The new you you don't need

Greetings, fellow creatures! bumble here, and I wanted to share some more of my thoughts about food (it's a subject close to my heart, as you can see in "Honey is for bees") and how we feel about it. Me, I love honey. It has all the good things I need to be strong and healthy. Simple.

For you humans, things can seem complicated. The diet industry is big business. Lots of people want to tell you what and how to eat. Some people sound scientific but don't really talk about real science. Others tell you one way of eating is more manly, another less. Some will tell you something is bad for you, while others will tell you it's the next superfood, and that you should eat it and nothing else. Magazines bombard you with images of what is supposed to be beautiful. It's hard to concentrate with all that noise. One thing's for sure: it feeds anxiety and insecurity, and who needs that?

Now, as you know, I'm a bee not a human, but it seems to me, a good place to start is how we feel physically. Most of us want to have the energy to do the things we want to, and some to spare in case the zombie apocalypse comes out of nowhere. And we hope to live a good long time and be healthy while we're here. But how to get there?

Avoid extreme diets

Ok, truth time. The diet industry runs on stories of dramatic transformation. Some diets are like religions, with leaders, followers, commandments, and the like. The results are miraculous, which makes for a good story, web traffic, book sales. And like a lot of good stories, they pit good against evil. The 'good' food (or if you're lucky, food(s)) is your salvation and the 'evil' food will send you straight to a hell of unfulfilled dreams. They exploit our worst fears - of loneliness, isolation, rejection.

The truth is that things are rarely so black and white. Any diet that seems extreme or out of balance is probably not very healthy. So, a diet regime that tells you all carbs are bad, as much as one that says all fats are good, doesn't make sense based on what we know about what the body needs to be healthy. But again with the drama. "You'll lose weight and feel great on my all-kumquat diet - as long as you don't eat Fruit Loops." Diet faddists love their prohibitions. But eventually, you're probably gonna get sick of kumquats. Then what?

The road to health, it turns out, is all about incremental change that you maintain over time. Eat fewer highly-processed foods, and try swapping them out for a simple plant-based meal once a week. If you love orange juice, eat an orange instead so you don't miss out on the fibre. Don't worry so much about getting enough protein, and try to get at least some of it from plant-based sources like tofu or tempeh. Have oatmeal for breakfast once in a while instead of something more processed (you can control how much sweetener you add, and you can mix in the fruit or nuts you like). Eat some leafy greens. Try a pasta with more veggies than pasta next time. Drink lots of water throughout the day.  

Self-imposed starvation, or guilt, or shame have no place in our relationship with food. Eating well is a way to show yourself some love, and it's a beautiful thing that eating a diet rich in yummy plant-based foods is also a way to show your love for the planet we all share and for all the creatures on it. And hey, if you happen to see a ridiculous-looking donut at your local vegan bakery, sometimes it can be a wonderful thing to just enjoy the heck out of it. 

Recognize images for what they are

Thanks to the media-saturated environment you humans inhabit almost all the time these days, it's easy to be sucked into the comparison game. Advertisers have been inviting us into their fantasy worlds for a long time now, the same way that people on human social media channels create fantasy versions of their own lives to broadcast to the world. So-called perfect homes, perfect vacations, perfect families, perfect bodies - cropped and enhanced to put their best foot forward. It can all be a little too much, especially if you feel like you need to keep up.

But it's worth remembering that these images are no more real than that old TV commercial - where a giant pitcher of a certain just-add-water artificial fruit drink comes crashing through the scenery - is real. If it all looks a little too good to be true, it probably is - - and there's probably a lot more pain, uncertainty, and insecurity behind those images of perfection than we can see on the surface.

The point is, the best moments of our lives happen in real time and don't need to be validated by being posted online, and maybe even can't be. Waking up after a really good sleep. Getting to the end of an amazing book. Reconnecting with an old friend. Doing something we thought we'd never be able to do. Cooking a favourite meal for someone we love (it might be us). Telling someone how important they are. Hearing a song we love. Feel free to make your own list.

Make friends with people who celebrate you

Surround yourself with people who build you up. It's what friends do. Everyone has challenges and we all need support sometimes. It's more than OK to ask for help when you need it. And friends don't need you to fit into some distorted image of perfection - whatever that is. They just want you to be the you that you want to be - that's why they were drawn to you in the first place, right? Friends should make us feel like we could try anything, that they'll stand with us when times are hard, that they'll be there whether things turn out the way we planned or not. A Mutual Appreciation Society of two (or more) is what I'm talking about here. As the human writer Kurt Vonnegut says, "We're here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is."

Find out more about how diet and climate change are linked

You might say, "Diet linked to climate change? What??" But it's true. This thing is bigger than all of us put together. We can all try to do things to make a positive difference to the climate crisis the whole world is facing. Some of these are bigger things that involve people coming together to solve big problems. On a personal level, what we choose to eat is one of the things we all have the power to change right now.

We now know that animal agriculture is a luxury that the planet can't afford, with an ever increasing percentage of land and resources taken up with feeding and raising animals for slaughter.  Think about it: Cows eat grass and then they are killed for meat that's used to feed those humans still eating animals (and frankly, as a non-human animal, I object). Look at how muscular your average cow is and tell me that humans need meat to build strong muscles. They just don't. If humans just cut the cows out of the equation and ate plant-based foods instead, both world hunger and global climate catastrophe could be avoided to a great degree.

Even if that doesn't swing it for you, the great news is that more plant-based meals means a healthier you, now and into the future.

Share what you learn and encourage others

I know that when I do something that makes me feel good, when I make a positive change, I want to tell everyone I can stop in the street. One sure-fire way to feel good, is to pass on what you find out about delicious plant-based foods and how to live more ethically, sustainably, and compassionately. Because life is precious. It really is.

Remember, above all, that you are a miracle. The fact that you live and breathe is miraculous. Stop once a day to open a window and really feel the world going on outside of you. Think about how amazing it is that you can feel things. The breeze on your skin. A bee flying past (it might be me). The sound of your own voice or the voice of a friend. Be kind to yourself, and to others. You were already more than good enough. 

Why not focus on doing more than being. Don't worry about being a writer. Just write. You don't have to be a painter to paint - just pick up a brush. Start wherever you are. Keep doing things, and trying new ones, and you'll be sure to end up somewhere. And don't forget to breathe.

Keep loving each other, 

bumble

 

[Image credit: Fabian Møller (https://unsplash.com/photos/gI7zgb80QWY)]