When guests walk into our market one of the first things we ask is “do you have a specific dietary template?” This is new terminology to many folks, so let me take a moment to explain.
How does one make good eating choices? In America today, we have no fear of famine (although many go hungry). There is food all around us; in fact, so much food that the government classifies over 30% of adults as obese (although that number may be skewed). We eat in our cars, at our desk, in meetings, in front of the tv and many places that, culturally, would not have been acceptable when we or our parents were growing up. We have not too few choices, but too many!
Our answer is to define your eating template. This is the list of “rules” that you follow to make your day-to-day choices.
What are some examples of eating templates? Well, we can go macro to start:
- Whole Foods
- Raw Vegan
The problem with defining yourself in such broad categories, however, is it doesn’t always make you think about what your belief system is. (It’s like saying “I’m a Democrat or Republican”…it can be lazy thinking.)
So let’s drill down: Taking Omnivore as an example (since most people fall into that category). Omnivore can mean:
- I eat anything I want, regardless of it’s origin or quality
- I eat meat
- I eat a lot of fast food and junk food
Hmmm, that’s really not a template. Let’s look at vegetarian:
- I eat anything I want as long as it doesn’t come from animal products.
- I don’t like vegetables, but I eat a lot of fruit and grains.
- I eat a lot of fast food and junk food, but only non-animal!
OK, that may not be very helpful, either. Let me share with you my eating template, which is loosely defined as “paleo” but I prefer to think of as “whole foods” or “conscious omnivore.”
- I eat meat from known, sustainable, humanely raised sources, including grass-fed beef, pastured pork, chicken and eggs, and wild-caught fish.
- I eat vegetables as often as possible, preferably from organic sources, but non-organic if that is my only option, and prioritize local sources.
- Because of the sugar content of fruit, I minimize intake, focusing on what is available seasonally and, preferably, locally. I also avoid high starchy vegetables, like potatoes, for the same reason.
- I don’t eat any oils that require industrial processing, because of their high Omega-6 concentration, so I limit fats to coconut oil, ghee, EVOO and foods naturally high in fat, such as avocados, nuts and seeds.
- I don’t eat processed foods.
- Because I don’t digest dairy well, I avoid it except in ghee and grass-fed butter (which is mostly fat, so no whey, casein or lactose).
- Because I don’t digest legumes well, I avoid them. Soy is a legume and, because I don’t trust soy (both for GMO and estrogenic reasons), I avoid all soy products.
- I don’t eat when I’m not hungry, and I stop eating when I’m almost full.
Some might think this restrictive, but I find it freeing. When eating out, I’ll choose the fish or steak and vegie entree, avoiding the grains and high-starch vegetables. I’ll ask that everything be cooked in butter instead of canola or other seed oils when I can, but sometimes that’s not an option. I do my best to stay on my template.
Eating templates help you define what is important to you, help you make daily choices, and keep you mindful and accountable to your decisions.
What are some eating templates you have defined for yourself? If you’ve never articulated them, this may be a good place to start. Let us know what you discover about your own, personal priorities!