my label-free life

There are lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven’t the time to enjoy it.” –Josh Billings

I came across this quote the other day and couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard it before. Billings died in 1885 which proves that society’s fixation on health started long before our time. Insane, right? However, I do think that we’ve taken our obsession to a new level in the recent years. We’re constantly debating which foods are ‘healthy’, whether we’re eating too much or too little, what type of exercise is most effective, the fastest ways to lose weight…it’s absolutely exhausting.

I’ve read a number of articles and blog posts recently that challenge the idea of labeling our diets. Why is it necessary? All it does is limit us and make us feel guilty any time we break the ‘rules’.

kittiesI’ve been there. I followed a strict vegan diet for 2+ years and convinced myself that I was happy that way. For a while, I was. But eventually I realized that, for me personally, it wasn’t the healthiest choice.

Putting any type of strict label on our diets is stressful. We’re constantly forced to make modifications, ask extensive questions, and search for foods that fit our requirements. Don’t get me wrong, I love vegan food and there are tons of vegan options that I still take advantage of (I’ll choose almond milk over real milk any day!) but I was sick of restricting myself to only those things.

I wanted to be able to eat what I wanted, when I wanted, without guilt. I wanted to go out with my friends and order off the menu like a regular person. I wanted to stop making trips to 3 different grocery stores just to find all of the obscure items I needed. I wanted to find bliss by being free.

Starbucks

I stopped following a vegan diet 7 months ago and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Have I gained weight? Yep. Is my diet as ‘healthy’ as it was before? Probably not. But I’m perfectly okay with that. My skin has cleared up, my hair has gotten thicker, and I have more energy than I’ve had in years.

OlivaLife is about so much more than food. When you’re 80 years old and you look back on your life, are you going to remember how many macros you ate one day? Or whether or not you enjoyed that bowl of ice-cream you were craving? NO. You’re going to remember living, not eating.

So, here’s to letting our only obsession be an one with happiness…

-Emily

30 comments
  1. Love this and can definitely relate. I’ve thought about becoming vegan before, but honestly I just love ice cream too much to give it up! And I would pick almond milk over regular milk any day as well 😉

    • Emily said:

      Seriously! I don’t know how I went 2 years without real ice-cream. I convinced myself that the vegan version was just as good but it definitely, definitely isn’t. (:

  2. Beth said:

    What a refreshing post to read! So happy you came to this belief and wisdom. You are so right, Emily. Enjoy your foods without guilt. Food should not be associated with guilt…that is crazy!!

    • Emily said:

      Thank you! I couldn’t agree more.

  3. pickyrunner said:

    I think what you said about the changes you’ve noticed in your body are important. Your hair growing thicker and your skin clearing up since switches shows that what you were doing before WASNT healthy for you. That you’re healthier NOW. That’s why I have no problems eating processed foods. There is such a thing as too much healthy food before it becomes unhealthy. It’s a tough balance to strike. I’m glad you’re figuring out what works for you!

    • Emily said:

      Exactly! There’s no one eating-style that is going to work for everyone. It’s just a matter of trial and error until we find the right one for us!

  4. Love this post! You already know how I feel about being label-free 🙂 I love ALL types of food and that’s what works for me!

    • Emily said:

      LOL! And that’s the way it should be! (:

  5. Nanna said:

    This post is exactly what I needed to read today, so thank you thank you thank you! I could also do with one of those cake pops about now 😉

    • Emily said:

      Aw- I’m so glad!
      And you should definitely treat yourself to a cake pop- they’re so delicious!

  6. Ellie said:

    “I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, I only believe in pleasures. People who call reading detective fiction or eating dessert a guilty pleasure make me want to puke. Pedophilia is a pleasure a person should have guilt about. Not chocolate.” Ira Glass

    Thought this said all I wanted to in one cohesive quote 🙂

    • Emily said:

      Oh my goodness…how have I never heard that quote before?!
      LOVELOVELOVE.

  7. Taylor said:

    Love this post! It’s so much easier to just eat what you feel like and what works for you rather than be stuck within a label.

    • Emily said:

      Definitely! Plus it makes life much more fun. (:

  8. THIS POST ENTIRELY. Life is for living…not for obsessing. Simple as that. So happy you’ve realized that restricting yourself to a certain set of rules/guidelines is not the way to be happy and healthy! Keep it up girlie!

    • Emily said:

      Thank you! And thanks for always being so supportive and inspirational. (:

  9. I followed a strict vegan diet for almost two years before it got to be too much and I had to give it up. I love the idea behind it, but it definitely didn’t do me any good. My health suffered a lot, and the restriction wasn’t doing my mind any good. I was vegetarian for a while after I gave up veganism, but I even found that to be too restrictive. Now I just eat whatever I want, and while it’s definitely not as healthy as I used to eat, the freedom and lack of obsession has done my mind a world of good and I actually feel better than I did when I was eating “healthier.” So yeah… here’s to letting go of those labels and obsessions 🙂

    • Emily said:

      Exactly! Labels shmabels…

      I’m still a vegetarian but that’s something that probably won’t ever change for me. I stopped eating meat when I was 8 or 9 merely because I didn’t like it (and despised it even as a young child) so I definitely don’t miss it. But, I agree with you- even that can be too restrictive for some people. It’s all about what makes us the happiest. (:

    • Emily said:

      Amen. ❤
      Thank you, you too!

  10. Love this! I do still follow a vegan diet for the most part, but there are a few things I’ll eat that aren’t strictly vegan just because I love them and this works for me right now. I think flexibility is definitely key though–being a strict anything can be hard to maintain while still living an enjoyable life!

    • Emily said:

      Thank you!
      And I completely understand. If a vegan diet is what makes you happiest then, by all means, stick with it. It just wasn’t for me. (: I’m super proud of you for incorporating a few things here and there that aren’t strictly vegan though!

  11. Love it 🙂 I was vegan for a while too but my health and hair suffered! Now I still enjoy vegan food regularly but when my boyfriend cooks bacon for me, I eat it and love it! And when my dad makes me food, I don’t give it a second thought! I like the idea of a “plant-BASED” diet, not an ONLY plant diet

    • Emily said:

      Yes yes yes! Plant-BASED is exactly what it should be. (:

  12. This is such a great point, I definitely agree that labels only create unnecessary stress. Let’s just enjoy what makes our bodies happy stress-free, right? 🙂

    • Emily said:

      Yes ma’am! There are so many other things in life that we’re forced to stress over- food should NOT be one of them. (:

  13. What a wonderfully honest and truthful post! I loved this: “You’re going to remember living, not eating.” – completely 100% true. I can’t imagine revolving my life around food worries and labels. Many of us have been through it at some point in life and we know how exhausting it is. When I look back at the times I went out to eat somewhere fancy, I remember the company and conversations…the food was just a side item and not the main attraction. The “healthiness” of food is definitely not something that would stay in my memory!

    I was never a full-out vegan but there was a short period in my life where I didn’t eat meat and tried to eat vegan as much as possible. It took me some time, but eventually I came to see that my body needed certain foods to thrive (meats and dairy especially) and I haven’t looked back. Glad to hear that you are in such a good place with food in your life!

    • Emily said:

      Thank you so much! And I’m really happy to hear that you’ve figured out what works best for you too. We’re all different and our bodies require different nutrients to function best. It’s just a matter of trial and error. (:

  14. Beth said:

    So, do you eat dairy products now? I love this post! So proud of you! I need to do this. You are so wise for being so young, woman!

    • Emily said:

      Thank you. haha. Yep, I pretty much eat anything and everything now (other than meat- never liked that!)

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