Let’s bust the myth of rigid food rules and embrace flexibility

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Photo by Ello on Unsplash

The time: 5:37 p.m. on Tuesday night.

The scene: utter chaos in and around the kitchen table.

The mood: I’m going to rip my hair out if we don’t eat NOW.

This exact scenario may not describe your reality, but I’m betting you’ve experienced something similar at some point. It’s that sinking feeling in your empty stomach as you realize, “Oh shit, I haven’t even thought about dinner!”

It doesn’t matter if you’re only feeding yourself or if you have a partner, one or more kids, and a pet (or three) to feed, too. That feeling of overwhelm can lead to scrambling for something, anything, to put on the table. For the sake of time and convenience, we reach for the phone to place a carryout order. Or maybe fire up the stove for a box of mac & cheese. One commonality, regardless of what you end up eating, is a sense of, “Ugh, this isn’t a very healthy choice. …

Three reasons why this “mostly symbolic” argument sucks

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Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

On January 6, 2021, my productivity level ground to a halt around 1 o’clock p.m. CST. My phone buzzed. A short text from my partner. “Are you watching the news?”

I wasn’t but figured there must be something going on. His next words were, “protests [sic] storming the capitol and are trying to occupy it.”

I apologize to anyone I owe an email to because for the rest of the day I and many others around the globe remained glued to a screen. …

I confirmed it’s on its way so I’m getting my shopping list ready

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Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

I’m blessed to live in the United States of America. We’re obviously handling the coronavirus pandemic with grace and competence. And thanks to the caring, compassionate legislators that run the show around here, I’m about to get a few unearned Benjamins.

I mean, how lucky, RIGHT?! I didn’t have to do a thing! These good folks at the top are so grounded in reality, they just knew I was hit by hard times and could use a windfall of bright, shiny money.

Praise be! A whopping $600 is en route as we speak.

But where to start…where to start….

My personal finances have long since been in order, seeing as how in my 30-something years of life on this planet I’ve accumulated student loan debt, a stack of credit cards to buy my avocado toast with, monthly rent that contributes exactly 0% to my net worth, and a job that doesn’t cover healthcare, any retirement savings, or paid vacations. …

Say goodbye to bland, boring veggies and hello to something you actually want to eat

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Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

I consider it a personal mission to help you eat food that doesn’t suck.

As a dietitian, I’ve listened to countless people tell me that they want to eat better, enjoy their food more, and break free from food rules that leave them feeling deprived and hungry.

All too often, we equate “healthy” or nourishing foods with bland, boring plates of steamed veggies, baked chicken, and maybe a bit of brown rice on the side. Look around at any of the popular diets de jour and you’ll see recommendations to eliminate entire food groups. …

This guy should be judged for what he did to his daughter

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

As a general rule, I do not judge parents or parenting styles.

That’s because I’m not a parent.

I’m child-free by choice — the reasons for which aren’t relevant to this story — so I don’t see it as my place to pass judgment or criticism onto those who do have children. With few exceptions, it’s a pretty easy rule to follow.

One of those exceptions showed up today.

I woke up and checked the news on my phone. I was perusing various apps in my typical order when I happened to see that “SIX HOURS” was trending on Twitter. “Huh?” …

And what I learned about the world and my writing

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Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

I’ve been as absent from this platform as I’ve ever been.

My first published story went live on Medium in July 2019. Which feels simultaneously as if it were yesterday and a lifetime ago. I wrote it in response to a Human Parts prompt and it was immensely helpful for me as I worked through some lingering body image issues. It was the summer before I turned 30. I had just finalized my divorce. Work was steady but routine, and I needed a creative outlet, so I finally transitioned from Medium reader to Medium writer.

Since then, I’ve published nearly 100 pieces, with a respectable 55.3% curation rate. Of my last 15 stories, 13 were curated. And I admit, that was part of the fun. …

Here’s the career advice I wish I would have gotten at 16

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Photo by Taisiia Stupak on Unsplash

I was a junior in high school when I turned 16. A bit later than my friends and classmates, resulting from a mutual decision between my parents and the district administration to allow me to skip third grade. I was tall for my age, bright, focused, and curious — they figured I wouldn’t skip a beat trying to fit in with new friends a year older, and for the most part, that’s how it went.

By the time I was in high school I was absorbed in sports, clubs, a weekend job, and an active social life. I was ticking all the boxes for a high-achiever and there was no doubt in my mind I’d find success in the future. That was partially because I had more confidence than I realized at the time, I can see that now. But it was also instilled in me by my parents, teachers, and friends. …

IDGAF what you think

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Photo by Dmitry Vechorko on Unsplash

Last year I published a piece called “What Most Men Don’t Understand About Living In Fear”. I described an unsettling personal experience and went on to share thoughts on street harassment, white male privilege, and why dealing with the patriarchy can be frustrating. It was in response to a Human Parts prompt about remaining silent so it was fitting; in most instances where I’ve been the target of harassment, I have remained silent for one reason or another.

Apparently, this was very triggering for some men on the Internet.

While plenty of people (men and women) shared supportive comments, more than a few responses berated the piece and made it clear they not only didn’t read it in full but also didn’t take a single moment to absorb the words and their meaning. …

Making the case by better understanding ruminant nutrition

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Photo by Kristyn Lapp on Unsplash

What is the environmental impact of dairy?

By now, it’s been reported far and wide that animal agriculture carries a decent chunk of the blame for climate change. As a result, many people have eschewed dairy (and animal protein altogether) and made the switch to plant-based dairy alternatives.

In speaking with friends, family, and fellow dietitians, I’ve learned that much of what we believe to be true about sustainability in agriculture is rooted in misinformation. …

I can’t love someone despite these things — perhaps you shouldn’t either

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Photo by Isaac Ordaz on Unsplash

If there’s anything I learned from my marriage, and subsequent divorce, it’s that the adage of “unconditional love” didn’t quite cut it for me.

Some people interpret unconditional love as being limitless. No matter what happens in the future, they can’t imagine anything happening that would stifle their ability to deeply love their chosen partner. Others see it as loving someone regardless of the circumstances or situations, a commitment that they’ll see it through together and come out still loving, honoring, and respecting one another on the other side.

However, I think for many people the idea of unconditional love is portrayed as a willingness to love someone despite their flaws and imperfections. That’s certainly how I was taught to view it. This relationship dynamic was modeled out for me in family members, friends, and the media — really, anywhere cis-het couples showed up. I internalized the notion that some things simply couldn’t be changed and as a woman, it was my role to get on board and start accepting and settling. …


Cara Harbstreet (She/Her)

Lover of carbs and puns, call me Cara Carbstreet | Anxious Millennial | Coffee Enthusiast | Non-diet Dietitian

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