With the craziness of life over the past couple months and especially with moving last weekend, eating has been all over the map. So this WIAW, it’s not necessarily a day of eating, but rather a glimpse into whatever food pictures I have on my phone from this past week. There has been lots of eating out and lots of sharing meals with others. I wouldn’t have it any other way. A huge part of how I love people, how people love me and how I spend time with people I love is through food.
I’ve gone through seasons of eating almost entirely vegan and seasons of eating almost entirely not vegan. But when I feel happiest and healthiest is when I have a little bit of both. Because over the years as I’ve navigated finding a “healthy” balance with food and exercise and my body, the most important thing I’ve come to learn is that legalism with food is life sucking. Food rules not only hinder our own relationship with food, but they hinder our relationships with others because a big part of our lives and spending time with others involves food.
Almost all my meals are eaten with other people. Besides breakfast, which I sometimes eat with others too, lunch are dinner are shared with other people either at school, in the hospital, at home or at restaurants. I might be eating out, eating something I cooked, or eating something someone else cooked for me- but almost always I’m eating with others. I say all that to illustrate not only what a huge part food plays in community, but also what a huge part it was meant to play. Food is an integral part of how we celebrate, love others, and build relationships- that’s a healthy thing. And a very good thing.
So how do we strike that balance with wanting to eat all the plants but not becoming legalistic?
We remember that stress is more detrimental to our health than any food itself.
I don’t have a research article to support that statement, but I 100% stand behind that. The stress and anxiety that can manifest itself around food is far more damaging to your overall health than some bacon. Yes, eating vegetables and beans and lentils and all the healthy fats from avocado and nuts and coconut are good things, but there’s a whole lot of space for a hamburger or butter or bacon in a “healthy diet:. Those “unhealthy” foods are what create balance. We need the cake to balance the kale just as much as we need the kale to balance the cake. Those foods mentally nourish us and create satisfaction with food.
Over the past week, I’ve been in between apartments so there has been lots of eating out. I also live with some pretty amazing girlfriends and we cook for each other which means Brittany is eating veggie curry with tempeh one night and I’m eating stuffed peppers with beef and cheese the next. That’s how we love each other and the stress relief of not cooking dinner- that’s healthy. I’m now sharing lots of meals with a guy who probably eats more meat in a day than I eat in a month. So sometimes I’m eating chicken and sometimes he’s eating tempeh.
When you take a step back, food plays an important role in all the relationships in our lives and spending time with people is much more important than the food on our plate. It’s not about the food, it’s about the people.
And that to me is balance. Yes, fill up your plate with all the vegetables and all the beans and quinoa your little heart desires. But also give yourself the freedom and grace to eat and enjoy some chicken or some bacon or some butter because that’s what tastes good and that’s what’s for dinner.
Because true health is so much more than just food.