For many of us, the path that brought us to the way of eating that is best for each of our individual bodies (in this moment) is a winding one. And that winding path often garners criticism. I know it did for me. In transitioning from vegetarian to vegan to paleo and now back toward plant-based, I had some frustrated friends and relatives who would accuse me of constantly changing my mind and flip-flopping about health issues. I understand their frustration, especially surrounding holidays and food preparation. That said, it can still be challenging to be berated for making food changes.
We are also bombarded by arguments from diet ‘gurus’ about why one particular way of eating is superior, and why anyone who follows another way of eating must be ignorant, uninformed, or extremely misguided. Many of us have been in that position ourselves. I will be the first to admit that I was a total paleo zealot in the early days of adopting a paleo-type diet. I ‘knew’ that it was the only way to be truly healthy and was adamant that carbohydrates were an unnecessary dietary component and that grains and legumes were harmful. I like to think that I’ve made some improvements in that area.
When someone does make the decision to stop following a particular way of eating, they are very often told they ‘just didn’t do it right’. If they were feeling unwell on a paleo-type diet and switched to plant-based, they’re told they just didn’t try every version of paleo (high fat, high carb, autoimmune protocol, etc.). If they had just tried harder, people say, paleo would have been the answer. Likewise for those who find that a 100% plant-based diet isn’t right for them and their body at that time.
We’re told that we’re ‘giving up’ and need to try harder. I have heard some paleo-promoters (whom I greatly respect), say that if someone is concerned about new research regarding dangers of red meat, that individual doesn’t truly understand why they are or ‘should be’ following a paleo-type diet. I completely disagree. Such concerns don’t represent a lack of education or understanding about a way of living. They represent an openness to new information and a willingness to consider the idea that their existing ideas about what is and isn’t healthful might not be the absolute truth.
If we’re paying attention to incoming information, we’re bound to make some adjustments, whether those be based on values, health information, research findings, or some other factor. And that’s ok. In fact, it’s great. I take issue with the demonization of ‘flip-flopping’. Such demonization predisposes people to become steadfast in their views and to ignore or cherry-pick any information that contradicts those views. In reality, it makes an enormous amount of sense to change our beliefs and behavior based on new information.
So ‘flip-flop’ away. If it is important to you to seek out new information, and if that information contradicts your existing beliefs, it is ok to make adjustments. It’s also ok to not want to make adjustments, or to not want to constantly seek out new information. Do what works for you and your body right now, even if that is different from what worked yesterday. Our views continue to evolve throughout our lives, and food views are a natural part of that evolution.