Sometimes, it’s the little things:

roasted red peppers in your pasta sauce,
mashed cauliflower instead of potato, or
couscous instead of rice.

It is so easy to get into the same old routine with food.
Buy the same things at the grocery store.
Make the same things at home.
Order the same meals at restaurants.
But, food should be an adventure. Just like anything else.
You wouldn’t want to go on vacation to the same place over and over again, and nowhere else right? Sure, you might return to that favorite spot but most likely only after you experience something different, too.
So this week, do something different. Change an ingredient or two, or find a whole new recipe.
You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes at dinner, and in life.


What do you eat?

People often ask me how I eat and stay “thin”, what I eat to stay “thin” and how much.
The interesting thing is there was a time in my life when I did know exactly what I ate, in what amounts, and with what condiments. A time when the preciseness of dieting overwhelmed the desire to tear into a bag of tortilla chips while I watch t.v. at night.
And, for many women and men, that desire to diet, to control, to shape their body into the perfect man/woman form, overwhelms all.
The desire to eat a big plate of nachos.
The need to curl up with a couple of cookies on a really bad day.
The fun of licking brownie batter right before you make a batch.
All along, Mom Eat tried to talk some sense into me.
You are thin enough.
You are beautiful.
Eat a little more. It won’t hurt you.
But, like the mule, I was stubborn. Hard-headed. Insolent.
Until, I realized, over time, over pizza, over thought, that sometimes a little brownie batter, or a couple of cookies, or even a big huge plate of cheesy cheesy nachos might not hurt. Might just be fun.
And, I tried it. I tried everything, again. Over and over again. Cupcakes. Pizza. I let go of the fact that being thin was this wonderful goal and realized that being thin did not outweigh the bigger picture-life.
And, at the end, I did not want to look back and think of all the salads I ate, or all the lifeless meals.
I wanted to remember the taste of fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.
I wanted to treasure the birthday dinners at my favorite pizza restaurant.
I wanted to enjoy food, with the people whose company I enjoy most in the world.
And, I wanted to be happy. Food seemed like a really silly reason not to be.
Today, I remembered what it was like not to enjoy food as I watched a student drink a diet shake for lunch. I never resorted to diet shakes but I remember what it was like to eat so healthy you forget how much fun eating can be, and should be. Sure, a diet shake might be fine, if she’s not that hungry (maybe not even then, depending on the shake) but if, just if she is eating that because she is staying thin (oh yes she was very very thin already) or because she doesn’t mind feeling hungry most of the day, well then, it’s not okay.
So, this holiday, or maybe the next, perhaps in April this year, ditch your own personal diet hell and join me. At the very very least take the first step, a giant leap of faith.
listen to your body and enjoy food again. Trust me, it will be okay. In fact, it’ll be better than okay. It’ll even be better than fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. I think I’ll make myself one now.

Truly Satisfied

Typically, I eat a certain number of pizza slices of pizza.
And, almost always, I eat that same number of slices. Then, tonight came and I ate less, and I was satisfied. Done.
Experts say different things. Stop right before you are full. Stop when you are satisfied. Eat a little after you are full. I’ve joined the camp that eats until we are satisfied.
Sure, eating until you are satisfied, no more, might mean you get hungry thirty minutes later. That’s fine. Your body was done with whatever food you were eating first, so move on, perhaps to something else.
It also might mean that you are a little overfull, and you might feel “stuffed” for a while. That’s okay too. Sometimes we go over our limit. Go on a short walk. Relax. The next time you get hungry (and believe me, you will), you’ll have forgotten how much you ate this time (or, at the very least, you should forget what you ate this time). Maybe your body will even out by wanting less food the next time you eat. Maybe not. Maybe your body needed extra fuel. Maybe not. Maybe you just really liked how the pizza tasted. That’s okay too.
Sometimes, you will hit the mark exactly, but your instincts aren’t perfect, so don’t expect this or be disappointed that it did not happen.
In a world where it can sometimes seem like everyone’s counting calories, or watching their weight, or adding points, it is hard to let go of it all and just eat until you are satisfied. Sometimes that means four pizza slices, sometimes two. Sometimes it means you eat one piece and eat a gigantic salad. Each time may be different, or the same.
The reward is worth it. Because eating until you’re satisfied, and not until you’ve reached ___ points or eaten ____ calories, comes with one priceless boon. And it’s very simple.
Eat until you are TRULY satisfied and you will be just that-truly satisfied.

