Food you like is food that feels good.

French version of this post here, courtesy Stéphanie Potin-Grevrend.


One of my most scandalous messages is that you should eat whatever you want, in whatever amount you want.

What scandalizes me is how people often interpret this message. Over and over again, this is how people respond:

“I can’t do that because I would eat cake 24/7.”

“But you’d overeat all the time!”

“I’d eat such an unbalanced diet I’d make myself sick.”

And I can only figure that when I say, “Eat food. Stuff you like. As much as you want,” what people actually hear is:

“Eat food that makes you feel like crap, in crappy amounts.”

This interpretation says some pretty breathtaking things about our culture’s assumptions about food.

For one thing, it says that we believe tasty food and healthy food are not the same thing. And that, if you were to eat exclusively tasty food from here on out, you’d be eating a nutritionally reprehensible diet for the rest of your life.

To which my internal peanut gallery goes, “Buuuuh?”

Not only does every food, including junk food, contain useful nutrition, but more importantly — nutritious food is often bloody delicious. If this is not your experience of food, then one of a couple of things might be going on:

Maybe you need to reassess what “nutritious” means to you by learning a bit of Nutrition 101 — What’s a carb? What’s fat? What is protein? Where do you find them? (A: anywhere there is something edible.) And what do they do for you? (A: pretty much everything.)

Or perhaps you haven’t ever encountered “healthy” food in anything other than a guilt-ridden context — and thus have always felt resentful toward it and, as a result, your primary nutrition concern is to either be on the wagon, or off it and eating as rebelliously as possible.

Maybe you’ve truly never learned to enjoy more than a very few foods, and your palate needs expanding. Maybe you’re under some kind of therapeutic restriction that you haven’t yet been reconciled with.

Or maybe you only allow yourself to eat when you are desperately hungry — in which situation you are more likely to reach for calorically-dense “bad” foods because you’re at the bottom of the pyramid. And, at that stage, getting enough food = getting enough calories.

Any way you spin it, something is interfering with you and your food.

For a second thing, those assumptions indicate that we believe everyone wants to overeat, all the time. I don’t know if this is an assumption borne of a lifetime of restrained eating and constant hunger, or a misunderstanding of how much food it is actually appropriate to eat (A: however much supports your health and leaves you feeling satisfied, regardless of weight), or a belief that food is addictive, or whether it has a moral underpinning, but either way — it’s an inaccurate and pretty crappy thing to believe about humanity (and food) in general.

If you are like most human beings, you probably seek pleasure and avoid pain, within certain moral constraints — you like to feel good and you dislike feeling bad.

When it comes to food, at least in the immediate term, it’s pretty obvious that people like food that tastes good, and dislike food that tastes bad. But there is more to food than just our immediate experience of it.

Those of you with lactose intolerance, especially, will understand when I say:

How food makes you feel is often as important as how it tastes.

If you’ve never, ever stopped to think about how food makes you feel after eating it, maybe you’ve been so caught up in the shame-spiral of restraint and disinhibition that you haven’t had much mental real estate to devote to the idea. Or maybe you’ve been eating according to externally-imposed nutrition rules and guidelines without really pausing to notice how you actually feel when you eat that way. Or you’re in the midst of the great divorce. And you’re not alone.

But learning how food makes you feel, both immediately and a little way down the road, is a fundamental part of learning how to care for yourself.

In my mind, food that makes you feel weird or off — no matter how good it tastes right now — isn’t food you can unconditionally love. Amounts of food that make you feel bad aren’t amounts of food you actually want to eat. And if you find yourself continually sacrificing your well-being for the lovely, immediate feel and taste of food, it’s a sign that something has gone wrong.

I eat, without reservation, basically whatever I want. Having a really relaxed attitude toward food, and unconditional permission to eat it, has allowed me to stop thinking so much about what I should or shouldn’t eat, and instead to notice how food tastes, as well as how it makes me feel. Here’s a brief sample of the observations I have accumulated, as a result:

I like the taste of Coca-Cola a lot. But it also makes me feel thirsty and a little weird sometimes, so I drink it occasionally, along with food, and often along with plain water and lots of ice. I feel better if I eat a high-fibre breakfast that contains a good dollop of fat (in the form of butter or cream) — it’s more satisfying, tastes better, and stays with me longer. I feel better, more energetic, less run-down, and more satisfied if I eat vegetables with dinner. I need a good serving of protein with lunch and dinner. If I don’t eat an afternoon snack, I feel sleepy. I feel and function better when I drink at least two big glasses of water each day. I really like strawberries, and I prefer eating them whole, fresh or frozen. Aside from strawberries, I don’t much like eating fruit all by itself because simple sugars alone make me feel funny. Adding cheese or nuts makes it work better. Sugar-sweetened cereals taste really good, but don’t satisfy me and often scratch up my mouth. So I think of them mostly as snacks or desserts, instead of as breakfast. I love chocolate and it leaves me feeling fine, so I eat it when I want it, but I rarely eat enough to make me feel ill or uncomfortable. Light popcorn pops up better and is crunchier than extra-butter flavour popcorn. If I want more butter, I’ll melt some real butter and add it after popping. And I really, really dislike the feeling of being either desperately hungry or uncomfortably full.

These observations allow me to eat what I want, in amounts that I want — which means that I get to eat food that both tastes good and feels good. I get to satisfy my hunger without disrespecting my satiety, and I take care of myself with food instead of hurting myself with it.

To me, “wanting” something means more than just liking how it tastes — it also means considering how it makes me feel. The two variables comes together in a sort of split-second cost-benefit analysis, each time I eat, to answer the eternal question, what do I want?

No matter what I end up choosing in any given situation, the answer is always the same: I want to feel good.

As always, remember that mental health is a part of health. And, if you’re not a jerk, why not leave a comment?



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260 responses to “Food you like is food that feels good.”

  1. Amanda Avatar

    I love that you brought up food intolerance and how it teaches you to think differently about food.

    Since discovering a year ago that I’m gluten intolerant, I think about food in a whole new way. Sometimes I’ll crave something I used to eat, but I then weigh if it’s worth the immediate distress followed by fatigue and brain fog for the next 7-10 days and you know what? Nothing has been worth it so far. Once I became more in-tune with the idea of focusing on how food makes me feel, I discovered that milk in large quantities doesn’t make me feel so good. Soda sweetened with HFCS doesn’t either; it makes me bloaty and fatigued. Too much sugar makes me cranky and destabilizes my mood. I feel my best when I’m eating a large amount of protein and veggies with some fruit and smaller portions of brown rice. I have a long list of things I’ve learned in the last 13 months, and I’ve never felt better.

    Everyone always tells me how sorry they are that I can’t eat gluten and that it must make things so hard. They just can’t imagine a life without _______. It was distressing at first, but it’s honestly been one of the best things that happened to me. My quality of life has vastly improved.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      This is exactly what I’ve heard so many people with gluten intolerance tell me. Thanks.

      1. Tiferet Avatar

        I was diagnosed with celiac disease last week and have been gluten free since last Friday.

        I began to feel so much better so quickly (even though I am far from healed) that I am exactly as tempted to eat gluten as I would be tempted to eat D-Con rat poison. It is not appetising. When I look at it I see pain.

        I am also angry that I was not diagnosed with celiac disease until I was in my 40s, and only then because I insisted (I told my doctor, there’s a treatment for celiac and there are few effective treatments for fibro; can we just rule it out first?) There’s a perception that fat people aren’t celiac. No doctor ever mentioned the possibility of celiac to me–not when I was a teenager having wild mood swings or having trouble with food–my ED was at its worst when I lived in a dorm because all the food made me feel nauseous anyway–not when I was a young adult with inexplicable chronic pain, not until I myself found out that the disease existed and noticed that I had all the symptoms.

        And I didn’t even realise for many years that my gastric issues weren’t normal. I thought other people used a lot of Imodium too.

        I actually really enjoy gluten free food. Because my fear is gone. I used to never know, when I ate, whether I’d feel good afterwards or not. I didn’t even realise that I didn’t know that, and that it was a constant source of stress. But now I feel so much better about eating.

        And I also no longer feel idiotically guilty about refusing to eat many ‘healthy’ foods that I despise, like whole wheat anything (gluten) or low-fat milk (taking the fat out increases the lactose content, and I am mildly lactose intolerant, which is common in celiacs). I was not kidding when I told people that I didn’t like those things.

        It’s kind of funny how many things I once forced myself to learn to like or at least to eat are on my ‘forbidden’ list.

        I loved cake and pasta. But there’s gluten free pasta and I’m going to learn to make gluten free cake (most of the recipes seem to be for chocolatey or gingery cakes, which I don’t like, but I’ll figure it out!)

        1. Michelle Avatar

          I’m so glad you got a diagnosis. Good luck, and I hope you have fun exploring a whole new food world!

          1. Tiferet Avatar

            Thanks Michelle! :)

        2. Anna Avatar

          Cakewise, we made two of the world’s most awesome gluten free christmas cakes this year by straight out substituting gluten free flour for flour in a recipe (and by soaking the fruit in alcohol for a week and getting the cake soused once a week thereafter for a month).

          Most cakes and muffins that I’ve tried work just as well with gluten free flour (although I will often add an extra egg for fluffiness).

          1. Tiferet Avatar

            Yeah, the problem is that the kind of cake I want is unforgiving. No fruit, no alcohol, no heavy spices, NO CHOCOLATE.

            (I like chocolate in soymilk and ice cream and in coffee and even in mole, and as candy…and really really not in baked goods except as discrete bits, like chips, that are still candy. And only dutch process chocolate. I loathe dark unprocessed chocolate, particularly the bitter 70+% grainy stuff like Dagoba, with the deep and fiery loathing you can only have for something you dislike that everyone else tells you is so good and the very best and so much better than the stuff YOU like, you philistine, you, don’t you know real gourmets would never eat that, and it’s not even good for you, all the bioflavonoids are gone…)

            I want a nice white or yellow cake that will taste a little of butter and can be flavoured with things like vanilla, white chocolate or rosewater and you’ll be able to taste them. The person below you mentions such a recipe and I must find it.

          2. Luna Avatar

            I’ve gotcha covered! I LOVE cake. I mean, cake and I have a love/hate relationship. I hate that I can’t eat it daily. :) (It makes me feel oogy if I eat too much, and also, it makes my kids CRAZY which really makes me feel oogy.)

            Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a bundt pan with 10-12 cup capacity and dust with rice flour.

            Sift together (I whisked it instead of sifting):
            2 cups rice flour
            1/2 cup tapioca flour
            4 tsp baking powder
            1&1/2 tsp baking soda
            1/2 tsp salt
            2 tsp xanthan or guar gum

            In mixer bowl, place and beat together (I hand beat this):
            1 cup mayonnaise or whipped butter
            1 cup sugar
            3 eggs

            1 cup buttermilk or soured milk substitute (almond is good)

            Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk (1 cup total).

            Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for approximately 50 minutes or until cake tests done. Let the cake stand in the pan for 10 minutes before turning it onto a plate.

        3. Theresa Avatar

          Ooh! Cakes! I made a white master cake from a Bette Hagman book, and my family couldn’t tell that it was gluten-free! :D She’s got some really great cookbooks, otherwise check out
          It’s totally possible to make amazing things gluten-free!

          1. Tiferet Avatar

            I want that Bette Hagman book. Or if the recipe was adapted by you from a gluten recipe, I want your recipe!

            I love glutenfreegirl, but she only has chocolate cakes on her site, and I am not going to bore Michelle by making her read my chocolate rant twice (it’s in the reply to a commenter just above you).

          2. Tiferet Avatar

            or if she does have non-chocolate cake it’s not on the ‘cakes’ categories site map, anyway (will have to look further later)

      2. Tiferet Avatar

        (I’m also mad at every single doctor who said or implied that chronic pain and fatigue were simply what someone with my BMI should expect out of life. Because they’re not. They were celiac disease!)

        1. Luna Avatar

          This! This times two!

          I had one flat out tell me, “You’re too fat to have Celiac Disease.” This was AFTER I was diagnosed. I said, “I have test results to prove it”. He said, “I don’t care. You’re fat. It’s a skinny person’s disorder.” I said, “You’re wrong. Look it up.” He let it go, but he looked highly skeptical.

    2. Sadie Avatar

      My sister-in-law can’t tolerate gluten either, and not having x food because it has gluten is definitely worth the increased health. She can make so many things gluten-free that would normally have gluten, it sometimes hardly seems to matter, too–just a couple days after she found out, she was making pizza! So she can eat things that she likes and that don’t make her sick.

    3. notemily Avatar

      I have IBS and I feel the same way. I didn’t know how much I was just eating without paying attention to how the food made me feel afterwards, until I got sick and had to really focus on finding foods that do well with my digestive system. Ultimately I think I have a better sense of my own body because of that.

    4. Helen Avatar

      I’m really happy that someone feels this way. I was gluten-intolerant for three and a half years, and yes it made me think about food differently, and it was probably good for me in the long run (forced me to consider foods I had been very picky about), but I hated it. So much more effort to find convenience foods, so much more money spent on staples that I enjoyed; I even based my accommodation on my dietary needs, because if I were too far out of town I wouldn’t be able to make my lunch in between lectures. Like I say though, I used to be really picky, and it’s good that I’m not anymore. I just wish it’d been something less dramatic that taught me to eat well.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    I will eat things that taste good even though they cause me discomfort or extreme pain later on (sometimes not hours but days later). I go through periods where I’m better at avoiding the foods that hurt me, but if I feel okay for a while I’ll slip back into eating the stuff that my body can’t tolerate. Simply because they taste good – I like them. I want them, even though I know there will be negative consequences. My mother is allergic to caffeine and would get migraines every time she ate chocolate. She had migraines throughout my childhood; I have as many memories of her lying in bed in the dark with her eyes closed as I do of her doing all other things. It wasn’t until she was in her late 30s or early 40s that she finally decided the chocolate wasn’t worth the agony. What would you call that type of behavior, and do you have any ideas about what causes it and how to change it?

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I think everyone has a cost-benefit analysis when it comes to selecting food, like I mentioned. Sometimes it is worth it to you to eat those things. Sometimes you can strike a balance where you eat them often enough to get satisfaction, but not so often that you’re constantly in pain.

      I think having trouble striking that balance is normal when it’s a food whose taste you really love, but whose consequences are really awful for you. But I think trying to bring all the effects of the food together in your assessment of its value is important, and can help.

      Sometimes it can also be a problem if someone has a really bad reaction to food, but has never been given full autonomy to choose whether or not to eat it — instead, they’ve been directed by doctors or parents or whomever that they Must Never Eat It. Naturally, they rebel. But the rebellion doesn’t always work in getting them to make the choice for themselves, or maybe not for a very long time, like with your mom.

      Human motivation is a funny thing.

      1. Ailbhe Avatar

        I find this interesting, because I have been giving my children the choice to eat dairy for a while now – “This thing has a bit of cow milk in it, and it might give you a runny tummy, but you can have it if you want, it’s your tummy.”

        1. Michelle Avatar

          I think this is great, personally. I have done this with some of my gluten intolerant clients — in a way, it’s handing the choice back over to the person who rightfully has that choice: the person eating.

          Being truly on board with eating a lactose-free or gluten-free diet can only happen when a person fully integrates the consequences of eating the food into their valuation of that food. And they can’t do that if they’re never, ever given the opportunity to eat it. And if the Food Police are the ones in control, you’re pretty much guaranteed that they will eat rebelliously at some point, damn the consequences. Which is exactly the opposite of what you want to achieve with someone who needs a therapeutic restriction on their diet.

      2. Mary Sue Avatar

        I think having trouble striking that balance is normal when it’s a food whose taste you really love, but whose consequences are really awful for you.

        Every so often we have a Friday celebration at my office that involves Haagen Dazs ice cream bars. They buy some manky cheap ‘fruit’ bars for the lactose intolerant and the dieters. I go for the Haagen Dazs. And inevitably one of the self-appointed food cops sidles up to me and says, “Aren’t you lactose intolerant?”

        “Yep,” I reply, taking a big bite. “I regret nothing!”

        1. Freya Avatar

          :D I do this occasionally, too. It’s worth the pain to forgo the foul things that people think are good lactose-free things.

          I’m so glad that Qantas introduced a ‘fruit platter’ option in their food-restriction-tickboxes for plane flights, I no longer have to struggle with the decision between ticking ‘vegan’ (to get lactose-free) or ‘diabetic’ (to get low-sugar) or taking my chances with the regular meal. Often enough, especially with breakfast, the regular meal is more suitable for my dietary requirements – the last time I asked for a lactose-free breakfast, they gave me the lactose-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, taste-free cardboard fragments and cheap soy milk that tasted chalky. And my partner’s ‘normal’ cereal was lactose-free and low sugar.

