HELP: What is Eating Right?

So I’m currently making my way through Marilyn Wann’s Fat!So? (the book) and I really love it, but it’s raising some questions for me. Since I did this thing sorta backwards (self acceptance first, then reading all the Fat!So?s, etc.) a lot of it is a repeat of what I already know, but I just got through her section on health (and how being fat doesn’t mean you’re unhealthy) and here’s what I wonder: what does eating right mean exactly? Maybe Marilyn talks about it later in the book, but as of now, she says a lot about eating right and exercising regularly, but never specifies what eating right means.

Now, I must admit something. I’m asking this question because, though I don’t plan on dieting, I know I need to get my health under control. I am a fattie, but I’m a fattie who hasn’t really been exercising regularly (about to change), and a fattie who has high cholesterol, and a history of heart disease in the family. It’s a pretty serious thing for my dad that I eat well, and exercise, but his idea of eating right is very particular. He himself eats majority meat, and veggies. I, on the other hand, looooooovvvveee carbs, and never plan on giving them up. Give me a good plate of spaghetti any day!

So my question is, what does it mean to eat right? I hate meat. Really don’t like it. I eat chicken sometimes because supposedly I need more protein in my diet, but I think I’d rather be vegetarian, if I can be. Problem is, if I go veggie, I eat, seriously, ALL carbs. Now, my cardiologist, and everyone tells me this is bad. And my dad would agree. He has read about ten thousand books that tell him all about food and what to eat. For instance, he’s figured out, through all these books, that it’s CARBS and SUGARS, not fat, that cause fat, and bad health. I don’t know that much about it, but he’s pretty convinced. The Atkins, in theory, he says, is pretty good. Now, he doesn’t eat really fatty meats. He eats lean meats–turkey, chicken. He also eats entirely organic if he can (he’s actually ordering his chickens from a farm, and he just ordered a quarter of a steer from an organic farm for next month). But I don’t like meat. So what’s “eating right” for me?

And I have another question, an opinion question for all of you, where do you draw the line between going on a diet and eating right? Is it a diet for me to say, “hey, I eat too many carbohydrates. Let’s see if I can cut down on those a bit?” Is dieting only when you limit something? Or take something away from yourself that you know you want?

I want to be clear that I want to change my diet to get healthy, but I don’t want to cut out things I love. I love cake, noodles, cookies, Doritos, Cheetos, everything that tastes so good. I don’t eat all of that stuff too often, but I love it. And I intend to continuing loving and enjoying those foods. How does that fit into “eating right?” I don’t know. But I do know that I watch my dad every day restricting things I know he loves to eat. He won’t really eat mashed potatoes, or pasta, when my mom makes it. And it makes me sad because I’m afraid that’s what I’m going to have to become to get my cholesterol under control.

So I guess you could say I need help. I have a conflict between what the medical field (and my father) are telling me, and what I want to do and eat. I have a conflict between the way I think about this stuff, and my health. My mind is telling me “don’t change everything because they tell you to,” but then, I know that I have to make changes for my health. It will help once I’m exercising regularly, and really, that might tell me whether I’m eating right better than anything else.

But I want to know, what is “eating right” for you? And where do you personally draw the line between diet and right?


38 thoughts on “HELP: What is Eating Right?

  1. She actually does talk about it later in the book, Chrissy. She talks about following the old government food pyramid and about the “Wash & Chop” method of eating, which means that in addition to your “boil” and “fry” foods, you also include some things in your diet that you have to “wash and chop.” I.e., veggies.

    I personally think it’s a lot more calibrating things to what your own individual body and brain agree with than following some arbitrary set of rules, and that can take some time and experimenting. I mean, look at all these people who live to be 95 or 100, and there’s no set pattern at all in how they eat as a group. Some of them say they have lots of rice. Some of them love Twinkies and whiskey. Some are lifelong vegetarians. Some love pork rinds and would never give them up for love or money. Other than not eating what’s medically contraindicated for you individually, I don’t see any “rules.”

    I’ve also noticed that when I eat something makes a difference. If I eat a donut when I’m just sitting at my desk, I am likely to become spacy and sleepy, but if I eat a donut when I’m running around doing stuff, no problem. Pizza and beer is great if I reeealllly want to reeelaaaax, but I wouldn’t have it for a meal if I expected to get any work done afterwards. But that’s me. I’d never assume everyone feels the same way.

  2. There’s no clear answer on how to eat right because there’s no one right way to eat. It certainly doesn’t help that one doctor says that carbs are essential for healthy body function and another says that carbs make you fat so you should avoid them. That’s where you get people saying “eat carbs in moderation,” but they never define “moderation” because each body has different needs. What are you supposed to do?

