As we plan to sit around the dinner table this week with friends, family, and lots of food, I thought it was time to address this tricky topic.
A while back one of the lovely NMDL readers suggested I do a post on the social aspects of eating when one eats in a manner not typical. For me, some of this revolves around dealing with other people and their issues, and some of it is pure logistics!
Since I eat in a way that is quite different from most people, I am often reminded of just how worked up people can get about how other people choose to eat.
Please note, I am not addressing eating disorders here, but rather adults making decisions about how to eat. I’ve had many experiences where people have judged me about the way I eat. When I was a much larger person, others would shoot me nasty looks as I ordered a dessert. Since I’ve been a healthy weight for my frame, people still criticize how I eat. Often, it seems as though others think my personal choices are a negative judgment of their choices, though they are not. These are a few concepts I use in my life to help me deal with the complications of eating differently from most people around me.
Don’t let other people try to shame or bully you into eating a certain way. You are the only one who knows what it’s like to live in your body. We should be able to make our own decisions about our own bodies. This covers a lot of things, including food. I hope everyone makes healthy and informed choices, and listens to their body. Sometimes another person will have a genuine concern about your health. If it is someone who cares about you, listen to the concern, and address it respectfully (if you need help, take the opportunity to receive it). Eating disorders are real, but not all atypical ways of eating are disordered. Make an honest, informed, responsible assessment of how you choose to eat, and do your best to make it work.
Be willing to be somewhat flexible. While I prefer to eat raw, as long as the options are vegan and gluten free (my essentials for health), I can manage in a social situation. Figure out where you are willing to be flexible and be prepared for this when you eat with others.
Come up with a dish or two that most other people love, regardless of their dietary specifics. I struggle with this, as I don’t think I’ve ever been comfortable preparing food for others. Some people are great cooks, but it’s not my gift. Every once in while though, I have a hit. People love my slaw, so when I’m invited to someone’s home I bring it. That also guarantees there will be at least one thing there I can eat.
Be ready to discuss/answer questions about how you eat, in a way that doesn’t provoke an argument (unless you want to have the argument). Why aren’t you eating, or why did you bring your own food? I have a lot of food sensitivities. Why don’t you eat meat/dairy? I feel healthier when I don’t. Why do you think you have a problem with gluten? Diarrhea. Okay, that last one is usually my last resort when someone is clearly judging me and seems to think I’m an idiot incapable of making my own choices. Generally my response is more polite.
When eating out, know what’s available in your area, and plan ahead. Use a smartphone app or the internet to locate restaurants that will accommodate your needs (this is great if you go out of town, too). Others often think I can just go to any restaurant and order a salad, but food I can get at most places is just not as nutritious as what I make at home. Plus I have to ask so many questions to be sure of staying gluten free, etc, it’s a pain. If you can find a place that meets the needs of everyone in your group, that would be ideal. There really aren’t many places around me that are agreeable to most people I would eat out with, so sometimes I have to sneak in some of my own food. Sometimes I make sure to eat something that covers my needs before going out, so I can just order whatever is available without feeling like I don’t have enough.
But what about eating at home when no one else eats like you do? I really have no completely satisfactory solution here. I’m in a situation where no one in my house has the same schedule or eats the same food. It can be a hassle, but I’m committed to eating in a way that I enjoy and that makes me feel good. I try to have my family prepare our food together, and share what we can. That way it’s not completely on me to make all the different meals, and we still have some family time. Now that my son is old enough to use the stove, this is somewhat easier.
Are you dealing with these issues too? How?
We love this menu for many reasons, not least of all becauze Kate just sounds like a lot of fun. Help answer her questions in the comments, and don’t forget to send in your meatless adventures.
Hometown: Los Angeles
My dietary leanings: I eat lots of veggies and fish. Occasionally I’ll eat red meat and goat or sheep dairy.
My favorite vegetable: Sauerkraut! That counts right?
Breakfast: Lately I’ve been having giant breakfasts and I’m loving it. My formula is a green, a protein, and sauerkraut. Today it was kale, brown lentils, and sauerkraut. Picked the kale from my generous neighbor’s garden, lentils are the pre-cooked Trader Joe’s kind (is that bad?), and sauerkraut from a local market. Garnished with lemon and a little olive oil.
Mid morning: After breakfast I’ll normally have tea. Today was raspberry leaf tea because I’m premenstrual and Yogi’s Skin Detox because my face is a mess. Not sure if that works but it tastes wonderful.
Lunch: A large salad with red lettuce, kale, garbanzo beans, a mound of sauerkraut, and a fresh peach. Topped with a homemade apple vinaigrette. Sometimes I put smoked trout (from the same place as the sauerkraut) on this and it takes it from amazing to spectacular. Like- “no sorry coworkers I brought a salad for lunch so go get takeout with me”- good.
Snack: If I’m still hungry I’ll have almond butter on a rice cake. Although I recently realized rice cakes have a really high glycemic index- which I try to avoid to keep myself and my skin balanced. So today I just had a tablespoon of almond butter. Any advice for almond butter receptacles?
Dinner: Normally pretty small since I eat a giant breakfast & lunch. Although when I get stressed I tend to crave large dinners. Today I had sliced persian cucumbers dipped in saffron hummus. 2 slices of sourdough bread with olive oil and sea salt. And more sauerkraut…I need to start making my own I go through the stuff so quickly. Advice? Please help I’m addicted!