    2. Ashley Avatar

      Not the spam the comments, but my mom has a similar problem — she’s allergic to chocolate. As a kid she couldn’t have chocolates, nuts, or citrus fruits as they caused her to stop breathing. Now that she’s an adult the chocolate is the only issue, and she manages to avoid it for the most part, but man, when she does, you can tell. (Especially really high quality chocolate; she gets red and has these long coughing jags. We tend to find it funny, because it’s not fatal; I didn’t know it was an allergy until I was a teen.)

      1. Michelle Avatar

        One time, I ate a Spam and peanut butter sandwich because a coworker dared me to. True story.

        1. clairedammit Avatar

          One time, I ate Sriracha on a chocolate cake, because a coworker dared me. It would have been good if it weren’t for the vinegar in the hot sauce. It was worth it for the expression on my coworkers faces.

          1. Michelle Avatar

            Okay, that’s just wrong. Get out.

        2. Jen Avatar

          A banana and mayonaise sandwich. This is what my grandfather once fed me. Apparently that is what you ate when you grew up poor in the hills of West Virginia. I couldn’t even swallow… I had to spit it out.

          1. KellyK Avatar

            Eep. Everybody knows that you put *peanut butter* on a banana sandwich. :)

        3. Elizabeth Avatar

          My 5-year-old nephew was watching my brother make a sandwich the other day, and started yelling, “Ew, gross, that’s so disgusting!” because he was so appalled at the thought of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

          He prefers peanut butter and mustard.

          1. Michelle Avatar


            Also, I may have to try this.

          2. KellyK Avatar

            That’s hilarious!!

          3. k.sol Avatar

            The best EVER is peanut butter, dill pickle, tomato and lettuce on toast — preferably rye, toasted dark. The idea grosses many people out, but usually if I can get them to try it, they like it.

            And a niece introduced me to peanut butter, dill pickle, tomato mustard and hummus. Seems she was camping with a friend and they just threw together everything they had left. It’s pretty good, actually.

          4. Michelle Avatar

            I am writing this all down to try someday. It might make a good Watch Me Eat video :)

          5. KellyK Avatar

            I had a peanut butter burger once. The restaurant had a bunch of interesting burgers, and this one, apparently because it was so weird, had a money-back guarantee–you don’t like it, it’s free. I figured, since restaurants like making money and aren’t keen on handing out free food, that was probably a good sign. It was actually oddly tasty.

          6. Freya Avatar

            :D In my family, the awesome combination that people look askance at is sliced peaches and hoi sin sauce on white bread. Best done with home-grown peaches, and the hoi sin sauce MUST be thin or, like vegemite, it overpowers everything and not in a good way.

          7. librarychair Avatar

            I have always loved taking a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and dipping it in a bowl of clam chowder. The jelly gets into the soup. People have told me time and time again how gross this is but I think it’s the epitome of comfort food.

          8. Michelle Avatar

            WOW. Just wow. That’s a new one!

          9. azurelunatic Avatar

            When my little nephew was learning to prepare basic food, we had peanut butter, jam or jelly, lunch meat, and cheese regularly on hand, and he was cleared to make sandwiches. We had previously discovered that carrots were tasty with ketchup. Then he asked what would happen if he made a lunch meat and jelly sandwich. The thought did not at all appeal to me, but hey, if he would eat it…! So I ditched my prejudices about acceptable food combinations and told him sure. And he liked it. He also liked peanut butter and cheese.

          10. Suzanne Avatar

            You know that jelly/lunch meat thing makes sense when you consider people eat turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches after Thanksgiving. And some people pair roast lamb with mint jelly. Not my cup of tea, but certainly common enough. Actually my Grandmother even had a recipe for meatballs that had a sauce made from grape jelly and ketchup, sounded horrible, but it was my favorite appetizer as a kid. :)

          11. Embersmom Avatar

            I’ve actually have eaten meatballs made with grape jelly and ketchup. They are oh so good. (And you can’t tell the jelly is in there.)

          12. Tiferet Avatar

            Fayoumis? how did I know!

          13. Nomie Avatar

            My dad has told me that as a kid he used to love liverwurst and grape jelly sandwiches. I think he’d still eat them if he could figure out where to get liverwurst anymore.

          14. Lisa Avatar

            I love peanut butter and cheese whiz sandwiches. Or pb, cheese whiz & honey. So yummy. also cheese whiz with balogna, mustard, lettuce & mayo. Now I’m wishing I had the ingredients for the second one!

          15. Beth Avatar

            My husband had a sandwich yesterday with peanut butter, garlic, cheese, roast beef, ham, and turkey. He swears it was good, but the smell of it turned my stomach enough that I couldn’t eat lunch myself.

  3. Ashley Avatar

    This! My husband and I struggle with this, because we tend to eat emotionally, and we tend to make especially bad decisions when there’s not food in the kitchen and we just got paid. Oh Lord.

    Over the summer we were broke in ways that I coudn’t begin to enumerate, and this meant that I was planning our meals for two weeks at a time, based on spending the least amount of money possible. It was hard, but it lead to me making about 1/3 of our foods from scratch, cutting out soda except maybe 2-3 times a month, and not eating out more than once a month, TOPS, if at all.

    When things got better and our habits slipped, we both realized: we felt crappier. We were gaining weight again. It sucked!

    So now we’re trying to swing back out of spiral of eating out/boxed foods that we got back into; it’s easy, but it’s definitely makes us feel worse. I may not being making meals that could be called healthy (I need to learn more about cooking with vegetables, for instance), but they were healthier and hardier.

    TL;DR: Good post, confirms a lot of how I felt about food lately.

  4. ellie_nor Avatar

    This is such an awesome post. I have gluten, dairy and yeast intolerance, and I am still in denial/rebellion about it (15 years after finding out), so I end up making food choices that leave me feeling awful, both physically and emotionally. What you say about rebellion and about morality regarding food are spot on. I seriously need to reprogramme myself!

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Gah, that is such a tough situation to be in. I hope you find a way through.

  5. Erin S. Avatar
    Erin S.

    Everyone should also try to remember that just because a food makes you feel like crap, doesn’t mean that nobody should eat that food.

    I actually see that a lot, ranging from “I stopped drinking soda, and now I feel so much better, you should try it to!” to one particularly noxious lactose intolerant individual on a blog I used to read who would seriously lose it every time dairy was mentioned. She wanted nothing less than a complete worldwide ban on the “unsafe and disgusting” practice. Because according to her, the fact that some people are lactose intolerant means humans were never meant to consume lactose in adulthood.

    Not saying this post or any comments does that. It’s just something to keep in mind when you (general you) are promoting your diet or what works for you — there is a fine line between saying you do not like X food, and saying that nobody should like X food.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      just because a food makes you feel like crap, doesn’t mean that nobody should eat that food.

      Yes, definitely. Different foods are good or bad for different people. That’s just how it is.

      The failure of a lot of people to understand this, and the kneejerk universalizing of one’s preferences/tolerances to everyone else in the world, is pretty much the worst thing wrong with how nutrition is commonly discussed.

      1. JennyRose Avatar

        Commenting on other people’s food choices is just rude. I tell my daughter it is inappropriate to say such things as eeew, gross, yucky when someone eats something she doesn’t like. The same goes for adults. I actually know adults who say yuck and make faces when someone else says they like sardines, sushi or something the compulsive commenter does not judge to be tasty.

        Food judges take this to the next level by also commenting on the quality of your food. It is still wrong and it is still rude.

        1. KellyK Avatar

          This is a pet peeve of mine too, whether it’s an “ew, gross” comment or an “unhealthy fat/calories/carbs” comment. It’s really rude and inappropriate to be judgmental about something someone is eating.

          I do it occasionally myself, but I’m trying not to. (Well, mostly. I don’t think I’ll ever not rag on my husband for his love of split pea soup, but we hassle each other about everything.)

          1. Michelle Avatar

            My husband totally loves that repulsive Habitant split pea soup. I cannot help but make fun of him for it; it’s so Canadian it’s ridiculous. (I think split pea soup is a traditional Quebecois staple food. It’s mushy and the colour of urine.)

          2. Cairsten Avatar

            Switch to green split peas instead. Problem solved. ;) Seriously, split pea soup is Comfort Food; it fills you up, can be made in large quantities cheaply, so there’s no “I need to get mine fast or it’ll all be gone” or “there’s only one per, so make it last” involved, and it warms you all the way through.

          3. Michelle Avatar

            I think I need to try to make some at home sometime. Thanks :)

          4. KellyK Avatar

            My issue with split pea soup is the green color and the texture. (I think I would be more weirded out by yellow than green though.) The next time my husband makes it, he may run it through the blender or something to see if I like the taste when the texture is smooth.

          5. deeleigh Avatar

            Yeah. Um, I like Habitant split pea soup too. Go Jeffrey!

            Another home run of a post, BTW. you rule.

          6. Michelle Avatar

            I always knew you were a sick person.

          7. deeleigh Avatar

            It’s especially good when you put a small hole in the top of the can with a bottle opener, then heat it up by putting it in a campfire, thereby burning off the label and the caramelizing the soup near the edge of the can. Best served with burnt hotdogs on sticks.

          8. Michelle Avatar

            EVERYTHING is best served with burnt hotdogs on sticks, in my opinion.

      2. duckybelkins Avatar

        I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when I get REALLY nauseous the only food I can keep down is Doritos. It wouldn’t surprise me if Doritos make most people feel like crap but they help me.

      3. Kathy Avatar

        I so agree. I have IBS. Insoluble fiber really bothers me, yet I continue to eat it *sigh* I like beans and whole grains, but they don’t like me back. Yet we hear so much about insoluble fiber and its’ health benefits, I feel like I *should* be eating them. Think I’ll go buy a loaf of French Bread now.

        I gotta do a mea culpa here, I’ve probably been guilty of commenting on others’ food choices. In fact I know I have. Something else I need to work on. *double sigh.*

        1. Suzanne Avatar

          Oh, we all have done it at some point, you live, you learn. That’s life! Now go forth and comment on other’s food no more! (haha!)

  6. QoT Avatar

    One of my most scandalous messages is that you should eat whatever you want, in whatever amount you want.

    Is it what! I once linked to your post on another forum and got told I was trying to condemn someone’s father to death (because he apparently has a medical condition which requires a diet of steamed fish and vegetables, but really likes bacon and would totally eat himself to death!!!! if he ate food, stuff he liked, as much as he wanted.)

    1. Michelle Avatar

      That reaction doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. And, to me, it is basically a sign of all that is wrong, nutritionally, with our culture.

      Assuming that the poster was referring to a healthy heart diet post cardiovascular disease/event, they are totally wrong about 1) needing to eat nothing but fish and veggies, and 2) never being able to have bacon. And, if anything is going to drive someone to GORGE themselves on bacon, it’s being told they Must Never Eat It Again, and that they have to live on a diet of steamed fish and veggies.

      I mean, wouldn’t YOU react that way? I know I would.

  7. Kaia Avatar

    God yes. As so many other commenters I am gluten intolerant. The first year without was AWFUL. And then I one day at the bus happened to end up net to a poster ad for flours and wheat germ and other gluten products, and just looking at them made me feel ill. It actually got easier from there on out.

    The same goes for meat – I’ve tried to reintroduce it a few times, because being gluten AND lactose intolerant AND vegetarian is a lot of work – which just makes me feel uncomfortable and almost nauseous. And really, how it makes me feel does not make up for the slight convenience of eating at least one of those things.

    So right now I’m gluten free, lactose free, vegetarian and dislike eggs. It makes cooking tricky, but I feel so much better these days. So worth it.

    1. April Avatar

      Have you looked into vegan cookbooks? No meat, dairy, or eggs! Some of them have lots of gluten-free options. The cookbook “Veganomicon” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero has the gluten-free recipes marked with an icon, there are lots!

      1. Lillian Avatar

        Great cookbook. I highly recommend it. The recipes are easy to make no exotic ingredients, favorful and traditional. I use it all the time. I would recommend it if you aren’t vegan.

        1. Kaia Avatar

          Oh, thank you! I have had trouble finding cookbooks that are both vegetarian and gluten free, at least in Swedish (which is my first language). Might be worth it ordering one from abroad though, if it has both.

          1. Intransigentia Avatar

            OMG I have to totally recommend Veganomicon! I’m an avowed omnivore, and I just love that cookbook to pieces. The reason: I happen to love vegetarian foods (part of the omni!), and when I eat vegetarian/vegetables, I want to enjoy the food for what it is, not “101 ways to disguise vegetables from picky eaters” or “Your family will never guess this isn’t meat!” And that’s totally what Veganomicon is about: Tofu is yummy! Beans are great! Look at all the neat things you can do with this that or the other vegetable!

  8. Mongoose Avatar

    Wonderful post! I know rather a lot of Skinny Women On Diets who roll their eyes when I bring any baking into work and say things like, “Oh, I shouldn’t… it’s so naughty,” or, “No, thank you – it looks lovely but I’m being good.”

    I hate it when people start using any kind of moral terminology about food. I have a mantra which goes like this: “Lying is sinful. Cheating is sinful. Chocolate is NOT sinful.” And anyone who talks to me as in the above paragraph will get it quoted at them. If I do it often enough, perhaps in a few cases it will sink in.

    My lodger is massively overweight, to the point where he’s had two diabetes scares and he has trouble doing up his shoelaces. Not so long ago I told him he might stand a chance of losing weight if he would only get off the “self-hate diet”. That brought him up short, so he asked me to explain. I replied that his current method of eating involved buying a packet of something and eating the entire contents at a sitting, and that said to me that he didn’t think he was worth taking any trouble for. I also pointed out that when he’d had properly prepared and cooked food in the past, he’d loved it, so wasn’t it worth his time to take a bit of trouble for himself?

    So he decided he would like some biscuits, and, once I’d convinced him that he could make a better job of them than a factory could, he rolled up his sleeves, borrowed one of my recipes and went to work. He was very proud of his biscuits. He thought they were absolutely delicious.

    You know how many he ate? ONE. Because it was so satisfying, he didn’t feel he needed another. If he’d bought a packet, he’d have eaten the whole lot at a sitting.

    1. KellyK Avatar

      I love your mantra, and I may steal it. I’ve wanted to do more baking, but in a two-person household, only so many baked goods get consumed at a time. I love it when people bring goodies into work, and want to start doing the same, and the naysayers can just shush.

      1. Twistie Avatar

        I bake constantly in a two-person household where one has type-II diabetes and I work from home. I can’t not bake. My neighbors and friends adore me. Sometimes Mr. Twistie will have a cookie or a slice of pie or cake, other times he decides it would be better if he didn’t.

        But give up baking???? Not on your Nelly! I find that making baked goods is part of what I need to stay in emotional balance, whether or not I eat what I make.

        1. KellyK Avatar

          Makes sense to me. I feel all accomplished when I bake something and it turns out well–I don’t think it’s as critical for me as it is for you, but it’s definitely a mental health boost.

    2. Michelle Avatar

      I have a mantra which goes like this: “Lying is sinful. Cheating is sinful. Chocolate is NOT sinful.”

      This is utterly fantastic.

      I also like the fact that you encouraged your lodger to care for himself, rather than fighting with himself and restricting his diet — although it’s possible that his diabetes scares have nothing to do with his weight. Either way, enjoying really tasty food is healthier and far preferable to rebellion eating that is neither satisfying physically or enjoyable emotionally. And baking rules.

  9. k.sol Avatar

    Michelle — first of all, I love you and I am so glad you’re posting again.

    I find the more I give myself permission to eat anything, the less compelled I feel to eat frantically or compulsively. Your blog was one of the first that made me realize this was OK. I don’t dive into a vatful of twinkies every night, as I believe you once put it, because I don’t want to. It wouldn’t make me feel good.

    I wanted to comment on the “it works for me, it works for everyone” thing. All my life, I was concerned about fats, egg yolks, etc., even tried going vegetarian, because I was supposed to worry about my cholesterol. I never HAD high cholesterol. I had insanely LOW cholesterol. (One doc told me he’d only seen it that low in people dying of cancer, “But you’re fine!” Great bedside manner, there, buddy.) In the last few months, for various reasons, I intentionally increased intake of meat and saturated fats. I feel better. Immensely better. My gut works better and my brain works better and my numbers are all good. It feels a little weird, though, because I get the societal message that this is wrong, wrong, wrong.

    In the meantime, I have a sister who’s gone to a low-fat vegan diet that works for her. Our bodies are so different. I would not demand of her that she try my diet just because it works for me when it so clearly is working for her.

    1. ako Avatar

      A couple of years ago, I had Christmas dinner with a doctor who was very big on making sure people understood the nutritional benefits of getting enough fat and cholesterol, and how dangerous the whole “Fat, salt, and cholesterol are bad and you shouldn’t eat them” idea could be if taken too seriously.

      It was interesting, and a lot more enjoyable than most instances of eating a meal while people talk about nutrition.