    I do my best to listen to my body and make sure that I have a balanced variety of foods. If I’ve only eaten two hours ago and I feel hungry again, I consider what might have been missing from the meal: protein? carbs? fiber? minerals? vitamins?

    Usually, I realize that I didn’t have something vitamin rich, so I have a snack that’s mainly vegetable with a bit of protein/fat to help absorb the fat soluable vitamins and minerals (and add flavor which helps with feeling satisfied.)

    I think it’s a sort of intuitive eating, but I’ve never read up on that, so I couldn’t say for sure. I just know that when I pay attention to how I’m feeling, I usually eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m satisfied (which is seldom to the point of feeling full), and don’t feel hungry again for four or five hours. If I do feel hungry again within an hour or two, I have a snack and carry on.

    My weight hasn’t changed in two or three years. Once in a while, I’ll decide I don’t feel like cooking a vegetable or eating a raw, fresh vegetable, so I end up with a stomah ache because I only ate a fatty/carby entree and didn’t have something fiberous and vitamin/mineral rich to balance the meal. So, I make a mental note that I need to make sure that my meals contain a variety of flavors and textures. Then, my next meal tends to be pretty high in vegetable content and low in fats just because that’s what I’ll be craving.

    I have a digestive intolerance to corn and ingredients derived from corn (dextrose, dextrin, mono and diglycerides, etc). So, I’ve had to give up a boatload of foods that I love. Making substitutions is like asking a friend to scratch an itch and they get all around it, but never hit the spot. I don’t even bother. I grab a backscratcher and make sure I’m satisfied.

    In food terms, I only eat foods that I actively like, so that I always feel satisifed. When I’m satisfied, I don’t crave those things I can’t have anymore. I’ll eat foods that I’m indifferent to if things that I love aren’t available at the time, but they aren’t a regular part of my meals because I feel hungry all the time when I’m not satisified.

    My keywords are: variety, balance, satisfaction, enjoyment.

    The rest tends to take care of itself because I like foods that contain proteins, carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and fats.

  3. Curse you Atkins!

    I’m like you, I love carbs and there is nothing wrong with it. Everything can kill you, it’s just the balance.

    I have a sneaky suspicion the best nutritionists for us are our own bodies. Look at toddlers they’ll want to one day eat nothing but applesauce and the next pepperoni, they know what their body wants and needs.

    My fiance is actually a food scientist and there is no one perfect food everyone should eat.

    You need sugars, your brain runs on nothing but tons of glucose.

  4. Healthy eating is eating nutritionally dense foods that are low in saturated fat, salt, and without trans fats/hydroginated oils in reasonable ammounts. This means avoiding energy dense foods. Of course this all directally contradicts HAES which follows intuitive eating which means eating whatever you feel like whenever in what ever ammount you want. Also this this makes you evil since if you read the truth from Sandy the nutrse you will know that in reality salt, saturated fate, and trans fats are not bad for you and the entire scientific/medical community know far less than one genius nurse. I suggest you drop the healthy eating subject and quick, lest you incur the wrath of Sandy and company. If you want to stay involved in FA you have to tow the company line that food has nothing to do with fat and that whatever your body wants will nourish you far more than the so call healthy foods. You also will be called evil for moralising food when there are no such things as good or bad foods. I know you are new but you should know better than to even think about publically stating that there is such a thing as healthy eating that isn’t intuitive eating. Just ask “cheesburger rules” what happened when she crossed sandy and implied that some foods can be healthyer than others. not good,

  5. Twightriver has IE absolutely right: eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, note how your body reacts to different foods, listen when it expresses a craving for a particular kind of food, and don’t beat yourself up about a need to snack sometimes or indulging in a food generally held to be ‘bad.’

    Oh, and ignore Tara the Troll. Sandy’s not coming to Get you for discussing the question of healthful eating on your blog.

    Over the decades, nutritionists have done a great many about faces concerning what is healthful for all of us to eat. The simple fact is, no one way has ever worked out as best for every person. So my advice would be to make sure you eat from all the food groups each day (and you can get a cholesterol-free, high-density protien from eating a combination of rice and beans, which means if you want to go vegetarian you should do just fine as long as you remember to eat beans and/or tofu where your father would eat meat), and see how your next cholesterol test goes. Just remember that most of us do better when we eat a varied diet, and be open to the possibility that you may wind up having to replace some of your daily carbs with something else.

    Best of luck getting the cholesterol under control!

  6. I agree with the lot- intuitive eating! Your body can tell you wonders. Its mysteries are incredible. Your body will take care of itself if you listen. Also….don’t excercise just to exercise, if it gives you stress. 😦 stay active in things you enjoy if they bring you pleasure. Don’t feel like you have any sort of obligation to get on the’workout train.’ Hopefully it is all about your happiness, though, and in that case, just ignore me. πŸ˜€

  7. Pingback: Eating right and what it means to us as individuals « Spontaneous Impressions

  8. Oh, I’ve got almost the same problem. I’m lucky enough to like meat, but I LOVE pasta. Unfortunately I’m hypoglycemic and pasta isn’t all that great for me and my blood sugar.

