I was just at the grocery store where I observed a man loading up his cart with kale. I turned to my friend I was standing with and said “I’m tired of pretending I love kale.” To which she emphatically replied “yes!” in commiseration. I knew instantly that my secret kale fatigue was shared by others – I was on to something.
Don’t get me wrong – I do enjoy kale every now and then. But the recent deluge of kale recipes and products flooding the market, as it is touted as the best-ever superfood, has left me less than enthused. It’s just not my favorite vegetable. I would much prefer a nice roasted cauliflower, steamed broccoli or baked sweet potato. But EVERYONE seems to be on the kale bandwagon, and as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I felt a little odd admitting the truth.
But no more! I’m owning my kale burnout! Why? Because I’m just tired of being anything less than completely myself. It’s too much work to pretend anymore. I’m done.
I suppose you could look at this as a kind of call to action, because I’ve seen the same type of trying-to-fit-in behavior in my patients over the years as well:
- “I don’t like yogurt, but if I should eat it I will…”
- “I heard oatmeal is good for lowering cholesterol. Should I eat it?” Me: “Do you like oatmeal? “No.” Me: “Then don’t eat it.”
- “Should I exercise in the morning? I heard it is the best time.” Me: “Do you have time to exercise in the morning?” “No.” Me: “Then don’t.”
Anytime you use the word “should” it is good to stop and question yourself about your motives, because the reason behind your behavior may not be authentically yours; many things drive behavior, the list is endless – family, friends, community, advertisers, etc. – but unfortunately, when it comes to what shapes us, we often come in last on the list of influencers.
Why do we allow this? Sometimes a history of dieting can be the cause when we are talking about food, since we put our trust in what others think is best for us rather than ourselves. But why do we never stop to ask what makes “them” such great experts at “us?” Who has lived your life in your body, with all of its unique experiences, attributes and challenges? Who is the expert when it comes to you?
We give away our power time and time again, which corrodes our trust in ourselves. We are always trying to fit into someone else’s ideal, what we “should” be or “should” do, but it never works because it is not us and it never will be.
When we accept ourselves fully for who we are – embracing both strengths and weaknesses – and appreciate that uniqueness just as we would appreciate the beauty that makes a rose a rose, a lily a lily, a daisy a daisy or a sunflower a sunflower, then we will stop trying to be something we are not. Each flower is beautiful in its own way – one is not better than the other, just different. People are the same. Seeing that in ourselves allows us to rebuild and reclaim our self-trust. Then we can decide whether any behavior, or food such as kale, has a place in our life or not.