The Best Way to Eat: One Size Doesn’t Fit All

When I was learning to ride my bike, I didn’t do the usual start pedaling, fall off a few times and eventually get the hang of it.  I took my sweet time to learn to balance the bike first, which anyone with the slightest inkling of physics knows is much easier to do in motion, not perfect stillness.  But that’s how I felt safe, and that’s what I did. It took a while of looking like I was doing nothing, but eventually I steadily made my way down the hill, and only once I was sure I had balance did I speed up.  The self-preservation instinct was very strong in me. It also kept me out of a lot of sports since I hid from the ball instead of sacrificing myself to catch it. I was also a little dramatic.

My younger sister was the complete opposite of me.  She had no fear, took off…and fell. But that didn’t phase her, she got right back up to try again.  She was also naturally good at sports, and didn’t mind taking hits for the team. She got more scrapes and bruises, but she survived.  

The point is, we both learned to ride our bike to the same level, but our paths to get there were very different.  Fast forward to my sister and I as adults, and we still have those fundamental differences, but we’re both getting along in life just fine.  

It’s apparent to us all that people are very different.  While lives on the surface can often look similar, the way in which people get there or maintain them can be on opposite ends of a spectrum.  So why, then, do so many people insist that there is only one right way to eat or even to think about food??

It happens all the time.  When someone finds a certain diet or way of being with food that works for them, they feel the need to shout it to the world that they found THE ONE WAY.  This can be a diet style like paleo or vegan, or it can be a philosophy about food, like all foods can fit all the time, or never eat anything processed, or only eat local.  

And guess what – each of these ways of eating, among many, many others CAN and DO WORK.  But not for everyone. And maybe not even for that person forever.

I’ve seen people do amazingly well completely avoiding added sugar – for over 30 years.  For one of these people in particular, sugar was an addiction, and the only way that worked for her long term was completely avoiding it.  And no, she’s not deprived or depressed and has a full life, family and career.

Then there are people who have finally found freedom with food by allowing themselves pleasure, including added sugar quite often without falling into addictive patterns.  There are people who have recovered from eating disorders and part of that was learning to let these foods back in.

There are people who like having a plan and following it, and others who like the freedom to decide.  Then there are people who at times like having a plan, and at times like being more free. Going back to the bike example of my sister and I, which of us do you think is more of the structured one?  If you guessed the one writing this article – bingo! But, there are times I like, and have learned to be, flexible and laid back. (Traveling the world will do that to you).

 

The great thing is, there’s no one way to eat or even to think about food. To one person, following a strict diet feels really good, while to another it’s only stressful and depriving. What feels like moderation or food freedom to… Click To Tweet

If your way of eating makes you happy and you don’t have a complaint, great.  In my mind, the only exception to this is during pregnancy, when there’s more than just yourself to nourish and think about.  What the mother eats during pregnancy has not only an effect on that child, but on future generations of children.  But that’s a talk for another time.

Otherwise, a food philosophy I do think is helpful is to keep your eyes on your own plate. Eat in a way that feels good to you, and don’t worry about anyone else. ~Meghan Leah, MS, RD Click To Tweet

While there are many differences in eating styles between people, there are just as many for an individual over a period of time.  In another article, I discuss the phases of nourishment, and help you determine which phase you’re in, and even when it might be time to move on.

What eating style tends to work best for you?  Let me know in the comments!

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