In the comments to my last post, Alex asked me if I could write a diet and nutrition book and called it "Eating Right With Ruchi." Initially I demurred. How could I wade into such contested territory? But then I realized that I'm arduous ... how could I not wade into contested territory? So I give you Ruchi's manifesto in ... however many words this blog post ends up being.
1) Eat according to your values whatever they are. If you think it's unethical to eat meat, don't eat it. If you think there ain't nothing wrong with a little bacon and cheese, eat it up. You do not need to defend these values to anyone. (Except maybe your family, and by family I mean people you share a household with.) When people try to argue with you, stick to your guns (politely.) Really. Your food choices and your health are your business, and presumably you are an adult and are perfectly capable of finding protein in legumes if you are a vegetarian, eating some asparagus occasionally if you are a carnivore, or getting your calcium and Vitamin D elsewhere if you hate milk.
2) Do not judge other people's eating habits/do not proselytize to those who have no desire to be converted. Your food choices are your business and your friend's choices are hers. Yes, you might constantly see her eating Doritos, but again, not your business. This does not mean that you can't talk about your own experiences ... you can note that eating vegetables has given you more energy than ever. You can talk about vegetarianism to people who seem interested. But you should not condescend and you definitely should not tell people that the way they are eating is morally wrong. Remember, each of us has our own moral compass. What you may consider immoral, another may not. And that's okay.
3) Be flexible. Part of eating according to your values is deeply and genuinely processing those values. And they may change over time. Your values as an 18-year old college student will no doubt be different than those you hold as a 32- year old mom. I've been a vegetarian in and out, I've vacillated between being extremely budget focused and (later) being more focused on more expensive organic and local food. Values can and should evolve over time. Allow yourself to change.
4) Allow yourself occasional indulgences that may stray from your regular eating habits, but let the indulgences stay occasional. Let's face it: we all need a treat now and again. The trick is to make sure that the treats don't become a habit. By keeping your indulgences rare, you also learn to really savor that small morsel of chocolate. Remember Charlie from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and how he saved on bar of chocolate, savoring it for months? Do that.
5) Eat plants. And by plants I mean vegetables. Preferably a diverse group of them. Yeah, I think most everyone would agree with Michael Pollan on this one and the truth is most of us are not getting enough vegetables which is rather a shame because there really are so many delicious ones out there. Find the ones you like, find a recipe that works for you, do whatever it takes, but eat your veggies. (I had a nutritionist who recommended that you aim to make half of your plate vegetables each dinner. I find that advice works for me but YMMV.)
And those are my rules for eating right with Ruchi. So you know, follow them. Or not. I'm not judging. ;)