  10. Andra Avatar

    So, I’ve seen Satter’s (or your?) pyramid before, but sort of always felt like I should be at or near the top of the pyramid most of the time, since I’m fairly privileged, like to cook, live with an amazing cook, etc. And yet, there are days when I can only make decisions for calorie-dense, sugary, fatty foods (and then shame myself for those decisions). But I also restrict my food intake and run ~30 miles a week, so I think that I might be swinging down to the bottom of the pyramid on those days? Does that make sense? I also think that I tend to eat rebelliously then, because I’m angry at the part of me that denied me a good lunch, and so I comfort hungry-me with a cookie.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Yes, it’s Ellyn Satter’s pyramid, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

      I know it often SEEMS like most of us should be at the top of that pyramid, and working on getting “instrumental” food (i.e. super-nutritious healthy food), but the truth is, we often induce our own food insecurity through restriction, or poor planning, or ambivalence about eating. Whether lack of food occurs because we can’t afford it or don’t have access to it, or because we’ve forgotten to feed ourselves or gone on a diet, doesn’t matter to our bodies. All our body knows is that it’s hungry, and you need to eat NOW, and you need the maximum amount of calories NOW.

      So, yes, what you said does make sense. And that is why food restriction often (almost always!) results in rebellious eating.

      1. Andra Avatar

        If only bodies understood the word “should” as well as I do. /sarcasm/.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          The only “should” they really understand is, “I should eat! Frequently.”

      2. Emily H. Avatar
        Emily H.

        That really helps put a thing in perspective for me.

        I consider myself a pretty competent eater, though I’m not very good at sussing out how food makes me feel physically (beyond hungry/not hungry and tastes good/tastes bad). But I have this habit: eat lunch at noon, get off work at 6, take the bus and get to my neighborhood by 7, want to eat THE ENTIRE WORLD, stop by the grocery store and get a box of cookies or doughnuts and finish it off in a day. And I was thinking, well, I don’t diet, I don’t intentionally restrict foods, so that can’t be rebellious eating, right? But my body doesn’t care why I want to eat the entire world, it’s just like, “find the entire world and eat it! Now!”

        And now that I think of it, this tracks with me no longer eating meat, because a Subway veggie patty with sun chips has a lot fewer calories than a hamburger with fries. So I am working on making sure I have a snack with some protein and fat to eat in the middle of the afternoon. (In other ways I feel a lot healthier cutting out meat — my digestion doesn’t respond well to too much fat, I think. But that’s just me. People are different. Shocking!)

      3. Kathy Avatar

        I agree with everything you say Michelle. Yet, my dilemma remains — how Does one lose weight if one wants to (like me?)

        1. Michelle Avatar

          Well…the whole point of health at every size is to let go of the need to control one’s weight, and to assume that your healthy weight is whatever weight your body settles at when you are taking good care of yourself. Sometimes people lose weight by doing this, but sometimes they gain weight, too, so there are no guarantees.

  11. Monica Avatar

    The whole “how food makes you feel” thing is something I really, really struggle with. I’m aware of it, for sure, but there’s a huge cognitive disconnect between “I am not hungry for a fourth cookie, and if I eat it, I will feel crappy,” and the action of eating the fourth cookie. The game plan is to talk to my therapist about it today… do you have any suggestions? Either way, thanks. This is a great post.

    1. Emgee Avatar

      Yes! This! Thank you so much for posting this, Monica, I was thinking I was the only one feeling this way.

    2. Michelle Avatar

      I think this requires some work, and it can be hard, no doubt. Learning awareness skills (sometimes in the form of mindful eating, also in the form of connecting to your body in other ways, maybe through movement or even meditation) is really key to this process.

      Permission is also usually the ingredient that is missing when this kind of issue comes up. If you don’t *truly* give yourself permission to eat what you want, you will continue eating “rebelliously” (that is, in a way that tastes good immediately, but doesn’t support your well-being) without truly enjoying it, because you’re using your energy in an attempt to buck a perceived dictatorial control, instead of using it to enjoy your food and experience your body.

      There is no quick fix, for people who have a significant disconnect here. It can be a long and involved process, but it can happen. Someone later on in the comments mentioned using a food diary as a way of connecting what they eat to how they felt emotionally and physically. I think this sounds like a useful exercise.

      Also, of course, this is the type of thing I teach in my practice.

    3. librarychair Avatar

      I also have been getting hit with this recently – It’s been weird, today, when I’m getting around to listening to my body again. I’ll get full and part of me will say “BUT I’M STILL EATING” even if I’m done with the plate of food I have… I kind of got into the habit of grazing until I found myself uncomfortably full, and it’s a hard habit to break because it means paying more attention to my satiety cues than I’m used to. I got into the habit because I started feeling insecure about food, because we didn’t have any money for a while and our pantry was dwindling. Now that we have money, my instinct to fill up on whatever is there has to catch up to the reality of having access to the food I want, without the fear that it won’t be there later when I want it.

      This afternoon I had to talk myself out of eating chocolate buttercream I had made earlier. I didn’t crave it, I wasn’t hungry, I was just automatically going for it. Stopping an automatic impulse can be a bit uncomfortable but I think it’s good for me to pay more attention to what I want and how it relates to what I’m about to do, don’t you?

      1. Emgee Avatar

        librarychair, I’m there with you. I am working on the same issues. I had already been brought up to ignore my hunger/fullness cues, before I went thru a period like you describe, no money and “cupboards bare.” Between the two, cleaning my plate has been automatic, even though that’s been over 20 years ago. I still cringe to throw out food. I’m working to pay more attention to listening to my body too. I guess we just hang in there, right?

    4. ako Avatar

      I don’t have a magic solution, but what helps me sometimes is the five minute pause. A lot of the reasons I want to eat something despite knowing it’s not going to make me feel good is a tendency to equate “You shouldn’t have that right now” with “You shouldn’t have that at all.” So if I hit the point where I’m not sure if I want any more, I go “Okay, you’re not going to have any more for five minutes, then, if you still want it, you can have it then.” Then I take five minutes, and if I’m still going “Yeah, I want that!”, I let myself have it. It’s to remind myself that there’s an option other than stuffing it in my mouth right away or not getting to have it at all.

      It’s not a magic solution, like I said. Usually, I get a few instances of going “Yeah, I want that!”, eating it, and not feeling great, before it really gets through to my entire brain that I can have it whenever I want and it’s best not to eat it in circumstances that don’t make me feel good.

  12. Suzanne Avatar

    I love brussels sprouts and if I am in the mood for them (oven roasted in olive oil and sea salt and served with caramelized onions) I will eat as much as I like of them. No one will bat an eye. If I decide I am REALLY in the mood for chocolate people feel it necessary to comment. I ignore it, but still, if I am in the mood for something, I’m going to eat it and have “enough” if I don’t want it, I won’t. Because that is the flip-side, isn’t it? Just because someone offers me chocolate (or brussels sprouts) doesn’t mean I HAVE to eat them, if I am not hungry. There. Radical! I am so glad you are bringing attention to this because it literally does not compute for so many people and that is just sad. I think when I hear hand-wringing about our national crisis of obesity, I think “we have a crisis alright, and it is of disordered eating and attitudes!”

    1. Alexis Avatar

      OT, but OMG BRUSSELS SPROUTS! I have never understood the cliche of “eww, brussels sprouts,” because they are for certain my favorite vegetable. I like them roasted, too. They are really good with balsamic and bread crumbs and bacon, too.

      1. Michelle Avatar

        I really, really love brussels sprouts. I didn’t try them until I was in my 20s, and I love them with butter and salt.

        1. Mary Sue Avatar

          I didn’t try broccoli until I was 30.

          Can’t get enough of the stuff now.

          ‘minds me, I’ve got broccoli in my lunch box right now. Mmmm. Crunchy!

        2. Bex Avatar

          I am the LATEST to this brussels sprout party, but I never understood why people didn’t like them either, because my family has always had them at Thanksgiving, steamed just right, with HOLLANDAISE sauce. It is DAMN hard to hate a vegetable that you first encounter smeared with rich buttery lemony eggy goodness, let me say. (Or sometimes – more often as I got older and we had more money – we had them not at Thanksgiving, with lemon juice stirred into melted butter instead of the hollandaise. These days I eat them as often as I can get my hands on them, steamed, roasted, sauteed, or gently re-warmed in the microwave at work so I can get a little of my own back at my cook-fish-in-the-office-microwave coworkers. I mean, uh, because they’re delicious. >:D)

          Unfortunately, I never mastered the Joy of Cooking version of hollandaise, so I stick with lemon butter except at the holidays. Although I did get a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking for Christmas this year, and Mom swears up and down that Julia’s version is way easier, so hmm…

          1. Michelle Avatar

            God I love hollandaise. I am super lazy though and just buy the powder mix stuff at the store :)

      2. Emgee Avatar

        The only time I remember trying Brussel sprouts was as a kid, and they were BITTER! So I am one of the “ew” crowd, but I will keep it to myself. :) But I do like cabbage, so go figure.

        1. BlackSheep Avatar

          Sounds like you might want to try Brussel sprouts again!

          I teach my daughters that no matter what they need to take a “no thank you bite” of things, so they can honestly evaluate whether they like them or not TODAY. Sometimes it’s something new, and they taste it and, lo and behold! Mama wasn’t lying, it’s delicious! And sometimes it’s something they’ve had before, and nope still, don’t like it. Or maybe it’s different and wonderful this time. I try to follow the same rule myself, for the same reasons.

        2. Michelle Avatar

          They can be bitter, because they contain sulfur. The sulfur becomes more apparent if they are overcooked, which has been a traditional way of cooking for Americans until fairly recently.

          Also, children are waaaay more sensitive to bitter flavours than adults, and also haven’t developed a palate that allows them to enjoy bitter flavours as yet. So, if you try brussels sprouts as an adult, cooked in a way that minimizes bitterness and maximizes other flavours you like (maybe garlic? Salt? Butter? Pepper? Olive oil? Onion?), you might very well be surprised! Brussels sprouts have a surprisingly tender/creamy texture, and a mild sweetness.

          It usually takes several tries to genuinely learn to like a food. And liking foods IS a learning process, not usually a one-hit thing (except with candy, usually!)

          Also…I ADORE cabbage. Another thing I never tried until I was an adult. But there is hardly anything more satisfying than a boiled cabbage and corned beef or cottage roll supper.

          1. twostatesystem Avatar

            About liking foods as a learning process:

            I’ve found that it’s really helpful to have a guideline for myself, that I should try foods I “don’t like” at least once a year, to make sure I still don’t like them, and crucially, to try them in several preparations.

            The first part has introduced several foods into my diet, as my palate has changed over time. I had trouble with very intense flavors (goat cheese, for example) and certain textures (leafy) as a child that waned over time. Not atypical, certainly, but MAN was chevre a revelation at 16 or so.

            The second part really helped me discover that I DO like beets. I just don’t like roasted beets. (Seriously, I’d rather chew on a gym sock.) Borscht, raw beets in salad, beet salsa, all good. But as far as I knew, until I was 20, the only thing you COULD do to beets was roast them. Likewise, I now know I do like spinach and other “heavy” leafy greens when pureed, slivered, crisped, or otherwise diverted from their natural leafy texture.

            But I do call it a guideline, because it’s in the spirit of knowing myself, and there’s some stuff I know won’t change, in particular foods that leave me sick to my stomach afterward.

            Anyway, I offer it up as a tool people might find useful in trying new foods and rediscovering things they thought they didn’t like.

          2. Nomie Avatar

            At Thanksgiving my Spanish cousin served a dish of brussels sprouts with chestnuts that had been boiled in milk. I would happily have given up my servings of pie to have like five more servings, if there’d been enough.

      3. April Avatar

        My boyfriend and I like them roasted with garlic. Oh man. I get hungry just thinking about it. We go through jags of eating them twice a week.

        My parents hate them! I just think they haven’t tried them this way.

        1. Kathy Avatar

          if anyone has a good brussel sprout recipe can you please post it? I tried them recently again as an adult at someone else’s house and they were bitter.

          1. Suzanne Avatar

            I don’t mean to blog pimp, but if you click my name it will take you to my blog where I have brussels sprouts recipes. Here is a quick one though,

            Take off the stems and tough outer leaves of the sprouts. Steam them lightly in the microwave for about 2-3 minutes (they should still be quite bright green). Then put them on a rimmed baking sheet and mist them with olive oil (I have an air powered mister, but you could also brush them with olive oil) Sprinkle the sprouts with sea salt or kosher salt and roll them around to make sure they are covered in oil and salt. Bake them at 350 degrees until they are starting to look a little “roasted” but not burnt. I serve these immediately with a touch more butter on top and extra salt if necessary.

          2. April Avatar

            Here’s mine, from the cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance:

            1 lb pound Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
            1 tbsp olive oil
            3 cloves garlic, chopped
            1/4 tsp coarse sea salt

            Preheat oven to 400F
            Lay the sprouts on a rimmed baking sheet (we sometimes use a 9X13 pan because it’s what we have); douse with the olive oil. Roast for ten minutes. Remove from oven, add teh chopped garlic, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt, using tongs and toss to coat. Return to oven, roast for five more minutes. Serve, making sure you get all the garlic, ’cause it’s tasty.

  13. tg Avatar

    Just this past weekend I thought about how my lifestyle has changed over the last year and realized that I wanted to go back to eating more often throughout the day at regular intervals because that’s what has historically felt good to me. After starting that Sunday, I realized yesterday that before I went back to mid-morning food, I’d been going 6-6.5 hrs between breakfast and lunch on workdays. No wonder I felt not myself.

    Then last night I wondered, when will I stop craving all these rich foods? And here’s the answer about being desperately hungry. I knew that, but forgot, you know? That’s why I read your blog. Thanks, Michelle!

  14. Meowser Avatar

    Lemme tell you something. Now that I’ve gone GF, and CF, and no caffeinated beverages, and restricted FODMAPs and salicylates (because my poor belleh finally said ENOUGH after all these years), I’m so, so damn happy I got to have coal oven pizza and delicious bagels and wonderful milkshakes and juicy cheeseburgers and cherry Cokes and luscious Brie and melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, and all those other unbelievably yummy things before I was medically contraindicated to do so. I want to say to all those, “I can’t eat that, it’s BAD!” people out there, “Get it while you can, because you just never know.”

    But yeah, the liking food that doesn’t like you back thing…man, that’s tough. One bite of chocolate (even if it’s GFCF) has my tummy saying, “This far, and no farther, or I will chain you to the nearest toilet.”

    Meanwhile, I’m trying to come up with a GFCF recipe for this. Wish me luck.

  15. Jenny Avatar

    I can’t agree with this enough!

  16. Alexis Avatar

    As usual, you are revolutionary and amazing. This is my favorite post to date.

    I struggle with this stuff a lot because I am very into eating local and organic and all that shit. My sister is an organic farmer. I hate corporate America. All of this makes me not want to eat processed foods and beverages, not because they make me feel physically crappy (which a lot of them do, turns out), but because I do feel (willingly) ethically constrained from doing so. But unlike most sanctimonious locavore foodie types, I don’t believe in putting controls on what others eat. And I enjoy an occasional coke or candy bar, so I wouldn’t dream of judging others for partaking. It’s a tough position to hold, though, because you always have the mainstream diet culture people judging you for your (pasture-raised) bacon and (grassfed) butter, while the more fascistic locavore types look down their noses at you for swiping a Twix from the employee lounge (like I just did a few minutes ago!). This post really helps frame my eating philosophy in ways I didn’t even know I needed, so thanks!

    Also: When the hell are you going to get a book deal? Yours is a voice that is sorely lacking in the greater marketplace of ideas (cheesy phrase, but seriously!).

    1. La Avatar

      I wish it was easier to eat organic foods…..well, they’re easy to eat, just not easy to afford. Here in the Tallahassee, FL area, we have no good source of organic food. Just the grocery and two healthfood stores carry it and the prices are sky high. There is no way we can afford to eat it daily. It is a real bummer, because I truly believe that the chemicals in our foods is ruining our health.

  17. Todd Avatar

    I guess I shouldn’t be telling clients, “Exercise some. Only the hard as you want. Do as little as you’re comfortable with.” They may take that as, “A fitness professional told me that I can exercise a little… and that’s good enough.”

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Yeah, wow. You might actually come off as NOT being a hardass douchebag if you said something like that to your clients.

      I mean, if you’re running a hardcore bootcamp fitness thing that people willingly sign up for, then no. The gentle message is not your thing. But to imply that telling people to exercise in a way that is comfortable for them, and to work their way slowly up from humble beginnings, and that exercise is, indeed, a CHOICE that adults get to make for themselves, would actually be *a bad thing* for any fitness professional? I think that’s stunningly short-sighted.

      Some people actually respond to the gentle approach better than to the hardass approach. Maybe that’s not your thing, but I never said it had to be.

      And you know what? Sometimes exercising just a little really IS good enough.

      1. KellyK Avatar

        I find that if I have pressure to exercise more (pressure from myself, others, or both), I end up doing more than I should and hurting myself. For me, the first step in exercising more is giving myself permission to quit if it hurts.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          Yes. I have a history of overtraining, as in “compulsive, approaching-eating-disorder, exercising-while-injured-and-suffering-from-pneumonia” levels of overtraining, and as a result, I’m really not on with pressuring people to exercise, any more than I am with pressuring people to eat (or not eat) in a certain way.

