Health Magazine

Labels Are for Jars

By Healthhungry @Healthhungry
I have never been a fan of labels... mostly because I have never felt as though I fit neatly into any category.  I am usually somewhere in between, feeling as though I should squeeze myself into the neat box like the "rest" of society.  Sometimes labels are useful; nutrition labels on food, tags on your clothes with laundering instructions, you get the idea.  But when it comes to people, labels are tricky.  We all do it, we label each other - "Midwesterner," "Master's Degree," "Educator," "Single," "Unemployed," "Gay," "Liberal," "Vegetarian" etc.  What's got me thinking about this you ask?  It's my tendency to jump up and claim a label, only to find within a few weeks that I'm not totally comfortable with the constraints.
Let's get specific here.  I said no labels, then I went ahead and made the grand announcement that I was going Vegan for a year.  I tried to point out that I would not be totally Vegan -- eating eggs, or cheese here and there, yet I myself, feel the pressure of the label.  I did 30 days of a plant based way of eating, and it felt so good - I said, "why not a year..." 
I'll tell you why not; because I am a food addict, and making things too structured or too limiting causes me to go a little coo-coo.  I have proven that reality time and again, by falling off my latest "diet" wagon, and then having the "last supper"(binging on all of the things I have deprived myself of)  and "I'll start fresh Monday" extravaganza.
When I think about people who I admire most, those who I truly believe have "mastered" their relationship with food; it's people who have balance.  They don't call themselves Vegan, but they may eat mostly plant based food, and just when you think you have them pegged, and are ready to slap the Vegan label on - they order a cheese pizza - and don't question it, or feel bad about it for a second.  They honor their bodies, and their cravings - while maintaining control; moderation is key.
There is a reason my business has the name, "Health Hungry."  It is health that I crave above all things- a healthy mind, spirit, and body.  It is very challenging to have one without the others.  For example, my unhealthy body affects my healthy mind, and spirit every day -- I have to try much harder to maintain balance in one area, when the others are out of sync.  I have felt out of balance the last two weeks or so, and I am looking at all of things that could possibly contribute; work, relationships, activity, food, spirituality, etc.  One thing became very clear: I have labeled myself, and made a claim to be "Vegan" and then I have consequently felt the guilt of questioning and craving cheese on my salad... this cycle is not a healthy one for me.
So I am going to go back to documenting my experience/journey to health.  I will leave the labeling to others, and I will strive to find my own balance.  I have always prided myself on being an individual, why in the world would I stop now?  Have any of you experienced  a similar moment?  Perhaps you made a grand announcement that you were on a diet, and then were judged by people who saw you eating a cookie, or having a glass of wine...  Sure labels can serve a purpose, but when it comes to people - I think labels keep us distanced from each other, and limit our possibilities.  What do you think?

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