The Answer to a Question People Keep Asking Me: What Do I Eat Every Day?

Assay: People keep emailing to ask me what I eat, so here’s the answer.

But before I respond, I want to say a few things.

First, I do indeed eat a very low-carb diet. If you want to know why and how I came to do that, I describe it in my book Better Than Before and in episode 33 of the podcast.  Nutshell version: more than three years ago, while on vacation with my family, I read Gary Taubes‘s book Why We Get Fat. I experienced a “Lightning Bolt,” and all my eating habits changed — overnight, effortlessly, and permanently.

Not everyone would want to eat this very-low-carb way, and even people who more or less eat this way (like my father) might not want to be as strict as I am. I prefer to be super-strict. Hey, everyone needs a hobby!

Second, I want to say that after thinking and learning about nutrition for several years, I’ve concluded this: what we don’t eat is more important than what we do eat. People can be healthy and vigorous eating wildly different things. We can argue about whether it’s a good idea to eat burgers or brown rice. But as far as I can tell, no one argues that a healthy diet features sugar or refined carbs. And if you don’t eat (or drink) sugar or refined carbs, you’re likely to get a big boost in health. So that’s a place to start.

For me, cutting out carbs all together has been enormously freeing. No more sweet tooth! No more inner debate–one, two, three? now, later? does this count? All that noise has gone away. I’m much less hungry, and much happier with the way that I eat.  But what works for me isn’t the best choice for everyone.

For one thing, I’m a hardcore Abstainer. For me, bright-line rules are easy to follow, while moderation is too demanding. Again, not true for everyone! Not everyone is an Abstainer! For more about Abstainers vs. Moderators, read here or listen here.

So I’m not saying that everyone should adopt my eating habits. But many people are curious, so here’s what I eat:

  • eggs — lots of eggs, often scrambled with butter, or in other forms, like frittatas
  • hamburger, bacon, turkey, tuna, salmon, chicken, steak, pepperoni (yes, I saw the article about processed meats causing cancer, but I’m not worried by that study, for reasons explained here)
  • cheese — I eat cheese as an ingredient (in a salad, on a burger if I’m very hungry) but I usually don’t eat a piece of cheese on its own
  • broccoli, cauliflower, string beans, lettuce
  • Greek yogurt — occasionally
  • almonds — great snack
  • Nick’s Sticks —  One reason that eating low-carb is healthy is that just about all processed foods are eliminated, and you’re stuck with the kind of food that needs to be cooked, eaten at a table with cutlery, and goes bad quickly.  Which is the healthiest kind of food. I do keep a few Nick’s Sticks in my backpack and in my suitcase when I travel, in case I get hungry.
  • coffee, tea, diet soda — I use almond milk, when I can get it, or cream when I can’t, or half-and-half when I can’t get cream
  • avocados — I keep meaning to eat more avocados. Also olives.

Also I eat items that are a mix of those things. For instance, I love  quiche (no crust) or a Cobb salad.

As you’ll notice, there’s not a lot of variety here. My whole life, I’ve tended to eat the same foods every day. Again, that’s not true for everyone, but it’s true for me.

There are items that I’ll eat in small amounts, if they’re served to me, say, at a restaurant. For instance, I might eat some berries, some peppers, etc., but I don’t generally go out of my way to eat them.

I’m  a huge zealot for this way of eating, because it has been such a happy change for me. My father, too. And it has been thrilling to hear from so many people, since Better Than Before was published, who have told me how much better off they are eating this way.

And I understand why people might disagree, and why they might make different choices. Absolutely. The way that we eat raises all kind of complex scientific issues, as well as ethically- and morally-charged choices — such as whether or not to eat meat.

Which brings us back to the importance of the Strategy of Clarity for changing habits. No matter what our beliefs might be, if we want to change our eating habits, the more clear we are about why we want to eat a certain way, and the habits that we want to adopt, the easier we’ll find it to follow through.

I have my reasons. Others will have their own reasons. But for most of us, it’s possible to do better than before, according to our own lights.

Have you ever made a major change to your eating habits that gave you a big happiness boost? What did you do?

  • Sue LeBreton

    Just started the Whole 30 today to get rid of grains and processed foods. I do hope I have good results. I tend to be an abstainer as well.

  • Adriana Corral

    Hi Gretchen! Huge fan of all your happiness/habit books! I started eating LCHF after reading the Taubes book (after reading yours!) and I’m feeling great so far. If you are inclined/have time, I have a couple of questions: 1) I know you experienced some weight loss when you started LCHF–does it just stop after a while? Do you have to do anything to stop losing weight? I know Atkins recommends adding carbs until you’re at a maintenance weight, but I worry that if I start adding carbs I will lose control. 2)Prior to starting LCHF, I’d spent a lot of time cutting out meat/animal products, mostly for environmental reasons. I am shocked at how much meat/animal fat I am eating now, and I feel so guilty. I keep thinking about how entitled I am and how crazy things would be if all of China (for example) decided to go LCHF–it doesn’t seem sustainable. Have you come up with anything that makes you feel better about this?