          You want to be sure to fuck up someone’s relationship to movement for good? Go ahead and put the pressure on. But if you want them to learn to take care of themselves for the long term? Back the fuck off and let them figure out what is right for them.

          1. Andra Avatar

            ::HEART::. That is all.

          2. Embersmom Avatar

            Agree +1000

      2. ako Avatar

        I’ve got a friend with serious clinical depression who’s trying to be more active and less sedentary for health reasons, and it’s really helpful for her to get away from unhealthy perfectionist messages about exercise (you must do this much exercise or it doesn’t ‘count’, only certain forms of exercise ‘count’, exercising inconsistently and missing days due to mental health problems means the exercise you do on the days you’re up to it doesn’t ‘count’, if you exercise for ten minutes and are tired and sore you need to force yourself to go on or it doesn’t ‘count’, etc.), and focus on stuff like “I can enjoy myself and feel good doing ten minutes with the Wii Fit, and it’s better for me than if I didn’t exercise at all.”

        So something like “Do exercise. In ways you like. As much as you feel comfortable with” can be really helpful.

    2. silentbeep Avatar

      What are you talking about? Seriously, not joking. You are equating exercise with food competence, not the same thing. Have you read the rest of this blog?

      “Exercise some. Only the hard as you want. Do as little as you’re comfortable with.”

      If you seriously, totally believed that certain exercises were going to injure your clients, ’cause I assume you know that not all your clients have olympic style physical ability from day one, yes you would be telling them similar things. This is about context, nuance and a learning curve here. Temporary discomfort is one thing. Torturous suffering is another. How to differentiate between the two states is a learning process and really hard to make snap judgments about.

      what is being talked about here is food consumption, and a theory based on the idea that with some practice, maybe with some help, people will be able to internally, comfortably, decide and calibrate on their own what is good for them.

      It’s like you didn’t even read this post.

      1. KellyK Avatar

        what is being talked about here is food consumption, and a theory based on the idea that with some practice, maybe with some help, people will be able to internally, comfortably, decide and calibrate on their own what is good for them.

        Yes, this. If you were really going to translate the “Eat food. Stuff you like…” mantra into exercise, it would be “Move. In ways you enjoy. As much as you want.” And really, that’s a darn good philosophy for exercise too.

    3. Tiferet Avatar

      The alternative to telling your clients this sort of thing is that they will decide that they’re not doing themselves any good if they only do a little exercise that feels good, and every time they start to exercise, they will feel overwhelmed with guilt because they’re not doing as much as they should do. Eventually they will come to feel that they can never be successful, and that the guilt isn’t worth it, and it will be harder and harder for them to force themselves to go back to it. After the guilt and shame has sunk in deeply enough they’ll probably stop, and since they have busy lives, as we all do, they’ll find other ways to use their time.

      Maybe, years later, they’ll find something they enjoy doing and do it. And maybe they’ll be completely sedentary forever. Either way, they will be getting far less exercise than they would get if they knew that whatever they were able to do was okay and that whatever they do should be fun.

      Most exercise activities were originally ways that humans played. Ball games and hiking and dancing and biking and running–these are all things that are supposed to be fun. Calisthenics and stretching are important to get you warmed up for fun, but the initial point of these things was to make doing fun things safe, not a be-all and end-all in themselves.

      I wonder what sort of ‘fitness professional’ you are because this comment makes it clear to me that you don’t find exercise fun yourself. So why are you doing it?

      Whatever your reasons, they’re yours. When you assume that other people’s reasons ought to be the same as yours, you’re violating their boundaries, and the only reason they’ll put up with that is that they are ashamed for having failed to meet some standard that should probably not even exist.

      I like dancing and I like playing with weights. I don’t do them for an arbitrary amount of time every week. I do them because they are fun and I’m not going to do them in a way that isn’t fun unless I’m training for a dance performance (which is fun in its own way). I don’t run because it isn’t fun. I do dance exercises because it feels good to do them.

      Asceticism in my teenage years gave me dance injuries (that didn’t heal right because I ignored them), an eating disorder and oh yeah, they never caught the celiac because I learned not to pay attention to my body and I didn’t complain about it enough. Asceticism is bunk. It leads to a false high which comes from overproduction of endorphins (due to physical harm) and a false sense of superiority to the rest of the world. It makes you a boring person to be around and an irritating, judgemental d-bag when you try to force it on others. I know, because I’ve been there, and I never ever ever want to go back.

      So. Are you having fun yet? If not, why not? and if you really aren’t having fun, why do you want to force other folks to be miserable? What does that gain for you or for the perception of health and exercise?

      1. Michelle Avatar

        So. Are you having fun yet? If not, why not? and if you really aren’t having fun, why do you want to force other folks to be miserable?

        I think we can safely say that Todd must be some kind of masochist, because he keeps reading here and commenting.

        But seriously, Todd, I actually kind of like you. I like that you’re willing to read here, despite the fact that we obviously come from the opposite ends of the health philosophy spectrum. Maybe you’re just trying to get traffic to your site; I don’t know. But still. I’m sorry I’m so hard on you sometimes, but I can’t not get on your ass when you say something that is totally at odds with what I’m trying to write about here. But I think you’re participating in good faith, so I’m open to discussion. Though that discussion might occasionally include my use of the term “douchebag.”

        1. Tiferet Avatar

          I’m sure you realise this but maybe Todd doesn’t–I do not hate Todd either. I wouldn’t waste my time if I did. But I do have an issue with ‘fitness professionals’ who make people hate exercise because I thought I hated exercise when I was a kid who hated PE and then I realised that I love dancing, and lots of other physical activities (not ball games or running though), and that the problem was my PE teacher who had me convinced that ‘exercise’ and the physical activities I love had nothing to do with each other.

          And everyone I know who does get fit for their size and stay fit for their size, does so because they found something they actually like to do. “Exercise” which is unpleasant and hateful and demeaning is about as sustainable as diets, imnsho.

          1. Emgee Avatar


      2. Jen Avatar

        ” a false sense of superiority to the rest of the world” – I relate to that immensely. The fitter I got the more arrogant I became. And then I got unfit and gained weight and learned a whole lot of new things about myself. Now I am fit again, and I make it a point to NEVER EVER discuss or share in an unsolicited manner how much I work out and how many reps of this or that I can do or blah blah blah because now I know that being fit does not make me Holy and Pure and Better Than Someone Else. Like food, exericse is not a moral issue. Just a physical one.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          The fitter I got the more arrogant I became.

          Same here, 1000%.

          1. Tiferet Avatar

            I made a decision to seriously get back into fat acceptance when I noticed myself getting kind of douchey as I dropped weight. Partly, it turns out, because of celiac, but also because I’d cut out HFCS and cut back on sugar because of the way they made me feel, and then I’d started looking at calories to make sure I was eating enough because one day I flipped out when my skirt was too tight (bloating from celiac will do that). It disturbed the hell out of me that I liked myself better when I was slimmer and it disturbed the hell out of me even more to catch myself saying douchey things (usually only to myself, thank G-d) that I would not have said before. People encourage you to be awful and mean when you lose weight because the fact that you did it is somehow ‘proof’ that a person whose body and life are totally different from yours should be able to do so as well.

          2. notemily Avatar

            Seriously, losing weight is what made me realize that comments about someone else’s weight are never okay. Because when I lost weight (due to IBS), people would come up to me and say how good I looked. I felt like crap! I couldn’t eat anything without horrible pain and digestive issues! But when people said I looked good, a part of me kept wondering, “did they think I looked fat and ugly before?” It really messed up my self-image for a while.

            Then when I finally figured out what foods I could eat and started to put the weight back on, I had all these insecurities about gaining weight again. But then I realized that I was gaining weight because I was getting HEALTHIER and learning how to eat with IBS. And I thought about how fucked up it was that the messages I was getting from people were, “you look better when you’re sick.” So that whole experience made me really think about cultural attitudes about weight, and it’s part of what got me into fat acceptance, too.

          3. Luna Avatar

            Yes, that’s what’s happening to me right now. I lost a bunch of weight and I don’t know why. As far as I can tell, I’ve done nothing much different except that I had to sit on my ass and do NOTHING for 6 weeks because I broke my foot. Finally got up and put on jeans, and HOLY CRAP, I’ve dropped two sizes. How the hell did that happen? I dunno. And now, I keep hearing about how good I look, and it’s pissing me off. Did I look like crap before? And when I say that I don’t know what’s going on, they say things like, “Well, bonus for you!” or “Don’t question, just enjoy!” WTF?! I could have a parasite or cancer or something for all they know, but if it makes me thin, well, it must be good!


          4. Michelle Avatar

            Yeah…stuff like this is a trigger to go have a check-up with your doctor, not for other people to throw a party in praise of your weight loss.

          5. Miranda Avatar

            Well, I remember a time when, as a teenager I went on a really strict and unbalanced diet and lost a lot of weight (about 40 pounds). I ended up way to skinny, freezing cold all the time,and obsessed with food and exercise to the point where it took up nearly all of my waking thoughts.
            People at work even started telling me off about it, saying I was probably anorexic and all the rest of it. I have to admit that I think they had a point, to a great extent (I had gotten to the point where I was afraid to eat sugar free gum or to drink Diet Coke incase someone had switched it at the factory with real Coke!) . But then, one day, something in me snapped. I started bingeing wildly and couldn’t stop. This went on for some time. As I put the weight back on, the same people who had shown concern about my ‘anorexia’, started to look at me with disapproval, as if I’d failed at something. I’ll never really forget their judgmental expressions. Yet surely, that bingeing was my body fighting to survive against the utter starvation I had been subjecting it to.

        2. Embersmom Avatar

          My friend had a stroke 2 years ago. He was 39 years old. He’s fine now, which is awesome, in both senses of the word.

          He was seriously considering getting a t-shirt made that said, “I lost 40 pounds in 3 weeks. Ask me how….”

          He is a very snarky person. I am glad he is back….

    4. April Avatar

      Why not say that? That’s what I do, after all. I ride my bicycle as my main form of transportation. There are days when I think, ah fuck it, do I really want to ride? Wouldn’t I rather take the bus?

      And then I remember that I almost never regret riding somewhere as long as I’m dressed for the weather. Riding my bicycle makes me feel energetic and puts a smile on my face. Some days I take it as slow as an elderly Dutch lady, and some days you’d think I was training for a race.

      And sometimes I”m glad I took the bus: when I’m really tired, when the weather is truly terrible, when I’m sick or sore.

      I also love dancing at nightclubs. That doesn’t feel like exercise, even though it very definitely is! (The drinks probably help.) When a song comes on that I love, I might be out of breath, but goddamit, I’m going to dance anyway.

      So yeah. I exercise. When I feel like it.

      (I have started doing push-ups lately–because I’m tired of not being able to pick up my bicycle and getting sore shoulders after long rides. But even then: I do it every other day, and I do the exercises until I’m done doing them. Because I don’t want to do them anymore.)

    5. closetpuritan Avatar

      I guess I shouldn’t be telling clients, “Exercise some. Only the hard as you want. Do as little as you’re comfortable with.” They may take that as, “A fitness professional told me that I can exercise a little… and that’s good enough.”

      “Want” doesn’t have to mean “want right this second, then regret later” for exercise any more than it does for food. If you’re tempted to hit the snooze button when your alarm goes off and sleep through your morning run, but get up anyway because you’ll regret not having gone for your run later, you’re doing what you want. If you’re training for a marathon and don’t really feel like running today but do it anyway because you don’t want to throw off your training, you’re doing what you want. If you do boring knee exercises because you want to be able to walk up the stairs, you are doing what you want.

      Also: hey, Michelle, you’re back!

  18. Erin Avatar

    Perfect timing. I was sitting down to lunch that included three chicken wings. People always laugh that I cook only three wings in the toaster oven, but I LOVE wings and years of experimentation has shown that I can eat three before I start to feel a little sick. So I make a full lunch of other things that I also like and cook my three wings in the toaster over. If I had a plateful, I wouldn’t enjoy them as much.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Knowing your limits in a way that allows you to have the foods you love, in amounts that don’t make you feel ill, is an excellent (and pretty advanced!) skill to have. Remind yourself of that whenever people laugh :)

    2. KellyK Avatar

      Three sounds like a perfect number of chicken wings to me. (Especially with a couple pieces of pizza.)

  19. Twistie Avatar

    I’ve been eating this way for several years now, and it’s been fantastic! Do I love chips and guacamole? Yes. Cake? Absolutely! Biscuits? Sure thing. And I also adore spinach, and Brussels sprouts, and salmon, and brown rice, and carrots….

    Since Mr. Twistie has diabetes and congestive heart failure, I used to ride him about his eating, and ride him hard. It was horrible for both of us. He would resent my carping and go off and eat a double cheeseburger and onion rings and feel sick, but proudly defiant. It raised his stress levels, which raised his (already high) blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

    About two years ago, I decided that I couldn’t keep being the Food Police. Mr. Twistie is a grown man with the right to decide how he wants to eat, and I am not his mommy. I started working harder at making the foods that would help him be healthier more appealing to him, and once the pressure was off, he started being more willing to try new things. He still eats the occasional cheeseburger, but he’s now willing to try out vegetables he used to reject out of hand. He still loves onion rings, but now he has them a couple times a year instead of a couple times a week. He’s become more concerned with the quality of the ingredients and preparation of his food, and much calmer about eating.

    The biggest victory in the whole thing? Is a toss up, actually. His blood sugar and cholesterol are under better control, and he actually told me a couple weeks ago that he would be willing to try Brussels sprouts for the first time since he was eight. He’s even starting to get in touch with the way his body is affected by his eating habits. He’s finally tried soy milk to help him deal with his lactose intolerance. It was a revelation to him.

    As for me, well, my blood pressure was never a problem, but I really like not getting tied up in mental knots about feeding my husband.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      This is a great story, and a perfect illustration of how pressure (even pressure with good intentions) can totally disrupt someone’s eating. I’m glad you all got it sorted out.

  20. Christina Avatar

    I started keeping track of the nutritional information of my food on a free website that is designed for weight loss (I wasn’t trying to lose weight, BTW just trying to track all the carbs, protien, fat, vitamins, minerals etc) I was amazed to find that when I ate a lot of simple carbs I felt like crap. I mean I know you hear people telling you that but to actually be able to see it made it real for me. The website also has a place to record your mood and thoughts and I was amazed that food effected my mood and my physical feelings. I know that probably sounds like I have been living under a rock for the last, oh forever. I have been fat all my life and just recently have been working HAES as well as with my own fat acceptance. It has been revolutionary to me to realize that foods I choose cause changes in my body and my mood.
    Sounds basic but for me it has been a revelation.

    I’m not sure if it is alright to post the website so I will leave it off, if you would like it just email me or Michelle post a comment and I will list it.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Very interesting! Sometimes food journals can be used for good instead of evil :)

      I also have the thing with simple carbs — but I wouldn’t ever stop eating them. Instead, I tend to eat them with protein/fat/starch, because that regulates the entry of glucose into the bloodstream. And feels more satisfying to my stomach.

      And I don’t think this is “basic” at all. I think it’s quite advanced, actually.

      What website did you use?

      There’s also a book called The Food and Feelings Workbook by Karen Koenig, which I haven’t read, but she is very well-respected and it looks good.

      1. Christina Avatar

        Thanks for the suggestion of the book, I will check it out. I have spent so long out of touch with the connection with food and my body that I am looking for tools to help bridge the gap.

        The website is fitday dot com (if dieting is triggering avoid the forums they are all about dieting, weight loss surgery etc)

        What I like is I can also track things like minerals and such too. I found out I wasn’t getting enough potassium and upped the oranges and bananas.

    2. notemily Avatar

      I know what you mean about feeling like crap when you only eat simple carbs. Food is complicated for me because I have ADHD, depression, anxiety, and IBS, and all of those things can be affected by different foods. Eating too much sugar/simple carbs makes my anxiety go up, and my concentration is shot. Eating fatty protein like cheese or nuts is better for my brain, but not for my stomach. And some of the foods that are best for my mood AND my stomach cost time and effort to make, which is time and effort I don’t have if I’m having a bad depression day, for example. So I have to juggle all of those things together and decide what’s more important to me at that moment.

      On the other hand it means I’ve never worried about whether food is going to make me OH NOES TEH FAT. I have too many other factors to think about!

  21. […] is why I googleshared Food You Like is Food that Feels Good from The Fat […]

  22. Ashley Avatar

    Great post!

    This is something I have been challenged with a lot. As someone who has dieted their who life, I have picked up a lot of negative preceptions of food. 1 being that delicious food is bad for you, and eating the amount you want = over eating.

    I think that is the most negative impact diet culture has had on me. I keep regaining weight because no matter what program or plan I am on, I still hold negative ideas about food and eat.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      1 being that delicious food is bad for you, and eating the amount you want = over eating.