    Since I don’t have anything to add to the folks above about IE, I thought I’d share my pasta trick – from one noodle lover to another! πŸ™‚

    If I want some pasta I make about half the amount I normally would. Then I take a zucchini and use a vegetable peeler to slice the whole (seedless part of the) zucchini into ribbons. (I usually use 2 or 3 zucchinis, and I don’t use the middle, seeded part.) I do it right over the pasta pot, throwing those ribbons into the boiling pasta water for the last minute or so and then serve the whole mixture like it was all pasta. I get the chewiness of the noodles and the zucchini has that nice slurpy pasta texture. Plus I’m getting a veggie! If you want some protein in that, just add some cheese (veggie sausage is also really good).

    Seriously good stuff.

    Actually, I do have one thing to say about the IE. If you don’t like meat, don’t force yourself to eat it. There are so many things you can eat instead, and everyone’s protein requirements are different. I eat a LOT of protein, but my mother eats very little, and each of us has tried the other’s way of eating and been miserable. We need different things. So if you don’t like meat, that might be your body’s way of telling you not to eat too much protein. Maybe you really don’t need that much, and what you do need you can get from eggs or beans or cheese or even soy substitutes.

    As always, this is all with a grain of salt and YMMV. πŸ™‚

  9. We’re definitely not strict vegetarians, but I make vegetarian meals far more often than not. I would have to recommend the Moosewood cookbooks. Many of the meals have a carb base, and I’ve found them to be really helpful both in finding good recipes and in learning how to work protein into my diet without meat.

    At the same time, as I’ve been introduced to more vegetarian meals, I’m finding that foods other than carbs appeal more and more to me. Today for lunch, for instance, I had baby carrots and hummus. I didn’t feel like I was missing something because I didn’t have a carb. I love tofu, and find myself craving it more often than I crave pasta now.

    And, I’ve also realized that it’s not so much that I hate vegetables as that I really hated the way my parents prepared vegetables–I gag even today when I have to eat boiled broccoli, but I love me some well-seasoned and sauteed broccoli or some steamed broccoli. I now saute and steam my veggies, and sometimes bake and grill them, and it turns out that I actually like a lot of veggies. I just hate the consistency they take on when they’re boiled, which is how I was always served them growing up.

    I would never, ever give up carbs, but I do find that when I listen to my body and have a variety of foods that I like to eat available, I often choose foods that aren’t carbs.

  10. Oh, I just love “avoid energy dense foods.” You know what happens when you do that? You either: 1. eat MORE energy light foods or 2. GET HUNGRY FASTER.

    Option 2 is what you’re looking for, Tara, since you seem to believe “healthy” means “likely to induce (if only temporary) weight loss.” (And, um, “nutrition” includes calories, or “energy,” as any first year biology student can tell you.)

    (Almost) Everyone here has given excellent advice that I can only endorse wholeheartedly.

    I, myself, am a believer in the health-giving qualities of veggies and whole grains slathered liberally with butter and olive oil, but the Real Truth(tm) is that every person is different. Which I know isn’t necessarily helpful if you’re trying to figure out what’s best for you.

    You might try a drink or two a day for lowering cholesterol. (Plus! Fun! Yummy!) It’s as well-documented as anything in the constantly changing kaleidescope of medicalized food, and (unless it’s personally contraindicated for you due to religion, physiology, psychology or some other reason), it’s fairly harmless.

  11. A couple of foods I’ve discovered since going vegetarian that appeal to the I-love-carbs! bit of my brain but also provide plenty of protein, fibre, and vitamins and minerals, are the grains quinoa and amaranth. They look and cook a bit like couscous, are darned tasty, and you get the carb satisfaction along with some extra nutrition. You can toss ’em with some vegies (even with a tomato-based spaghetti style sauce), dress with a bit of olive oil or margarine/butter, and voila, nom.

    And I love tofu since figuring out how to cook it properly. πŸ™‚ (Recipe link on my blog, heh.) I marinated some thin slices in pesto last night then crisped them up a little in a non-stick pan to make some kind of faux-meat to go on a vegie pizza.

    I also highly recommend the cookbooks Veganomicon and Vegan With a Vengeance by Moskowitz & Romero, they’re chock-a-block full of incredibly tasty meals and snacks. And their book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is full of the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten – heaven for the carb lover too. πŸ™‚ Actually you can get a good sampling of their style here: – but the cookbooks provide a lot of background on how to cook without meat and other animal products. (Warning: the books also contain a wee tiny bit of weight loss/etc talk but it’s easily ignored).

