I worked myself up into a small tizzy recently about telling my mum and dad that I’m not eating meat at the moment, given that we’re all away for a week’s holiday together. They are what you might call traditional English eaters — meat and two veg and all that. Plus they regularly fret about my health and whether I’m looking after myself. So I was all prepared for some fireworks over my new eating habits.
Not so much, as it turned out. Or at least not in the way I was expecting.
This week of family holiday I’ve taken responsibility for the cooking — the best way of ensuring I get to eat more of what I want. So we’ve been eating fish, some pasta, a veggie risotto with a meat side-serving for everyone else, a couple of evenings at local restaurants. Lunch we’ve catered individually with everyone sorting themselves out, meaning that I can go to town with the salads while the Aged P’s pile into pâté and charcuterie.
So far, so good. We even had a slightly awkward conversation about the implications for our traditional Christmas…
And I’m very grateful for this level of acceptance and tolerance. But what I’ve been taken by surprise by is the level of guilt and defensiveness I have inadvertently provoked. My current eating habits (I’m not even labelling them as ‘new’ since I have no idea if they’re here to stay or not) are inadvertent and surprising even to me. They are certainly not part of a concerted plan for self improvement, though I’m glad they tend in the healthier direction, so far as I can tell.
But I don’t proselytise and I try not to make a deal about it. It’s a personal thing. But I’m finding that food habits, just like exercise habits (if I can crudely lump my yoga practice under that category here), are a source of intense scrutiny by those around me. I guess they see a difference in me and therein lies the fascination? But it’s not a competition and they don’t need to justify their way of living (eating, drinking, exercising…) to me.
What hell must it be then for yoga teachers? Do they get this reaction writ large in all their relationships?
At least I’m still recognisable in my old coffee habit (albeit slightly reduced). A lot of English dislike French coffee (Italian is more fashionable!) but I love a noisette or an allongé along with a good bit of (non-judgmental, obviously 🙂 ) people-watching under the plane trees and the blue sky.