Gretchen Rubin

Eating right: 11 tips I’m using to “Eat very right” (and cut calories).

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday: Eleven tips that I’m using to “Eat very right” (and cut calories).

For the month of September, I've resolved to “Eat very right.” I wouldn’t be able to eat this right forever – and I wouldn’t even try -- but I decided to take a boot-camp of approach to cleaning up my eating habits.

1. No sweets. Not even a bite. I gave up my beloved Tasti D-Lite – ah, I miss it. I’d already pretty much given up food like cookies and cupcakes, but boy, I do love to eat candy. For mini Tootsie-Rolls, peppermint patties, butterscotch disks, etc. I’ll have to wait until November.

2. When possible, choose fruits and vegetables, and after that, lean protein. So if I have a choice between rice and roasted vegetables, I choose vegetables. If I have a choice between pasta and fish, I choose fish.

3. Only one bowl of cereal a day. I love cereal and would eat it at every meal. Also, I do the bottomless-cereal-bowl trick, where I eat all the cereal, and when I see the milk that’s left over, I fill the bowl with cereal again to use it up. Not this month.

4. Nothing in the cracker/pretzel family.

5. Keep tempting food in an inconvenient place, keep healthy food in a convenient place. When I’m hungry, everything looks good. If I see a lovely fruit salad ready to eat in the fridge, that’s what I’ll want to eat.

6. No juice and no alcohol.

7. No “bites” of other people’s food. I take one bite of the Little Girl’s grilled-cheese sandwich, then another, and then pretty soon I’ve eaten half a sandwich.

9. Eat at home whenever possible. My brother-in-law worked at a restaurant, and he told me that whatever you might order, and however it might be prepared, it has tons of butter on it.

10. No bread from a bread basket, and no bread as a snack. Well, except that sometimes, when I really need a quick, fast snack that I can eat on the run, I toast a whole-wheat pita pocket and eat that.

11. Don't eat when I'm not hungry; eat as soon as I do get hungry.

When I told my sister about the changes I was making, she said, “You basically eat very well. Why cut this stuff out altogether? You can have treats once in a while. It’s a more sustainable way to eat.”

Well, yes and no. I wouldn’t want to try to live by these rules forever, but the fact is, it’s easier for me to give things up altogether than to indulge moderately. I agree with Samuel Johnson, who wrote, “Abstinence is as easy to me as temperance would be difficult.”

Take Tasti D-Lite, which I was eating twice, sometimes three times, a day. It’s easier for me to give up Tasti D-Lite altogether than to eat it three times a week. I’d spend way too much energy thinking about whether I should have it today, or tomorrow; or now, or later this afternoon; or whether this cone should “count” or whether I should get a freebie for some reason. For me, a happier approach is to give it up altogether, so I don’t fret about it.

Speaking of Tasti D-Lite, it’s a good example of how something that’s allegedly healthier for you can actually lead you to make less healthy choices. I would never, in a million years, eat an ice-cream cone every day. But because Tasti D-Lite doesn’t “count” as ice cream, or a “real” dessert, I eat a ton of it.

In the same way, when I gave up fake food, I realized that although I’d never eat a candy bar every day, I was eating “health bars” every day, when I would have been better off eating real food, like soup or salad or a smoothie, instead.

Have you found any tips to help yourself to "Eat very right"?

A thoughtful reader told me about this truly amazing site, Wordle, and did one for me a few days ago. So very, very cool! A wordle could make a great gift, too.

I’ve started sending out short monthly newsletters that will highlight the best of the previous month’s posts. If you’d like to sign up, click on the link in the upper-right-hand corner of my blog. Or just email me at grubin, then the “at” sign, then gretchenrubin dot com. No need to write anything more than “newsletter” in the subject line. I’ll add your name to the list.

icon emailNewsletterLight

One Last Thing

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up to get my free monthly newsletter. It highlights the best material from here and the Facebook Page.

Sign Up Now