June, 2005

Food Rules of Order

What to Eat

  1. Real Food. Real Food is defined as un-processed, un-“fat-removed” food. Ingredients you would find in a recipe. This means…
  2. No Partially-Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs). Check the ingredients label. And watch for tricks like “margarine or shortening”.
  3. No High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Yeah, it’s in everything at regular grocery stores and quickie-marts. Yes, this means all of the mass-produced carbonated beverages that you see everywhere. Read packaging labels – HFCS is in so many items – how can people live without HFCS in their English Muffins!?
  4. No in-humanely raised food. This includes most mass-produced chickens and eggs, beef, pork, etc. Know where your beast comes from. (Even US Foie Gras is far more humanely raised than the typical supermarket chicken or steak.)
  5. Organic food. Com’on, is there some reason you want to eat food treated with pesticides or irradiation? Not even the new, goofy US Food Pyramid recommends pesticides.
  6. No ultra-pasteurized milk. In fact, do not go out of your way to drink a glass of milk. Few adult humans have a need for milk. (Women can get calcium from other sources, like cheese!) Drink something else.
  7. No crappy, stupid food. You know what I mean. And yes, that includes super-crappy candy bars – the kind you find at convenience stores, etc. For goodness-sakes, if you’re going to eat a candy bar, eat an awesome one!
  8. No cheap food. Food is super-cheap in the US already. Spend more and get the real stuff, rather than food loaded with antibiotics, etc. Stop being cheap on what you spend for food, especially at home. (People will spend hundreds of dollars for a dinner out, but at home will buy the cheapest chickens in town. Stop this madness…you know who you are!)
  9. No cheap food stores. Shop at places that pay their employees a fair wage and benefits.
  10. No foods labeled “diet”, “low-carb”, “low-fat”, “zero-carb”, etc. See #7, above.
  11. No fast food. No, no, no. No cheating and having it occasionally because you’ve been “good”. Get a deli sandwich or rotisserie chicken when you’re desperate. Better yet, have an artisan-made loaf of bread with some artisan-made cheese and wine – sometimes the simplest meals (like this) give you the most pleasure.
  12. Artisan food. Tiny producers often make the most interesting tasting and healthiest foods. Big producers usually make bland, tasteless food that ship well and have a long shelf-life; they win, you lose.
  13. This also means supporting local farms and shopping for food treasures at nearby Farmer's Markets. Remember, you can't beat the freshness of their produce.
  14. Stop thinking that Big, Well-Known Brands are what’s best and safest to eat; they’re just the ones that spend the most on advertising, PR, and product placement.
  15. Find the great alternatives for things you like that are actually crappy food. They’re out there, you just to have shop well.
  16. Try to eat the most naturally-made foods. The ones that resemble, in a recognizable way, their ingredients. If you must choose packaged foods choose those that have the most natural ingredients. After all, what is your body going to be the happiest with?
  17. Be adventurous. Eat something you’ve never had once-a-week. Stop being afraid of food.
  18. Try things you don’t like. Often I’ve found the reason I didn’t like some food in the past is because it (unbeknownst to me) was either poor quality, prepared badly or both. Also, your tastes change over time.
  19. Buy what's in-season. Especially melons! Hint: This is not produce from Chile.
  20. Eat for pleasure.

How to Eat

  1. Slowly. The slower you eat, the less you eat. Savor your food.
  2. Taste your food. This sounds so dumb, but so many people wolf their food down rather than tasting it. What’s the point?! Eating is supposed to be pleasurable, not a race!
  3. Cook your food. Stop choosing to watch an hour of TV and instead cook a meal.
  4. Eat with family and friends. Not watching the TV or on the run.
  5. Be sensible: Eat a reasonable amount of food.

The Key to Cooking…

  1. ...is shopping for quality ingredients. Keep practicing and you’ll get very good at it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to experiment but if you are learning, keep it simple. Enjoy yourself rather than stressing about the meal. In the worst case, it tastes like bad fast food. Big deal. You’ll live.
  3. Buy what’s fresh/good looking at the store. Especially, fish…drive far away to get the best fish, if that’s where it is.
  4. Keep it simple when you are new to cooking. Choose the best quality and freshest ingredients but only combine a few into one dish. The more complicated the recipe the greater likelihood of mistakes.
  5. Use fresh seasonings and remember not to get carried away with the amount used. Poor quality food needs heavy seasoning to hide its deficiencies - high quality food/ingredients need small amounts of seasoning (or even no seasoning).


  1. No dieting. No fad diets, no miracle diets, no diets period. (And no talking about diets – it’s not a worthwhile conversation topic.)
  2. Stop fearing fat. Fat is good. Fat is your friend. Like avocados. Trans-fat is bad, the enemy, and don’t consume it!
  3. Stop fearing breads and pasta. Just eat reasonable amounts and choose whole grains when you can. Read your labels.
  4. Go for a walk after eating. Just be more active in general.

So, the above is what you have to do. Yes, the American Lifestyle™ seems to make this nearly impossible, as I can personally attest. But don’t get discouraged, just move more and more towards the rules/concepts above and you’ll be happy, happy, zappy. (Rather than bloated, crappy and unhappy.)

Read this recent article in the New York Times on Diets vs. Non-Diets (reg. req.)

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