Diet Food

Standing in the grocery store the other day, behind a rail thin girl with a cart full of light fruit yogurts and frozen “diet” food meals, and fat free this or the other, I started to wonder.
I started to think.
I started to question.
When did we become a world of permanent dieters?
When did we allow ourselves to get sucked into the diet industry-forever?
When did trying to lose a few pounds become our lifetime goal?
Looking at this beautiful, rail thin girl, I started to wonder. I started to think. I started to question.
Why do so many of us become completely dependent on “diet” food to get us through? Is it like an insurance policy? Do we believe if we eat “diet” food that we are guaranteed to be thin-always? Or, do we actually believe, even when we are thin, that we are forever fighting the battle of the budge? Is this, then, the battle that never ends?
For those trying to lose a few pounds, perhaps these “diet” foods help. Certainly, they cut out time, and energy in giving us what some might argue is not as healthy as advertised meal in a little box that takes seconds to prepare (a miraculous invention in the lives of so many busy individuals). But, at what cost? Sure, buying produce is hard. Heck, using produce you bought before it gets bad? That’s super hard. And, maybe for some, the frozen “diet” meal provides the best of both worlds-easy, and “healthy”.
But what do we sacrifice when we eat these foods? Are they really healthy? I don’t have the expertise to know that, but I can tell you this. If we allow ourselves to believe that all we can eat are these “diet” foods, does it become almost sinful to “indulge” in regular food, and, if so, shouldn’t we question first if we should even be dieting at all? And, if we think we should be “dieting”, are we right, or are we terribly, terribly wrong?
Is this the same mindframe that creates the commercials that warn us of an extra 20 calories, or the miracle in a 100 calorie snack pack? And, even more tragically, is this the same mindframe that created our fear of food, our fear of eating, and our fear of our bodies? If so, perhaps the problem is more serious than we think. Perhaps next time, instead of automatically grabbing the “diet” food we should ask ourselves what we really want, and how bad it would be to just actually eat it. Turns out, it might not be so bad after all.

A Sense of Purpose

In recent weeks, I spent some time contemplating whether writing Girl Eat was making the difference I wanted it to make.

I wondered if writing Girl Eat meant as much to me as I thought.
And then I went to a bridal shower.

Gifts galore, cupcakes you would dream of, and little tiny bride chocolates that would make even the sturdiest heart melt a little.

And, in the midst of all the happiness and joy, I sat down at a little table, coca cola in hand, to enjoy the afternoon and the irresistible chatter. Until I heard this.

Yeah, my doctor says it’s safe. It’s a hormone that makes your body think it’s pregnant.
Really? My friend lost fifty pounds using that.
I hear though that you can only eat a few hundred calories a day.
And, if you don’t eat you gain weight anyways.
My doctor just put me on a drug and told me to eat better and exercise. The drug didnt do anything on its own so I stopped taking it.
I think the answer is just to cut out the carbs. I mean, I love the bread and pasta but seriously, they’re evil. Just evil. Especially on my butt.
Alright, now putting aside that when a girl reaches the ripe old age of ahem, thirty something, she has been to one too many shower. bridal showers. baby showers.
One too many weddings.
Perhaps, even, one too many bachelorette parties.
But, even still, really? Seriously? Despite my slight hesitation to partake in wedding charades, isn’t it absolutely appalling that a group of women cannot have a conversation at a bridal shower without at least one of them bringing up the subject of the latest fad diet? Or calories? Or restriction? Or diet drugs?
Can’t we all just talk about the things that truly matter? Can’t we talk about our bodies like we do machines, and let ourselves get healthier by realizing we have to fuel this machine, and enjoy ourselves a little along the way?
Why this?
Why the judgment?
Why the envy?
Why the intolerable discussion of plans that are unbelievably bad for you (regardless of what a doctor says-and I retain my right to this opinion)
I mean, seriously?
Come on, people. COME ON.
What have we done to ourselves? And, whatever it is, let’s stop. Because there are WAY more fun things to talk about at a bridal shower than the fact that you think your hips are too big, that you should take a drug that makes your body thinks it is pregnant to lose weight, or that eating no carbohydrates at all will make you thin (and really, really sad and sick).
I started to say something, but the words got stuck in my throat, and I realized. I cannot be the Debbie Downer at this party. They don’t want me here raining on their I hate fat parade. But, I also realized something else. In as much as Girl Eat reaches just one person, just one person who realizes that food is not evil, that diets do not work, and that listening to our bodies is the way to go (along with beauty comes in all sizes, and do not judge yourself so harshly), then it appears I have found my sense of purpose again.
Welcome back everyone.
And, while I am appalled at the discussions that went on at that bridal shower, let me say this. I thank the women who helped me realize how important Girl Eat truly is.

