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Finding balance

Vegan, vegetarian, Paleo, Paleo-vegan, raw, gluten-free… It seems these days that the dietary dictionary has exploded, with more and more words describing new eating plans to follow.

But by placing ourselves in these diet ‘boxes’ and restricting our food choices by a single, dictating word can sometimes lead to negativity that not only manifests itself in the physical, but our mental health can take a back seat too.

By Jana du Plessis

Why a word?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind any of the above mentioned eaters – I often claim a veggie meal or raw treat with pride. But the question is: what do these labels do to our overall well-being when faced with a crossroads? Sure, sticking to any type of diet choice in itself isn’t that hard. But it becomes more difficult in the light of an audience.

People expect you to only eat the foods that your diet label prescribes and will question any misstep or deviation, making it harder for us to enjoy the freedom of food choices. Food is fun, it enables the body to function in amazing ways and can even nourish the soul. So why make ourselves panicky about the foods that cross our lips?

Live and let go

I’m a big proponent of eating what makes you feel good and listening to what your body needs. If you’re craving sugar, you are most likely tired and in need of some energy. Or when you’re feeling like a big slice of cheesy pizza, it’s your body telling you that it hasn’t had enough fat for the day to fuel your cellular functions. In saying that, don’t instinctively reach for a bar of chocolate or call up your local pizza delivery. Find nutritious foods that will feed your deficiencies in the best way possible. Whether that be a piece of steak, because your body is asking for some extra protein, or that slice of sourdough, because your body needs the energy from carbohydrates.

It’s just a name

Our bodies are incredible instruments that ask us to tune in and listen. Follow a vegan diet, be vegetarian, indulge in a meaty eating plan if that tickles your fancy. But don’t let a preconceived decision stress you out about what you are consuming in front of other people. Eating one meal that contains an ingredient you wouldn’t normally have, is okay. It will show your strength and intuitiveness when it comes to nurturing your mental and physical health, regardless of the others watching and wishing they had their health as under control as you.

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