Don’t Label Me

We all want to add a label to things in our lives. I suppose it kind of makes sense, as if you were able to explain something in one word, rather than a long winded spiel, that would make sense. But in labeling some things, we tend to tie our identity to it and become far too rigid. Being rigid isn’t always the best way to be in some instances.

With nutrition, there are so many options to label ourselves with, it’s just crazy. Are you high carb/low fat, low carb/high fat, high protein, paleo, vegetarian, vegan, primal, Mediterranean, organic, bio dynamic, raw, fruitarian, breatharian (where apparently they don’t eat food, just breathe. But I would imagine they are a dying breed???) or whatever ‘arian you have decided to pursue, there are endless choices to label yourself.

Being all individuals, it is hard to say which one is better for us as we are all different, from different backgrounds with varying degrees of requirements. I personally do great on a diet where 40-50% of my calories come from fat and my carbohydrate intake is around the 100 gram mark. It has taken me many years to work this out as I was low fat like many others through the 90’s, vegetarian through the late 80’s, ate only fish and chicken as my proteins for a while and eaten a junk food diet in between many of these phases, as kids often do when they are able to.

But the point of this is that I have tried many things, but never felt better or looked healthier than when I started to eat lots of fat (the right fats) with some good animal source proteins and mainly non starchy vegetables. Looking at this, many would say “Chris, you must be Paleo then!”. Which is partly correct as if I did have to label myself, then this would be the closest choice. Apart from the fact that I love to eat cultured dairy foods occasionally and dairy is out for Paleo in the true sense of the word (can’t tolerate milk though). I also like to eat some dark chocolate on the weekend and do plenty of cardio exercise, both of which are non Paleo and I also enjoy some pizza on the odd occasion with the kids as a treat. But I’m fine with that as they work for me and my goals especially as the treats are a rare occasion.

The way I eat has been the culmination of many years of self experimentation taking note of energy levels, complexion (as in frequency of acne breakouts), how lean I look, sex drive/hormones, bowel movements (frequency and consistency) etc. It’s not about finding the latest trend and sticking that label to myself. It’s what I have found to be best for my body. It may not be best for you, but unless you tried it, how would you know?

Self experimentation should be high on your list of priorities. It’s where you get most in tune with your body and get direct feedback from it. Many diets will have you feeling great initially, but a few months down the track, things can go a bit pear shaped. Which is why it’s important to try these things long term and not just for a week or two then switch to the next fad. Just remember, don’t slap a label on yourself and link that with your identity. It makes it very hard to change when we are labeled even if we know deep down that things may not be working as well as they could.

But first and foremost, whatever you do make sure you enjoy it, don’t be a Nazi about it and accept others for their beliefs as it is their body and it may just be what works best for them.

Run Well

Chris O’Driscoll

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