Good Girl, Bad Girl

Here’s another oldie but goodie. Good Girl, Bad Girl was originally written after watching a ridiculous scene on television. Turns out, this scene is way more common than it should be. Degrading, insulting jokes about people who are overweight is commonly accepted in our society, but should it be?

Absolutely not.

I was watching one of my all-time favorite tv shows in reruns the other night with Boy Eat and one scene struck me.
You see, without giving too much away here, let me tell you about it. Basically, you have your lead actress who’s hopelessly dateless and runs into her unbelievably good looking ex boyfriend, and his new girlfriend. Turns out, his new girlfriend is a tad bit on the heavier side. She’s bigger than our favored lead. In fact, she’s probably twice the size. And, there are laughs because she’s also kind of annoying. Then come the jokes about him being with this woman and how there MUST be something going on here because hello! He chose a larger chick over our favored lead actress. WHAT?
And, I wondered in my head. How many of us see this and think to ourselves why would he be with her-specially after he was with our favored thin lead actress?
Oh me. Oh my. And unlike when I use these words to describe melt in my mouth chocolate chip cookies or pizza on pizza night, this time, I mean them in all seriousness. I mean, come on people, how low can we go? HOW LOW?
Really, we cannot just believe that he might be in love with this girl? Do we honestly believe her size basically strikes out any possibility of true romance, and, if so, do we base these thoughts on the real world, our own experiences, what we see every day? And, if that’s true, how sad is that? Have we become so fat hating and thin obsessed we do not see beauty in people of a bigger size, or is it just that while we might see their beauty, we cannot imagine it could hold a light to their thin counterparts? Regardless of our answers this scene should give us all pause. Pause, to wonder if perhaps we should change the way we see, the way we think, the way we feel.
In the end, what matters is that these two young kids are in love. Now, why is it, we automatically assume it cannot possibly be love if that love is directed at someone that doesn’t fit society’s standards of ultimate thin driven beauty? And, how troubling is it that we do?

Perhaps You Are

It’s funny that I’m just now noticing, really, everywhere, how much the world tells us to eat healthier.
And, given our nation’s obesity crisis and the weight-related health issues that are starting to affect more and more people, eat healthy is a good message. Eat healthier is a good message, too…most of the time.
You see, there’s a cap on all of this eating healthy media messaging that we need to understand.
For people who suffer from weight-related health issues the messages are good.
Eat healthier. Lose weight (if you are actually overweight). Feel better.
For people who are one of many people suffering from obesity and its entirely too many side effects the message is good.
It’s time. Make it happen. Stick to it. Start losing the weight now.
But, what I have noticed is there’s a little known little thought about side effect of all this media messaging that is not good. At all. Ever. And, that little known little thought about side effect is this: for all of us who are “eating healthy” sometimes we are eating just the way our bodies want to, and trying to make ourselves eat healthier, and healthier, and healthier, involves foods we don’t want to eat maybe and giving up foods we do want to eat.
So, if you find yourself in the aisles at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s or watching Dr. Oz when you suddenly ponder am I eating healthy? Healthy enough? Could I eat healthier?
Some magazines/stores/television shows cater to those of us who fall easily to the eating healthier media. Add more whole grains! Powder chia seeds! Eat flax! Now, these things might all be well and good, but maybe you don’t absolutely need to eat them (and perhaps a scoop of real ice cream now and then won’t hurt you either) The aisles at some grocery stores just tease you with healthfulness: high fiber! high protein! high everything that is good for you and absolutely no fat! (sounds yummy, doesn’t it)?
I have this to tell you.
Ask yourself if you are eating healthy. And, if you think you might not be, talk to a nutritionist or doctor and get a professional second opinion.
Ask yourself if you are eating healthy enough. A nutritionist or doctor won’t hurt in helping answer this question either.
Ask yourself if you could eat healthier. Chances are, you could, because most likely, we all could. But, it just might be that striving for this healthier, healthier, healthier goal takes away from a couple of the things that we enjoy the most. Like an occasional meal of gigantic bowl of pasta and cake for dessert. Like not worrying about our food every once in a while. Like feeling that we need to keep changing something if we are ever to maintain our weight (or, even, lose a few pounds). Here too, if you feel like a big change is needed I urge you to check with a nutritionist or doctor first. Chances are, if you’ve reached this question you are eating pretty healthy. The magazines might disagree, but, why not get an opinion from someone who cares way more for how your body’s working than how you will look in a swimsuit?