Healthy Eating Without a Label

I’ve been wanting to share a post like this for a while now and I finally took the time to put it into words and share.

So are you ready for a little heart to heart? I’ve been struggling with the idea of diet labels. There are so many labels thrown around in the health and wellness world… paleo, gluten-free, raw, vegan, vegetarian, keto, pegan (google it, it’s a thing).

I think labels can be really helpful in certain circumstances, especially for those with food allergies and for labeling menu items at a restaurant or recipes on a blog, but in general, I don’t think it’s necessary to label your diet in order to eat healthfully and at times it can feel a little too diet-y to me. 

Women in a black jumpsuit in a kitchen with a mint green coffee mug.

Of course, I totally support anyone who does label their diet and rocks it — you do you, girl. But for me, because I’m in the health world and have a health and wellness site focused on sharing recipes I think a lot of people expect me to label myself and/or my site. And I never really have. 

Do I make vegan recipes? Yes. Do I make gluten-free recipes? Absolutely. Do I have recipes with meat? Yes. Do I make paleo recipes? Yes. Do I share dessert recipes? Yes. 

I realize that if I picked one way of eating and only posted that style of recipe my blog would be more niche and likely grow faster, but I am hesitant to do so because I honestly don’t think that one style of eating is better than another (although I do think some styles are too restrictive) and my focus is to show that you don’t have to follow a specific diet or have a specific label to eat healthfully!

Healthy eating should be about eating a balanced diet with a variety of nutrient-dense whole, real foods. It should be about tuning into your body and eating what your body craves and what makes YOU feel good!

All this said, there have been periods of my life where I did label my diet. I considered myself a pescatarian for six years and at the time, that was great for me. I cut out gluten for two years and at that time I considered myself gluten-free, which also worked for me. As I got older though I realized my body was needing different foods, but I was so worried about starting to eat meat/gluten again because I’d be “breaking my label”, which defined me for so long. I literally ate chicken secretly for a while before I shared here on EBF that I had reintroduced meat because I was so worried what people would think. I was eating how I had labeled myself instead of listening to what my body really needed. 

I also know that just because one way of eating works great for someone it doesn’t necessarily mean that eating that way will be best for me or anyone else. As a blogger in the food/health/wellness world I understand my influence and I want you to know that you don’t have to eat exactly like me to be healthy. Experiment and find what foods make you feel your best! 

Today, I eat a wholesome diet focused on real food. I’m drawn toward plant-based options and feel my best when I eat a lot of vegetables. I eat a ton of salads and am mindful to load up half my plate with veggies. I use plant-based protein powder because that’s what feel best for me and whey protein powder seems to cause breakouts for me. But I also eat eggs, yogurt, fish and lean meat. Because I fall somewhere in the middle of all of the diet labels, I often gravitate toward the flexitarian title but I don’t use it to label my diet. I embrace “clean eating” and use the term often to describe how I eat but clean eating has so many definitions depending on who you’re talk to so again, I don’t use it to label my diet. And I personally hate the idea of labeling foods as clean or dirty, good or bad. If a food isn’t spoiled or hasn’t fallen on the floor, it’s not dirty! 

Here’s the thing. I don’t feel like it’s necessary to put a label on the way I eat and I don’t think you should feel pressured to do so either. I eat foods that I enjoy, foods that make me feel good and sometimes I eat foods that aren’t considered “clean” or “healthy” and I think that’s great and part of a living a healthy, BALANCED life. 

Here’s to healthy eating…  without a label.

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    1. Katherine Erasmus
      February 10, 2020 AT 8:51 am

      great read! exactly how i feel about “diets” and “labels”
      So glad to have found your wonderful page, while looking for new healthy meal options for me and my family 🙂

    2. Elsa Reed
      November 18, 2019 AT 5:48 pm

      I found your blog while looking for a chia pudding reciepe. Im officially re-inspiredand motivated to healthy eating. thank you for doing what you do.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        November 19, 2019 AT 2:29 pm

        Aww, thank you for the sweet message. I’m so glad you found EBF! <3

    3. Kathy
      October 15, 2019 AT 8:17 pm

      I am glad to read this! I am 50 and realize that there are all sorts of phases in life too. It is great to be open and roll with what comes at you. Listen to your body, eat well and savor the good food and let specific diet labels fall by the wayside.I really enjoy the variety of recipes and foods you share with your readers!