      You are definitely not alone there.

  23. Ashley Avatar

    In my own experience, while foods that are considered “junk food” taste good, those are always the same ones that make me feel like crap later on. They make me too full really quickly, feeling bloated and gassy, and they drain my energy. However as a child and teen, I couldn’t stay away from them. I was addicted to junk food without a doubt. Not to mention, I am suffering long term effects of eating that way…I recently found out that I have clogged arteries and might need heart surgery. And I’m 26. How sad is that?

    While I feel like there is nothing wrong with junk food in moderation, but moderation is something that American culture doesn’t know much about. We are extreme in our ways of living. To us, it’s eat all or nothing, which is the problem. And yes junk foods may have nutritional value, but they are also damaging to the system and there are better (yet still tasty) alternative that aren’t so damaging.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I love the taste of candy, etc. But I’ve found the best approach is to treat it like regular food. Meaning, I try to eat it along with other foods. I don’t necessarily think it’s “damaging” though — it depends on the person, really. Everyone’s physiology handles different food differently. And there are plenty of sick people out there for whom junk food literally saves lives.

      1. KellyK Avatar

        This makes a lot of sense to me. I also think that the moderation Ashley is talking about is valid, but it has to be internal (e.g., eating three chicken wings because that’s the number you feel good with, stopping when you’re full, avoiding things that make you feel crappy) rather than external (calorie-counting, allowing only one “treat” a day or week, etc.).

        1. Michelle Avatar

          Yes, exactly. Any choice about food — whether it be type of food or amount of food — MUST be made internally, and not in response to external pressure, or it’s going to feel bad and result in a negative reaction of some kind.

          And, speaking of combining foods, I’m just about to go get a glass of cola to go with my bean salad. Because it suddenly sounded like the most awesome combo in the world :)

  24. BlackSheep Avatar

    I was pointed to this post by a blogger I follow, and want to say THANK YOU for your perspectives on this issue. I’ve come around to a very similar stance on food after a long roundabout journey of growing up getting inundated with messages about needing to be thinner to be “better” and all the accompanying self-loathing. I try very hard to preach the gospel of “just eat, and be healthy AND happy” to anyone who will listen, and I am thankful for people like you. It *is* all about how you FEEL.

    I could rant on and on about all the little ways I agree, but I’ll just go with, YES, THIS.

  25. AnotherKate Avatar

    First, I love your blog and have wanted to delurk for awhile! I hope this isn’t a weird question w/r/t “food that makes you feel good” but here goes: If you’re used to thinking of some foods as “forbidden” and eating them now makes you feel icky, how can you tell whether it’s physical or emotional?

    I’m NOT talking about conditions like celiac or migraines from chocolate, of course. I’m talking about a slightly bloated, gassy or nauseous feeling after eating something you “shouldn’t.” It’s not the “I just overate” feeling because I can get it from one cookie. And it’s usually accompanied by the guilty feeling of having eaten something “bad” so I had to wonder – maybe it’s the guilt making my stomach churn, not the baked goods! Does this sound possible to you? I’d much rather work on giving up food guilt than giving up cupcakes!


    1. Michelle Avatar

      I think it is possible to have a physical reaction to a food based primarily on anxiety — anxiety alone can cause stomach upset (as anyone with “nervous stomach” can tell you. One fun example I love to tell my clients is how family groups of mountain gorillas are well-known to leave a trail of diarrhea behind them when they are fleeing from a threat. I think a lot of people can relate!)

      But I would think that the anxiety required to provoke this kind of physical response must either be considerable, or else you must have a very sensitive stomach, in order to get an effect like this purely from an emotional source. If you can work on reducing your anxiety around specific foods, and then come back to them and see if they still cause upset, this might give you some insight as to whether the source of the problem is primarily physical or emotional.

      1. AnotherKate Avatar

        Thanks! It’s really a very minor “ick” feeling, and I do get nervous stomach when I’m stressed out, so I’m thinking I’ll try working on the ridiculous guilt first!

    2. KellyK Avatar

      My stomach tends to churn when I’m stressed out or feel guilty, so it could definitely be emotional rather than physical.

      I wonder if it’s a little of both–you have a minor negative reaction for whatever physical reason, but the anxiety and stress on top of it add to it.

  26. bananacat Avatar

    Or perhaps you haven’t ever encountered “healthy” food in anything other than a guilt-ridden context — and thus have always felt resentful toward it and, as a result, your primary nutrition concern is to either be on the wagon, or off it and eating as rebelliously as possible.

    This is so true. I’ve never been a big fan of raw vegetables. To me, salad was punishment. I felt like that’s what I had earned by eating so much ice cream the months before, and now I just have to suffer through the lettuce or carrot sticks.

    When I finally decided to try to stop moralizing food, I was amazed at much my eating habits changed. Occasionally I actually crave lettuce or carrots, now that they are no longer punishment. I even tried raw cucumbers for the first time and I liked them! Now, trying new foods is an adventure. I can’t say that I’m a vegetable freak, and I still prefer fruits over vegetables, but it is so amazing to eat lettuce and simply enjoy it, with no morality attached.

    And I also enjoy the “bad” foods more because I don’t feel guilt and shame along with them. Sometimes I even find that I am satisfied with less because I can get more enjoyment from it, but if I want more, then I have more.

  27. Von Avatar

    Whelp, I don’t consider myself an asshole, (others might, but I don’t), so here’s my comment.
    I love the way you put this. I’m in the beginning stages of fat activism/acceptance, and want to get more vocal locally. I have a heaping helping of self confidence that I want to share with others who might not.
    Thank you for the section about your observations – I think that’s something I’m going to start doing for myself as well.
    Basically, you rock, sister from another mister – keep it coming.

    1. JennyRose Avatar

      @Pifert – this is great:

      “Whatever your reasons, they’re yours. When you assume that other people’s reasons ought to be the same as yours, you’re violating their boundaries”

      I have not thought about this in terms of boundaries but that is what judgmental people are doing. They are not merely stating their opinions even if they say they are. Of course “Well I would never eat HFCS, carbs, unclean food etc….” Can be very judgmental and a violation of boundaries.

      1. Tiferet Avatar

        It’s Tiferet (it’s Hebrew *g*) and thank you.

  28. truelove Avatar

    This is a concept that is hard to express to a lot of people: I don’t eat yogurt with fruit in it because it’s been declared healthy by Those On High, I eat it because I think it tastes good and I feel good after I do so. Please do not praise me for being healthy because it just makes me want to punch you.

    Similarly, I love prime rib a lot. It tastes fantastic. But I can’t have more than a few bites of it anymore; years ago I moved in with my now husband, and he is unable to handle high-fat content in his meat. Due to that, well, I stopped eating high-fat meat as often, because it was simpler to just cook food that he could eat because I could eat it regardless, and I guess my body forgot how to handle large quantities of it. I can handle a fair amount of fat in meat still because my physiology is more flexible than the husband’s, but prime rib’s one thing I’ve had to let go of having very often. When I do have it, I know better than to eat very much at a time; I get a small cut and I only have a bit and save the rest for later. I’d rather enjoy it over a few days than feel ill.

    This is apparently an advanced skill, knowing that how you feel later is as important as how it tastes now, because I know so few people who have this skill. But I don’t understand why because… well. Don’t you want to feel good? I understand perfectly when people make a cost/benefit analysis that says the pain is worth benefit but I don’t understand not making that analysis.

    But re: the whole pressure thing, one of the things I’ve found that aggravates me is packaging that advertises foods I really enjoy as being super-healthy. It pisses me off and makes me want to rebel! I mostly refuse to buy anything packaged that way because I’d rather be pissed off at the distributors than at the food itself that’s in my fridge.

    And overall societal pressure can and does reduce our overall options for food; it is, for example, INCREDIBLY difficult to find full-fat yogurt these days. I don’t like the taste of low-fat and it doesn’t satisfy at all. I don’t object to the existence of low-fat yogurt as, obviously, there are people for whom it is preferable (and not even just for dieting purposes). I just want to be able to find a passable selection of full-fat yogurt, instead of having to hunt down the ONE brand that has PLAIN full-fat yogurt. This is why, actually, I have learned to like yogurt sweetened with honey and tossing in chopped fruit myself — it’s actually easier to find plain and sweeten it my own self than it is to find anything pre-prepared that’s full-fat.

    1. Elizabeth Avatar

      Have you tried water-buffalo-milk yogurt? It’s got even more fat than the full-fat cow’s milk stuff, and it tastes divine. Expensive, but worth it on occasion.

      1. truelove Avatar

        I haven’t and while I’d be happy to try it, I’m not sure where I’d find any. I am extremely fond of goat’s dairy as a whole and am very grateful to be able to find it easily at Trader Joe’s and Fresh and Easy, and can find a few sheep’s dairy products at Whole Foods as well, but I’ve never seen water buffalo yogurt there or anywhere else I shop for speciality stuff. If you’ve a suggestion as to where to go looking for it, I’d be interested!

        On the subject of yogurt, I have to admit, I really love greek yogurt best. The texture’s fantastic, and the low-fat stuff isn’t at all untasty, just not AS tasty as the full-fat. Oddly enough, I also enjoy Skyr which is an icelandic dairy product made from skim milk but has a wonderful creamy texture that’s similar to greek yogurt but it’s a little more sour. I can’t have it by itself, though — it’ll just leave me unsatisfied if that’s all I have.

        I have thought occasionally about trying to culture my own yogurt from nutmilk because that’s something that I’m aware of being possible but have very little hope of finding commercially available anywhere. It’s about half food curiousity and half experiment for the sake of worldbuilding in writing. *g*

        1. Elizabeth Avatar

          They used to have it at Whole Foods by me, for what that’s worth, but I haven’t looked for a while. If you happen to be in New England, here‘s a store locator for that brand.

          1. truelove Avatar

            I am in the Phoenix metro, unfortunately — and the link doesn’t seem to be working for me? I don’t see a link at all, actually.

            I’ll see what I can find locally, though! Might turn something up, somewhere.

          2. Jenn Avatar

            I like full-fat yogurt as well. And I have an even bigger challenge because I can tolerate yogurt but only if any extra milk products are added before it’s cultured. That isn’t often included on the packaging. I used to make my own but I haven’t had the time lately.

            I think your best bet to find the full fat yogurt is to go to a proper food co-op. They may also have the buffalo yogurt, who knows. Stonyfield and Brown Cow are two brands I know have a full fat or cream top version.

          3. Elizabeth Avatar

            Apparently Michelle’s blog blocks link tags, even thought it says at the bottom it’s OK to post them – who knew?


          4. Michelle Avatar

            Weird, it didn’t used to! It only gave them a noref, I thought. Huh.

          5. Elizabeth Avatar

            Maybe I typed it wrong.

            test link

          6. Elizabeth Avatar

            Yep, that must have been it.

          7. Michelle Avatar

            U DID IT WRONG

    2. KellyK Avatar

      But re: the whole pressure thing, one of the things I’ve found that aggravates me is packaging that advertises foods I really enjoy as being super-healthy. It pisses me off and makes me want to rebel! I mostly refuse to buy anything packaged that way because I’d rather be pissed off at the distributors than at the food itself that’s in my fridge.

      I totally agree with this. I find myself ignoring the “healthy options” or “simple and fit” or whatever options on a menu, even though a lot of them sound like perfectly tasty meals. And even though Lean Cuisines make a nice, easy work lunch, particularly with a salad or a candy bar or granola bar, I’m debating not buying them any more because of the name and the advertising, and switching to frozen meals that aren’t marketed that way.

      1. Tiferet Avatar

        I had stopped liking Lean Cuisines even before my diagnosis because they’re tasty but I was always hungry an hour or two after eating one. Of course the fact that they’re full of gluten was part of the problem but the other part of it is that 250-310 calories is not a meal for me or for most people, it’s a large snack.

        So if I had one at 12, by the end of the work day at 5 I was wanting to knock people down if they got between me and food. (I know you can have them with a salad, but the salad bar in the cafeteria at work is loaded with gluten and set up perfectly for cross-contamination, and making salad in the office break room seems fraught, given that we have a tiny bit of counter, a microwave and a fridge and the other half of the room is the copy machine which one presumably doesn’t want to get food on.)

        I found the same thing to be true of Healthy Choice or the Eating Right meals at Safeway. The food was more appealing than in the regular frozen dinners but the portions were ridiculously small.

        Amy’s stuff (not all of which is gluten free–I only eat the gluten free ones–but all of which is vegetarian–the veg point is not a big selling point for me but it might be for others) and the Conte’s gluten free meals are around 450-500 calories. I am not advocating that people count calories but I have personally found that if I don’t eat at least 450 calories for lunch, by the time I get off work I’m in a nasty, snappish mood due to lack of blood sugar. It doesn’t matter how lovely something tastes or how filling it is, if it’s not actually enough food, my body will not be fooled about that.

        1. KellyK Avatar

          I totally agree with you about the calories in a Lean Cuisine. Definitely not a full meal. I don’t count calories in general, but if I’m planning a lunch that includes a frozen entree, I often look at the calories to see if it’s a meal in and of itself or not so much. I think some of those brands have “dinner” entrees that are actually a reasonable lunch. Unfortunately, I think they become “dinner” in part by including a dessert, most of which probably have gluten.

          I do very much like the Amy’s meals too, and they seem to be more filling.

          As far as salad, would bringing a pre-made salad in a tupperware container work for you? (I’d think you’d want to keep the dressing separate until you’re ready to eat it, and not use super “wet” veggies, like tomatoes could make it soggy). Or some other “side dish” that’s easily microwaved, like frozen veggies or leftover rice?

    3. Jackabug Avatar

      My fiancee and I love full-fat yogurt. Stonyfield’s cream-on-top quarts have been getting scarce in stores around here, but what consistently remains available is their “YoBaby” line — marketed for infants, who according to The Experts should have whole-milk yogurt so it’s ‘okay’ — all of which have fruit already mixed in but are pretty delicious. They come in 4-packs or 6-packs of individual-serving cups, each package containing two flavors.

      Brown Cow, as someone else mentioned, makes full-fat yogurts, and I know that at least in the Northeast, Whole Foods carries them.

      We just recently discovered Liberté brand’s Mediterrané line of not just full-fat but extra-cream-added yogurts. (The accented é isn’t so much affectation as in recognition of the company’s roots in Québec.) Liberté’s website has resources for both finding local-to-you retailers and convincing your local stores that aren’t already carrying it to do so. They’re pricier than whole-milk and Greek-style yogurts, but not by that much, and they’re so decadent (in the good sense) that it doesn’t feel like they’re overpriced at all. Half a container of one feels like a delicious dessert or between-meal treat.

      As for making one’s own yogurt, while we haven’t tried this ourselves yet, from what I understand it’s actually pretty easy to do yourself and you can use a spoonful or so of whatever commercially-available “with live cultures” yogurt as starter culture to add to whatever cow’s, goat’s, water-buffalo’s, soy, almond or other milk. A food thermometer (like the ones used in candy-making) seems like it’s reassuring but not strictly necessary to the process once one has the “hang” of it.

      If that’s too intimidating, check out some online recipes for making your own ricotta and/or kefir (Indian soft cheese often, very misleadingly, referred to as cottage cheese) from milk. That’s something we have done, and so long as we save the whey for use in soups, cooking pasta or whatever, it doesn’t feel ‘wasteful’ to use that much milk and ‘only’ yield a relatively smaller volume of fresh cheese. The process of draining the whey out is very similar to how Greek strained yogurt was traditionally made. And when I was in France many years ago, I discovered something called simply “fromage blanc” that’s eaten much like yogurt and even sold in single-serving cups, sometimes with fruit included; I haven’t come across a recipe for making the French version, but made-that-day ricotta is definitely delicious with just a drizzle of honey or limoncello or some fresh (or even frozen) fruit.

      1. Jackabug Avatar

        D’oh. The Indian fresh cheese isn’t called kefir, but rather paneer (sometimes spelled ‘panir’). We’ve been noshing on Middle-Eastern foods like falafel and kefta this week, which I guess may be why my brain served up the word kefir — a Middle-Eastern yogurt with a drinkable, smoothie-like consistency and a somewhat different set of cultures instead of the word I actually meant. Kefir is also delicious, but completely different from paneer.

  29. […] morning, Ashley tweeted this amazing article by the Fat Nutritionist.  And I read in awe while waiting for my shower to warm up this morning. I loved it. Eating not […]

  30. Christina Avatar

    One of the things that is so liberating about this is the underpinning of understanding that – HEY, My body knows what it is doing and I can trust it.
    So completely different from what I have heard all my life, and what didn’t work.
    Thank you for saying this, hopefully repeatedly. I think it is sinking in =)

  31. Wacky Lisa Avatar

    I have been working on eating food that tastes good to me in the quantities I actually want. Happily, I’ve been learning what my adult palate is like and gradually have been telling that little moralizing voice in my head to STFU. I haven’t quite gotten to the point of taking the long term affect of food on my body into my mental calculations. Although I’ve been quite happy with my progress as it is.