    It took my brain a real long time to figure out intuitive eating and it’s still working hard at it. Once I really and truly quit dieting (including the thinking) the urgency I felt for carbs kind of died off somewhat – but like others have said, everyone’s different. And ignore the TaraTroll. I found that once I got on to IE, if I did eat a calorie-dense meal my brain/body would take that into consideration and I wouldn’t feel like eating so much for my next meal or two. For instance, my calorie-dense vegie pizza dinner last night? All I felt like for breakfast this morning was half an apple and I’m edging towards a tomato salad for lunch. and I feel no guilt for eating delicious pizza. πŸ™‚

    All I can really say is experiment and be thoughtful and trust yourself and eventually your brain will click. πŸ™‚

  12. energy dense dosn’t mean just alot of calories, it mean a very high ratio of calories to nurtrients. Coke is a good example many calories, no nutrients (empty calories). that said I know I am wrong because if your body tellls you that it wants coke then that coke will nourish you more than any “healthy” nutrient dense food would. afer all your body knows more than any doctors or scientists. We evolved to crace sugars and fats because in a time of scarsity they were less abundant than standard vegatables. Now that we have mastered agriculture and food processing we live in a time of over abundance and our evolutionary advantages have become counter preductive. But what do I know I’m no longer fat enough to know what my body wants to eat and am stuck living a horrible healthy lifestyle. Damn it.

  13. I’ve never read this blog before, so forgive me if I say anything bad or unhelpful in the below.

    In February 08 I was diagnosed with high cholesterol, which baffled me, because I’m 26, healthy, and relatively thin. I utterly changed my diet and ate tofu, fish, vegetables, fruits, and as many carbs as I could stuff into my face. (I think Atkins is beyond ridiculous – your body behaves as if it’s *starving* when you go on Atkins; that’s why you’re so exhausted for the first couple of weeks.) I cut out red meat entirely and ate chicken once every couple of weeks. I cut dairy pretty much entirely, substituting soy or just other foods, which was terribly painful.

    At first I didn’t think I would find anything that I could eat, but I was so wrong – there’s just nothing to eat in a diet like that *in mainstream America*. You’re not going to find food that fits in a low-cholesterol diet in restaurants, ever. Even supposedly low-calorie stuff will be made with butter or eggs.

    Make friends with your stove, with your local grocery store, and with beans, tofu, and fish. Fish is unbelievably easy to cook once you get the hang of it; at this point I think chicken is too much trouble. Check out and for some good recipes with ingredients you want to use. Lentils are great for filling you up, and there are some amazing recipes out there for them (and they’re cheap!). I also eat several small meals a day instead of few large ones, and even though that’s because of another health problem, I think it’s helped as well.

    The key is balance, of course. If I have pasta for dinner one night, I have a non-carb meal the next night. If I have a high-vegetable meal for lunch, I’ll have something a little more luxurious for dinner.

    In case you’re curious, I dropped my cholesterol almost 40 points in three months, and I lost almost 10 pounds (not that that matters to you, not that it should – for me it meant I didn’t have to buy any more new clothes for my slowly widening body). I know that part of this is that I ate oatmeal EVERY SINGLE DAY. That might help you too – I make it with vanilla soy milk and raisins and it’s delish.

    Good luck!

  14. Wow, Tara! Thanks for kicking that Straw Man down the block and back! You might want to look up “energy dense,” though.

    No one here is saying that vitamins, fiber, et al, are unimportant, but “energy,” in the nutritional sense, is simply DEFINED as “calories,” so if a food is “energy dense” it is ergo high in calories. Perhaps this isn’t what you mean, in which case you should speak in more precise terms.

    Also, your conflation of, and misrepresentation of, HAES and intuitive eating is startling. HAES means simply trying to be as healthy as possible (however you want to define it–take your, rather inexact, definition of healthy eating if you like) without reference to whether it causes weight loss. Hence the “at every size” part.

    Intuitive eating, of which you present merely a caricature, is only one way of eating, among many others, that some people choose to include as part of HAES.

  15. Wow, since HAES is all about telling people to guzzle the Coke all day, I guess Tara is totally correct in her assessment.

    I have to say, as somebody who does indeed eat what my body wants, I have never had my body really want soda. I’ve wanted soda because it tastes good. I very occasionally drink it. But, I’ve never been hungry and thought about what it was my body wanted, and concluded that it was Coke. That’s the whole point of HAES. Your body isn’t going to tell you to guzzle Coke. You can trust it.