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 16, 2019 AT 5:00 pm

        Thank you so much Kathy! I am happy to hear that you enjoyed this post and that you are enjoying the recipes on the blog. 🙂

    4. Kori
      October 14, 2019 AT 12:46 pm

      I agree that while labels can be helpful (Matt has Celiac and must know if something is GF), I no longer label myself in any way. I eat foods that I enjoy, that nourish my body, that brings joy to my life, and I don’t feel the need to box myself into a certain group. I so appreciate you sharing this and think by not subscribing to one way of eating, you are doing us all such a favor! Your recipes have variety and are fun and nutritious.

      1. Brittany Mullins
        October 14, 2019 AT 11:51 pm

        I’m so glad that you have enjoyed this post, Kori! Also happy to hear that you’re enjoying the recipes too. 🙂

    5. Srishti
      August 22, 2019 AT 1:54 am

      You are very correct by saying that a particular diet plan would suit everyone. Today, science has proven it as well. We should always listen to our body and its needs.
      A real diet plan is that is full of nutrients and should suit your body. I loved this post very much!

    6. Diabetes Care Plan
      July 10, 2019 AT 7:06 am

      Thanks for sharing.

    7. Frank Mullins
      April 1, 2019 AT 10:01 pm

      Of course I have followed you thru the years and saw first hand when you started eating healthy.
      You were raised on country meals that we all loved and they were very good. But I like healthy eating because I feel great and not so over loaded after a meal. It’s hard to go back to my old style. But I do like a small steak once in awhile but I can eat a good salad every day.
      Keep up the good work we are listening. Dad

      1. Noiraud
        November 14, 2019 AT 10:04 am

        I discovered your site today , through a friend posting one of your recipes..all ingredients agreed with me instantly so i searched further.i SO SO agree with your intro…been curious about healthy eating for 50 some odd years , gone from being rigid in my choices to more of a flexitarian…guided through it all by my love for food, plain and simple…it will be a pleasure to explore your site … thank you for daring to be frank…eating should also be pleasurable!

        1. Brittany Mullins
          November 15, 2019 AT 9:43 pm

          I’m so glad you found the blog and happy to hear you enjoyed this post, Noiraud! 🙂

    8. Michèle Moreau
      April 1, 2019 AT 10:54 am

      Well spoken and so so true! I am driving myself crazy 😜

    9. Bre
      September 12, 2018 AT 12:56 pm

      I really love this. I especially love your description of what foods you shouldn’t eat “spoiled or fell on the floor.” It really does show that we can include all foods in our diet and be healthy. I just wrote a post on my blog talking exactly about this too.

    10. Holly
      September 11, 2018 AT 1:06 pm

      I do not label myself either! I do not have any food allergies except to fish. I do 100% avoid fish because of that but I do not restrict any other foods. I’m constantly trying to improve my diet. It’s easy to get into habits, good and bad. I try to be mindful and eat with variety.

    11. Peyton
      September 6, 2018 AT 7:52 pm

      Cheers to this! Love this philosophy!

    12. Helen
      September 5, 2018 AT 10:22 am

      Thank you for keeping it real – this is great! Especially in the world of social media “wellness,” it’s too easy to focus on all of these labels. I’ve been working on just eating REAL, whole food and just being NORMAL!!

    13. Lauren Teton
      August 31, 2018 AT 1:40 pm

      I agree with most of what you’re saying. However food that is doused in Roundup is dirty food anyway you cut it, even if it hasn’t fallen on the floor. If you’re not hip to what I’m talking about, please look up glyphosate gmo, or “Roundup ready.” can tell you a lot!
      From MsTwifty on Instagram

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 31, 2018 AT 2:02 pm

        Hi Lauren. Indeed, I do agree that food containing glyphosate gmo is no good. In the context of this piece I wasn’t talking about gmo labeling — I’m actually a big supporter of having gmo labels on our food. I’m talking about diet labels and the fact that in order to eat healthy you don’t have to fall into a specific diet label or follow a restrictive diet.

