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I have been thinking about Labels A LOT lately!.....No it's not food labels this time.  Even though I'm an ingredient freak and think the ingredients on food labels should be listed in bold letters on the front of the package...that's really not the kind of labels that I think the most about.  I've been thinking about those labels no one ever sees but seem so pervasive in our society.  What is it about us wanting to put labels on each other?  You know it's gone on most all of your life.  Maybe you were one who got called goody-goody, geek or you were with the "in" croud.  Maybe you were bullied or maybe you did the bullying.  I'm sure you could think about it and dig down pretty deep.  But that's not my intent today.

I just want to get out some of these thoughts in my head and maybe make them more concrete by writing them down.  Many years ago when I had the desire to learn and try to become more health minded, it was all very new and very unsettled ground for me.  Because it was so different, especially then, people were really quick to want to label me.  I don't think most people had bad or mean intentions, but they just didn't understand.  At first I bought into all the labels, I embraced the term "Vegetarian" for a while and almost wore it like a badge of courage.  I hated the term "Health Nut" and was overly sensitive when called it because to me they were implying I had gone nuts!  Although I wondered myself I certainly didn't want others inferring I was going crazy.

Well some time past and when I would get questions like,  Are you Vegan?  I would kind of cringe and say that I didn't really profess to be following any certain label.  I started to feel like the Labels Vegan or Vegetarian were labels of more than just what a person ate but a huge belief system that frankly I didn't feel I completely subscribed to.  Besides that I wasn't against people eating some animal products in fact I would even say if I could get such and such (stick in something like Free Range Eggs, Raw Goats Milk Kefir, Wild Alaskan Salmon, etc.) I would eat some every now and then.  I meant that, and when I have found some available at affordable prices we have had some. 

It's funny what time will do and how our attitudes can shift.  I see things a little differently now.  When people ask me if I am Vegan or Vegetarian I respond differently depending on the circumstance.  If it's a server at a restaurant that asks I usually just nod my head yes, smile, and don't worry about it.  I want them to think that I am cause I would really like my order to be right. ;)  If I'm talking to or meeting new people that I may or may not ever see again and they ask I will usually say, "No, I'm basically just a health nut!" ;)  If it's people I have or will potentially have a relationship of sorts with or they are friends and family.....I usually try to quickly explain the reasons why I don't consider myself Vegan or Vegetarian.  Then I mention that Cancer runs really strong in my family and this is the best way I have found to empower myself and do whatever I can to prevent it!

I do have a confession to make though.  I kind of use the cancer thing as an easy excuse that people seem to accept.  It is true there is a strong history of cancer in my family, but that wasn't really my deciding factor, but I will have to talk about that another time because today I'm talking about labels.

I have noticed that the medical community uses labels A LOT!  Labels aren't always bad....But do they sometimes cause us confusion?  For example, ADD and ADHD lots and lots of children and now even adults are being labeled with it.  As I have tried to observe and be understanding and sensitive  I feel like these labels don't help give us a full understanding.  Although there may be certain personality traits and commonalities in people labeled with ADD it doesn't automatically mean they need a drug to control it or that they are abnormal because they have some tendencies.  I have a younger brother who as a child was really struggling in school and basically couldn't sit still.  My Mother knew that doctors would just try to put him on Ritalin if she asked them for help.  So.......she pulled him out of school and started homeschooling him because she knew that he just wasn't going to fit the cookie cutter mold the school system was wanting to put him in.  Especially through Junior High.  She already knew from the time he was a baby that he was allergic to milk as he got older his symptoms were not as bad and I don't think anyone had ever told her or that she realized that the milk could still be causing him problems.  She would probably tell this story better but I remember she did notice that when he had those red popsicles.... that they made him crazy!  We all quickly learned NOT to give him anything with red dye.  Years later and after learning lots my Mom also is sure he's allergic to MSG (Who isn't!  But we are all affected differently, I have found it makes me depressed and overwhelmed, like really bad I do so much better without it!) and now that he's an adult he sees the connection to what he eats and how he feels.  Of course this doesn't always stop him from eating it but at least he knows.

So maybe a better label would be something like Food Additive Induced ADD or something like that! 

Have you heard of the book
Healthy Kids, Smart Kids: The Principal-Created, Parent-Tested, Kid-Approved Nutrition Plan for SoundBodies and Strong Minds
I haven't read it yet but it's been in my Amazon wish list for years.  This is what some of the description about it says:

"When she became principal of a 1000-student Georgia elementary school, Dr. Sanders-Butler was disturbed by the high number of visits to the school nurse, disciplinary problems, tardiness, and inattention, to say nothing of so many children being overweight. Convinced the problems were directly related to the pizza, sodas, and sweets the school offered, she launched the Achieving Academic Excellence Through Nutrition program, which banned refined sugars and high-fat and processed foods and drink from the cafeteria.

