A few years ago, I learned a powerful lesson on a peculiar date with a particular woman.
The woman was into wellness. A little too into wellness.
It felt extreme when she requested that I pick her up at the gym. But that proved mild compared with her interpretation of a dinner date.
When she got into my car, I invited her participation in selecting a restaurant. She responded that she had brought her dinner with her.
She instructed me to pull over so that she could eat. Then, she informed me, we could go to a restaurant to get me food.
Confused, I pulled over.
She unzipped her backpack and extracted a Tupperware container. We sat in the car on the side of the road for 10 minutes as she ate the chicken and asparagus that she had prepared for our date.
Appalled, I watched her eat.
I mused that it could have been cool if she had brought food for us to eat together or had instructed me to BYOD too. But eating alone in the passenger seat on the way to dinner. Wow. It was one of the craziest things that I had seen in my life.
After she finished her meal, she gave us permission to go to a restaurant so that I could eat dinner. Her dietary control was such a turnoff that I wanted anything but health food. I sped to a Mexican restaurant, where she watched me inhale a burrito.
I had been into her before the date. One Tupperware container later, and I never wanted to see her again.
In retrospect, I could not judge. At one point, my socialization also had suffered from being too rigid with my diet.
My eating approach has shifted over the years from veganism, to paleo, to high fat, to somewhere in between. Today, my diet is most in line with what John Berardi, co-founder of Precision Nutrition, brilliantly calls “nutritionally agnostic.”
Just as I refuse to be a purist by choosing one way of exercising, I refuse to be a purist by choosing one way of eating. I eat what I need in each moment based on how my body, energy and mind feel.
If I feel sluggish, green veggies and fruit are my go-to. If I am stressed or energetically fried, I throw down a big, rare steak. If I am feeling frenetic, fats calm my nerves and ground me.
I am not attached to any option, just appreciative of them all. The carrot and the cow serve me in different ways. Both sacrifice their lives to sustain mine.
What dissolved my dietary distinctions was studying with my yoga teacher about nonattachment and nonjudgment.
Whatever you attach to becomes your ego. Attaching yourself to one way of eating limits your mind not only to what you eat, but also to who you are because you are identifying yourself by your diet.
It also limits other people if you identify them by what they eat. It limits your relationships with them if you judge them as better or less than you based on their choices.
You no longer will hear me define myself as someone who adheres to a certain diet because I am no longer attached to how I eat. This frees me to access what I need when I need it. How I eat may shift at any moment.
This permission frees me to live in the present. It frees me to enjoy the range that our world offers to us. Ultimately, it frees me to enjoy the range that I have to offer to myself and to our world.
A Maur Unity collaboration, edited by Maura Bogue