Creating Balance In Food and Life

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about balance lately. Balance in life, in food, at work, in relationships. It really is the key to everything.

What sparked all this was two simple question I continue to get, especially lately: “Are you a vegan?” and “Are you gluten free?”

The simple answer is, “No, I’m a vegetarian and have been for more than a decade, but I have a gluten intolerance.” The complicated answer is, “well, kinda of.”

This has been my breakfast every day this week, and will likely be it tomorrow, too — a kale, spinach and cucumber smoothie on my drive to work and then two slices of Canyon Bakehouse Cinnamon Raisin Gluten-Free bread with Earth Balance’s Crunchy Coconut and Peanut Spread.

All three items fit into different categories of the way most people label people, or foodies. The shake is raw, vegan and gluten free, the spread is vegan and gluten free and the bread is gluten free. The bread contains eggs, so it’s not vegan. And, I’m OK with that, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to eat a plate of eggs for breakfast.

This is where it gets complicated, and where creating balance comes in. You have to listen to your body, and my body tends to do well on a combination of things I consider healthy. So, while I might sip a raw shake for breakfast and consume a large raw salad for lunch, my dinner might just be a plate full of gluten-free baked ziti oozing with melted mozzarella cheese. 

The problem with this is that most people don’t understand that. Many times people have an all, or nothing, type of attitude. So, just because I ate the “regular” pancakes at the charity breakfast to raise money for the local animal shelter, doesn’t mean that when I’m in my house that’s what I’m going to eat all the time. No, instead, I’m going to reach for all the ingredients in my vegan, gluten-free buckwheat pancakes.

And, the reason is because then my body won’t feel terrible after I eat those “regular” pancakes, because I’ve limited my gluten intake overall. It’s a balance.

I definitely have an intolerance to gluten and dairy, and for me, I have found limiting those ingredients is what works best for me. I also try to stay away from soy as much as possible, which makes using some imitation cheeses off limits. Plus, I don’t like “fake” food. So, I would rather eat a piece of Cabot cheese, a company whose practices I don’t hate, than the fake stuff, if that’s what I’m craving.

Since I’m writing this post, it’s obviously been hard for me to explain my food practices the past few months. But, then I remembered an article I read in Esquire about Woody Harrelson. At the beginning of the piece they refer to him as a raw vegan. They even mention how he’s sipping “his maca-mint smoothie with double cacao powder.”

But, then he talks about going to Europe on a movie premiere and, “drinking and eating grade-A shit for a couple of weeks.”

When the author questions him more, Harrelson goes on to say, “sometimes I think I have pushed it pretty hard. On the other hand, I do fasts and things to clean and purify. I detox before I retox.

While, I’m not comparing myself to him in any way, especially they ways they talk about in the article, I really understand the point, and I wish more people understood that without judging, or just assuming that because you eat something with wheat in it one day, you will for the next seven.

Sometimes, I think our world is just a little too quick to categorize. 

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