    • Thank you for asking question #2. It worries me that Gretchen touts this way of eating without paying due attention to the environmental impact it can have.

      I did LCHF for a short while. Here’s one thing to consider: all meat is not created equal. Some types of meat have a much higher environmental impact than others. The three most taxing types are: beef, lamb, and shrimp. If you could just keep those three to a bare minimum in your diet, you would go a long way toward eating in a way that is in line with your ethics. If you can take it a step further, look into buying pastured meat and sustainably-sourced seafood.

      Another option is to eat a lot of eggs and veggies. Personally, I think it’s a shame that the LCHF diet shuns legumes. They are such a wonderful food. But there are plenty of wonderful vegetables in the world, so eat the rainbow!

      A final thought: the point of Gretchen’s post here is that your diet can be a tool for making you feel good in multiple ways. Maybe a different diet would actually make you happier, because you’d feel like you were eating in a way that your heart agrees with. Personally, I think that shunning all carbs is misguided. Refined sugar and flour are the only worrisome carbs, if you look into it and ignore the hype.

      Good luck, and thanks again for caring.

      • LindaK0319

        I think the ultimate answer is Intuitive Eating. So THIS works for Gretchen, but would DEF not work for everyone (and it is dangerous to imply that it would)

  • Nancy Wyatt Jensen

    I made the change to focus on eating Denise Austin’s “Daily Dozen”: 3 vegetables, 3 fruits, 3 proteins (I include dairy here), 2 whole grains, and 1 healthy fat. I also add the possibility of 1 dessert. Making the focus of my diet what I AM going to eat, rather than what I am NOT going to eat works for me. I want lots of super foods, lots of antioxidants, lots of anti-inflammatory foods. I also want to not feel deprived or limited. Having the possibility of 1 dessert works. I don’t worry at all about whether I eat that, and not worrying about it has made it diminish in importance. It’s changed my opinion about myself. I am no longer a person who eats too many desserts; I’m a person who loves healthy foods. The healthy foods literally push out most desserts. (I hate the feeling of overeating, so if I’m full, dessert is left out.) So far I’ve lost 10 pounds without counting any calories. I do keep a chart of the categories and I fill in what I ate in that category throughout the day. I made myself a 52-week book of these charts, and having this “permanent” record helps me be accountable and see my own improvement. I really love eating this way and I could do it for the rest of my life.

    • Barb Wilson

      This sounds really do-able. thanks!

    • seakiev

      Nancy thanks for sharing – this is a sensible approach I could do since I love all food and enjoy cooking. I love eating healthy, unprocessed food rather than restricting foods.

  • Jos Rastrick

    Hi Gretchen, I think you would be interested in finding out more from Ben at, went to his seminar the other day, amazing, I think you’d cut out diet soda after researching some of this. We are all different and we are what we eat. Really worth a look and bit of time to learn about some amazing insights he’s come across. Listen to your podcast love it great for when I travel for work! Keep up the great work, all the way from New Zealand!

  • Prior to reading this post, I could scarcely imagine anyone else having an approach to nutrition so similar to mine. I rarely discuss the food that I eat, or the way in which I eat it, without getting raised eyebrows.

    Several years ago I was at a crossroads in my life: I suffered a traumatic brain injury that sent me into a tailspin. I lost a thriving business and pushed my wife and family away as I spiraled out of control. Alcohol, insomnia and junk food were quickly destroying what was left of me.

    I had a revelation through food and exercise that saved me from falling off the edge of despair. Raw vegetables, greens and fruits, nuts and legumes, lightly flavored meats, no carbs, no sugars and absolutely no processed or fast food.

    When people ask about my diet or exercise, they quickly lose interest when they learn that I starting each day with 3 fist-fulls of raw spinach and kale…it’s a bit too much for most people.

    The effects of my diet had an immediate, unmistakable impact on my life. At 40 years of age, I am now stronger and healthier than at any other point in my life. I don’t recommend this life (and it IS a lifestyle) to the faint of heart.

    Perhaps the most important take-away from your post is this: “what we don’t eat is more important than what we do eat”.

    Thanks for another great post.

  • Lisa

    One day 3 years ago, in the evening not even morning, some bell went off and I changed. I removed sweets and snacks and I started exercising. I lost 40 pounds and have never looked back and still don’t quite know what the epiphany was. ( I eventually found out I had recreated the No S diet) clear ” rules” help.

  • Joyce

    Hi Gretchen,

    I became a vegetarian January 1st 2010. The only New Year´s revolution I ever managed to keep comitted to (and the only comittment between me and myself, as -according to you – I am a rebel). Two and a half years ago I became a vegan. Those were the two main changes I ever made concerning my diet and the two most important to me.