The results were immediate: better attendance, improvements in attention and energy levels, plus higher grades. Now, she shares with parents everywhere the lunchroom lessons that will help their children thrive"

I think sometimes labels just give us an escape goat, an excuse to not measure up to our full potential.  I honestly believe that EVERY single person is a genius!  I also think that many people never realize their full potential or their genius because of labels they or others have placed upon them.  When you look at your children or anyone for that matter, do you see a label or do you see the potential to overcome....do you see the greatness within everyone?

C.S. Lewis said, “The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbor’s glory should be laid daily on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations… This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously—no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption… Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

So should we suppress symptoms with drugs, stifle creativity, and insist everyone fit in the nice "normal" mold?  Oh I think labels can be useful in helping understand BUT only if we look toward causes and not let that label keep us from being exactly what God wants us and our children to be!  Now don't misunderstand me I'm not saying that just because you find the cause and change some things that all of a sudden your child is going to be just like those amazing kids down the street, I think my point is more that we shouldn't use labels to hold us back or keep us from becoming who we were meant to be and I promise we weren't meant to be like the Mother down the street she has her own mission and her children have theirs.  I guess mostly what I'm trying to say is it isn't always productive to label and compare and that we should be aware and be careful in doing so.  I know God knows us each as individuals and he isn't comparing us to anyone else or labeling us with some type of disorder.  We are all divine in His eyes and he deals with each of us individually!  I think we should do the same.  Full of love, mercy and understanding!  I recently read this quote that explains it better.....

"No one of us is less treasured or cherished of God than another.  I testify that He loves each of us - insecurities, anxieties, poor self image, and all.  He doesn't measure our talents or our looks;  He doesn't measure our professions or our possessions.  He cheers on every runner, calling out that the race is against sin, not against each other."
~Jeffrey R. Holland

Well I think that helped clear my head a bit to ramble on.  I hope that made some sense.  I have a gift of saying a lot but never making a clear point, just ask Ryan! ;)  Maybe you could help me clear things up even more by sharing your thoughts about labels!


Liz said...

Such a touchy subject but I do agree with you. I have my degree in Elemantary Ed (graduating 8 month prego w/my second child I haven't ever had my own classroom though0. But through my schooling I wrote a good number of papers on ADD and ADHD. I have always felt very strongly about the coorelation between food and these symptoms. As I go on with life my thoughts are just re-affirmened by observing children and what I know thier families eating habits to be. Unfortunatly I have not found a way to bring the subject up with out the parent feeling like you are labeling them as a bad parent (which I am totaly NOT.) So I think no matter who you are any time some lable is applied to you it hurts. And we need to figure out ways to communicate w/o someone feeling labled. See if you can figure out that magic formula. Anyways sorry about my rambling....

Mom said...

Tam, I just read your "ramblings" and I felt that you made your point well. Jeffrey R. Holland summed it up for you beautifully. How I love that quote! It is always good to have little reminders along the way of why we should NEVER judge others and why we need not waste our energy competing with others. Thanks for sharing! I love you. Mom

Tina said...

Great post, Tammie! I loved the part about labels making you uncomfortable. I think it's always hard to explain an alternative nutritional lifestyle.

I like that you mention that cancer runs in your family and you're trying to prevent it. Maybe I'll adopt that technique. We just moved to a new state, and in dropping my kids off at a neighbor's house for a few hours, she asked if they were allergic to anything. I stumbled on my words, but basically said something like, "No, we don't have food allergies, but the girls act so strangely when they have white sugar and processed foods (like white flour), so we avoid those foods." And I felt so weird! But I really mean it. They DO act weird when they eat unhealthy foods. We all do!

Anyway, thanks for the timely discussion.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Just wanted to say I loved this post : )

{leah} said...

Thank you for this post.

Emily said...

Love your thoughts, Tam!

I like how Mom said...'we need not waste our energy competing with others'.

Life is NOT a competition. But rather, a melting pot of infinite personalities and talents that we can all benefit from...if we can truly learn love others for who they are...and who they can become!

It is so important to build up...not tear down. Regardless of our own opinions or way of doing things.

Thanks for this post! You are an amazing and wonderful girl!

Keep up the great work!!

Love you loads!

Kat said...

I loved this! I too struggle with the questions "Are you vegan/vegetarian/raw/weird". LOL it is so hard to sum up quickly all the reasons which go into the choices we make and I admit I find it interesting that it doesn't go the other way. No one ever asks, "Are you an omnivore/carnivore/food addict". Thank you for putting up some amazing ideas, thoughts and recipes. I enjoy them so much.

Rhea said...