    Recently I’ve been put on a medication which causes taste distortion. Unfortunately, this is not going to be a temporary script and this side effect doesn’t seem to be going away. This has put such a wrench in my progress that I’ve thought about emailing you.

    I needed a reminder that I can trust myself. Although ‘sweet’ is the taste that seems to be the least distorted at the moment it will probably be okay. As long as I make a point to get enough potassium (the medication is known to leech K out of the body which is bad) I will probably be okay. Even if I mostly subsist off of prunes, tea with milk, water, and baked potatoes. I’ve already noticed that I’m still craving things like cheese despite that once I start eating them I’m sadly disappointed.

    I was so proud of myself for getting to a point where I liked food and could enjoy eating. I may not feel that way now but this doesn’t negate the progress I’ve made.

  32. Elodie Avatar

    I’ve been getting over the flu and I was having some problems getting enough to eat. I’d eaten far less than was healthy for a couple weeks, even losing a little weight (and feeling weird about that), and I couldn’t seem to get my appetite back, though I was hungry. Everything sounded gross — until one night when I got a severe craving for cookies and cream ice cream.

    My fiance got me some cookies and cream ice cream, and I ate a huge bowl of it. My appetite came back, and we went out to eat. I got a huge salad, with spinach, field greens, cheese, blue cheese dressing, tomatoes, eggs, broccoli, sunflower seeds, croutons, and a cup of tomato basil soup on the side. Also hummus. Now my eating seems to be on even keel again. I don’t know if I’d have been able to listen to my body’s need for that ice cream before reading your blog — so thank you!

  33. April Avatar

    This is a lesson I learn over and over.

    Too much soda pop makes me feel yucky for hours. Too many cupcakes makes me feel yucky. Too much salty food…ah, you get the idea.

    I do the same thing with my morning oatmeal: I always add a blob of margarine (Earth Balance!). It really does taste better and stick to your ribs (as they say) for longer.

    For that matter: a bit of fat makes everything taste better. Not deep-frying things (although that is also tasty), just a bit of olive oil/margarine/coconut oil/canola oil. Everything tastes better and leaves you more satisfied-feeling. (Please note, I’m vegan, so as a general rule all the fat in my diet, I’ve added to it.)

    Leafy greens make me feel good. Noodles do but only if I don’t overdo it, and the definition of “overdoing it” depends on how hungry I am. Moderate servings of beans are usually awesome. Almost anything feels better cooked in soup.

    I have to eat within an hour or so of getting up or I am extremely unhappy. I like having an Emergen-C packet (I call them my fizzies) in a big glass of water first thing in the morning. I generally prefer huge lunches and lighter dinners.

    If I get too hungry I crave things made from refined flour and fat. Like the time I biked 80 miles in a day, was too tired to eat enough, and then woke up at two am fantasizing about deep-fried Biquick pancakes covered in powdered sugar.

    I miss coffee because my Wellbutrin has the lovely side effect of having coffee make me queasy all day, but tea is fine. Raw garlic often doesn’t agree with me, but I love lots of cooked garlic.

    It is occasionally worth it to eat until I’m too full, or take that extra cupcake. Life is too short to worry too much.

    1. April Avatar

      Oh, and when I’m on a bike tour? Food becomes an obsession. Everything tastes fantastic, and you have to eat all dang day.

      When my boyfriend and I took longer trips (nine days was the longest) this past summer, we realized that the best thing ever was stopping partway through the day (usually in the afternoon when we had about a third of our daily miles left) to have some Coke and chips. It really hit the spot in a way that nothing else could. I figure it was exactly what our bodies needed: water, fat, salt, carbs, sugar, and a little caffeine.

      Yeah, if you ever really want to know what food your body likes, ride your bike for fifty miles a day. You’ll be surprised.

      1. Tiferet Avatar

        When the Iranian election fraud was first becoming well-known I was going to protests and marching for hours a few times a week.

        I don’t normally like french fries much, but I scarfed them down like mad. With mayo. And they were AMAZING.

    2. KellyK Avatar

      If I get too hungry I crave things made from refined flour and fat. Like the time I biked 80 miles in a day, was too tired to eat enough, and then woke up at two am fantasizing about deep-fried Biquick pancakes covered in powdered sugar.

      Sounds about right. My brother-in-law went out to Colorado to get a degree in outdoor recreational leadership, and during the extreme cold-weather camping trips, they would melt half a stick of butter in their hot cocoa each night.

      1. April Avatar

        Yeah, you burn a lot of calories just existing when it’s super cold. I think that’s part of why everyone craves starchy foods in the winter.

        1. The Bald Soprano Avatar

          And yet, craving starchy foods in winter is listed as a symptom of SAD….

    3. G Avatar

      “For that matter: a bit of fat makes everything taste better.” Especially veggies! I’m lucky to like them plain but drizzle a bit of olive or sesame oil or butter on there and they’re just delectable.

      I have a dieting friend who fights me all the time on this. “People should learn to eat vegetables just raw or steamed, they need to change their palate.” Yep, just choke that unpleasant food down, it’s good for you. Certainly don’t make it tastier, that would defeat the entire plan of making you hate food!

      1. KellyK Avatar

        “People should learn to eat vegetables just raw or steamed, they need to change their palate.”

        You’re right–good for you for “fighting the good fight” with your dieting friend.

        The problem with that idea, I think, is that you don’t change your palate by eating things that you find icky. You change your palate by playing around comfortably and giving yourself permission to try stuff and get used to those flavors. If a little butter or salt or olive oil makes broccoli taste good, then yay broccoli. Heck, if you have to drown it in cheese sauce to make it good, it’s still broccoli. And if someone who has disliked broccoli finds they enjoy it with cheese sauce, awesome. As they get used to thinking of broccoli as actual food and not an evil green abomination, they may want less cheese or may try it sauteed with spices, or raw in a salad. But you don’t learn to like things by choking them down–that’s how you learn to hate them.

        1. Andra Avatar

          The other problem with this is that some (many?) of the nutrients in vegetables are fat soluble, so a little olive oil on your greens or butter on your broccoli helps you get the most bang for your branch!

          1. Michelle Avatar

            Damn straight. Fat often makes things MORE nutritious, for a number of reasons. One being absorption, and another being YUMMY.

      2. April Avatar

        But that’s bullshit. Fat carries flavors. That’s part of why we like it!!

    4. Heather aka Epiphany Avatar


      ohemgee! I’d never made the connection between coffee and Wellbutrin. I found it really easy to NOT drink coffee on Wellbutrin, but since my doc took me off it, I’ve been drinking SOO much coffee. Thanks for the insight :)

      1. Michelle Avatar

        I can report the same is true for Cymbalta. I have to be careful with coffee.

        It’s not necessarily queasy, though — if I drink caffeine too soon after taking medication, I get a wicked headache. (Other things make me queasy. Like…food of any kind too soon after taking meds.)

      2. April Avatar

        Yup! And it’s not the caffeine, it’s the oils and acids. If I drink so much as a cup of coffee, I’m in bed all day sipping ginger tea/ginger ale.

        On 150 mgs of Wellbutrin I can drink coffee, but only one cup after I eat a good meal. On 300 mgs, forget it. Coffee is out of my life. *sigh*

        1. Elizabeth Avatar

          Have you tried cold-brewed coffee? It cuts down on the acids and oils considerably. I think Seattle’s Best used to use cold-brew for their iced coffee, if you want to try it without investing in a gadget first. I also have a friend-of-a-friend who makes it using (unworn) tube socks.

  34. Jen Avatar

    Just thank you. Thank you so very very much.

  35. Theresa Avatar

    Awesome post! Thanks so much for reminding all of us that food isn’t just fuel and one diet doesn’t fit everyone. I’m in the gluten-free camp too and it’s so important to remember how it feels to be ‘glutened’ when I gaze at that tempting cake.
    Plus I’m trying to eat and act healthier at the moment – I don’t want to go down that guilt track when I eat nachos or fried things, but I felt myself sliding today before I read this post, thanks for bringing me back to earth! :)

  36. ChironsGate Avatar

    I have been reading your blog for quite a while now but this is my first post.

    I grew up in a household that loved Italian food. Especially pasta. We had it three to four times a week. I hated it. Every single meal. Now I loved it when we had meatballs or chicken with the pasta because I could eat just that. But, it wasn’t until a year and a half ago I realized why I never wanted and still do not want pasta.

    It was after my SO and I went and had dinner at Bucca Di Beppo that I noticed my behavior afterward. My mood crashed and I was completely down. I felt like my body was made of lead. I could not sleep that night at all or the night after for that matter. I hate pasta because it makes me depressed and my body feels like crap.

    I wish I had realized that a long time ago. I guess on some level I did and that’s why I tried to avoid eating it.

    Now all this talk of food and eating what sounds good had got me wanting to log off my computer and go get the rest of my snack I made last night. I roasted broccoli, cauliflower, onion, red potato, and carrots in olive oil and a little bit of balsamic vinegar. Seasoned with garlic salt, pepper and poultry seasoning they are fantastic all by themselves but I am a woman who loves her dip so I made one.
    I took one of those Ranch dip packets and I mixed it with some fat free Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. It is the best dip I have ever had. It tastes just like the ranch dip usually does but it does not leave me feeling like I ate lead instead of food.

    Thanks for writing this. I wish I had been told this a long time ago. Maybe then I would have a better relationship with food and with myself in general.

    1. Tiferet Avatar

      If pasta makes you crash like that, think about what happens when you eat bread, and cake, and whether or not it matters if they’re whole wheat or refined.

      If all those things make you feel awful, you too may have celiac disease, and it’s worth finding out–you can put it on an ID bracelet and make sure you’re never fed this stuff in the hospital, where it will interfere with your healing processes, for one thing.

      I was really glad to know that it was a really real thing and that there were a whole lot of foods that could cause this reaction and that other foods wouldn’t, unless they were contaminated with gluten. The feeling of being bloated and achy and irritable and depressed after eating wheat is totally familiar to me.

  37. Frances Avatar

    Or maybe you only allow yourself to eat when you are desperately hungry — in which situation you are more likely to reach for calorically-dense “bad” foods because you’re at the bottom of the pyramid. And, at that stage, getting enough food = getting enough calories.

    Oh my god. I had disordered eating on and off throughout my teens. I vividly remember barely eating throughout the day and then snacking on doughnuts when I got home from school (and then wallowing in the resulting guilt). I never realised why I always went for the doughtnuts until I read that statement.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      You didn’t do it because you’re a dirty doughnut-eater. You did it because, when you’re starving, doughnuts are pretty much IDEAL FOOD.

      Your body isn’t broken; this is actually proof that it knows exactly what it’s doing.

      1. Lampdevil Avatar

        Oh sweet bippy, yes, we are NOT dirty doughnut-eaters. I felt the exact same way, like I was some kind of out of control nom-monster… when I really wasn’t eating enough, at the right times. I have freed myself to have breakfast! And lunch! And snacks galore! Because if I don’t eat, I get irrational and crabby and prone to wanting to buy an entire bag of cheeseburgers and inhale them.

        Entire bags of cheeseburgers make me sick. One cheeseburger is cool, but an entire bag… not so much. My over-hungry eyes are bigger than my belly, and I wildly overdo it if I wait too long to eat. Maybe one could interpret it as me being some sort of inherently bad person… but put under the lens of ‘my body knows what it needs’, it apparently needs filling, quick, dense food ASAP KTHX. I make an effort not to let myself get like this, because being overfull and ucky is no fun.

  38. Doctor Science Avatar

    The problem I have with this idea has to do with what I think of as “Industrial Food”. I can’t move myself away from the idea that Industrial Food is *bad*, generally speaking. It tastes flat and often metallic; the oils are often on the edge of rancid; it’s much saltier or sweeter than the equivalent I’d make in my kitchen; it’s as though I can taste the chemicals, or even the packaging (cardboard/metal/plastic).

    But people who are used to Industrial Food often *like* it, that’s the food they want to eat. How do I get them to eat food made out of food without riding the Good Food/Bad Food train?

    1. Michelle Avatar

      How do I get them to eat food made out of food without riding the Good Food/Bad Food train?

      Honestly? I don’t think you can *get* people to do things. Especially when it comes to food. You can offer food that you like to someone, but they are the ones who get to decide whether or not they 1) want to eat it, 2) actually like it. If you want to expose people to the food that you think is Right And Good, by all means, do so. But you can’t make them adhere to your tastes or your beliefs about food.

      Also, denigrating other people’s food choices (as not being real food, or whatever) is a crappy way to get them to open up to your ideas, or your food. If you’re not willing to extend them (and, by extension, their food) respect, why should they listen to what you have to say?

      In order to not ride the Good Food/Bad Food train…you have to get off it first.

      1. Doctor Science Avatar

        Yeah, I don’t know that I can do that, when it comes to Industrial Food.

        The trouble with Industrial Food is that it is designed to fool your body, and it often succeeds. The idea that “your body knows what’s good for you” depends on your body getting reliable signals (e.g. taste) from the food about what’s in it and how you’ll feel after you eat it. IF hooks into your natural signalling mechanisms, to connect “this is really good!” to whatever is high-profit.

        IF is often a supernormal stimulus, which means that people who are afraid they’ll eat some food uncontrollably aren’t necessarily irrational: the stimulus from the IF may be enough to override natural feeling of satiety. And of course the more of your diet is IF, the less useful natural signals will be overall, because so many of them are crying “wolf!” — or “sugar!”

        The fact that nutrionists have to train people nowadays to connect their bodily feelings with what they ate several hours ago — instead of how it tastes in the moment, as nature intended — is IMHO a consequence of being surrounded by IF and ads for it, all working to disconnect your appetite from your needs.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          I don’t believe that it is this simple or cut-and-dried.

          I think that food advertising, and perhaps certain types of food, may have some effect on people as far as “tricking” their appetites. But I think the trickery usually only works in the short-term. I think that an equally big, if not bigger factor, in screwing with people’s self regulation, longer-term, is the idea that certain foods are good and bad, and all the messages in our culture about what is right and wrong to eat, in what amounts. And, unfortunately, I think you’re playing into it.

        2. KellyK Avatar

          I kind of question whether having to think about how food makes you feel is only relevant to modern, industrial food or that “nature intended” for you to be able to tell everything you need by taste. Taste is a good signal, but it’s not perfect. I mean, you can be allergic or intolerant to something and still really enjoy that flavor. And is pasta made from scratch, eaten by itself, going to make you feel any less lethargic than Kraft mac & cheese? I think it would taste *better* but could still make you feel dopey and tired. Too many blueberries could make you feel just as sick as too many french fries.

          As far as foods overriding your satiety signals, the main time I’ve experienced that when I was eating regular meals and snacks and not restricting calories has been with sugar-free cookies that were kind of “meh” tasting. I ate a whole bunch of them, whether because of some subliminal “oh, but they’re healthier than regular cookies” thing or because I hadn’t satisfied the cookie craving so I kept trying.

          Even if that happens, though, unless you have binge eating issues, it’s largely self-correcting. If you eat yourself sick on something, you feel gross and miserable and don’t do it again. I don’t buy those cookies any more, becuase I eat more than I want and don’t enjoy them anyway.

          1. ako Avatar

            Too many blueberries could make you feel just as sick as too many french fries.

            I had an intense craving for homemade, from-scratch tomato bruschetta a while back. Tomatoes, garlic, basil, and balsamic vinegar, on whole-wheat bread (also homemade and low-fat). Very much on the ‘good’ food list by nearly anyone’s standard.

            I ate that for nearly all of my meals too many days in a row without varying my food and ended up feeling pretty crappy due to insufficient protein.

        3. Tiferet Avatar

          I’m pretty sure that what trained me to disconnect my appetite from my needs was growing up with my father and grandmother and their obsession with diets and insistence that my instincts and feelings about food just had to be wrong.

          It’s very funny but after I finally got diagnosed with celiac disease, it turned out that a lot of the things my dad thinks are good for me that I didn’t want to eat as a child actually aren’t good for me.

          And yeah, I did like cake, which also turned out to be bad for me. But you can’t really blame IF for that because my mom would have died before letting me eat a cake from the store where *gasp* poor people shopped! All my birthday cakes came from an expensive bakery.

          I do think that HFCS is pretty awful stuff and there is some interesting stuff being done on the way it’s metabolised but there do seem to be people who can ingest it without ill effect, even though I am not among that group.

    2. KellyK Avatar

      I think part of it is recognizing that everybody’s palate is different and that there is no morality in preferences. Like you said, you find packaged food really gross-tasting, but not everyone does.

      I personally fall somewhere in the middle. That is, I’d usually *rather* have a homemade burger, especially in the summer when I can put really fresh tomatoes on it, but once in a while, a Burger King burger is pretty tasty too. There’s also effort and convenience. I’m not bringing a George Foreman to work just to grill a burger; our kitchen doesn’t have space for everyone to do that sort of thing, and it’s silly when there are half a dozen burger places nearby.