    I dont eat super healthy, even as a vegan there is a lot of unhealthy food you can lose yourself in – but I try to eat as good as I can. I dont follow any rules oder strict diets, I eat what I am in the mood for but I try to keep the amount of sweets as low as possible.After years of worrying how to lose weight (even though I never really was overweight), of reading magazines, admiring photos of celebrities I know that rules about food and even the fact to call anything a “sin” or mark food as forbidden make me unhappy and nothing else. So I try to keep away from any strict rules.
    A low-carb diet would never work for me. I love potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and to cut all of this out of my meals would mean a struggle too hard for me.

    I think its great you found a diet you feel comfortable with. But I am a vegan and I can´t help myself but mention the fact that you seem to eat a lot of animal products. Apart from the fact that it might be healthy for you, it surely is not a diet that is healthy for the environment and all those animals that have to suffer in this industry. I know you know about all this – everybody knows. But I also know how easy it is to just look away. Maybe some day you want to think about these aspects and if you really are ok with supporting a mass fabrication industry that lives from the torture and death of million of animals.

    Best wishes,

    (PS: Normally, I never critizise the diet of an omnivore. I know that it makes me an annoyance and never convinces anyone who doesnt want an opition by a vegan. I try to explain the reasons that made me choose veganism if someone asks me, and I cook or bake vegan for friends and family – which is the most convincing.
    But you talked about your diet in public and encouraged comments so I just couldnt leave this post uncommented as the fact that you advertise animal products bothers me a lot.

  • Mimi Gregor

    Gary Taube’s book changed my way of eating also, though not quite so radically. I will still make pasta, only now it is maybe every few weeks as opposed to several times a week.

    My main take-away from the reading on nutrition that I’ve done is to buy organic and buy local. I do the bulk of my food shopping at a local organic farm’s produce stand (I am SO lucky to have this place nearby!), the farmer’s market for meats and cheeses, and Whole Foods for everything else. I don’t eat anything heavily processed. Convenience is NOT worth my health as the price.

    Also I eat three meals a day, plus afternoon tea, at which I will have some chocolate or fruit. I don’t snack. I don’t need to, because I don’t get hungry outside of meal times. It’s important to sit down and have actual meals. It seems that people graze now instead of dine. You can’t keep track of how much you are eating that way, and anything one eats while standing over a sink or driving their car is usually crap. It goes without saying that I don’t go to fast food places, but there are a number of local restaurants that serve organic/local and we patronize them.

    Since we changed the way we eat, my husband has lost 25 pounds without even trying. And to answer another commenter, no you don’t just keep losing weight. Everyone seems to have a set-point, and my husband seems to have found his. I think that I was already at my set-point, as I haven’t lost weight… but then again, I didn’t need to. I do feel better, though, and my skin has cleared up. (The hormones and antibiotics they put in most meat products probably were partly to blame for my bad skin. Another reason to go organic.)

  • This is really interesting – I’ll look out for that book!

  • Brandi

    Thanks for posting! I have been wondering the same thing. I got the book How We Get Fat on audio and almost binge listened to it. I want to make permanent changes in the way I eat mostly to just feel better and have more energy. I have two children under 5 so it’s tempting to just eat what they eat.
    I actually added all of your books you are giving for Christmas to my reading list! I love love love the podcast too!

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much!

      Give this way of eating a try. It’s an easy experiment to try on yourself.

      • ChrisD

        Also bear in mind that there was never any evidence that children should eat low fat food. Years ago I asked my paediatrician uncle why he was giving my little cousins full fat milk if fat is ‘bad’. He pointed out that their developing brains really need the fat.

  • Molly

    Thank you for this information. I have been curious, though I haven’t asked. I give you credit for having such discipline, especially having children in the house. A friend of mine did a no-carb/seriously low carb diet for several weeks, and though she said it was really (really!) hard, she felt really good when she did it. I am happy to see cheese made the list…my favorite!

    • gretchenrubin

      Great to hear you found it interesting.

  • Thank you for being willing to tell us what you eat! I too am an abstainer, I’ve realized, and also pre-diabetic, so my new “bright-line rule” is NO SWEETS AT ALL. As you say, it’s so much easier for us abstainers to do that than to constantly be monitoring intake. I haven’t become a Sugar Nazi, though–I’m not going to cut out every molecule of sugar from my diet. Just no sweets–no candy, no desserts, etc. Things whose whole purpose is to be sweet. Now I’m so enjoying all the other tastes that are out there.