  16. Do NOT go on a ‘diet’! Instead begin to ‘eat right’, and use it as a lifestyle change, more movement in your day, and eating lots of vegetables and fruit (the healthy carbs and they do not put weight on), protein (doesn’t have to be meat: eggs, soft cheeses, whey protein (I have a shake every morning), fish, etc..), some good oil/fat (olive, coconut, grapeseed, fish oil, linseed) and NO white stuff (bread, rice, pasta, cakes, biscuits, etc) only eat a little whole grain.

    It takes about 3 weeks to get into a new lifestyle routine, so if you can tough it out for 21 days you should find it easy from then on: I have written it all out for you and it is based on real research in my two downloadable books:
    “A Rainbow on My Plate” and “Sick, Tired and Overweight”

  17. If you hate meat here is something you might like to know.

    I went vegan for a month and accidently lost 15 pounds. Lots of veggies, plenty of carbs, and even sugar. But no meat and no dairy!
    Supplement with things like Flax Seed Oil on your salads and veggies, and nutritional yeast on your veggies, toast, and popcorn. This will give you the things you’d be missing from eating meat.
    Bean burritos are a good start…

  18. Mine does, but that’s because I’m addicted, and I’m well aware of it. πŸ™‚ Although even then, it doesn’t tell me to guzzle it. I *tried* guzzling coke when I was a teenager, and discovered that I got sick of it very very quickly.

    anyway, my personal guide to good eating is to eat a little of a lot of things. try stuff! try not to get stuck in a rut eating the same thing all the time!

    Limiting your consumption of something that you like isn’t necessarily ‘dieting’. It can just mean keeping that thing special. You’ll enjoy it more if you don’t have it all the time.

    There’s some sort of crazy yogurt thing that’s been shown to lower cholesterol, isn’t there?

  19. The very idea that Sandy Szwarc could or would even want to “come get” anyone who wonders about how to “eat right” for her own body is risible. Nobody is going to get kicked off the ‘Sphere for raising that issue — it’s come up multiple times and that hasn’t happened yet — and nobody is going to be checking your pee to make sure you’ve had “enough” Coke. You also don’t have to agree with Sandy about everything 100% in order to be in FA. Strawfattie, you bet.

  20. I think part of fat acceptance is feeling good. I think healthy eating involves both the “now” and the “later” in making yourself feel good. If I only paid attention to the “now” I’d only eat sour patch kids and dove chocolate. But my body has other needs. I need longer term energy, I need fiber for digestion, I need water to not get headaches, I need vegetables and fruit to not be malnourished. Those are the “later” feel goods. At the table I want to eat a lot, but I really hate feeling so overfull that I can’t move.

    However, it also means not feeling guilty. If I need to eat some ice cream after a hard day to feel good, I will. And I won’t feel guilty. Feeling guilty isn’t about feeling good!

  21. My idea of healthy eating is pretty much:
    – eat more veggies
    – whole grains and lean protein are also good
    – eating cheese at every single meal is not a good idea (I like cheese)
    – I guess the point of that is really eat a wide variety of foods, don’t always fill up on the same food
    – when you need a cookie, eat the damn cookie

    I’m a vegetarian too and one time a doctor told me something I hadn’t realized but it’s true for me: I crave carbs when I’m not getting enough protein. So I’d say find some easy sources of protein for when you need more, and then when you’re craving carbs, have some protein at the same time. I like cheese and crackers for a snack. I really like the soy meat substitutes and you can add those to foods to boost the protein, like soy meatballs with spaghetti or a tofurky sandwich instead of a cheese sandwich.

    For me, it has to be convenient or I just won’t eat it when I come home all hungry and tired. It sounds like you’re like me and you like a convenient food like chips; that’s a huge problem with the way food is marketed and sold, it’s a lot easier to eat salty, sugary foods than it is to eat vegetables. Try the pre-cut and washed veggies if you haven’t already. I like the bags of salad and shredded carrot. A bowl of lettuce doesn’t have a lot of vitamins but it does if you throw in shredded or baby carrots and grape tomatoes. And the fat in dressing actually helps your body process some of the vitamins! When I cook pasta, I always put at least as much veggies as pasta, and I cook the veggies in olive oil, which gives them more flavor plus I think olive oil is supposed to be healthier than soy or canola oil. I used to hate broccoli and carrots because we’d have them every night with dinner when I was a kid, and my mom would boil the hell out of them and serve them with a tiny bit of salt but butter was not allowed. Now I put a little dab of butter and don’t overcook them and I eat more veggies. Actually, that’s probably a piece of general advice I’d give: if adding something “bad for you” like butter or salad dressing makes it so you like veggies and whole grains so you eat more of them then add it!