      I think that if you want to get people to try new things, you can’t do it from a judgmental point-of-view. It has to be more a matter of “Hey, this is something I like making and think is awesome, and I want to share it with you.” It can’t be “Here, this is so much better than that *crap* you usually eat.”

  39. Patricia Schoeman Avatar

    Thanks for sharing this valuable information. I will share it with my co-workers as well we all can learn from this :-)

  40. Eve Avatar

    I dunno. I just get tired of thinking about food. How I feel, connecting, blah, blah. Honestly, I hate eating. Hate it. Sorry, but “clean” food does not fill me up. If I workout after a healthy salad of spinach, veggies, olive oil, a bit of protein and quinoa or beans I have no energy and I could gnaw off my arm. I’ve had awesome workouts after eating M&Ms or a grilled cheese.
    Then I feel guilty for “not eating better” or I’m going to end up with cancer.
    I feel guilty and lousy after eating. Period.

    1. KellyK Avatar

      Ouch. That has to be really difficult and unpleasant. I hope that you can find a way to, if not like eating, at least have it be less stressful and sucky.

    2. Michelle Avatar

      That really does suck. But I hope you know the point here is not to claim that “clean food” (I actually REALLY HATE that term; it just seems inherently disordered and moralistic to me) makes everyone feel better, and is therefore de facto good and wonderful food for everyone.

      The point is, literally, that different types of food in different amounts make people feel good.

      Like I said in my post, chocolate is one of those “junk foods” (and I’m talking about milk chocolate here, specificially, or chocolate creams and truffles, or candy bars — so they don’t even get classy dark chocolate street cred) that I can eat quite a lot of and feel totally fine with. Which is great, because I love it. As long as I’ve had other, reasonably nutritious food that day, I can eat quite a bit of chocolate and feel just awesome.

      If “clean food” doesn’t do it for you, I hereby absolve you, by the power vested in me as a 4th year dietetics student, to never eat it again. To eat only food that IS enjoyable, and DOES satisfy you. And if that’s M&Ms and grilled cheese, so be it. Perhaps that is truly the most nutritious food for you, your body, and your situation.

      You wouldn’t be the first person I’ve known for whom it really, truly is the best choice.

      You have no reason to feel guilty for eating those foods, least of all about how it’s going to hurt you or give you cancer. No research has ever shown that any food gives you cancer, unless you’re eating literally tons of charred meat on a daily basis.

      The food you love is not going to hurt you. But your continually pressuring yourself to eat differently than you really want to is going to hurt you — is already hurting you.

      If food does not feel good to you, both aesthetically and physically, it is not good food for you. End of story.

      P.S. Do you think there could possibly be a connection between the guilt you feel about I shouldn’t eat this oh God it’s going to give me cancer, and your absolute exhaustion/lack of enjoyment/not wanting to think about eating?

      1. Eve Avatar

        Thank you, Michelle and everyone!

        I think, it boils down to the “I would have a perfect body if only I could eat clean” thing. Yeah, that old chestnut. I’ve tried IE, and as AKO pointed out it seems like if you’re really “in tune” and eating intuitively you’ll live on a diet of vegetables and brown rice and be smaller than you are.

        So, I guess my issues are tormenting me. Don’t even talk about the food police at schools, and freaking Jamie Oliver and Michelle Obama.

      2. E Avatar

        I can’t get enough of messages like this! In our culture it’s so easy to think of foods as being on a spectrum from good to bad (even if you’re not thinking of them as strictly 2 categories: “good” and “bad”). It draws you into thinking about what foods might be “better” for you, and I like the reminder that it HONESTLY DOESN’T MATTER, and THAT’S NOT HOW IT WORKS. Thank you!

        1. ako Avatar

          That good food/bad food dichotomy thing is so ridiculous. I’ve seen those “7/10/20/a million foods you think are healthy, but aren’t” lists, and they all contain points like “Yogurt is bad for you because not all yogurt is fat-free and live-cultured, and if it contains fat or doesn’t contain benevolent digestive bacteria, the other nutrients don’t count” or “There is sugar in fruit juice, therefore the vitamins don’t count” or “Olive oil is actually fat, so the nutritional benefits don’t count” or “Veggie burgers often contain sodium, so therefore all of the protein and other nutrients don’t count”. Except they never actually say “Therefore the good bits don’t count”, because they don’t actually have to.

          It’s a ridiculously oversimplified idea of badness (fat, salt, and carbs, which are actually nutritionally necessary are Bad Foods), and “bad” is seen as tainting the entire food and invalidating the good (even carrots ended up on the Bad Foods list at one point, because the sugar content somehow invalidates all of the fiber and vitamins). It’s like some bizarre magic ritual.

          1. Inca Avatar

            On a side note, I was wondering about some of the consequences of that. For example, here iodine and vitamin D have been added to certain parts of our diet (salt and margerine). But both salt and margarine have also been increasingly been mentioned as ‘wrong’. Which means many people reduce the use of additional salt in cooking, and use very little butter or margarin. I think the average dose people have has decreased quite a lot over the years (I know mine has), but the recommendations have not been altered. Which makes me wonder – are deficits really as unheard of as is claimed to be?

  41. […] jag älskar är Fat Nutritionist. Michelle skriver bra saker allt som oftast, och nu senast var det något väldigt basic. Något som låter självklart, men som inte alltid är det. Tydligen. Nämligen följande: When it […]

  42. […] 8. What does it mean to eat healthfully? […]

  43. ako Avatar

    This is interesting. Last week I had a cupcake and hot chocolate after lunch, and felt really icky and overstuffed all day. All my “You shouldn’t be doing this, because of fat and calories, and you don’t deserve a treat” self-talk would end in me eating something like that and feeling guilty over it. But just going “Wow, that feels unpleasantly overstuffed and is probably not good to do again!” actually made more of an impact, without involving me mentally beating myself up.

    I think it’s hard to get because a lot of people promote a superficially-similar argument that anyone who’s in touch with their body will realize that what they truly want is a diet consisting entirely of brown rice and salads and end up fashionably thin, and the junk food urges are all fake. So when people ‘fail’ by eating what they want and being all “No, actually, I really do want a big bowl of ice cream!”, then there’s the fear of being some special category of defective who actually will gorge nonstop if not restrained. When the reality is that most people are not naturally inclined towards either all-broccoli or all-cake.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      a lot of people promote a superficially-similar argument that anyone who’s in touch with their body will realize that what they truly want is a diet consisting entirely of brown rice and salads and end up fashionably thin, and the junk food urges are all fake.

      Yes, totally. And that is why intuitive eating in our culture can be SO DAMN HARD. But that is NOT at all where I’m coming from, just in case anyone is wondering.

      Sometimes you really do want the brownie or the ice cream or the french fries or the chips, and, at those times, those might just be the very best choice for you.

      there’s the fear of being some special category of defective who actually will gorge nonstop if not restrained.

      And…exactly. Exactly. But I can promise anyone reading this that no one WANTS to gorge nonstop. Those who have a binge eating problem and actually do experience this, don’t do it on purpose, and find it incredibly unpleasant. But they are not defective, either — they just need a little extra help — and most people will NOT have this experience if they give themselves unconditional permission to eat.

      1. DessertFirst Avatar

        . . . most people will NOT have this experience if they give themselves unconditional permission to eat.

        I hate to admit I’m terrified that I’m not most people in this regard . . . I just assume I’ll be one of those who cannot stop if I really give myself total license to listen to my appetite — that my 25+ years of dieting and bingeing have permanently damaged my internal food regulation system, such that I have to rely on external controls. The problem is, they don’t work very well either . . .

        1. Michelle Avatar

          There will likely be a bumpy patch at first, but if you get through it, everything starts to even out eventually. I think, while your internal signals can be dampened, it’s really hard to actually kill them. They are a basic survival mechanism — I’ll bet they’re still in there somewhere :)

          1. DessertFirst Avatar

            Thank you for the encouragement, Michelle. I surely hope you’re right.

          2. Michelle Avatar

            You know what happens in the worst-case scenario? You find out that you have disordered eating, in the form of bingeing. And then you work on that, by doing therapy and seeing a dietitian who specializes in eating disorders, rather than going on a diet. Dieting is never the answer to disordered eating, whether mild or more intense. Most people, however, will not uncover Secret Eating Disorder by giving themselves permission to eat intuitively. Those who do will have better options for dealing with it than they had before, when they didn’t know what was going on.

          3. DessertFirst Avatar

            Thanks again; I guess I am really becoming aware of how much work I still need to do before my eating (and exercising, for that matter) habits approach a more normal and healthy pattern (for me). It’s just very discouraging at times, particularly when I see myself clinging to the same old destructive habits I’ve had for YEARS, and paying lip service to size acceptance but actually being terrified of truly embracing this still rather radical outlook even if doing so would mean I’d get peace of mind and a healthier self in exchange for merely some extra pounds on my body. Like, really: how many times do I have to undereat, then inevitably binge from the built-up deprivation, before my brain “gets it” that undereating ALWAYS results in bingeing (for me, anyway) sooner or later (usually sooner these days)?? Anyway, thank you for letting me vent. Your posts are very helpful — I guess I just need the courage to actually follow through with behavioural changes rather than just thinking they’re good ideas but not applying them (out of fear of weight gain).

  44. TheSasquatch Avatar

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how our bodies and minds work together. As a psychologist I have no doubt whatsoever that mind influences body, and body influences mind in ways more deep, profound and real than we tend to want to believe in western societies.

    And if we are having to MAKE ourselves eat the “good” food, if every bite is filled with resentment, physical feelings of distaste and forced chewing, I simply do not believe that our bodies benefit fully from that food.

    If our powerful, complex brains (which control every other function in our bodies) are telling us, as we eat that green salad or wholegrain pasta, that this food is NOT what we want right now, how can we expect it to truly act as something healthy in our bodies?

    Last night I ate a HUGE bowl of leafy greens for dinner, along with five pancakes with sugar inside. It was wonderful, it made me feel great and full and relaxed. When I don’t feel like eating leafy greens I literally cannot force them past my teeth, and they give me gas and make me want to throw up if I actually manage to swallow them.

    Healthy food is food that your body can benefit from. Healthy food is the food that your wise, ancient brain asks for, when you truly listen.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you.

    2. jenbacca Avatar

      That post gave me a little bit of the Heebie Jeebies and a few goosebumps! And lastly, a realization of how much complete and utter sense it makes. Thank you!

    3. unscrambled Avatar

      You are so right on here.

      I mean, besides your understanding of your own body, I feel like I have to mention (I am an MD/PhD student) that there is a large and fascinating medical literature on absorption and the factors which influence it. We have more serotonin in our guts than in our brains! There are a whole passel of hormones that act in ways we totally don’t get! And that’s only the stuff we can see right now, and we’re darn sure we haven’t seen a whole bunch of other important stuff! We don’t know jack about squat about what’s actually going on, and that is awesome! (at least to me)

      It’d be nice if we in the Health Professions were more honest about that, but hey.

      1. Michelle Avatar

        I love this. And I love the GI tract. It is a mysterious and beautiful thing.

  45. […] Perhaps, they eat competently. […]

  46. Sim Avatar

    Love this post. I wanted to ask a question about IE and kids. I am seriously overweight, and I know that I have SO many of the issues with food that are posted above, and I am trying so so so hard to listen to my body. My new years resolution in fact is NOT to go on a diet. Anyway, back to the kids.

    Because of my history, I am firmly in the “no you do not have to finish that” and “no you do not have to clean your plate to get dessert” camp. My family not so much but I’m working on them. My problem is that one of my kids is really fussy. I think he’s mostly stubborn and won’t try new foods and when he does he automatically hates them without thinking about it. I have got into the habit of making him eat a smallish amount of whatever I have served. He will usually then go eat some toast and a piece of fruit, his choice. I struggle with the idea of forcing him to eat something he may not like and ignoring his body signs. I’ve been through the, if your hungry you’ll eat it phase too. When allowed to choose his own food he generally makes “healthy” but limited choices.

    My question is how do I teach him about new foods, but at the same time not override his body signals?

    My daughter is almost 10. EVERY single time I see her eat half a bowl of desert I am STUNNED! That’s how stuffed up I am, I simply can NOT stop half way through a bowl of any food, let alone dessert. This is really really hard work this IE thing!

    1. Sim Avatar

      ugh, that your is horrid, it’s meant to be you’re obviously.

    2. Tina Avatar

      Might I suggest getting hold of Ellyn Satter’s books on child feeding? She’s a brilliant child nutritionist and I think our own Fat Nutritionist has received training in her method! There is information at ellynsatter dot com. And another great resource is the blog familyfeedingdynamics dot com , run by an MD who practices Satter’s method.

      The basic gist of it is: parent/guardian decides what food is on offer and when it will be eaten [regular meal and snack times are encouraged], and the child decides how much he or she will eat. And there is no cajoling, reprimanding OR praising on the actual eating, just on things like “I am so pleased you learned how to ask nicely to pass the salt.” and “It’s ok if you don’t like the beans but we don’t make a fuss about it.” For new foods, you have them on offer and though some will take months most kids will eventually try a bit out of curiosity — if left to their own devices instead of required to try. There’s a bit more to it than that but my extremely picky daughter who is now four has expanded her palate remarkably in the past six months since we started this method. It took about 6 weeks before she tried new things we offered, but I think the big key with Satter’s method is PATIENCE! :)

      1. Sim Avatar

        Thanks Tina,

        just spent ages reading through all that stuff, it makes SO much sense. I think it will take some time and effort on our behalf that’s for sure!

        It is SO hard to undo all of that conditioning I have had growing up. Reading through some of the old posts I am sitting here in tears because this stuff resonates so strongly and makes so much sense but at the same time is SO hard!!!!!!!

    3. ako Avatar

      I was an incredibly picky kid. Some of it, looking back, was a stress reaction – people (parents, other relatives, pretty much any adult who was serving food) pressured me to try foods I didn’t like (or didn’t expect to like), and if I didn’t like them, people would be disappointed. So every time there was a new food on offer, I’d be staring at it in dread going “I’m going to try it, and it’s going to be icky, and everyone’s going to be mad at me for being all picky, inconvenient, and bad.” And people weren’t screaming at me or anything – just a lot of disappointed sighs and the occasional remark (and a certain degree of “Yes, you do have to try this.”)

      Some of it was a thing about certain flavors and textures (which could be addressed by varying how things were prepared), and a sensitive gag reflex (which was really unpleasant, made it hard to swallow the obligatory one bite, and came off like I was making a scene when I wasn’t). But the stress of letting everyone down and confirming their worst opinions of me was a big part of it. It was a lot easier to insist on familiar foods than to keep trying and keep gagging on things and keep disappointing everyone.

      When I grew up, I had more opportunities to try food in private, when I felt like it, without getting that disappointed reaction, and I learned to like a far greater variety of food.

      I’m not sure if this is any of this is helpful or not.

      1. Sim Avatar

        Thankyou for your input. It is very helpful. I feel myself falling into those disappointed feelings, and I hadn’t realised they could be part of the feeling. Why does everything have to be so darn HARD??

  47. […] bless Michelle, of The Fat Nutritionist for a wonderful post, which I missed when it was first posted a couple of days ago, that put me in […]

  48. Agnes Avatar

    On the whole “nutrition vs. good” front…
    There was an article in (I think) O magazine recently where someone claimed that Americans eat the most unhealthy diet in history.
    Let’s see, across history, people have gotten scurvy, rickets, beriberi, night blindness, and permanently stunted their growth through lack of access to good food. Not to mention starved to death. _Those_ are the most unhealthy diets in history. Americans’ tendency to eat foods that, after a lifetime of eating them, somewhat raises their risk of heart disease, is pretty far down the list.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Exactly. But exactly. Our memory for the bad old days certainly is short.

      1. Agnes Avatar

        I also read once that the reward in fairy tales (Grimms’, etc.) was a pot that never got empty – in other words, we live in happily ever after! But good luck finding that perspective.

  49. Karin Canazzi Avatar
    Karin Canazzi

    I am just now at 50-coming to the realization that what I tried in the past hasn’t worked. I am now attempting just what you talk about here. Eating what I want when I’m hungry. Taking the power of the food away. Unfortunately my husband is focusing on the big body and not the small steps I’m taking. I am however doing this for me and am working at not allowing his words to have power in my progress.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I’m so glad to hear this. I wish you all the luck in the world. I know it can be really hard, especially when people near you aren’t supportive. But feeding oneself normally is something every person has the right to experience.

    2. Luau Avatar


      Enduring motivation comes from within. It sounds like you are changing for the better on your own terms. Celebrate the little steps your are taking and stay the course. There are so many out there that haven’t found the strength or will to do what you are doing. Take your time. I hope your husband comes around and becomes more supportive. Small steps lead to more small steps.


