I think it’s time for some honest conversation between us, loves. Because it’s time for us to stop guilting ourselves about the foods we eat. Let’s talk diet labels.
Today, I want to share with you 4 reasons why I think you should give up on diet labels and why I’ve given up on them, too.
Before we go further, I do want to clarify that I’m aware that some people have no choice but to label the way they eat. People who have food allergies or who are under the care of a doctor or other medical professional, for instance. I realize sometimes doctors use diet labels as they’re looking for the causes of or treatment for certain illnesses or diseases. These situations aren’t what I’m referring to in this post.
I do still list the recipes on my website when they are dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, etc, because I do think it’s important to be educated around what you’re putting into your body. But I don’t believe it serves us to be fixate on the idea of perfection and dieting labels for these reasons…
4 REASONS TO GIVE UP ON DIET LABELS
1 – Diet Labels Cause More Stress
When you live by strict diet labels, you wind up stressing and obsessing over what you’ll eat when away from home. We all have so much stress in our lives already because of the fast-paced world we live in. There’s pressure all around us. And we know that stress can have major negative impacts on our health. How ironic it is that we know how stress affects us, but we still choose to add extra stress to our lives over the foods we eat or don’t eat, all in the name of health? Let that marinate for just a moment. It doesn’t make sense and I wonder how many people even realize they are harming their health, in the name of health.
2 – Diet Labels Keep Us from Listening to What our Bodies Want and Need
Learning to tune into your body and to listen for what makes it feel best is, I believe, much more important than abiding by any diet labels. For instance, what if you say you’re going to eat grain-free…but a bowl of morning oats gives you tons of energy and keeps you full until lunchtime and helps your digestion stay regular? It’s so much more beneficial to be in tune with what feels good for you body, than to obsess over staying in line with your grain-free label or any other diet label. Bottom line: when you eat foods, pay attention to what makes your body feel good. Eat more of those because that’s your body’s way of saying, “Yes, please! This is working.” That’s how your body communicates with you. It’s the same with the foods that make your body feel not-so-good. That’s your body’s way of communicating that for whatever reason, this food isn’t jiving with me right now.
3 – Diet Labels can Shift our Focus Away from Eating Real, High-Quality Foods
Have you ever been following a specific diet (high-protein, paleo, vegan, grain-free or anything else) and grabbed for a snack bar over another closer-to-nature food, because the snack bar was “in line” with the current diet you were following? I know I have. But that pressure to follow the diet label can cause us to forget that that snack bar is highly processed, which is more harmful to the body than high-quality, closer-to-nature foods like an egg or a bowl of oatmeal. But if you’re vegan you might go for a vegan snack bar over the egg, or if you’re grain-free you might go for a Whole 30 approved snack bar over the bowl of oatmeal. It doesn’t make sense, right? Regardless of diet labels, all the research shows that focusing on eating high-quality, real foods in appropriately sized portions is hands down the most important thing.
4 – Diet Labels can Cause us to Slip into Disordered Eating Territory
According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), cutting out an increasing number of food groups and an inability to eat anything but a narrow group of foods that are deemed healthy or pure are both warning signs and symptoms of orthorexia. Finding a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle that maintains it is important, but having a healthy relationship with both food and with your body are equally as important. Healthy living encompasses not just physical health, but also mental and emotional health as well. That’s not to say that every person who goes completely dairy- and gluten-free will develop an eating disorder, but I think it’s worth mentioning that a fixation on too-rigid rules definitely puts us closer to these illnesses and I believe there needs to be more awareness around this.
Health is about more than just the foods we eat, it’s also about feeling good mentally, physically and emotionally and seeking as much balance as we possibly can. Hippocrates said, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”