    That about the broccoli reminds me of another thing I’ve learned about food: you don’t have to eat the same foods as your parents. I used to hate grilled cheese(!) because my mom always made it with monterey jack cheese on whole wheat bread with all seeds and stuff in it, and she melted the cheese by broiling it in the oven, and it wasn’t until I was out on my own that I discovered you can make it with different types of cheese and bread in a frying pan with butter and it’s actually very tasty. Being a vegetarian is a good excuse to try all kinds of different foods that you might not have had growing up.

    I’d also recommend ignoring the “fats are bad! No, wait, carbs are bad!” fad diets. Nutrition isn’t physics; no specific set of foods is going to be ideal for everyone’s unique body. If it were that simple then there would be one diet book and everybody would follow it and be healthy all the time, instead of there being thousands of diet books all saying different things and nobody knowing what the hell they’re supposed to eat. BUT there’s one useful piece of information that’s been talked about in the media thanks to Atkins et al.: complex carbs like whole grains are more filling and don’t mess with your blood sugar like simple carbs (sugars) do. The whole “white foods will kill you!” thing is bullcrap but it is a good idea to eat some more whole grains – they’ll give you more energy. I think the way to have it be healthy eating and not a diet is to try lots of different whole grains, vegetables and lean proteins and see which ones you like but I wouldn’t substitute “healthier options” for everything. Sometimes you need that ice cream and an apple just won’t cut it.

    One weird thing I noticed when I was working out more was I started craving things I’d normally put in the “good-for-you, force-yourself-to-eat-it” category. Like I didn’t want cookies and ice cream, I wanted lots of veggies and protein. So you might notice that when you start exercising more, and it’ll make intuitive eating easier. I try to do intuitive eating and it works like this: I’m hungry and sometimes I know exactly what I want to eat but often I don’t know. So I start by imagining I have a food replicator like on Star Trek, and I can have any food imaginable. That helps me figure out what type of food I want, then I narrow it down based on what I’m willing and able to cook (or buy).

    I hope all that helps!

  22. I think it totally depends on your body, and how it responds to food. It doesn’t make sense to ban things you love, because that will simply drive you crazy.

    It’s a good rule of thumb that too much refined sugar, and a lot of processed/packaged foods, aren’t good for you. Ditto soda, fried foods, etc. So if you find yourself eating a lot of that, it’s probably a good idea to cut back.

    You can get protein from lots of other sources besides meat … legumes, quinoa (a protein rich grain, which you’d probably adore, as a carb lover), nuts, dairy products, etc. Carbs usually aren’t the issue so much as processed carbs … there’s a difference between eating a carb-rich bowl of brown rice, and a carb-rich serving of white bread.

    I’ve had to fiddle a lot with my diet due to a wheat intolerance, and in the process, I also learned that once I cleared out my body’s addiction to wheat and refined sugar, I responded to food much differently. The detox was really difficult, and I wouldn’t have been motivated to do it had I not been suffering from headaches so severe that I was ready to try literally anything. I wasn’t addressing a weight issue, and I don’t know if something that subjective and nebulous would have been sufficiently compelling to get me through the detox … but once I did it, I was really glad I had. It might be worth a try, to learn how your body responds once it’s had a chance to “recover,” esp. from sugar, which does all kinds of weird things to your metabolic response. Anyway, my point is that it might be worthwhile to clear some space to let your body tell you what it wants, because everyone is different.

    You’ll be able to gauge based on how you feel, and that’s the only barometer that makes sense. If you feel like you’re starving to death on Eating Plan A, then don’t use it. Your body knows when it’s in balance. Listen to it.

  23. I haven’t read through all the advice, however I will jump right in anyway because I love giving advice! I say that different foods make different people feel the best. If you love carbs, then pay attention to how they make you feel; and if you feel good eating them, eat away. If, like me, they tend to make you tired, then you might want to save them for times when a bit of sleepiness is desirable. If you don’t like meat, then don’t eat it, there’s probably a reason for it that only your body knows. You can get lots of protein from tofu or nuts or beans or cheese or eggs or milk; and again pay attention to how you feel after you eat them.

    About the only really standard advice I wholeheartedly follow is that you should eat plenty of fruits and veggies in addition to all the foods that make you happy. I find that when I eat plenty of them I feel better.

    I also like lots of fiber in my diet, but I’m an old fart and like to keep regular as they say.

  24. Meowser I think a lot of people are..well, intimidated by some of the harsh/hardline language some of the ‘real FA’ blogs will use in their about pages and semi-manifesto lists. When I first read them I was kinda o.O

    On topic, I enjoy carbs and I enjoy meats, and I’m lazy about my veggies – but mainly because my boyfriend cooks but won’t clean up lots of pots and pans. And I do the laundry and clean everywhere else, so he ends up making potato wedges because it’s eaiser *facedesk*

    Anyways, I think it’s a matter of making sure you have variety. A ton of bread is going to do you no good – but wholegrain/grannary bread, different types of pasta, potatos, etc are awesome for filling you up. Most Vegetarians I know recommend beans and pulses to help with protein intake. I eat relatively healthy (I’ll have a small slice of cake, or a packet of crips, or a chocolate bar on average twice a week when I feel like it.) and I still don’t get enough protein for the amount of exercise I do in a day.

