I don’t like meat, so I don’t eat meat.
I don’t like coconut, so I don’t eat coconut.
However, if you choose to eat coconut crusted meat at any point in time, more power to you. I don’t view my decision and preference as anything better or worse than that of someone who likes the occasional steak.
What does sway my moral compass a bit is animal welfare, factory farming, GMOs/artificial hormones, etc., but there are plenty of sustainable and hormone-free options out there if I ever get the urge to return to carnivorous ground. At the end of the day, I have my reasons, the main one (selfishly) being that I don’t like the taste.
I’ll admit I’ve used it as an excuse at times to get out of having to eat questionable wedding meals, company potluck creations and anything else that isn’t Abby-approved. And, yes, there have been times I’ve questioned my meatless motivation, but I’m at a point where I know why I make the decisions that I do (at least when it comes to meat—everything else is still on the table.)
We’ll return to this in a minute.
I bring this up because it’s the time of year when most people make resolutions to change something about themselves in the upcoming year. In preparation for Jan. 1 they often feel the need to binge on maladaptive behaviors (smoking, eating fast food, etc.) in preparation for a complete restriction of these things.
I don’t do this.
Now I know I’m the oxymoronic restrictive queen of instant gratification (expect a post on this shortly), but even a rational person should fail to see the logic in doing something you know isn’t healthy until a certain point in time when you plan on stopping cold turkey. So while it is the thought that counts and intentions may be honorable come Jan. 1, in this case the thought is messed up. I’ll tell you why…
Self-imposed restrictions and “absolute” rules only open the door up for guilt. Guilt—much like jealousy and regret—is a useless emotion.
That doesn’t mean you don’t still experience it, but rather that holding onto it is about as helpful as giving a fish a bicycle. For those of you not grasping my point, it’s not helpful.
We live in a society that often deems things “good” or “bad,” failing to take into consideration the fact that individual people have individual needs. Everything isn’t pass/fail and the only reason things are viewed this way is because that’s how we choose to view them.
Let’s be honest, some people can go hard-core and keep that resolution with no problem, while another person might last a day before falling off whatever wagon it is they hopped on for the New Year.
Because they see giving in and drinking pop, not exercising one day, etc. as a failure and a breaking of their rule, they feel guilt. The guilt brings on feelings of inadequacy and regret, which often turns into waving the white flag of surrender while using their other hand to bitterly flip off everyone else who was “stronger.”
Let’s get back to food—don’t I always?—because I’ve found that self-imposed restrictions and rules with food and exercise only open the door up for guilt.
We all need food, so it’s not like we have a choice in the matter. But we can choose what we want. Vegan, gluten-free, etc. is fine if you have legitimate health (or moral) issues, so that’s not my point. If you have allergies, intolerances, etc. to certain foods and certain things, it’s obviously necessary that you avoid those things and plan accordingly. I can’t tolerate soy or peanuts and half a cup of coffee will send me into intestinal hell for a week. I get it.
My point is it’s unhealthy when any behavior is taken up as a justification for restriction or overindulgence in anything. Given the choice between a vegan cupcake and a cupcake, many people (in the blog world) assume that “vegan” puts it on a pastry pedestal of sorts, simply because it’s lacking certain things—namely a side of guilt after eating a “normal” cupcake when a vegan option was available.
Decisions shouldn’t be made in an effort to ward off guilt, as that’s not an authentic intention. Decisions should be made because the motivation is there for change in any way, shape or form.
So as the New Year approaches, think about what you realistically want to do, even if it’s just not putting any restrictions or resolutions in place. I’m right with you—most often taking baby steps instead of giant leaps—but I can make the next healthy choice, no matter what the date is. I don’t have to wait for Jan. 1.
However, I do draw the line at coconut. It tastes like suntan lotion smells and I can’t get past that.
Talk amongst yourselves, or better yet, in the comments.
Disclaimer: Upcoming post topics will include underwear, the contract of marriage and whatever else is either suggested to me or pops into my head at the exact moment I don’t have a pen to write it down.