  • Erin

    Thanks for posting! I find what people eat to be a fascinating topic. I recently quit eating meat for moral reasons and within 3 months I made some fascinating discoveries about my body. I am sensitive to legumes! The more I ate them, the sicker I got. My allergies also went haywire. Once I figured the legume thing out, I went back to eating meat, eliminated all legumes, and kicked out gluten, for good measure. Allergies: gone. My body feels fantastic. It’s actually the best motivation in the world to stick with the changes. The only problem is, I truly don’t want to eat meat if I don’t have to. Still working out a compromise on that point – if you or anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear them! For now I’m going with a moderation plan, trying to keep my consumption on the low end.

    • ChrisD

      Hi Erin,
      Maybe try reading Denise Minger, Death by Food pyramid and her blog. She has advice for vegans, e.g. eat Beta carotin rich foods with olive oil or avocado to help absorb fat soluble vitamins. Consider whether shellfish without a central nervous system feel more ethical for you, and fish. Eat more organs and fat, it is quite possible that these are thrown out, in which case the animal is not being killed because of you, for fat you could add plenty of olive oil, butter, ghee or lard to vegetables. Also organs are more nutrient dense (native americans would ONLY eat those and give the lean steak to their dogs), so you might get away eating less meat overall with those (i.e. fry sliced chicken livers with a red onion, delicious). Embrace eggs and cheese (probably not blood like the Masai 🙂 ).
      I also changed my diet after reading Gary Taubes on Gretchen’s recommendation.

    • Amy H.

      Erin, have you already considered and/or do you have available to you sources for humanely raised, pasture/grass-fed meats (and eggs) that are the opposite of factory-farmed? There are some good producers out there — it’s just more of a hunt to find them. Whole Foods’ rating system is a basic place to start. Here are several more links:

  • theshubox

    Just wanted to chime in b/c my approach is so different – definitely hardcore moderator here. Always have chocolate and treats available at home, and I really do eat those things in moderation. I actually went paleo for a year (not low carb) and enjoyed it, but eventually found that it did feel too restrictive to me.

    That said – I think what I wanted to say was bravo Gretchen for finding what works for you and I am glad you shared it. I think the Gary Taubes approach works really well for a lot of people. And I think diet is such an invididual thing — “You do you”, for each person, you know? Often I think it takes people several tries to figure out what works for them.

    I’ve been omnivorous, veg (well, not vegan — i did a week of that and was starving), paleo, and now — back to omnivorous with a focus on whole foods, lower sugar, and no “low fat” crap. It works for me (probably helps that I run) but everyone needs to find their own best match. Gretchen, thanks for sharing your approach – I was curious too!

  • Diet soda? As a Certified Health Coach, I understand all of the rest. But for the life of me…I don’t understand the diet soda part. Can you explain please? I would love to hear!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m not saying it’s healthy, but I’m not convinced it’s unhealthy.

      I’ve given up carbs, I don’t smoke, I almost never drink alcohol…I figure it’s ok to have diet soda. First things first!

      • dp2014

        I appreciate your transparency and willingness to tell the truth of what you eat, instead of telling us what we think we should hear. It is working for you, and it makes you happy! And when you consider all the chemicals put on tea, coffee, and grapes in the process of making a “natural” product shipped half way around the world for us to use as a beverage, I think, meh. Tomaato, tomahto. I doubt any of it is good for us, and I doubt any of it is bad for us either, in reasonable amounts. Thanks for sharing your truth. 🙂

      • mom2luke

        Gretchen, I think it must be the CAFFEINE that keeps you sticking w/ the diet soda, despite all the knowledge that it is bad for you? The extreme need for caffeine would explain the habit. And I simply can’t give up my morning coffee WITH sugar/milk, tho I know I should. But without a substitute source of caffeine, no wonder you stick with your diet Coke. But personally I think all sodas are like crack in causing food cravings…studies show that people eat more if we have a soda (any kind) with our food, but drinking diet soda is even worse than regular soda according to this longitudinal study of older Americans:

  • MichelleAssist

    Hello from a fellow low-carber! I started Keto in mid-September, and it has been great so far. I never thought I’d do it – I’ve always believe in moderation – but I feel better, healthier, and I’m finally losing the weight I’ve been struggling to lose!

    • gretchenrubin

      Great to hear!

  • MidwesternGirl4ever

    I am glad you addressed your take on the WHO study that showed the dangers of processed meat because that study worried me. I have a few coworkers who are vegetarian because of the health and environment risks of meat. I know I have written to you on more than one occasion to tell you I read your abstainer v. moderator strategy and had my own lightening bolt and became “free from sugar.” I am an abstainer like you! After years of Jenny Craig, I finally lost 25 pounds and have kept it off ever since I went low carb/sugar-free with very little effort. I went to Jenny Craig for 6 years, and did not hit my happy weight until I read “Why We Get Fat” and also gave up the sugar. I eat pretty much everything that you eat except I don’t eat red meat. Also, I eat as much of the low carb food as I want and I feel a lot more satisfied and energized after eating, happy and guilt-free. For example, on Thursday, I will enjoy lots of turkey and vegetables and I will still feel happy, comfortable, and full of energy afterwards. Thanks for sharing this info. I found it every helpful.