After: Wine. The red kind. I’m in the market for a boxed organic red if you have any favorites :)
I don’t actually know the answer to this question! But since our friends at Well+Good are asking, it’s got me wondering. Do you avoid this super-processed soy? I’m about to go read a few labels…
Turn over many a nutrition bar or box of veggie burgers, and you’ll often find soy protein isolate (SPI) featured prominently on the ingredient list.
While there’s disagreement among nutritionists over whether soy is part of a healthy diet (some are concerned about its estrogenic properties but others like it as protein source for those who don’t eat meat), most agree that SPI, its super-processed offspring, should be avoided.
“A big issue with soy is that we’re eating more of it than ever before and in very processed forms like SPI,” says Middleberg Nutrition founder Stephanie Middleberg, MS, RD. So SPI may have started out as a plant, but once it gets to you, it’s far from it.
Here are four reasons nutritionists say you should probably ditch soy protein from your diet:
1. A lot of its nutrients have left the building. “Soybeans are a great quality protein because their amino acid content is similar to that in meat, and they’re a good source of fiber, minerals, and complex carbs,” says Middleberg. But to create SPI, soybeans are chemically engineered to “isolate” their protein, and this process strips out all of the other nutrients the original bean contained.
2. It contains unhealthy additives. Foodtrainers founder Lauren Slatyon, MS, RD, says that the chemical process used to isolate soy protein often leaves behind substances you don’t necessarily want to be eating, like aluminum and hexane. “Think of bathing in toxic bath oil,”Slayton says. “Even once you dry yourself off, some residue remains. Want to eat that residue?” The spray drying method used for soy can also form nitrites, compounds that can form carcinogens in the body, she explains.
3. It’s probably genetically modified. According to the USDA, over 90 percent of the soybeans grown in the U.S. are genetically modified, so most SPI comes from altered beans. “This means soy protein isolate is chemically modified, processed, and filled with pesticides,” says Middleberg.
Milkshakes for breakfast and pizza for dinner? This is an MM menu to get excited about. Thanks for sharing Hallie!
My favorite vegetable: Tomatoes! They’re a vegetable in my book…
Breakfast: We had some leftover orange/mango/cantaloupe juice that we had made with the juicer this weekend, so as a treat I made a smoothie with that and some vanilla whey protein powder. It was like a 50/50 milkshake for breakfast! Definitely not an every day thing… but such a treat.
Lunch: A pita bred sandwich with homemade black bean spread, grilled zucchini, fresh local tomtato, and spinach. The bean spread was super easy - I just stuck 1/4 cup of canned black beans in the blender with about 1 tbsp of salsa and the juice of half a lime. It was my first time making it and I’m pretty sure it will now become a staple in my fridge.
Snacks: Some crackers with peanut butter, and a green plum.
Dinner: Heirloom tomato pizza. Mixed up some good ricotta with lemon zest (to taste), spread that over raw whole wheat pizza dough. Placed slices of heirloom tomato all over the pizza, then sprinkled with fresh basil, drizzled with olive oil, seasoned with sea salt. Baked the pizza according to dough instructions, et voila! The ricotta is so creamy and mild, it really lets the tomatoes shine, but still holds up as a base sauce replacement.
Agreed—and that pizza sounds off the chain. Anyone else cooking with—or preserving—heirlooms right now, before they’re all gone?
Our friends at Well+Good have reminded us of one of our favorite ways to eat vegetarian food: In a giant bowl, all mixed together, but where the standout ingredients are, well, the standout ingredients. We like our vegetables the way God made them, and there’s no easier way to load up on them in when you’re in a rush than with a Buddha bowl. Simply: Prepare your veggies in advance, and then keep them stored in good glass in the fridge (I am partial to Duralex and Frigoverre, which you can get online at Green Depot, or in person if you live here in New York). My yoga school, Jivamukti, has these in the cafe, and I treat myself to one after class once a week (black beans, kale, avocado, tahini—YUM!). Appropriately, Well+Good got tips from master yogi Elena Browner (swoon!) by getting her to open up her fridge for them.
You should read the entire thing on their site...
This is a giant fridge.
It has to be. It feeds a lot of people. Me and my son, his caregiver, my son’s father, my assistant, my boyfriend Bentley—we’re a big family. But it’s really full right now. This is maximum capacity.
So is the amount of greens pretty typical? And where do you get them?
Yes, everyone here loves kale. Pretty much everything’s from Whole Foods in Tribeca. It’s the easiest for me. I know I can get everything there in one stop, though the Union Square Green Market is the best. I love to shop there when I can. …
Do you have time to cook much? What’s your average meal?
A Buddha Bowl. It’s a meal that I probably eat a couple times a day. It always has kale or a heap of greens and whatever veggies I have, plus tofu or tempeh, quinoa or grains, maybe some avocado. The ever evolving recipe is on my website. I make a dressing for it out of lemon, cold-pressed olive oil, and organic white miso and keep it in my fridge. I really look forward to eating it.
YUM! Find out more of her nutritional tricks here.
Do you ever eat your veggies like this?
Image of an actual branded “Buddla Bowl” via