When I scroll through my super healthy, 99.9% ‘clean’ vegan recipes, I feel uneasy—like I’ve been deceiving you. I can’t hold back, or feel like I’m hiding from you any longer.
Yes, I gravitate toward whole, plant-based foods (I have for most of my adult life) but I’ve never been a 99.9% clean-eating vegan. The truth is, for a long time, I really felt like I couldn’t share the cheesy pizza slices, sandwiches on white bread, or (gasp) bites of beef jerky with you.
As an integrative oncology dietitian, it was my responsibility to promote green smoothies and grain salads—you certainly couldn’t find out about those mozzarella sticks from the other night. I had to maintain my extra-healthy image, or I’d be found out as a fake, so I filled my blog and social media feeds with unrealistic projections of the perfect clean-eating dietitian I thought I was supposed to be. Who I thought you wanted me to be—but not me. Imposter syndrome had become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I wanted to help you live better but I led you astray. My clean eating persona probably convinced you that you should only be eating green smoothies and grain salads too. I might have contributed to some of the guilt you felt after eating the damn white bread. If I did, I sincerely apologize. I didn’t mean to let my own fears get in the way of your wellbeing.
I’ve wanted to lift the veil for a while now but I was so afraid, you guys. Like, crazy-scared about what you would think of me. I told myself that I had to ‘stick to my clean eating vegan niche’ or I would lose followers, clients, income, respect, [insert every other anxious fear imaginable here].
I realize now that I was still getting over someone else’s categorization of food as either ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ I still hadn’t fully accepted that there is no such thing as the ‘avoid’ list. I was still grappling with my occasional need for soul-feeding foods like donuts and mac and cheese. It’s hard not to succumb to diet mentality when it’s hiding out everywhere. I am and always will be a work in progress.
Then Alexis from Hummusapien and Cara from Street Smart Nutrition each wrote posts that convinced me to finally share my whole truth with you. Intuitive eating also helped. IE is giving me a new sense of self-confidence and comfort in my own skin. Suddenly, I don’t really care what other people think about my lifestyle—it’s mine and only mine.
Love it or leave it, this is me.
5 truths I refuse to hide (or feel guilty about) anymore:
- When I’m traveling or eating out, I care very little about nutrition. Anything goes (stuffed pizza, refined sugar, and fried dough included).
- We eat out at least once a week. The destination is usually the place with just okay bar food and really great beer on tap.
- Cheese is delicious. Dairy was a prominent member of the ‘avoid list’ but I never really eliminated it completely. I’ve since learned that strict, fear-based food rules don’t work for me. I won’t beat myself up over a little cheese, and I don’t think you should either.
- There are days when I just completely forget to eat vegetables—and I’m fine.
- If someone offers a taste of a delicious-looking meat dish, you best believe I’m taking a bite. I usually don’t like it as much as the veggie dish in front of me, but I’ll still give it a try, just to be sure. Nothing’s off limits.
Where I’m at right now:
- I have accepted my equal affinity for grain salads and gummy bears.
- I’m eating and living more intuitively—going with the flow more and focusing on what feels good in the moment—and I’ve never felt better.
- I’m attempting to steer clear of diet mentality—but it has taken multiple ‘detoxes’ to clear the negativity and body hate talk from my life. Diet mentality is everywhere but at least I’m beginning to recognize it for what it is now.
- I’m also beginning to fully understand that holistic nutrition essentially includes mental, emotional, and social wellbeing—and that means that sometimes a donut really is the healthiest choice.
I am not vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, clean, or even “healthy”—whatever that even means. There will still be plant-based recipes and I still completely believe that some people can live fully-nourished vegan lifestyles but just like me (and probably you too), this blog won’t fit quite so neatly into one single label or category. So from here on out, I pledge to share all of me with you because life is messy and completely imperfect but that’s what makes it so fulfilling and real.