Ok, it’s not really a diet, but now that I’ve got your attention, let’s dive deep and explore what it would look like if you made food choices based on kindness.
People make food choices for a lot of different reasons. Food choices are often based on taste, the desire to lose weight, or just eating what’s most readily available. These choices aren’t always fun or easy to make and there can be a lot of emotions attached to making these choices.
I’ve definitely been there, done that!
I remember a time in my life when my food choices were solely based on what I thought would make my stomach and body look the best. Deciding what to eat and how much to eat felt like a burden that would often lead to me feeling guilty and unhappy. I thought very little about what would actually be most honoring and helpful to my body.
I have a totally different approach now when it comes to food.
It may sound complex and over the top at first, but it’s really quite simple; I like to think of it as the kindness approach. I’m a firm believer that we should all live in accordance with our values. My core value, sweet and simple, is kindness.
I think it’s important to be kind to myself, to the people around me, and to the environment. I believe that my food consumption should reflect this kindness approach.
So, how do I cultivate kindness in all of these areas when it comes to something as fundamental as food?
I have been eating a mostly plant-based, vegan, diet for the last six months in order to cover the environmental kindness piece. I began this lifestyle as a means to figure out the foods that worked best for my body, but then quickly realized that the impact I was making was far more widespread than just my body. I completely understand that not everyone has the means or desire to eat plant based, and that’s totally okay, but let me explain my point of view.
I feel that by living this lifestyle, I am no longer contributing to the high demand for animal agriculture that has such a vast and negative impact on our planet. In addition to eating plant-based, I try to be mindful of the packaging (particularly plastic) on the food that I am purchasing. I love getting to be creative by using containers and bags I already have to purchase food in and it’s a great way to eat less processed foods. I like to think that the planet smiles a little when I make a conscious effort to be kind to the environment by the way I eat.
From the very start, I never set myself a hard line or restrictions against eating animal products. I like to give myself guilt-free room to “mess up” and grace in situations that are out of my control.
My sister-in law decided to term my way of eating as “freegan” and it’s stuck ever since.
I am free to make choices on the food I eat depending on the situation and what I think my body needs. This freedom is especially helpful when other people make meals for me. It can be awkward to refuse a loving meal that someone made for me just because it has meat in it, so I don’t! When someone makes me a loving meal, the kindest response is to eat it, enjoy it, and express my gratitude to that person.
In all of this food talk, I have to remember to be kind to myself. My body has certain nutrient needs and cravings; wouldn’t it be silly If I didn’t listen to these needs? I do my best to honor my body.
My body gets me up in the morning, gets me to where I need to go and lets me do the things I love. The most kind, loving response I can have to all of the awesome things my body does is to trust the signals it sends me. If my body craved donuts and Twinkies every day I might reevaluate, but my body’s cravings tend to be pretty well-balanced.
There are days when my body craves lots of veggies and other days when my body craves sweets. If my body craves chocolate one day – you better believe it – I will be giving my body chocolate.
Imagine making food choices based on your values rather than out of obligation or fear of guilt. I choose to follow my values and to express kindness to the environment, to the people around me and to my own body.
Your specific values may be completely different than mine, and that’s totally okay. It’s awesome, actually! Where you choose to plant your kindness is entirely up to you. I believe that whoever you are, whatever your passions and values, they are worth following, even when it comes to food. I hope that following these values can help you improve your relationship with food and with yourself. It’s freeing, its empowering, its guilt free, its kind!
Kayra Norris UCAN Health Coach