Yup. That is chicken. Take away my label as a “pescatarian” or a “vegetarian that eats fish” or a “vegan who eats fish/eggs/honey” or whatever you once classified me as. The truth is, I was always bothered by those labels anyway because one word cannot define my diet—and my definition of the word diet, the way it should be used. Be aware, this post will have some food and recipe ideas, but it is also filled with my thoughts and feelings toward the modern use of the word “diet.”
After about a year and a half of only getting my meat source from seafood, I began noticing something my body was beginning to shout at me. I needed more protein and from more natural sources. Canned tuna, protein bars and shakes, and the occasional grilled salmon were not cutting it for me anymore. I was able to get by on this diet (sit tight, I will discuss this word shortly) when my workout was an hour of sustained cardio a day usually on the elliptical (don’t get me started on my old relationship with that machine…maybe a future post). My body was on auto pilot, in all sorts of ways. It was not until I started training with CrossFit everyday that I woke up to my lack of clean protein sources. I was always hungry and never full. I snacked and ate about every hour (not kidding). I was not just “boredom eating” either. Sure enough, every hour I began feeling shaky and I couldn’t hold my hands steady until I got something in my system. I often suffered from “hanger” when I didn’t eat something ASAP when this happened.
After realizing this was my body telling me to “wake up! fed me fuel!” I began downing more cans of tuna, about a can a day plus a protein bar every day. Then, I smacked myself in head (figuratively) because that was not good for me either. My body needed change. It wasn’t until I got back home to Houston before I finally gathered the courage (yes, courage) to eat some chicken. It took so much to take that first leap back into meat again. I keep asking myself why it was so hard mentally for me—maybe because of those “labels” or I was breaking my streak or I was quitting on something and I never want to be a quitter. But then I felt even more ridiculous, I was depriving my body of something I knew it needed and for what? Because of what others would think? I had thought I was over that, I am. That’s why I took that first bite and I never really looked back.
I’m not going to lie either, it did bother me thinking of the chicken as the animal it used to be (a thought process I adopted giving up meat in the first place), but I combat that with knowing that I can choose to eat free-range, grass-fed organic meats. Now my vegetarian and vegan friends, please don’t call me a “traitor” or “quitter” or label me as a “carnivore” now. It is still labeling and is still annoying. I have faith in my friendships I have gained though through my vegan and pescatarian journeys though. So what is my “diet” now? For those that cringe at the word “diet,” calm yourselves. I am not on a diet. That’s what is so confusing nowadays. My interpretation of the word “diet” is what I eat from day to day. My norming eating regimen. That is how I will always refer to the word. So what is my diet now? Raw? No because I cook my meats and veggies. Paleo? No, because I still eat oatmeal, quinoa and sweet potatoes. Gluten-free? No, because I still cheat on gluten every now and then. How about the Emily Diet? The thing is, I don’t fall under any label. I guess the closest label would be the “eat to perform” mentality of eating if you much stick a name to it. I just listen to my body and respond accordingly. If I just came from CrossFit, then I am going to scarf down the protein and clean carbs. If I had a big breakfast and I am not that hungry for lunch, then I will just wait until I am hungry again. If that happens to be at dinnertime, then great! If I get hungry before, I’ll whip up a green smoothie to satisfy myself. I am listening to body and I have never felt better!
What about cravings? That is your body trying to tell you to eat that whole cake or chug 5 cups of coffee every morning right? Wrong. Listening to your body is a very fine tuned mechanism. You have to be honest and in sync with yourself to truly know what you really need. Usually, when I crave sweets (this happens often) I actually need protein or a healthy source of fat like an avocado or a coconut smoothie. Craving that caffeine? You probably are, but try to cut back with a cup a day and more sleep. Then once you are getting more sleep, maybe all you need is a cup of tea or two throughout the day and you just have a cup-o-joe on the occasion because you miss the taste, and not the jolt of energy. Back to the sweets though (my weakness), no one is perfect and the only way I don’t go crazy from deprivation is to eat that brownie every now and then because let’s be honest, as much as I love avocados, nothing can trump chocolate in my life. ;)
Have thoughts/questions/comments of your own? Leave them below!