  • Coleen Crouch

    Thank you for answering this question! I confess to being one of the (apparently many!) people who asked you about your diet. I am THRILLED to report that “Why We Get Fat” had EXACTLY the same lightening bolt effect on me that it had on you. None of my family or friends can understand it, and I have to admit that it feels a little bit supernatural, but I went low/no carb about 5 weeks ago and have absolutely no cravings or desire to go back. My husband is reluctant to make his fabulous stuffing for Thanksgiving because he is afraid it will tempt me, but I assured him that it would be a major loss to our guests for them not to have it, but that I would be completely fine. Thank you for introducing me to the book, by way of your terrific book, and to a happier, healthier way of life!

  • Listener

    But I thought greek yogurt was MY PRECIOUS! 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      Yes, that’s why I only eat it SOMETIMES.

  • Thanks, Gretchen, I too had been wondering what you ate 🙂 I’m curious about two more details:
    1. How are your meat and veg cooked and flavoured? In a little oil/fat or not? Any sauces, condiments, herbs, spices, salt? I’d like to extend the range of simple, healthy flavourings I use in my cooking and thought you might have ideas.
    2. The variety of veg seems small; is there a reason for this? I presume you avoid starchy veg because of the carb content, but is there an objection to tomato, cucumber, onion, courgettes, aubergine, spinach, sprouts, mushroom (not a veg, of course), green peas, capsicum, and other non-starchy veg? And even carrot and pumpkin, which are lower carb than other starchy veg?

    I am vegetarian because my understanding is that feeding our current population with animal products necessitates unsustainable use of natural resources – leaving the next generation with fewer resources and more polution than were left to us. I’d like to be vegan but haven’t yet conquered my refined sugar problem and don’t have access to cheap vegan chocolate, ice cream etc.

    My refined sugar problem aside, I have reduced my intake of fast-releasing carbs, though not to the extent Gretchen has. I very rarely eat pasta or potatoes. I eat brown rice, quinoa, corn, and wholemeal bread, but as a minor part of a meal, not a major part. I eat wholegrain rolled oats (for breakfast with fruit, a walnut, flaxseed and soy milk). I eat salad every day for lunch and some kind of vegetable-dominated dish for dinner, usually with legumes as part of the dish. I eat nuts and seeds and fruit. I drink water.

    When my refined sugar intake is moderate or temporarily eliminated, I feel great on this diet: healthy and energetic. When the diet is compromised by spiraling refined sugar intake, I lose energy and my sleep is disrupted.

    Thank you everyone for the interesting comments on this post! I found it warming that on such a controversial topic the comments were all respectful and friendly 🙂


  • This made me laugh because I’ve been a vegetarian for many years, and people always ask “What DO you eat?” The answer is, “Look at your plate. I eat everything on it except the meat.” The fact that people as YOU the same question just struck me as hilarious!! “I eat everything on your plate, except the carbs.” HAAAhaha

  • lynn

    Diet soda is akin to drinking liquid plastic, in that there is nothing real in it, additionly it is filled with sodium. Drinking a glass of red wine everynite would be far better for you. Eat real food, and not too much. Michael Pollan reminds us of this age old wisdom.

    • gretchenrubin

      I really question the research on wine – sidenote.

  • Cat

    Hi Gretchen, you write about a lot of interesting subjects but this list and some of your comments surprised me. I wondered about your way of assessing truths … as far as processed meats (which I would not need a study to be wary of nor look for one that confirmed what I wanted to hear) and diet soda (?? really. I stopped drinking that 20 years ago for reasons that are well known and if you question them it is just wishful thinking). But you seem very sure that these are good choices. This food list seems so limited and not up on good choices and now you are spreading this list (yes, I realize you say people wanted to know but I am not sure why). Leafy greens, fruits, olive oil, organic foods are not mentioned at all and some of your inclusions are just really bad for you, there is no other way to say it. Sometimes people wanting to know something doesnt mean it has to be said. I know you got other comments questioning this but I would wonder that the same person that seems to have really good thoughts about different areas in life is now spreading information that really needs to be thought through more carefully.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’ve thought it through carefully, and done my research.

  • Oh…I love how you put this! Such a good post, thanks!

  • Lots of thoughts here so I’ll do a list (Gretchen, do you have a category for people who like lists?)
    1. People are weird about health, often overly certain that their way is the only or the best way.
    2. Gretchen was very clear that this is her well-researched and best way for her to eat; she isn’t telling anyone else to eat this way, so just calm down.
    3. It must be socially inconvenient to eat this way, especially in a city with so many restaurants, where eating out is a way of life.
    4. The Calorie Myth by Jonathan Bailor is an eye-opening book about what we have been taught all our lives about what makes us fat.