I agree soooo much! When i was in Michigan, my friend and i were sitting on the back of her car, and we were watching my niece run around and play. And my friend said "man, she's definitely ADD." and i replied "well she ate donuts and cheeze-its for breakfast, AND she's a 5 year old." it's so weird how most people dont realize that food effects them so much - i know i never used to think about it.

i enjoy these ramblings of yours :D

paws said...

I don't appreciate being labeled, myself. People are too complex to fit into narrow compartments like that.

I have a question about sugar. Maybe you can help. My goal is to avoid the diabetes and breast cancer that runs in my family. Should I, therefore, avoid all refined AND unrefined sugars (including Sucanat, honey, and maple sugar) in addition to eating healthy in general?


Tammie said...

paws: This is just my opinion and what I would do be sure to read my disclaimer at the bottom though. ;) If I was worried about diabetes because it ran strong in my family but I didn't have any indication of problems myself. I would just eat as healthy as possible and not overdo the sweets but not worry about having so more wholesome natural sweeteners once in a while. If I had signs of moving toward being diabetic I would stick with as much whole foods as possible and pretty much stay away from concentrated sweeteners of any kind except for maybe a little Stevia the sweet herb.

Even me without a history of diabetes in my family I try not to overdo concentrated sweeteners of any kind.

paws said...

Thanks! Any thoughts on the breast cancer part? I've heard that sugar is cancer's food. Do you know anything about that.

And what do you mean by a concentrated sugar?

(Don't worry, I'm just asking for your educated opinion. ;)

Tammie said...

paws: Oh sorry yeah the cancer thing. Here's my take. Cancer cannot live in a alkaline environment. Sugar is highly acidic. Cancer grows and thrives in a acidic environment. Have you heard of the PH scale and acid alkaline balance? If you have don't read the last paragraph of this comment if not it's there for you and anyone else who is curious.

My opinion is that the only way for the body to healthfully fight cancer is to starve it by getting rid of the acid and alkalizing the system. The cancer simply can't thrive in a alkaline environment.

Better yet never get cancer by keeping our bodies in balance and not being overly acidic.

Concentrated sweet. Sugar, Honey, Syrup, agave, even Sucanat it is all mostly just sweet there is really no other taste and it has usually been concentrated down, although in the case of raw honey not so but it is still just very, very sweet. When consuming a lot of those types of things blood sugar fluctuates and the pancreas has to work pretty hard. Of course mixing some Sucanat with healthy fats and complex carbs reduces that impact and doesn't spike the blood sugar as much.

The PH scale is a acid/alkaline scale. And usually is from like 5.5 to 8.0. 5.5 would be very acidic a place where cancer would likely thrive lower even worse. 7.0 is considered neutral and above is alkaline. Our bodies should be between 6.8 to 7.4 is really best. Too alkaline is also bad for example ammonia is like at a 14 on the alkaline side way alkaline and very toxic. Anyway most "healthy" people hang out around 6.5 or even lower NOT GOOD. The Standard American Diet is highly acidic. Cancer loves a acidic environment. Concentrated sweets are acid forming especially the refined ones. You can search and find lists of acidic and alkaline foods it's okay to eat some acidic type foods especially if they are whole live foods but we must get plenty of alkaline to be able to stay at that place. I personally think at 7 or 7.2 is best. There are test strips you can buy that can be spit on or peed on to test your PH. Should be done in the morning before you eat or drink for best results I think. I have hear that the books the PH balance is good and Alkalize or Die is also good I have not read either one yet though so I can't say if I liked them or not.

Anonymous said...

kudos to you Tammy. Love your post. I can identify so much with what you have said. I"ve always wondered why we "healthy" eaters have to be embarrested when junk-food eaters are not!!!All I know is when God speaks to your heart and shows you how He made you and how to maintain your health I listened. But, as you mentioned, I am made aware to be sensitive to others because they also are on their journey. I would hate to be a stumbling block.I use little comments like,"I feel so much better when I eat this way". I feel sad that the world is so far removed from nutrition!!! Keep up the great post. Pam

R. B said...

This is a beautiful post. Nurturing ourselves and families spiritually and physically is so important to reaching our potential. I love the quotes. I also like the pictures that you chose!
Thank you,

Jenni said...

I was just trying to ramble my own thoughts about the dangers of a labeling and then medicating society to my husband last week.
I truly believe in the power of food and of applying any truth of the powers of our minds to accomplish anything. And labels sometimes stop individuals from progressing, and stop individuals from helping. I in turn labeled people who like to label with Phycolabel Disorder. (haha. I'm bad, I know) My point is:
Why can't most of us be labeled as human beings who are in need of pure love, pure knowledge and a pure chance to learn to change. That is what life is all about!