About a month ago, my heart made a decision that stunned my mind. This was the first time I sensed, in a visceral way, that there were two voices communicating with me.
One speaks constantly, chattering, chattering, chattering.
The other does not speak at all but gently nudges through feelings, urges, and images.
The head and the heart. Those are just labels – I could easily call “the head” thoughts and “the heart” intuition. But I prefer to think that my heart is talking to me.
Anyway… early in October, a Facebook friend posted an article that asserted meat made you fat. I was compelled to comment because I know that to be false. I lost 90 pounds eating a low carb diet that evolved into eating mostly meat.
Cutting out sugar, wheat, and starches made me feel good. I had energy, a clear mind, and stable emotions. I credited this diet with saving my life.
But earlier in this year, I began to feel conflicted about following a strict diet because it felt like I was denying myself a lot of things and cutting myself off from other people.
The thought of giving up my diet brought up SO MUCH fear. I realized I credited my diet with keeping me healthy and that, on one level, I thought it would save me from death. By avoiding sugar and wheat I’d never get cancer or diabetes or heart disease.
Also, if I added more carbs back into my diet, I’d get FAT. I have so much fear of gaining weight because it’s tied, in my mind, to self-worth. Gaining weight = failure. It brings up a lot of shame.
Anyway… I commented on the post and the friend, who has guided me to look at many things, asked if I wanted to look at diet. I didn’t. I REALLY didn’t want to.
But I did. He asked me some questions about eating meat and enormous fear and resistance came up. I did not want to question this! I wanted to keep my diet the same.
I let the fear and resistance arise and looked past it. The thought, “I could eat a vegetarian diet” arose and I felt an enormous sense of peace. But the thought “I don’t want that!’ came up again, stronger. Fear. Peace. Fear. Peace. Back and forth…
I also saw that I’d been conflicted about eating meat for a long time. I’d felt defensive about it and was afraid other people would tell me not to eat meat. I was even afraid to take a yoga class because one of the yamas was “Do no harm” and I was afraid I’d be told it wasn’t “right” to eat meat. But it struck me that fearing judgment from other people meant I was judging myself. My HEART wanted me to give up meat but my head didn’t, which is why my head felt defensive and conflicted.
I let the fear and resistance be there and followed my heart. Within a few days I had given up meat.
This has been an interesting experience. First of all, I am grateful I found low carb first because that taught me to eat whole, natural foods and to avoid wheat and sugar. On a vegetarian diet I’m eating oatmeal, seeds, beans, quinoa, eggs, fruit, vegetables, potatoes, rice, plantains… So more carbs than before, but I’m still mostly avoiding wheat and sugar because they don’t feel good in my body. I’m avoiding processed foods and soy.
Secondly… following my heart was very scary to the mind. I cried a lot. I felt intense fear of ruining my health. I felt lost, out of control, rudderless… In the first few days it was very hard to not eat meat, especially when it smelled so delicious.
Eventually all that settled down. But the funny thing about choosing with my heart is that there is no identity tied to this. I do not think of myself as a vegetarian. I don’t freak out when I go “off diet” and eat oysters. I don’t have any desire to convince someone else to eat a plant-based diet.
I didn’t choose this diet because it was “right” or “healthier”. I chose it because my heart wanted it. In the days after my heart made that decision, I watched a lot of difficult videos. There is no doubt in my heart that animals deserve humane treatment and natural living conditions. But as far as a plant-based diet being healthier… it feels like BS to me. I cannot watch any of the documentaries like “Forks over Knives” because they contain such blatant misinformation.
Which is the irony here… I still believe a low carb diet is healthy and still feel the need to defend it. I have no such feelings about a vegetarian diet. The decision I made with my head is fragile and needs reinforcement. (Others must agree with me.) The decision made with my heart needs nothing.
I know I made the “right” decision because I feel peace in my heart. And that’s how I aim to make all decisions from now on. I’ll let you know how it goes!