Food is one of my favorite topics. It is a vast subject that can be studied a lifetime and still leave much unknown. Typically my day is food focused, creating, educating and studying the subject but the task of eating can get pushed down on the priority list. As my food knowledge increases along with learning how my body responds to certain foods I have developed a set of personal guidelines or rules for eating.
Rule #1 Control when you can control: When shopping and preparing food at home my goal is to purchase organic meats and vegetables. Meals are dairy, gluten, egg and soy free, and prepared using whole foods in a variety of food combinations. Processed foods are kept to a minimum and thought of as an occasional treat, not a daily staple. The more stringent way of eating at home is to make up for the times when I am unable to be in control. If the majority of meals are eaten at home using the most healthful ingredients available, I’m happy to accept dinner invitations and my body can recover when traces of dairy remain after the waiter removes the cheese from the salad once realizing the mistake
Rule #2: Give up the guilt! Socializing over food can be a wonderful experience and provide nourishment for both the body and soul. Most celebrations include some sort of social food norm and even Michael Pollan advocates people should not eat alone (Pollan, 2009). We should not be judged for making a choice that is best for us at that moment and should not pass judgment on others, the latter sometimes being the more difficult. It seems commonplace for people, often women, to explain or apologize for their food choices. The last few times I have dined out in a group, one guest usually feels the need to justify or explain his or her order.
“I usually don’t eat bread, but this is so fresh.”
“I’m going to have the pasta, and then go straight to gym, and skip dinner.”
“How about dessert? I’ve had a rough day.”
“Hamburger please, but without the bun. I’m gluten free and feel amazing. Everyone should be gluten free. Gluten in evil.”
Ask any parent of a two-year-old who has been held in a high chair standoff at dinner time, one of the first things children learn to control is food. What someone puts into his or her body is a very personal choice and if you make the best choice for you at that moment there is nothing to apologize for.
Rule #3 No Substitutions: After extensive work with major food companies I have noticed first hand when the fat comes out, something else must go in. In line with Michael Polland’s food philosophy about no food is off limits, if made from scratch, I believe in eating real food (Pollan, 2009). Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise lists the first ingredients as soybean oil, water, and whole eggs, all standard in a mayonnaise recipe. Hellmann’s Low Fat Mayonnaise Dressing’s primary ingredients are water, modified cornstarch and eggs. In order to reduce the fat per serving, the fat has been replaced with starch. Such changes to the “recipe” or formula create a product that can no longer be legally labeled as “mayonnaise” but must be called “mayonnaise dressing” (Products, no date). If looking to add the richness, mouthfeel and flavor mayonnaise provides, I prefer to spend a few minutes creating the real thing then spread a mayonnaise flavored starch compound on my sandwich.
Rule #4 No Soda: Growing up my mother often said, “If you don’t want water, then you are not really thirsty.” It’s often the easiest and most affordable option, which is hard to argue. The soda companies have yet to persuade me that water isn’t a better option.
Pollan, M. (2009) In Defense Of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. New York: Penguin Books.
Products (no date) Available at: http://www.hellmanns.com/product (Accessed: 8 October 2015).