Remember when label makers were the latest and greatest invention? We’d go round slapping stickers on just about everything. The coolest kids in school were the ones with all of their colouring pencils labelled. I never did own a label-maker, but boy was I jealous of my friends who did.
Long before label-makers, there were human beings…and we really are the ultimate label makers.
We tend to like giving ourselves a box to check. This is all very well and good when filling out surveys, but when it comes to defining our self-worth…it can be easy to get caught up in the madness .
My biggest issue is the labelling of food and particular diets. The worst offenders are habitual dieters. When you are in a dieting mind-set, you automatically categorize food as good or bad. While some food may be better for us in terms of nutrient value, we don’t just eat to live. There is food which we eat purely for the unadulterated pleasure (cheesecake mmmm…) This is why I believe ‘clean eating’ is absurd. The danger of labelling food as “clean,” is that it implies when eating this food we are pure, whole and better people than when we are salivating over ‘cheat’ food.
In my experience, I began to not only define my self-worth by my ‘clean eating’ but I also let it define my happiness. A good day was one where I “ate clean” or in other words, would stupidly refuse a piece of my friend’s birthday cake and stick to my sad salad. I would feel a sense of pride in my self-control and I would be ‘happy’.
Since when does our happiness equate to whether we ate a certain number calories or denied ourselves a cookie?
Labelling goes even further than this though, there are constant waves of new diets each seeking to slap a sticker on you and welcome you into their club. Paleo, Vegan, Atkins, Banting…you name it. I think part of the issue is that we like the feeling of acceptance we get from being a part of one of these diet clubs. You thought that O-week at University had a lot of clubs…it ain’t got nothing on the diet industry. Do you even know how many different kinds of vegetarians there are? I counted…there are 6. Six!
When it comes to diets, as soon as you label it, you box yourself in. Instead of being free to go with the flow, you create a little health halo. This leads to isolation and stress in social situations. You know you’d love that frozen yoghurt all of your friends are getting…but it’s not vegan. Sure you may have the best intentions in picking this new way of life, but is it worth missing out on memories?
So I propose that we stop rushing to label ourselves. It’s all about balance. Maybe you like some Paleo recipes, but you also love soy milk and ordinary yoghurt. Or perhaps you enjoy experimenting with vegetarian meals but you also love a good roast chicken. I’m just saying, it’s all good. It’s time we stop trying to confine ourselves to boxes. Humans’ are not one-size-fits-all beings.
I challenge you to break away from the labels, and just start living.
‘Life’s a balance of holding on and letting go.’ – Unknown