    5. Young for Life by Marilyn Diamond is another book that is contrary to what we have been taught all our lives.
    6. So many of the studies about nutrition and health that have shaped our thinking have been just wrong. . . the food pyramid, aerobic exercise, animal fats, low-fat-high-carb. . . no wonder there is so much diabetes and obesity.
    7. I am not an Abstainer, but am abstaining from telling some of the commenters to back off from scolding Gretchen.
    8. Whole Foods, organic foods, humanely raised foods – these are for rich people.
    9. Gretchen has done so much good for so many people and is more disciplined than anyone I have ever encountered. . . for Pete’s Sake, allow her some diet soda!! (or carbonated shoe polish or liquid plastic or canned chemicals)

    • Sheena Nix

      Great points Jana! I agree. It bothers me when people want to go to the comments section just to stir up trouble. It amazes me how people get so riled up about nutrition!

      • Thank you, Sheena! I’ve been waiting for someone to notice how sensible my thoughts were. . . and Gretchen certainly deserves our respect for many reasons.

    • Leslie Rieger

      One of the things I love about Gretchen is that she understands that there is no one way that works for everyone. It’s a very refreshing point of view in an industry where people so often claim to have found the ONE answer.

  • Abstaining works much better for me as well. Most of the foods that I’ve tried in the past to have “in moderation” just end up opening the flood gates, so to speak.

  • Judy Leahy

    I don’t eat bacon, but Trader Joe’s (and I’m sure other retailers) carries a nitrate free bacon in case anyone’s interested. I eat some animal products and grains, with the emphasis on organic or non-GMO, except when I’m cheating. I’m not tempted so much with complex carbs but once I have sugar, it’s hard to stop. I guess you could say I should be an abstainer for sweets. I’m certainly less hungry when I eat more real food and have sufficient protein.
    By the way, the whole “low carb” terminology seems to be directed more toward starches and grains. Technically, vegetables are carbohydrates. Foods, except those with empty calories, generally fall into three categories: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

  • Sam Smith

    I had a slow moving epiphany regarding food, which came to me no longer eating poultry, beef or pork. I think it is healthier for me (both mentally and physically) not to eat meat and also healthier for the earth. But I’m also a big fan of doing what works best for you, which means I don’t preach at folks not to eat meat, and I mostly try to ignore folks who tell me to get off dairy (which I do still eat) or that I’m a lunatic for not eating meat. I’m always confounded by the meat eaters that seem to really take it personal that I don’t eat meat. It doesn’t bother me that you eat meat, why does it bother you that I don’t? I’ve been having great fun with cauliflower, roasted and prepared in many ways as the “meat” replacement.

  • Melissa Miles

    As someone with a couple of chronic illnesses I am constantly told eat Paleo, eat Vegan, go gluten-free, blah blah blah. We live in a society where a large portion of the population think they are experts and can tell the rest of us what is wrong with our diet. I really appreciate that Gretchen put this out there. But more than that, I appreciate that she says this is what works for her. She didn’t dictate that we all must start eating this way. If she wants a diet soda once in a while, then she should drink a diet soda. Gretchen, I love your books!

  • Food is now I know I’m not an Abstainer. Low carb is important for my health – insulin resistance – but I go crazy if I make it a rule. I do much better allowing myself small amounts of foods generally avoid while mostly sticking to meat, eggs and veggies on a day to day basis. If it’s a rule, I strain against it and if I break it even a little, I go completely off the wagon.

  • Lauren

    I know this is late, but I enjoyed this post. My husband I went vegan in 2010 due to his Type II diabetes and it did work well for awhile. However, during 2015 we saw his blood sugar creeping up and I was gaining weight. I evaluated the volume of our intake as well as the calorie counts which of course made me look long and hard at the amount of carbs we were consuming. I discovered “Eat Bacon, Don’t Jog” by Grant Petersen and in turn, Gary Taubes’ books. We made the switch to LCHF about three months ago and my husband’s sugars dropped like a rock. I lost seven pounds in just two weeks. The other three I needed to lose took longer, but they are finally gone. We find the LCHF much easier than a vegan diet to follow when eating out or having dinner in other’s homes. I have discovered that having a big breakfast of crustless quiche with bacon, salsa and avocado mid morning makes me too full for lunch so instead I now have a couple cheese sticks around 3 pm and then have salad and some protein for supper. I enjoy diet Pepsi and don’t feel the need to apologize for the soda or eating a lot of fat. It’s working for us and I wish every Type II diabetic would consider eating this way. But…I also do not comment on other people’s dietary habits.

