Learning How To Eat

I’d like to clarify some confusion that has sprouted from a prior entry. The confusion came from the following statement:

“I don’t eat cheat meals simply because I don’t like feeling like crap for the rest of the day. I prefer the taste of real food and also feel much better (physically) afterwards.”

Some readers misinterpreted my comments, and believed that I was referring to a psychological feeling. Please note that my comments were related to the physical after effects that often follow junk food consumption. An abbreviated list includes stomach pains, heartburn, indigestion, sluggishness, and nausea. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen someone shovel junk food down their mouth, only to complain for hours afterwards about how bad they now feel (physically). In my opinion, no food is worth this kind of misery.

One of the problems with dieting is the perception that you will somehow be deprived of certain pleasures in life. This perception is everything but true however. If we ever hope to slow the obesity problem in the world today, we need to spend more time preaching the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. An obese person already knows that it isn’t good for him.

Healthy Foods Taste Better

I’m in no way deprived. I don’t live to eat, but I do enjoy a well cooked meal. Healthy foods actually taste better. Unfortunately, most people in this world do not know how to cook. In a response to my last blog entry, Scott Kustes from the Modern Forager (great site) said the following:

“Junk tends to be either overpoweringly sweet or overpoweringly salty. Real food is earthy, minty, sweet, sour, savory, peppery, spicy, etc. I can make 10 different meals from ground beef, onions, and something green just by altering what spices I use.”

Those who struggle with weight problems are often uniformed. They need to realize that we aren’t all crazy. Life is good and we are not missing out on anything. You can’t expect to conquer a weight problem if you live the rest of your life in a perceived state of deprivation. I don’t live my life waiting for the next cheat meal to come along. I eat tasty foods every day of the week.

We all make choices based on personal preferences. You buy the shoes that you like. You buy the pants that you like. There is always a selection that you must wade through before coming to a purchase decision. The same idea holds true for food. You choose what foods you buy. And while some of the decision making process may be based on weekly sales or availability, much of the decision is based on what you want. What do you want to eat and why?

Unfortunately, the answers to this question rarely make sense. For example, who said that cereal is a breakfast food? Did our ancestors wake up and eat a bowl of Cocoa Puffs? Who came along and appointed cereal as the preferred breakfast food?

Perhaps a large commercial enterprise made the decision for you? Using Cocoa Puffs as the example, check out the financial statement from General Mills (the packaged food company that makes Cocoa Puffs):

General Mills

The food industry is in business to make money. Much of the world’s eating habits came from these powerful companies. As I quoted before:

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.” – John Dryden

Unfortunately, someone else has made many of our habits for us. The habit maker has priorities that do not involve your health and well being. Many modern habits are polar opposites to what the body actually needs. To overcome a problem with weight, you need to make new habits. These habits will not deprive you of anything. On the contrary, your quality of life will improve.

Over-eating bad food isn’t a reward. Perhaps someone else told you that it is, but when you consider the pros and cons, it simply doesn’t make sense. No one needs to over eat to enjoy life. Once you change your shopping habits, this will become more and more clear to you. Life’s greatest rewards do not include shoveling food down your mouth to the point of discomfort.

When I wake up early in the morning, it is common to see deer in my backyard. There are woods behind my house. The deer eat various grasses, weeds, herbs, etc. The woods are loaded with greens. A deer could eat all day if he wanted to do so. But guess what? I’ve never seen an obese deer stroll through my yard. And surprisingly, there aren’t deer appointed nutritionists or personal trainers. The deer simply eat the way they were intended to eat. Most humans in today’s world do not. Perhaps we could all learn something from a less intelligent animal.



  1. Ross, Great stuff yet again! I love the last paragraph about the deer nutritionists and personal trainers. Talking about “needing” cheats makes me think of something John Berardi said in an article about people getting on him for not “living a little” with beer and wings. His line was something like “I don’t consider beer and wings to be the high life.” It’s also funny that when you eat the right foods and your body is properly nourished, you don’t crave most of the bad foods that you used to.

    About the worst I go anymore is chips and salsa and a beer or two more than I should.

