The Table: Bringing People Together
A Magazine’s Mission of Celebrating Dietary Diversity
I was working from home when I received word that I had just been put on furlough. It was April 2020, and the week before I had been assured by upper management that all our jobs were safe. We were told we would not have to worry about our employment. In the moments following this revelation of no longer having a steady income, anything to work on, and an uncertain future, I began to wonder what I was going to do with my time.
Conversations with my coworkers began to float around in my head. Between all of them, I must have spent hours discussing food, and I realized two common threads: genuine curiosity and dietary diversity within their own homes. These are the events that eventually lead to The Chews Letter magazine.
What is Dietary Diversity
According to Nutritionist Lalita Bhattacharjee, “Dietary diversity is a qualitative measure of food consumption that reflects household access to a variety of foods and is also a proxy for nutrient adequacy of the diet of individuals.”
However, at The Chews Letter, we take it a step further than just having a well-balanced diet. We see dietary diversity as the variety of diet habits/choices within one household or group of people. In other words, we want to celebrate you whether you are vegan, pescatarian, vegetarian, low glycemic, omnivore, carnivore, keto, paleo, whole 30, or any other type of eating habit you have formed for yourself. We understand that different eating habits work well for some people and not for others.
We see dietary diversity as the variety of diet habits/choices within one household or group of people.
Let me give you a real-life example. I know a woman and her husband who diligently tried to eat vegan for about six months. This woman is diabetic, and her husband was borderline diabetic. During this time, the woman struggled with her sugar levels, and she could not keep them under control. After a time, this couple decided to change their eating habits to a keto diet, then to a carnivore diet, and finally settling on a balance between these two diets. It is here that this woman’s sugar levels evened out and her husband’s risk of becoming a diabetic decreased significantly.
Meanwhile, I began eating a vegan diet in June 2019. After a year with my new eating habit, my sugar levels were excellent, my bloodwork divine, and my amino and B12 levels were fantastic (thanks to high-quality supplements). I have no doubt I will get the same report as I approach my second year.
Why We Celebrate It
In my family, we have vegans, vegetarians, dairy- and gluten-free, IBS-restricted, diabetic, soy-free, carnivores, omnivores, and more. Our potluck dinners (before the COVID-19 pandemic) were really about bringing a dish you could eat with enough to share should others want to try it. No one is looked down upon for the way they eat, and it is simply the norm to find ways to include everyone at the table.
There is another type of pandemic in our country, and it has to do with shaming. There is fat-shaming, racial-shaming, mother-shaming, parent-shaming, shaming for breastfeeding or not breastfeeding, skinny-shaming, diet-shaming, exercise-shaming, and so many other types of shaming that I could probably write 1,000 words just on the types of things/people we as a society shame. It is a pandemic in its own right.
This is what we have to remember: what works for you may not work for someone else. It may be a personal choice, or it could be medically required. You don’t always know the reason behind someone’s lifestyle, but if you can learn to be accepting of it, you might actually be able to find out their why. Even if you never do, if you can remember that we are all human, we all feel pain, joy, and sadness, then maybe we can come together as a society.
The Chews Letter table is about bringing people together to break bread and start a conversation. Food is at the heart of so many wonderful events, memories, and traditions. We never want to let diversity of any kind keep us from gathering around the table for the greatest conversations of our lives.
Lisa Anderson is the publisher of The Chews Letter magazine. Her mission to bring people together through food, design, and stories. Lisa’s work has been published in Designer Original, In Fitness and In Health, and several Central Florida community publications. For more articles and delicious recipes from her magazine, sign up for The Chews Letter e-newsletter. Also, be sure to join Lisa at the table in her Facebook Group.