  • mipedersen

    Gretchen, I really admire all that you have been through with your husband, and his path to remission from his hepatitis. I cried for you when I read that. Also, thank you for having written such wonderful books. I always sing in the morning by the grace of your books. 🙂

    I just wanted to add that I ate like you for five years. LC to VLC, with lots of organic vegetables, lean meats and seafood like you, rarely yogurt or cheese, and I additionally ate bone broth, offal and fermented foods. zero sugar, grains, or junk food. I was already skinny, but I was concerned about preventing and avoiding conditions such as celiac, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, cancer, etc.

    As you are such a lovely person, I was wondering if I could introduce you to some information which changed my life?

    Best to you and your family!!

  • Melacey727

    Hi! Read your habits books, Taubes book you commended, and I’ve been eating (nearly) no flour-based products, sugar or fruit for a month, and have had very little trouble with cravings, hunger, or feelings of deprivation. I have lost about two pounds a week, which I’m happy about, but I’ve noticed some contraband carb cravings creeping back into my life lately, which I’m not happy about. I’ll go back and hunt in Better Than Before, but any tips for Obligers like me on how to stay the course? I’ve tried engaging my husband as an accountability partner (he wasn’t helpful), and when my adult daughter tries to take on that role, my inner rebel kicks in–clearly I don’t like my kids telling me what to do!

  • Matheus Bitencourt

    All the modern nutrition researches points out that a Low Carb, High Fat is the BEST way to eating. Not only for health and weigh loss, but also for happiness and well being.
    I’m eating low carb by the past 2 years, and this is all that I was looking for.
    I tried Vegan diet, Low Fat diet (horrible) and the Low carb. Low Carb FTW!

  • santaclams

    Just wanted to say that I read Why We Get Fat in June on Gretchen’s recommendation, had a lightening bolt moment, and have cut way back on carbs and sugar (I’m a Moderator when it comes to food), and have had a slow and steady loss of nearly 10 pounds. It feels sustainable and healthy, and Gary Taubes’ thorough research addresses the Questioner part of me (mostly I’m an Obliger). Thanks!

    • gretchenrubin


  • Do you ever get cravings? Probably not, but I do. Cravings wield a lot of power in my life. I realize sugar and carbs are great comforters and numb-ers. Honestly, though, I’m in therapy every week, going on ten years. And I still want to zone out while eating cookie dough sometimes. The sandy feel of raw brown sugar between my teeth, along with the extreme sweetness, combined with real creamy butter… Heavenly. How I wish food was less of an issue in my life.

    • gretchenrubin

      I have a tremendous sweet tooth and used to get tremendous cravings. But once I gave up sugar,that vanished. It’s my favorite thing about eating this way. Once you know you’re not going to eat it, all those foods cease to have any pull. That noise goes away. It sounds so hard to abstain, but I’ve found that it’s so EASY! The sweetness of life without sugar.

  • This is very interesting to me. As a working mom with three very busy kids, I struggle with finding time to exercise, but I know I have time to eat healthy. This year I want to focus on eating a healthier diet, but I’m having trouble deciphering all the information out there about what is or isn’t healthy. I just downloaded “Why We Get Fat” so hopefully this will help!

  • Katie

    Hi Gretchen!
    I love your work – books, blog, podcast. All are a major happiness boost for me. Quick question in how you balance what you eat with what your daughters and Jamie eat. I assume they do not eat this way, so do you make separate meals for them?
    I have celiac disease (no gluten) and I also cannot tolerate dairy and eggs. I also have had a lot of success and felt much better by watching carbs and sugar. I have two boys (10 and 7) and my husband who I am cooking for as well. A happiness stumbling block for me can be the time and energy it takes for me to adhere to what works best for me while making different food for the what works best for the boys. I am curious how this works out in your family of 4?
    Thank you so much!!

  • Jo Skidmore

    “For me, cutting out carbs all together has been enormously freeing.” I have to take issue with this statement. I eat pretty much the exact same diet, but I would never claim that my diet consists of no carbs. Eating no carbs is not healthy and people will come out of the woodwork to tell you this. If you look at your diet, basically, you are eating, meat, veggies, dairy & nuts. Of those 4 categories, only one (meat) contains no carbs. There are carbs in veggies, dairy & nuts. So technically you are eating low carb, not no carb. If you are eating a fair amount of veggies, you could be eating more carbs than you think.

    I just wanted to make this distinction since what you are eating is actually quite healthy but if you label it no carb, people will automatically jump to conclusions about what you eat (only meat & cheese) when in fact that is not the case in what you outlined above (and what I eat daily).

  • Dael Devenport

    This app tracks your vitamin, mineral and protein intake along with calorie input and output. It is the only one I’ve found that does.

