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Notes from IIN’s Founder: Why it’s OK to Quit Being Vegan or Macrobiotic

One of our gifted graduates, Alex Jamieson, recently posted an article on her website about experimenting with animal protein. She had been a strong advocate for the vegan way of eating for a long time, and she still recommends it as a healing tool for many.

After many years, she started having overwhelming cravings for animal protein accompanied with feelings of guilt for having them. She started eating animal foods in secret, ashamed that she had failed to live up to the “vegan ideal.” Alex finally learned to accept herself, and has bravely come out to share her experience with the world. What’s beautiful about her story is her compassion toward her body.

It reminded me of when I first became involved with nutrition and health. For several years, I followed a vegan macrobiotic diet – eating almost no dairy, meat, honey, or eggs. I did eat fish once in a while. I became very healthy and strong, and any time I went for a checkup all my blood tests were exceptional. Gradually, though, I began to notice the downside of this way of eating.

For years, I felt really good being off dairy. I stopped getting colds in the winter and stopped having mucus. Then I went to my first trip to India and visited many Ayurvedic doctors, who all agreed that I needed more dairy foods in my diet. They said I was lacking the calming, soothing, feminine energy that dairy holds. So I gradually let go of my rigid attitude and began to experiment with milk, cheese and yogurt.

My mother grew up in Hungary where dairy was an important part of her daily diet. She drank warm, raw milk straight from the cow. Because my ancestors consumed dairy on a regular basis, it makes sense that I benefit from moderate amounts of high-quality dairy products in my diet.

At Integrative Nutrition, we teach a theory called bio-individuality – that there’s no one right diet that works for everyone all of the time. Maybe you heard about a diet that sounded great in theory, and your best friend was getting really healthy eating that way. But when you tried it for a week, you started to feel weak and bloated.

The body knows what to eat. It’s the brain that makes mistakes. When we get stuck in dietary dogma, we tend to not listen to what our body really needs. Remember, your body loves you. It can’t talk, but it does send you messages through discomfort or food cravings that need to be decoded. The real issue is if you’re willing to listen and love your body in return.

True compassion is not only being supportive of others’ personal choices, but also being true to your own bio-individuality. You can trust your body and allow it to guide you to the foods that best support your health.

Have you ever been stuck in a dietary dogma that didn’t work for you?