came expectations and alienation. The expectations from others as well as myself for me to be something I was not, so pure in my food choices that it left no room for error. And we all know with experimentation there is error, in fact some of my best lessons and recipes have been learned and created from those errors. Being a purest or perfectionist was not a lifestlyle choice for someone like me, who thrives on experimentation. Afterall, I may never have taken my health into my own hands if it wasn’t for the call to experiment with raw foods.
Then there was the time I experimented with old eating habits. For instance the time I went out for sushi to celebrate my two weeks of raw food cleansing success my body screamed loudly in the language of sensation and sent me major digestive discomfort as it tried to communicate with me that it wasn’t a fan of the white rice and processed cream cheese. From this point forward I knew that there was a price to pay for eating certain foods, as a result for the longest time I avoided these so called “less nutritious options” choosing to only eat uncooked, unprocessed, plant based cuisine. Did my new mind-body connection now make me a RAW FOODIST? For a while, like many others I thought it did, as I was only eating unprocessed, raw foods. I also thought being a “Raw Foodist” was a tad pretentious for my own liking, or at least at the time I was acting pretentious when I would refuse cooked food made with love from my family and friends as if I was too good to eat what they had so kindly offered and prepared for me.
The learning didn’t stop with the sushi though. There was also the time I was crying for what felt like hours one night when in the company of my loving partner. We were having a romantic evening camped out by a fire enjoying the stars and each others company. That is until my emotions got the best of me and demanded to be spilled on the floor at that very moment. So what did I do to cause so many tears you may be wondering? Embarrassed to admit this but here goes nothing, I was holding in so much guilt from having eating an ice cream sandwich that wasn’t raw. Phhhew- A HEINOUS FOOD CRIME- I KNOW!! For the longest time I didn’t want my partner to know, after all we tried this raw food experiment together I didn’t want to look like a failure, I certainly didn’t want to throw us off track and I felt ashamed that I was now eating food that was not to the high standards of nutrtition as I knew were available. This confession to my partner was dramatic enough to snap me back to reality.
It showed me first, that although I might be eating healthy the burden of guilt that I was wearing was just as toxic if not worse than the processed foods I gave up. Guilt that I let pile up, all to fit into an image of myself that was holier-than- though because of the pure food choices I was making. Sounds silly- I know, but the truth is that it was a real problem for me and I have a feeling possibly for many others in varying shades of shame related to food and eating. This is when I learned to be careful to not let one healthy change lead to an unhealthy one. This lesson learned through my food choices and actions was teaching me balance.
Balance is now where I reside with years of knowledge, wisdom and intuition to guide me. I can now say that I am proudly a gal who chooses to eat primarily for good clean energy, for the well being of my existence as well as the well being of all life around me. The truth is we have to eat to survive and thrive and no matter what we choose to eat, sacrifices are being made to provide us with the fuel to keep going. In the end I find it best to make choices that resonate with you and the earth, that honor your body by providing you with optimum energy, overall wellbeing and that bring you pleasure and in return make you grateful for the vital role that food has in your life, your happiness and your health. Above all, if our food defines the person that we are and if we truly are what we eat then make sure it’s made with LOVE.
For anyone who didn’t see the segment on Huff Post, here it is: http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/cultural-identity-of-food/51706ac52b8c2a558c00045b