Banishing Food Labels

Cork Breakfast

 

Fat Girl Friday allows us to heed the calls of our inner temptress, break out of our typical temperance, and indulge in the full range of flavors of life. 

“Well that is just asinine.”

Vegan PizzaIt is about 2 weeks before my departure for Italy and the judgmental verbal slap comes from someone close to me. I have just said that (after 8 months of doing so in the states) I plan to stay fairly vegan while abroad.

As I wrote on CBB when I started my veg*n journey: Food is profoundly personal.

It is not my intention to get into diet choices here, weighing the pros and cons of this versus that. As my friend/inspiration Matt at NoMeat Athlete wrote recently, the bickering does nothing to help people make better, more healthful choices.

As a Fat Girl Friday post, my message here is to remind others and ourselves that sometimes it is good and right to suspend labels and judgement completely and enjoy the blessings of the day.

Buying Indulgences

IMG_5033One of our favorite Aperitivo spots in Firenze is a place called Kitsch. Aperitivo generally is put on by bar/cafe/restaurants in the pre-dinner hours and the deal is you buy a drink and then have access to a small buffet as kind of a hors d’oeurves snackfest. Kitsch, however, goes all out. It is easy to have a complete meal and I especially like all of the vegetable options.

We have a standard saying on the evenings we enjoy their spread: “There is no judgement on Kitsch Night.”

For it is often that one will return for just one more round, excusing themselves from the table with an embarrassed smile and an “I just want a little more of that yummy…” to which, as good friends, we say “there is no judgement on Kitsch night.”

It is the essence of the idea that is Fat Girl Friday.

As a conscious consumer of real food, I worry (probably too much) about what I put into my body 95% of the time. It is nice, right, good, worthwhile, and splendid to forget all that for a meal or a snack, suspending judgement of myself first and foremost, and indulge in one more blessed round of the tantalizing spread.

I think we all can get on board pretty easily with the “There is no judgement on ______ night.” Right?

Stop with the food labels

The more sticky wicket is trying to explain to others my eating habits and similarly not having judgments creep into the conversation. (see: “asinine”) What is disturbing to me is the strictness that others place on us — if we eat a certain way then we HAVE to stay that way ALL the time or face even worse questioning and criticism.

TiramisuWe are all quick to label things. Shorthand is often helpful to understanding. But sometimes it is not. As one who eats outside of mainstream SAD (standard american diet) labels do not come nor stay easily.

While I am trying out “I eat a plant-based diet,” the best I have found is: “I am a vegetarian with a lactose sensitivity.”

I wish I didn’t know that my body is healthiest and happiest when staying strictly vegan. Oh how do I love baked goods and cheese — preferably together. But I do know. My kitchen at home is vegan and I try to stay that way as much as possible… but sometimes it isn’t worth it to stick to the letter of the vegan laws.

Or shall I say, sometimes it is worth it to break the rules.

What. Tiramisu isn’t vegan?

What I love about my true friends — especially the traveling sort — is they don’t bat an eye or get all indignant when I order or indulge off the vegan straight and narrow. I can have a taste of real gelato, order pasta I know is made with eggs, have some goat cheese on my salad or, yes, *gasp* even have a small bite of the best fish ever cooked on the planet earth… all without judgement.

I can savor the taste, flavor and experience and not worry about the labels.

Sure, a joke might pass my way — of late the “_____ isn’t vegan?” is common. But that is it. I am able to laugh along too and say in my head if not out loud: nope.

It is in the same spirit as the “fat” in “fat girl.”

Torte and Beer

It doesn’t negate my choices the rest of the 95% of the time. It doesn’t mean that tomorrow I will start gorging on bacon and

milkshakes, loading up on processed crap from the center isles just because tonight I had pesto in the city where it was invented.

There are exceptions to the rules and we don’t have to justify them.

Labels should help with conscious choices, not hinder them. Condescending judgement and criticisms shouldn’t have a place at any table amongst friends, but especially not the dinner table. When we get too wrapped up and strict in food labels and packaging, we hurt our — and other’s — end goals.

Sure, we should all encourage others to eat healthfully and conscientiously — whatever that means for the individual body. Equally important is to enjoy our indulgences and encourage our family and friends to do the same. 

There is no judgement on Fat Girl Friday.

Cheers,
Jo

What labels do you choose to ignore 5% of the time? Oh, and have you liked us on Facebook yet? No judgement there either, promise.

PS – Happy Bourbon Day! Go celebrate pseudo-responsibly with something delicious!


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