  25. I had great success on Somersize. I have been eating this way since 2001, and easily lost all I wanted (about 50 pounds) within the first six months or so. You can visit my blog to read my weight loss story if you’d like. There is also a link to my homepage with before and after photos.

  26. I should also say that you should ask a professional rather than those reading a fat acceptance blog. Asking an obese person about nutrition is as wise as asking a creationist about history or science.

  27. I disagree on all accounts Tara, but I’m mostly going to respond to your last comment.

    Reading an FA blog, and talking to other fat people about nutrition gets me answers that I wouldn’t get from a nutritionist (which I do have), as well as answers I would. My particular nutritionist, who I talk to once every six months or so, has basically told me EVERYTHING that everyone here has told me. She told me to get variety, to eat proteins via legumes, nuts, etc. But at the same time, she told me I could eat cake, and cookies, if I wanted to.

    What she has never explained to me is intuitive eating. But, if I bring it up to her when I go back (I see her every six months when I go to the cardiologist), I think she’s the type of person who would totally agree with everything everyone (excluding you, of course) has said on this post.

    And, by the way, the most interesting part of this post has been seeing what the FA people have to say about eating right, and how that compares to my nutritionist. You say “Asking an obese person about nutrition is as wise as asking a creationist about history or science.” Well, what I have to say to that is that I’d find that conversation very interesting, because there is a DIFFERENT VIEWPOINT in that conversation than what I am used to.

    I am hearing from people with different viewpoints, which also includes YOU, on this blog, and it has been extremely helpful to me. But needless to say, I have other resources. I do other research. I have doctors. But this is me questioning whether I should LISTEN to those doctors as much. This has shown me my nutritionist has the right idea, but has not applied it completely to ME. FA has indeed given it much thought, and taken what nutritionists say is “right” and made it practical. That’s what I needed to hear.

    Again, thank you for your input, but your rudeness towards me and my commenters will continue to be addressed. Please be respectful.

  28. Pingback: Screw Progress, I’ll Take Perfection « Take Up Your Bed and Walk

  29. I really feel for you. I think there is a LOT of misinformation out there. No I dont think you should try to restrict anything your eating. I think a really good source to go to is

    Look up cholesterol. It will show that there is actually very little evidence for cholesterol been bad for you. I think if you exercise and eat lots of veges then youll be ok. Good luck!

  30. Try to get at the book “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan. I’ve been “the fat one” my whole life, and have always fixated on “good” vs “bad” food, but it hasn’t given me a skinny body, or a healthy love of the body I do have.

    Michael says “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”, and he says to avoid food “with ingredients” as much as possible. SO SIMPLE, and so freeing.
    He talks about how Americans, when asked to use one word to describe chocolate cake, immediately say “guilt”, but the French would say “celebration”. !!! I want to go with the “celebration” mentality, thank you very much!

    I need to UN-learn more about food than I need to learn more nutritionist mumbo-jumbo.

  31. Tara, would it be better to ask a skinny person who reads fat acceptance blogs? A skinny person with a reasonable knowledge of biology and the mechanisms of evolution, and a lot of knowledge about the physiology underlying eating behavior (hint, it is extremely complex, there are dozens of chemicals and mechanisms involved, and there’s a lot nobody really understands about the whole thing)? A skinny person who doesn’t think it makes any sense for human to have spent the last half a million years of our evolution mostly craving foods that would kill us if we ever actually ate as much as we wanted of them? A skinny person who has been eating intuitively her whole life because she literally cannot keep herself fed any other way? Cause…that would be me. And none of it has managed to increase my weight enough to make me eligible to give blood.

    Chrissy, I am glad you’re looking for a variety of input on this subject. It looks like you’ve gotten good feedback already, but I didn’t see anything about your question about the difference between “a diet” and “eating healthy.” I think it comes down to listening to your body, and trusting it. Being on a diet means fighting your body in favor of some pre-set plan, with some pre-set goal (usually weight loss, but maybe something like lowering your cholesterol). Almost always, your body is the enemy, and the point of the diet is to change it. Sometimes, if you really are sick, this is what you need to do. There are diseases that affect your appetite and/or change the kind of nutrients you need. But as far as I know, just having high cholesterol does not qualify.