    14. Beth
      August 31, 2018 AT 10:22 am

      If I’ve been eating gluten free for over 15 years and then decided to start eating it, would it cause problems digesting it? Or would my body become used to digesting it again? Or do I need to be permanently GF?

      1. Brittany Mullins
        August 31, 2018 AT 1:58 pm

        I think everyone is different! Is there a specific reason you’ve been gluten-free for 15 years?

    15. Em
      August 30, 2018 AT 3:01 pm

      This! I struggle with certain foods, and I always get the eye-rolls from friends and family (even other diners which is just plain rude!) when I order off specialised menus, despite explaining I’m neither Vegan, Vegetarian or Gluten-free, I just stay away from foods that upset me! You eat what you want to eat, you don’t need to label it as anything if you don’t want to, and I think that’s where people struggle – they feel that to eat a certain way they have to belong to a specific group, which really isn’t the case (or at least it is in my experience, I can’t speak for everyone!)

      It’s so refreshing to see you talk about this – here’s to eating healthy, however you want to do it!

    16. Genie Robbins
      August 29, 2018 AT 10:28 am

      Great article Brittany! I try not to label too, but there are certain foods I can’t/won’t eat because I don’t like being sick. I stopped using the labels when I realized that many people associate those labels with weight loss and the dreaded D word- diet. There are some foods I avoid for health reasons, but my main focus if on being the healthiest I can be and everything about the way I live is aimed at taking me in that direction. Unfortunately this is one of those things where we each have to find our own way.

    17. Andrea
      August 29, 2018 AT 8:47 am

      I love this and totally agree. I do not eat meat, fish, dairy or eggs and sometimes when I am at a restaurant it is just easier to say I am a vegan to make sure I know what I am eating. But I try to stay away from labeling myself as a “vegan.” I eat plant based because it works for me, its how my body functions it’s absolute best, and it is the food I want to eat. I try my best to use cruelty free products, and be selective about buying clothes (leather), but I know by labeling myself as a “vegan” opens me up to a very judgmental crowd that I would like to stay away from. I just want to be me, and make the choices that are right/best for me 🙂

    18. Kelly M McKenney
      August 29, 2018 AT 8:40 am

      Do you still eat dairy? I love it and my body feels better when I eat it but it makes my skin break out! 🙁

    19. Amanda
      August 28, 2018 AT 12:58 pm

      Love this!!! Totally agree. Plus it seems like people who label themselves as vegan, keto, whatever, just do it for the attention. And have to tell anyone who will listen. Oh maybe that’s just my friends 😉 eat what works for you and don’t call it anything!

    20. amr elsa
      August 28, 2018 AT 3:23 am

      Thanks, it is great post , I lost 28 pounds and several inches off my waist and thighs. I knew it had happened when I tried on a dress and my usual size 14 billowed around me. i went all the way down to a size 9! For more Click the link

    21. Gillian Vance
      August 27, 2018 AT 9:42 pm

      Yes, I totally agree, and ever since i have stopped trying to categorize I have been enjoying my food so much more.

    22. Brittany Audra @ Audra’s Appetite
      August 27, 2018 AT 8:44 pm

      Love this post so much!!! AGREED!! <3

    23. Courtney
      August 27, 2018 AT 5:34 pm

      This came at such a perfect time!! My health eating journey (well this round) is fairly new. As a bit of background, I’ve yo-yo dieted for years and was diagnosed with PCOS about a year ago. This time I’m not interested in dieting or weight loss but in eating a healthy balanced diet. Since starting I’ve felt SOOO much pressure to pick a lane so to speak. People have good intentions and want to help but I know that sticking to one label isn’t mentally healthy for me. Something weird happens in my brain when I try something with restrictions and I end up getting super obsessive. Even though I know that, lately I’ve been feeling like maybe I should pick a label since everyone else seems to have one. It’s sooo refreshing & affirming to hear that not everyone has a label and that you CAN be healthy without one! Thank you so much for this!

    24. Kath Eats
      August 27, 2018 AT 3:27 pm

      Couldn’t agree more!!

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