In the March 2014 issue of Outside magazine, I found what I’d long searched for in a brief, un-credited piece called “Focus on Food Quality.”
According to the article, the foods we eat fall into ten basic categories and can be ranked by their nutritional value as follows:
3. Nuts, seeds and healthy oils
4. Fish and lean meats like chicken and turkey
5. Whole grains
7. Refined grains like white pasta
8. Fatty meats like bacon
Our daily diet should include more of the first food than the second, more of the second than the third, and so on. In general, we should “eat from the first five categories more often with only occasional dips into the second five.”
Finally, after years of wavering food pyramids and partitioned plates, I’d found an eating plan that fit my list-crazed mentality. I rarely bypass any article, news story, or blog based on a list. Perhaps this eating-guide-as-list could hold my attention beyond tomorrow’s breakfast.
Over the years, I’ve slowly self-corrected my earlier, unrestricted eating habits and adopted the first five foods as the bulk of my diet. So as I examined the list, I basked in the glow of my self-righteousness.
But smugness fled faster than a startled hummingbird when I read the phrase, “occasional dips into the second five.”
“Occasional” I could live with, because it’s open to interpretation. To some, it might mean on alternate Thursdays of months beginning with M — if there’s a full moon. Others might define “occasional” more liberally as no more than two out of every three meals.
But the word “dip” flummoxed me. It implies a quick trip in, then immediately out, and back to business as usual. Who can do that when faced with a dessert buffet? I can’t. I dive right in, the party’s on, and oh my, do I enjoy myself.
Fortunately, I’ve developed a related skill that helps me work my way back into the top half of the list before I drown in a sea of chocolate and caramel: self-forgiveness. I grant my binge-weary brain a full pardon for careening off into pepperoni pizza, fried everything, and assorted dessert items I’ve squirreled away in case an unexpected horde stops by for dinner.
Strengthened with forgiveness, I slowly return to the top five food categories on the list — my smugness a mere shadow of its former self.
Have any tricks you use
to eat more healthfully? Or not?
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