Michael Pollan’s New York Times article Rules to Eat By stirred up quite a bit of controversy, looking at the 790 and counting comments posted on Tara Parker-Pope’s blog post about the article. His article bashes Splenda with fiber, questions Froot Loops receiving a Smart Choices check mark, and second-guesses science that made us switch from good old butter to trans-fat-laden margarine.
According to Pollan, it is difficult for us to rely on marketers, the government and even nutritionists to help us make the right choices with food. I have to admit, I agree with him in some cases. So what helps us get through this?Food rules, or according to Pollan: “rules of thumb about eating that have been passed down in our families or plucked from the cultural conversation.”
Do you have any food rules? Although I do not believe in placing rules on eating habits, such as restriction or labeling foods as “good” or “bad”, I do believe in some food rules. For instance, a vegetarian’s rule to not eat meat. Or a diabetic’s rule to watch his refined carbohydrate intake to keep his blood sugar stable. I have a food rule that gets me into trouble at times:
Do not eat when you do not feel like eating or care for the food placed in front of you.
Here are two examples:
There is a lunch being catered at my job. But I have already packed a healthy lunch that I was truly looking forward to eating. Everyone wants me to join them at lunch and I do, but I opt to eat my brown-bag lunch. Everyone says “I’m on a diet” or makes some comment about me being a dietitian. No, I’m not on a diet and dietitians eat crap too! I just truly didn’t want those wraps and cookies and was looking forward to my awesome leftovers from last night’s dinner.
On the flip side, let’s say I packed a pretty gross lunch and really wanted the catered food instead. But I have this silly rule that the catered food is “bad”. If this were the case, this would be restriction. This is not a good way to build harmony with food and a poor use of a food rule.
Dessert. I love dessert. But sometimes at a party, family gathering, or restaurant, the huge meal I just ate was enough to fill my bursting stomach with little room for dessert. Sometimes I just need a couple of hours and then I’m looking for something sweet. Other times I just truly do not want dessert. I have found some people take this personally if it is their own dessert I am refusing. In restaurant situations, I think people secretly get angry that they are eating dessert but I opted not to. Whatever the case, you should never eat for the sake of pleasing other people!
Another dessert one is cake at the workplace. Years ago at a former job I swear every week we were celebrating someone’s birthday with cake. I am not a big fan of the typical bakery, butter cream birthday cake. And when there is a constant abundance of cake in the middle of the day, I just don’t want it. People don’t understand that you truly don’t like or want these foods and think you are on a diet or you are being “good”.
I like wine, beer and a great cosmopolitan. But if I’m out with someone who does not drink, I don’t say “ C’mon, you don’t want a rum and coke?” I leave the person alone.
What food rules do you have that others may not approve of? Send a comment, I’d love to hear!