Almost There

by Heather

Here’s Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3

Part 4

The year after I graduated college I moved back in with my mom while I did my dietetic internship in Baltimore. Only it wasn’t just my mom anymore- along the way, she’d met & married my step-dad. I’ve mentioned him before- he’s the real food lover of the family- a true meat & potatoes kind of guy.

Appreciating them letting me intrude on their new life together, I gratefully ate dinner with them whenever my internship allowed me to be home in time for a meal. (Which wasn’t often.) Continuing my “keep everyone happy” mode, I ate whatever my step dad cooked. It was clear that food was how he demonstrated love, and I felt turning down his cooking would be a slap in the face of sorts.

Then I got married & moved back to NC. All of a sudden not only was I in complete control of every meal in the house, I was responsible for cooking and feeding two people. I could make whatever I wanted, and not hurt anybody’s feelings! I also learned that when I made my own food, I had fewer issues with my stomach. It even got to the point where I could eat cheese & milk again. Apparently it was more of a quality of food issue, as opposed to only just a type of food issue. (I guess pizza & beer don’t do a body good?!)

Fast forward to now. Back to the food spectrum question. Where do you fall? Meat eater <—> vegan, or somewhere in between?

food for though

(I suppose I should add flexitarian to the list, since clearly I fall in between. But although I am a flexitarian, it feels like a cop out when I say it out loud.)

I actually have a lot of trouble with labels. To me, they feel like rules, and I don’t do well with rules. Making a generalized statement that I’m a vegetarian or vegan makes me feel like I can’t ever eat meat or milk or a cookie with an egg in it. I live by the idea of ‘everything in moderation’, and that really does mean everything.

Not having a label doesn’t bother me, but it does pose an issue in terms of my keeping other people happy issue. It’s one thing to say “No thanks I don’t want _______ because I’m a _______” (Steak – vegetarian; ice cream – vegan….you get the idea) It also makes it difficult for people to understand- whether I’m trying to keep them happy or not.

It’s another thing to just say no, I don’t want that because….because what? At this exact moment I don’t want that? I’m uncomfortable with where that came from? My stomach will explode if I eat one more ounce of cheese? (Unfortunately I’ve had to use that last one all too often haha)

So why did I go back through all this? Your history helps shape your present, be it food or whatever. But it doesn’t dictate it. I’ve been exposed to a few things recently that really make me say hmmmmmmm. I felt the need to tell you where I was coming from so you could better understand what I thought about these things. But of course I’m not telling you what these “things” are yet. For that you’ll have to wait. ;) (You so knew that was coming, huh?)

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{ 7 comments… read them below or chime in }

Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) April 21, 2010 at 7:37 am

You have completely summed up my feelings on labels. Thank you. In social situations, I will often label myself a “vegetarian” because it’s simpler than explaining, “Well, I won’t eat this chicken because it was factory farmed and there are some disgusting factory farming operations, plus antibiotics…etc.” It makes things too confusing to call myself a “flexitarian” — vegetarian lite, perhaps?

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Kelly @ Healthy Living With Kelly April 21, 2010 at 8:29 am

I totally agree…I don’t place a label on myself. I eat what I want. I don’t usually want meat but I do crave a steak a few times a year and when the craving stikes I go with it. I don’t really like food rules either. I know what works for me and my body and that is what I eat.

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FoodFitnessFreshair April 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

This was a great post, and I think the whole label issue is something a lot of people struggle with. I’m a pescetarian, but a lot of my friends often just refer to me as a vegetarian because to them, no beef or chicken means crazy vegetarian. Many people really don’t understand the whole vegan/vegetarian lifestyle or why’d you ever really want to do that. And while I eat fish, I try to stay away from dairy. Yet like you, I’m not ready for the “vegan” label because I can’t commit to fully restricting myself from the occasional frozen yogurt or something like that. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

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Astrid April 21, 2010 at 11:27 am

I don’t like giving myself a food label either. I am an everythingarian, because I will eat anything from steak and potatoes to a completely vegan meal. I love experimenting with foods, and love eating well. To me, eating well, means eating a balance of everything. Health and allergy-wise, there is no need for me to give up any type of food, so why should I? Maybe that is an overly logical view, but it works for me!! Great blog by the way!

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Alisa April 21, 2010 at 1:24 pm

I am definitely with you on not following the rules. I am strictly dairy-free due to a milk allergy, but aside from that, I avoid labels altogether. I eat good food, usually whole food, lots of plants, but I like cookies, seafood, and everything in between too. Labels can be far too restrictive and make you feel trapped in a world of limitations. I prefer to go with the flow :)

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Kara (@ Kara's Marathon) April 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm

Love this post! I have a really hard time with labels/restriction too; I did the “vegan for a day” with some other bloggers last fall, and the second midnight hit all I wanted was an egg sandwich, cheese, and steak! Don’t tell me what I can’t eat :)

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Katharine April 21, 2010 at 3:43 pm

What a wonderful post! It’s like you read my mind. :) I’m currently trying to figure out where I fall on the scale and when I try to put a label on it is when I run into trouble. Like you said, if I tell myself I can NEVER have anything I’m only going to want it that much more. Whereas if I agree to just be flexible and eat what I’m craving in moderation, I find I follow the “rules” much better. Thank you for sharing!

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