So, I once got “caught” eating fried chicken (in my defense, it wasn’t KFC. It was gourmet fried chicken, okay?) and someone who follows me on Instagram kind of dropped their fork in shock.
If you aren’t familiar with my Instagram feed or the recipe section of my blog, all my food related posts are vegan/vegetarian meals. Therefore, it’s easy to understand how this can give the impression that I am vegan and that me eating fried chicken is a bit of a hypocrisy. Hence, I thought I’d take the time to write about my eating philosophy and why intuitive eating is more important than following diet rules.
Intuitive eating above diet rules
On a day to day basis, I eat plant-based meals. I can spend weeks without touching animal products and feel fantastic on this diet. But every once in a while, I crave fish and eggs.
Over the past few years, I’ve become more in tune with my body and I now have an easier time differentiating between emotional and physical craving for foods. When it comes to meat, I’ve come to realize my cravings are usually physical (also, I’m pretty confident that emotionally binge eating on smoked salmon is not a thing).
Perhaps I’m low on omega-3 and that’s why I tend to want fish? Regardless, my body feels so much more balanced and strong when I have that occasional piece of meat.
For a long time, I’ve struggle with the idea of eating meat because of the overwhelming data that supports a 100% vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. Reading “How not to die” by Dr. Michael Greger, which is at the same time traumatizing and enlightening, convinced me to avoid animal products “for good”.
However, that phase lasted only a few months. I eventually grew tired and had to reintroduce meat into my diet. After examining my situation, I concluded that above adhering to a strict diet, labels and scientific data, I believe it’s of utmost importance to know what your body needs and what makes it feels its best. (A little nuance: I do say what you’re body NEEDS, not WANTS. Because your body may want 10 pounds of chocolate, but let’s face it, eating that is not in your best intention.)
Use the scientific evidence to positively influence your choices but do not let it be the sole deciding factor.
The 80/20 diet philosophy
As for justifying the fried chicken (which was organic and free range by the way. I made an effort, m’kay?), I am a firm believer in balance in all areas of my life, and this includes nutrition.
Consequently, I take the 80% healthy / 20% indulge route when it comes to food. And when I do indulge, I try not to over do it either because my body will be hating on me for days (again, listen to your body!).
Which means I’ll only be eating one fried chicken leg, and not the whole chicken, once in a blue moon and not feel bad about it.
I talked about veganism in this post but it also applies to paleolithic, macrobiotic and all the other health-promoting diets out there. The message I’m conveying is that I don’t believe in following a strict diet of exclusion of any kind or labels because it implies that you must follow these “rules” above listening to what your body really wants.
Use these diets as guidelines and don’t be afraid to adjust if needed. Only you know what is best for your body.
If you’ve transitioned from veganism to eating meat again, I would love to know your reasons behind your decision and if you felt a difference in the way you feel.