The idea of perfectionism has been weighing on my mind lately. Perfectionism, as in not being satisfied with one's self as a result of internal processes, or feeling as though one needs to live up to the expectations of someone else. The primary reason that this has been on my mind is that as a dietitian, I experience this expectation first hand. I am sure that many people assume that as my career is so involved with nutrition, I would have a “perfect diet”. Or, that I surely look at what others are eating and critique it in my head. The truth is, that is not the case. I am actually pretty sure that others look at what I eat more than the other way around. Also, I am a human. I love chocolate.... And salty foods.... And that is okay. Although my job title has the word “diet” in it, I know enough to realize that there is no one perfect “diet” that is going to suit each and every person.

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Plant Protein

bout ten years ago, when I was first getting started with vegetarianism, a big concern of mine was making sure that I was eating enough protein. Today, I believe this was a result of my environment, as so many of the messages around me at the time told me that protein came from meat. So, for the first year of being a vegetarian I got a little obsessive with my protein intake. I can remember supplementing my diet with protein shakes made from soy milk, silken tofu, soy protein powder, and peanut butter. Often they contained about 25-30 g of protein. I realize now that these shakes were providing roughly 60% of my daily protein needs, all in one shot. Great, right? Maybe not...

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Mindful Eating Part 1

Take a moment right now to think about what you are experiencing all around you. Listen to the sounds that you are hearing. Take a look at the effect of the light that you see. Notice how your clothing feels against your skin. Try to recall the taste of the last thing you ate or drank. Finally, take a deep breath through you nose and smell the air. Close your eyes for a couple seconds and fully experience all these things happening at once. When we are actively engaging our sense to the experiences going on all around us, we are aware and embracing what is physically happening in the moment. This is mindfulness.

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It's about so much more than just salads

Me at a créperie in France.
Me at a créperie in France.

Too many times I have been to a typical restaurant, and literally the only thing I can order from the menu (without feeling like I am making a big fuss) is a green salad. Don't get me wrong, I love my salads, but to be honest it can be a pretty big disappointment since I can almost always make a better one at home. However, what bothers me is that when I explain to the waiter/waitress that I am a vegan and place my order for the salad, I can't help but ask myself if this is what they think I eat all the time.

What if this person's idea of a typical vegan meal is a plate full of lettuce with a sprinkle of shredded carrots and chopped tomatoes, and a little oil and vinegar on the side? If this is the case, I would not surprised if so many people think that vegan diets are nutritionally inadequate, and boring.

Similarly, what hope would a person have to maintain a healthy plant-based/vegan diet if they believe that they need to attain some unrealistic standard (think foods that are outside of a person's budget, dishes they don't have time to prepare, or something that just plain isn't enjoyable)? They probably won't attain or maintain it, at least not in the long term, because for most people it wouldn't be sustainable. And that is okay, because why would you want to live up to a standard that you don't enjoy, anyway?

We need to be realistic with the health goals we set for ourselves, and we need to be realistic with our food choices. We need to realize that healthy eating and vegan/plant based diets are about so much more than just salads. Of course, a salad can be completely satisfying and nutritionally adequate with some beans, whole grains, extra veggies, and some nuts or seeds on top. It can also be made super interesting by experimenting with different ingredients to change up the flavours and textures. But why limit ourselves to just salads? With all the different, delicious vegan foods, recipes, and substitutions available, it seems a shame to believe that a vegan lifestyle equates to a life of salads (unless that's what you're into, of course).

As someone that has been doing the whole vegan lifestyle thing for a while, I have learned that there are so many different options when it comes to eating healthy using whole, plant-based foods. It can only get boring if you let it be. Trying new vegan recipes can be an experience that allows you to broaden your palate, add some colour to your plate, do something good for the environment, and benefit from all the nutrients found in whole, plant-based foods.