  50. Luau Avatar

    I whole-heartedly agree that taking a moment to think about BOTH the long-term and short-term effects of eating something goes a long way to making smart choices about what and how much we put in our bodies. I call it “being present” while eating. Unfortunately I think too many people stop listening to their brains while they eat. It doesn’t help that certain eating establishments (i.e. The Cheesecake Factory) serve dishes that could fill 3 stomachs to satisfaction. When people eat at these places, they feel like they MUST finish what they ordered to make sure they got their money’s worth. Eventually they begin to think those sizes are what they should have every time.

    I’m all for indulgence, but what’s the point if you do it all of the time?

    1. amy Avatar

      When I eat out it generally means a pig out. I guess if I were more responsible I would package up half the meal before diving in. But I don’t and I guess this is why eating out is a treat for me..

      1. Michelle Avatar

        I think a “pig out” can be a conscious choice, where the taste of the food is WORTH the discomfort. I don’t think that’s an issue of being responsible or whatever — it’s an issue of making it a conscious decision, i.e., “I am going to eat this much because I am really enjoying it and I want to” rather than feeling like, “WHY DID I DO THAT, WHAT WAS I THINKING, OOOOOOH PAIN.”

        And I think a lot of times, people go out to eat partly because they know they will get really indulgent foods in large portions. That IS what makes it a treat, as well as having someone else do the cooking.

        I don’t know about anyone else here, but I don’t eat out on a frequent enough basis to worry about eating a lot when I’m at restaurants. But if your life is such that eating out all the time is a necessity, it makes sense to decide to eat a little more moderately (i.e., the way you would at home) when you’re going out.

  51. Lola Avatar

    I came to your site by way of another, I only wish it had been 4 days sooner. Once again I ate something I know ends in me spending much of the following day in pain and in the bathroom. No more. As a lifetime emotional eater, I’ve turned to food for comfort and solace again and again, but I’ve never “thought it through”.

    Thanks to your post, I can now see clearly what I’ve been doing to myself, and how years of habitual self-sabbotage have not calmed and comforted me at all, they only hurt and punished me for being a feeling human being. My God, what liberating thoughts you have provoked in me!

    From the bottom if my heart – thank you.

  52. Sim Avatar

    I just had to come here and read through this post again. I have two things I need to get off my chest.

    Firstly, I just read a forum entry by someone who has put on 10kg’s after being diagnosed with coeliac. One of the phrases she is using to help her lose the weight is “if it tastes good spit it out” OMG. I can’t think of anything more terrified, and I told her so. I’m waiting to get flamed.

    Secondly, I’m trying to work out the balance between physical and mental health. I am fat, really fat. I have diabetes and hypertension. Last visit to the doctor my liver function was down and my cholesterol up, for the first time ever. Dr asked me about my diet. I told her. Two months prior to this she saw my daughter, asked about her diet, and said it sounded good. My diet, which is exactly the same as my daughters, wasn’t good apparently.

    She has said I need to have these “smoothies” for breakfast. Basically water, 2 pieces of fruit, a cucumber, a teaspoon of cinnamon and a large handful of dark leafy vegetables. I can’t think of anything i would like to eat LESS for breakfast (maybe straight bran?)

    Coming home from that appointment, you have never seen anyone spiral into major depression SO FAST!!! Now whenever I think about food I am terrified. I am terrified I am eating myself to death. Everytime I put butter on my bread, or eat something with carbs in it, I panic. Now, I know on a deep level that that panic is going to hurt me far far more than the butter or the cupcake, but I can’t stop.

    My doctor is a good doctor. She is not trying to get me to lose weight, just fix the numbers, be more healthy. But I just can’t allow myself to control my food intake like that. I just can’t. I will binge, I will stress, I will skip meals and my depression/bipolar will spiral out of control.

    So what do I do. How am I meant to control these numbers, the high blood sugars, cholesterol, blood pressure, cortisol levels, all of it, without giving myself an eating disorder or becoming suicidal. I seriously never want to go to the doctor ever again, but I can’t, because I need my meds!

    I am SO SO upset by being told that what I eat isn’t good enough.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      It’s ridiculous the amount of pressure we put on our diets to fix everything that goes wrong with us.

      Here’s the thing — food is NOT MEDICINE. There is only ONE disease for which diet is the known cure, and that is Celiac disease. Everything else? There may be a dietary component to certain things, but even changing the diet does not work for ALL people. Eating well can only take you so far. And if it triggers disordered thoughts and behaviours, well, then the “cure” is definitely worse than the disease.

      You need medicine for certain things, plain and simple. You cannot be expected to maintain eating habits that destroy your mental health and your eating competence for the sake of certain blood panels. If you had a high fever, no one would expect you to control it through diet. You’d get Tylenol and some more tests to figure out the underlying problem. You wouldn’t be denied care until you fixed the symptom yourself with Magic Smoothies.

      The treatment for diabetes? IS INSULIN. Not cinnamon. Not dietary restriction. INSULIN, AND MEDICATIONS THAT ALLOW YOU TO PRODUCE AND/OR USE INSULIN. Diabetes is a malfunction of the PANCREAS and the cells of your body, not your appetite or your mouth or your diet. Even the American Diabetes Association says so.

      Find another doctor. Get a second opinion.

      At the very least, tell her that this sort of pressure on diet is causing disordered stuff for you, and that cannot stand. Eating disorders can be deadly, or at best, ruin your quality of life. She needs to know that this is NOT the way to go with you.

      Firstly, I just read a forum entry by someone who has put on 10kg’s after being diagnosed with coeliac. One of the phrases she is using to help her lose the weight is “if it tastes good spit it out” OMG. I can’t think of anything more terrified, and I told her so. I’m waiting to get flamed.

      You know why she put on those 10kg? Because she was likely MALNOURISHED before, since her intestine was damaged and not absorbing her food. The weight gain is, if anything, a good sign. She’s absorbing her food again, and she may or may not adjust back down to her original weight on her own. But our culture is too disordered to deal with that. Get flamed. Recognize that you’re the rational one. Spitting food out, either symbolically or literally, IS EATING DISORDERED BEHAVIOUR. That someone would use that as a weight loss mantra is BEYOND disturbing. She may as well say, “I’m just going to vomit after I eat.” NOT OKAY. Even if it’s just an exaggeration — NOT OKAY.

      I’m still incredibly angry that your doctor is prescribing cinnamon wonder smoothies for you instead of doing her job, which, in case she didn’t know, IS TO MANAGE YOUR MEDICATION FOR YOU.

      I just woke up from a nap and may be extra cranky.

      1. Sim Avatar

        Thanks michelle, I just woke up from my own nap :)

        You are right, doctor is not an endo, in fact, is a naturapath which is probably why she is so fixated on food and/or herbal supplements. The only endo I’ve seen was waaay worse than her, essentially saying there was nothing she could do for me unless I lost weight. I’m a little scared of endo’s now!

        I am on meds for all my stuff, except the cholesterol and liver stuff, which is new. Between the diabetes meds, antidepressants, bipolar meds (which is actually an anti-epileptic), anti hypertensives, fish oil, vitamin D (severely low levels), magnesium for restless legs and lots of painkillers for chronic pain I’m not entirely sure I can stand taking anymore drugs, so i kind of get where she’s coming from too. But regardless, destroying my mental health is not acceptable. I will have to have that conversation with her. Seeing my psych on monday so hopefully that will be good.

        Agree completely on the coeliac thing! Flaming wasn’t as bad as I expected either, other people said the same thing about the food absorption aspect.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          I understand not wanting to take more meds. I think the key is to get them adjusted appropriately.

          I also hear you on fear of endos, but there are good ones out there who won’t focus as much on weight.

  53. Betsy Avatar

    I’ve come back to this post a couple of times and also went to Ellyn Satter’s Web site. I even went to get her book, but my local bookstore didn’t have it, so I have to special-order. From these sites, though, I’ve tried to experiment with saying something different to myself when I eat (I mean, something other than “not so much” or “you should stop here”), which is: “Am I getting enough?” I don’t seem to eat much differently content- or frequency-wise, but it’s been so liberating. It’s really helping to quell the angst I have about food, and I think it’s beginning to change how I feel in other areas of my life. I feel as though I can pursue what I need–whether it’s a meeting with a professor, or getting enough help with cleaning the house, or having enough time to relax. It’s so interesting to frame things in light of this question, “am I getting enough?” It helps me to realize that I, like everyone else, have the absolute right to take up time, space, and resources.

  54. Lee Avatar

    I love this message! I think for me it all boils down to mindful eating – pay attention to what you eat, don’t snarf something down in the car or pig out while watching the TV. Pay attention and keep paying attention, because otherwise you’ll miss important cues.

    That said, it’s a bit of a challenge in my household, because of the usual two factors – love and money. By which I mean, my SO and I have drastically different dietary needs – I have little to no trouble digesting most things and tend to overeat compulsively when my emotions are in the wrong place. SO eats like a bird and has trouble digesting some foods, on the other hand – we know lactose is a problem and I’m urging tests for soy and gluten intolerance as soon as we can pay for it. In other words, SO needs to figure out the “acceptable food” step on the pyramid, since thus far it’s hard to note any real patterns to what’s causing the digestive problems. I, meanwhile, have the luxury of being able to choose “instrumental food,” but have to watch out for my SO’s health as well.

    But since neither of us make much money, it’s difficult to buy enough food to make two totally different meals all the time, which is what I’m pretty sure we’d need to suit our dietary needs. And even if I did we seem to have a real problem dealing with leftovers, thanks to low freezer space and the fact that if I don’t eat them they don’t get eaten (which just tempts me to overeat even more.) SO will love a dish when I first cook it, then ignore it once it’s packaged up and in the fridge. Irritating, but I don’t want to nag, because that just makes matters worse. So in order for one of us to listen to our bodies, the other’s health has to suffer, as things stand… and I don’t want it to be that way anymore.

    Do you have any articles on dealing with this situation? I’d love to read them. I’m really enjoying this blog so far!

    1. Michelle Avatar

      This is a super tough one! But, basically, one strategy is to figure out what your common ground is with a meal – there may be an entree you can make in a plain way that will work for him, and a sauce (or cheese!) you can put on the side for it, for yourself. Or there may be a side dish that you can both share, but two different entrees.

      The key factor is, as with many things, going to be: add on, don’t take away. Put things on the table he can tolerate, first and foremost, and then add anything that feels missing for yourself. I would totally put a side of shredded cheese, some spices, extra veggies or a salad, a cup of fresh fruit, etc. on the side for myself if all my husband could tolerate would be like a plain chicken breast and some rice.

      I haven’t written an article about this, but I do think it’s important, not just financially and practically, but psychologically and nutritionally to find as much common ground as you can with meals, even when your eating needs are different. Eating the same foods together is a shared experience, and learning to be more flexible in order to accommodate sharing the same food actually improves your eating competence by exposing you to new foods, different combinations, etc.

      With leftovers, I also find it’s easier to freeze (and then actually WANT to reheat) components of meals rather than entire meals themselves. For instance, when we have leftover spaghetti with meat sauce, I remove all the pasta from the sauce and save just the leftover sauce. Mashed potatoes are good candidates for freezing and reheating. So is rice. Cooked meat? Eh, not so much, unless incorporated into a stew, casserole, or soup where the texture change isn’t as much of an issue.

      If I were in this situation, I would actually sit down with Jeffrey and a cookbook (or my recipe box, in which I keep ancient, splattered recipe index cards) and actually list out basic main dishes that we can both tolerate physically and find reasonably enjoyable – broiled chicken breast, steak, fish or pork chops? Beans? Casseroles? Pasta? – and then list out the potential side dishes, sauces, relishes, etc. that could go along with them, some for him, and some for you.

      Teeny-tiny mild example: I love jerk chicken. Jeffrey does not tolerate spices very well. When I bake chicken, I smother mine in jerk spices, and leave his alone or with just a touch of seasoning salt.

      It’s also super-helpful to take the time to alter any staple recipes you use so that they DON’T make leftovers if, practically speaking, you know they will not be eaten. I have several recipes that make just enough for two people, and I alter recipe sizes mercilessly. It’s easier for me to store extra raw ingredients, and know they will be used later on, then try to freeze and count on reheating entire cooked dishes. My freezer is mostly used for uncooked veggies, raw meats, portioned out raw bacon for recipes, and uncooked fruit rather than meals I’ve cooked and saved. Because we don’t end up eating them most of the time. Most of the time, I’d rather have a prepackaged frozen bean and cheese burrito than reheat some sketchy mystery meal in foil that I originally cooked three months ago.

  55. Celebrian Avatar

    This is a wonderful, wonderful post, and I thank you for it.

    I come from a family where everyone on one side of the family is obese, with lots of poorly-managed diabetes and heart troubles therewith. I have always been terrified that I would take after that side of the family, and seeing first-hand how it has affected my mum I was really determined not to go that way myself.

    Except…I was. And I didn’t realise that my family atmosphere was convincing me to eat more food than I really wanted all the time, and that emotional overeating was causing even my high-metabolism, teenage self to put on weight. My mum has, while trying to lose weight, been thoroughly convinced by the “good food” and “bad food” dichotomies, and always buys the food which is marketed as “low fat” – Weight watchers cookies, for example.

    It’s funny, now, that my boyfriend’s family are a family of people who are all tall and very, very thin, and they eat full-fat milk, yoghurt and cheese, and regularly have homemade cake or dessert sitting around the house.

    But when still in my teens, I bought and read a book called “I Can Make You Thin” by Paul Mckenna. Not a perfect book by any means – the title, for instance – but a book which breaks the mould of all other diet books by encouraging you to eat what you feel like eating, when you feel like eating, to pay close attention to how hungry you are and what your body feels like, and to stop eating once you are full.

    Thus, imperfectly, began my journey toward my current mode of eating. At first, it felt as restrictive as any other diet – am I allowed to eat now? Am I hungry? And, of course, I was still unconsciously restricting my consumption of “unhealthy” foods, which doesn’t work. The hardest thing was the emotional eating, which was so much of a crutch, a habit and a coping mechanism that I found it hard to give up.

    It wasn’t until I went to university that it all sorted itself out. Being far too busy enjoying myself to worry about food, I finally gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted. Whenever I wanted. In exactly the quantities I fancied. I ate, for the first while, quite a lot of takeaway, and pizza, and ben and jerrys, and really sugary cereal.

    But then, once that was over, I stopped craving these things. Halfway through a tub of ben and jerrys, I decided I’d had enough. I nicked a few chips from a friend’s box, but didn’t bother with my own. I found that the foods I craved were the staple meals of my childhood – homemade curries, roast dinners, spaghetti bolognaise, all with a big helping of mixed veg. It turns out, I’m not really much of a sweet tooth, prefer filling, homemade fruit pies to biscuits ore sweets, and get really really upset if I can’t have my normal quantities of meat or veggies. Going vegetarian is a complete non-starter – I really enjoy vegetarian food, but after about 3 days I start foaming at the mouth with constant hunger that will not go away until I have scarfed down a plate of meat.

    These days, I eat full-fat dairy, because I enjoy it much more than the standard low-fat stuff, and because breakfast actually keeps me full until lunch if I have it with gold-top milk. I get cravings for green veg and beef before each period, which makes sense because both of these things are iron-heavy. Sometimes all I really want is a plate of buttered cabbage, or (like right now) a bowl of chocolatey cereal. My weight doesn’t fluctuate anymore, and I’ve finally stopped worrying about it. I’m never going to be thin, but that’s okay. DBF thinks I’m sexy as all get out just as I am.

  56. n9nety9n9ne Avatar

    I sincerely enjoyed this thread- not only because you seem to have the same attitude I do about food, but because it also broadened my own perspective on things… I just started exercising about two months ago (Something that is a big deal for me because it used to damn near require a crane or possibly a robbery to move me off of the couch) and have felt VERY good- my self esteem is higher and I just all around feel healthy… except for the past few days, when I thought that ordering a pizza was a great idea… and now I feel like complete $h1T. I hate knowing that after my extended workout today that I do need to give up my favorite food, but after reading this post and really, REALLY thinking about it, honestly it has always without fail made me feel this way. Just good to know that there are others out there with my kind of view. Thank you.

    1. KellyK Avatar

      Yay for realizing that, even though giving up a favorite food sucks. (At least now that you know it makes you feel sick, you can decide whether it’s worth it rather than just randomly feeling awful and not having anything to do to prevent it.)

      It might be worth experimenting to see if there are things that fill the pizza craving without making you feel crappy. (For example, when I was trying to avoid tomato because of acid reflux, I made a pizza with garlic spread instead of sauce.) Like, trying to figure out if it’s the greasiness, the cheese, if you’re just eating too much of it for your comfort level, etc.

  57. Ember Daze Avatar
    Ember Daze

    “What’s a carb? What’s fat? What is protein? Where do you find them? (A: anywhere there is something edible.) And what do they do for you? (A: pretty much everything.)”

    Do you know of good websites that explain how nutrients work, biochemically, in terms accessible to a layperson, but DOESN’T go into “TEH FATZ R EEEEEVIL” type hectoring? Wikipedia is okish, but needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

    1. ksol Avatar

      Don’t you know a pinch of salt is bad for you? ;-)