  • brandy barnett

    I find myself identifying with Gretchen in many ways. I am curious about your MBTI type. I am an INTJ. I love to research, and I have been interested in nutrition since highschool. I am 43 with 6 kids 22-7yo. The food change(s) that have made the most impact is ADDING foods I thought should be eaten on a daily basis and just focusing on getting them in. Not worrying about cutting stuff our necessarily. Everyday I try to eat 5 things and if I am hungry, I go through the list in my head to see what I should eat. (I see what is next to wear by what is next in my closet. haha) The items are: greek yogurt, banana, green tea, almonds (or other good nut), and salmon if I have access. Lately I have left out the salmon b/c of the tapeworm news freaking me out. I have been doing this for years and it seems to be easy to stick with for me and I get my good stuff. I eat all kinds of other stuff with this. Like my yogurt with cherries and cinnamon and gluten free granola. Hardly any sugar, but I have my ice cream if I want it. I went gluten free in august at the suggestion of my dr. and that has been fairly easy as well. Although, if I met an amazing looking bread pudding I might “cheat.”

  • Caroline Dyer-Smith

    Dear Gretchen. Thank you so much for recommending Gary Taube’s book in ‘Better than before’. I’ve just finished it – and as you said, major lighting bolt, eureka moment. After 20+ years of dieting & yo-yoing, that book is a complete game changer! Much appreciated xo

    • gretchenrubin

      Terrific! That’s great to hear!

      Gretchen Rubin

      Visit my blog

      My podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin
      My books: Better Than Before —New York Times bestseller
      The Happiness Project —#1 New York Times bestseller
      Join the discussion on Facebook @gretchenrubin

  • Karen

    Be careful of the diet soda. I drank 4 cans a day for 30 years and I’m convinced it messed up my colon. I had 13 inches of it removed in 2014 after multiple bouts of diverticulitis. I switched to unsweetened ice tea nearly three years ago. I never thought the diet soda was hurting me, but I’m sure it contributed to my condition.

  • dbishopp

    Gretchen it’s an life changer for sure! 2 years ago my husband and I gave up sugar (we were buying 10# bags every other week), sweet tea, soda, flour, veggies that aren’t green, and started focusing on lean meat, chicken, fish, beans and whipping cream in our coffee, real butter or smart butter for cooking and our bodies dropped weight and have never felt better. We still eat bacon in moderation because life is too short not to eat bacon! We like turkey sticks for protein powerups when you need a quick snack and greek yogurt we add honey and chia on top. I’m so glad you feel better too and can’t wait to read your another one of your books! Keep writing, keep sharing, your life is an inspiration!

  • Linda Rosario

    I’m such a Carbivore. I gave up eating meat last year (with a few conscious choices due to circumstances) and I’m not a big fan of vegetables… so it limits me. I really ought to look at it again and at hiding my veggies with more filling choices.

    And yes (mentioned below) humane and organic is expensive – but so is the cost of known cruelty to me. 🙁

  • LindaK0319

    I’m gonna have to say that LOTS of people disagree with this statement. “But as far as I can tell, no one argues that a healthy diet features sugar or refined carbs. And if you don’t eat (or drink) sugar or refined carbs, you’re likely to get a big boost in health.” Both things can be part of a healthy and satisfying diet FOR SURE. Where is your citation for this?

    • Karen

      “Both things can be part of a healthy and satisfying diet FOR SURE. Where is your citation for this?”
      For sure?? Where is is YOUR citation for this? How can you disagree with this? A diet that features sugars and refined carbs…common sense…NOT healthy. And don’t go quoting the AHA. That’s the same dept that promotes low fat, vegetable oils and seed oils. Coconut oil won’t kill you…..more likely the AHA will.

      • LindaK0319

        Not gonna quote the AHA 🙂 I am an Intuitive Eating and Health at Every Size practitioner. The endless research shows that various types of food can be tolerated and enjoyable to various people. Personally, I feel fine with I eat a variety of foods, including refined carbs and sugar, yet in the past when I restricted those foods my mental health and emotional health suffered and my physical health was no better or worse than it is now. I would love to share some additional resources with you below. By the way, nice icon, I am in Canada right now visiting family and it’s been STUNNING weather and we have loved hanging out in Banff 🙂

        • Karen

          Thanks for the info…definitely will read them. Without having read them yet, I will say that I can also eat a variety, including refined carbs and sugar (but choose not to) and feel fine as well, but I hate the thought of what it’s doing inflammation-wise. I’ve lost a lot of weight on low carb and dramatically lowered my CRP and Hgb A1C (and I’m not diabetic). I prefer to eat meat, some dairy and veggies, avoid overly processed foods and not put money into the pockets of Nestle’s, General Foods, Kraft, etc. It seems to me that big business’ interest is in profits and not the health of the general public.

          As Gretchen says…there is more than just one way of eating. However, I still think that processed foods are not the best choice.’s a free country…everyone can decide what they want their diet to contain and where they want their food $ to go.

          Enjoy Banff….I’m from that area as well as Vancouver. Living in Massachusetts now.