    While it may be a good idea for you to get your cholesterol down (though I’ve heard that the connection between cholesterol and heart disease is much more tenuous than usually presented), I think you should keep in mind two things: 1. mental health is a part of health. there is no point to being physically healthy if you are not enjoying it 2. a lot of research on happiness has found that people’s subjective perceptions of their own health is far more important to their happiness, and even to their overall longevity, than are objective measures of health. So, trust your body, respect it, and eat in a way that makes you feel good, and you will likely be alright, even if a number on a chart looks bad to your doctor.

    Finally, if you’re looking for sources of protein other than meat, may I suggest quinoa? It is a south american grain that has been eaten by people in the Andes mountains for 5,000 years, but has only been getting attention from the wider world quite recently. I am amazed more people don’t know about it, because it is SO GOOD. It’s a complete protein, plus it is full of fiber. I never manage to eat enough fiber, and of course meat is useless for that, so quinoa’s great when I am craving protein. It is also easy to cook, and have I mentioned, it tastes delicious? Because it does.

  32. Hey, just found your blog from a link in WordPress — great stuff! I’m vegetarian, and I think I actually eat MORE protein now than I ever did before. Because I actually LIKE the food I’m eating now! I agree with the last person that quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa) is AWESOME. I have a fun recipe that is pretty simple to make — you ground up some spices and olive oil in a food processor to make a pesto to mix the quinoa with, then roast some sweet potatoes and other vegetables in the oven with some spices — and then mix it all together and serve it (if you want) over tortillas and with some cheese sprinkled over it. Mmmmmm. If it sounds interesting I’d be happy to send you the recipe.

    For other rich protein foods, I love edamame (steam in the microwave and sprinkle with salt, voila), peanut butter, nuts, tempeh (pronounced TEM-pay, it’s terrific fried up with some buffalo wing or barbecue sauce), egg whites, tofu (another recipe I could send you for a peanut butter-thai sauce to put over it, geez, I’m salivating just thinking about it!) and of course, vegetarian refried beans. Because they don’t cook them with animal fat, they have almost zero fat in them, but taste every bit as good.

    I wish you the very best of luck with your blog, your decision to start exercising more, your health, and all you do!


  33. Wow. As a nutritionist and a personal trainer, I am sometimes embarrassed by my own profession as to the knowledge that is dished out.

    The original question posed “what is β€œeating right” for you? And where do you personally draw the line between diet and right?”

    To eat right (as said above already quite eloquently) is to eat according to what is right for you at the point you are at right now.

    Meaning if you want to be leaner, different things will be right than if you want to have good joints.

    Your individual chemistry also plays a major role and different foods can react differently in your body. “Metabolic Typing” by William Woolcott and “Eat right for your type” are both excellent books. They dont quite hit the bullseye, but they consider each of our own individual chemistry, which is an ESSENTIAL part of all of this.

    These books explain why some people do great on Atkins and others do better on other diets.

    A piece of cake can weight more in your body due to the associated water retention that can come from the physical reaction to the sugar, flour and other refined products that make up the recipe.

    Something else to consider is what is important to you. If you are addicted to cocaine, it is only a problem if you want to get off of it. If you are addicted to sugary foods, it is only a problem if you dont like what sugary foods potentially do to you. Sugary foods and other common unhealthy foods can be more addictive than you would think. Our physical chemistry again, is an essential part of the equation.

    I get a lot of confusion from people when I speak at conferences because I am all for people being larger as long as they are healthy along with it.

    Bottom line is that nobody has all the answers yet. We are multi-dimensional creatures and require an approach that integrates different foods at different stages of health.

    To answer your original question, however: For long lasting change and acceptance we must surgically remove the word DIET from our vocab. It indicates a start and a finish, whereas we must be in a constant state of self-discovery as to what ‘eating right’ means to us.

    Jamie Atlas

  34. I wholeheartedly subscribe to Michael Pollan’s philosophy that “eating right” is not eating a lot of processed foods. To me that means cooking at home (restaurants cook with -a lot- of butter and frozen or canned good) and basing my diet on what is in season and fresh at the super market. Also, I try to plan meals a week and advance and only buy food that is on my list. (I don’t allow myself impulse purchases and I try to have lots of fruit lying around for quick snacks.)

    I don’t believe in diets. Your body with consume muscle before it will go for fat reserves. Also, you shouldn’t cut out your favorite food because you will be unhappy. Being happy is the most important thing. If you don’t love yourself, you won’t be motivated to change.

  35. Diet to me means deprivation. It means I’m telling myself I can’t have something because it’s “bad” for me. I think that eating right means “everything in moderation”. Getting all your nutrients in for the day. Eating all of your fruits/vegetables, drinking water, but still being able to have some pasta if you want it. Or having that piece of chocolate cake when you’re craving it. There has to be a balance.

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