    Scott Kustes
    Modern Forager

  2. I can attest personally to the effects of junk food on energy. I’ve been wide awake and feeling like a snack. Lo and behold, pop tarts. Pop one or two of these in the toaster and voila’! No fuss, no muss, and two minutes later my craving is gone. Then, in about ten or fifteen minutes, the only thing I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep. I would like to eat food that makes me leap into life, not crawl into a hole.

  3. Very well again, i should stop saying that line, but really your on it everytime.
    And also the last paragraph was hilarious lol.

    And about those recipes you were speaking of, possibly put some up ??
    Just a thought =D

  4. This is a bit ridiculous.

    Ross, why does a person have to either consume a diet of healthful foods or complete junk? Why can there not be something in between? Why cannot someone exercise, eat well (most of the time) and have a “treat” on occasion?

    If you personally do not prefer to eat “junk food” then so be it. But it seems to me you are making a common logical fallacy here by creating a false dichotomy.

  5. Manveet,

    You’ve misunderstood the general message behind this entry.  I’m not a food freak, and don’t believe in living one’s life as such. I am simply stating that ‘healthy’ food (when prepared properly) can be a treat. I prefer the taste of it over any form of ‘junk’ food. That’s my point. We shouldn’t live each day waiting for the next cheat meal. 

    For example, we had ice cream at my son’s birthday party. I didn’t wait all week to eat the ice cream. It happened to be there, so we had some, and that was it. I’m not anxiously waiting for the next cheat meal to come along however (as many unfortunately do).  There are still many overweight members of society who feel that they will be deprived of life’s joys if they change their eating habits.  They are misinformed and believe that a healthy meal cannot offer taste. 

    People need to realize that they are not being deprived of taste by choosing healthy foods. I eat delicious foods EVERY day of the week. There are so many healthy/tasty foods. There is no reason to actively seek out junk food when you are already eating tasty foods all along.

    Now, if someone wishes to have a treat (ex. ice cream), that’s fine, but also realize that living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean that you are being deprived of anything.  This is the message that must be communicated to those who have had problems with weight loss in the past.  Many fail simply because they related dieting to deprivation.  As soon as the diet begins, they believe they are in a state of deprivation (ie. missing out on something).  I’m not deprived and I don’t diet.  I simply eat a healthy meal plan throughout the week, and love the taste of it.


  6. From my personal experience, i don’t rob myself of anything anymore and i do most things in moderation.

    I eat healthy because it makes me feel better and helps with training, but if i fancy a beer or two at the weekend, or a pizza or something ill have one. I just know where to draw the line.

    People who crash diet will mostly get nowhere, because how can you sustain it all your life? It takes time to lose the weight, so if you do eat a lot of junk, a crash diet from out of nowhere will tax you mentally. You need to educate yourself, learn to make tasty healthy foods, get some exercise and have a cheat now and again. Works for me, plus once I’ve had the cheat, it can spur me on to push myself in my next training session!

  7. Great points ross. I think one of the problems is that people dont know what a cheat meal is. For example, I never thought cereal was a cheat meal, until reading this.I always thought it was a healthy breakfast. My question is, is cereal like honey bunches of oats for example, a cheat meal?

  8. I don’t think it’s that people don’t know how to cook it’s just that people don’t want to take the time to cook. why spend an hour making a good meal when you can go to mcdonalds or throw something in the microwave and be done in less than ten minutes. The more conveniant things get the more people will eat them. Unfortunatley you don’t really see any healthy drive throughs next to the never ending row of fast food restaurants.

  9. Cody – That is where leftovers come in handy. I often prepare large meals on the weekend, that then provide several meals throughout the week. There are also ways to prepare quick, tasty, and healthy snacks in between meals. I do realize that time is limited in today’s busy world, but there is a solution to most problems.


  10. Ross,

    Good response. I agree with your overall sentiment.

    I’m just afraid people will believe that if they are not eating 100% healthy or “clean” food then they are just wasting their time. It’s this sort of fatalistic thinking (including your point about feeling deprived) that gets people into trouble with yo-yo dieting.

  11. Ross,

    What are ten restraunt dishes that you would consider eating or do eat? Also what restraunts to what dishes?
    ex. Applebees, Fridays, etc.

  12. I also have a couple of vegetarian animals in my backyard,An Elephant and a Hippopotamus lol,Just being cheeky.
    Got Training Dvd and books from Ross,Great stuff.

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