Lately I’ve been on a John Wayne kick.
I slow cooked some pinto beans. Delicious.
I mixed in some salsa, added a chunk of avocado. Purdy tasty.
Then I watched “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”
And I wanted a steak. I haven’t craved meat since I started a plant-based diet in June, but since turning 8 weeks pregnant, meat sure seem alluring. And I hate that. I’ve been envisioning walking into one of the many BBQ places that grace Central Texas and ordering up some ribs, not caring what was going into my body except the taste of the sauce and fat. I imagined feeling sick afterward, because I know that’s what would happen. I thought about fried chicken, rotisserie chicken from the super market, going out to a Chinese buffet and pigging out on sweet and sour pork. And I’m still thinking about that Chinese food…and a big, fat steak.
Am I “protein deficient”? Hell no. I have been eating the most nutrient-rich food (and plenty of it) that I’ve consumed in all my life. I know that the mental cravings (much like how last week I was about to walk myself down to a Baskin+Robbins and order a brownie fudge sundae) are simply tied to how those foods made me feel and what I associate with them, not how they benefit me. Because they don’t.
Admitting my cravings feels like a failure. “How can you claim to be this healthy, plant-based person and also talk about how you want meat? And brownie sundaes? You’re such a hypocrite.”
In one of the most personally useful Bible passages, Paul says,
“Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible, but not everything builds up.” 1 Corinthians 10:23
I can eat that steak, gorge on a Chinese Buffett, lick the bowl after devouring the last bite of that brownie sundae. But will it be helpful to me? No. (Sad face. No, really -insert Kelly’s sad face.) Will it be helpful to my baby? No. It’s just crap food. And, sadly, I’ve eaten plenty of crap food in my life.
The challenge is this dang nausea. When foods my brain wants me to eat are foods my stomach can’t handle, I feel lost. I revert to comfort, because nausea is freakin’ uncomfortable. But talking about my struggle is helpful. Admitting that I’m not as strong or as perfect as I’d like to be, that’s actually empowering. It’s what I’ve always felt about saying no. When I can say no to something -when I take the power of choice into my own hands- then that’s when I can say yes to it. And visa versa.
Confused? (Yeah, that can be confusing.) As an introvert, social functions are very uncomfortable. When I “had” to go to youth group as a kid, I’d drag my feet. I ended up happy I went in the end, but I hated that I was obligated to go. When I finally started saying no to going, making it MY choice, within 30 minutes I actually wanted to go again. Because I had control.
The same goes with food.
If I tell myself, “Sure, Kelly. You can totally go out to eat and order a juicy steak. Have that chocolate molten lava cake with ice cream afterward. And don’t forget all the buttered garlic bread you can handle” well, that puts the power if choice in my court. Then I can turn around, look at the option and say, “Hm. Actually, I’m good. I’m sticking with my veggies, thank you.”
So I’m taking back the power of choice. Everything is available, but not everything is good for me. I decide.
Go ahead, John, you can eat your steak. I’ll stick with the beans and potatoes.