After my last McSweeney’s column, someone made the mistake of asking me how I maintain my own weight. For the most part, I don’t. I’m pretty active and my weight bounces up and down a bit but usually whenever it gets a little high I come down with a stomach bug or some other illness that ruins my appetite for a week or so and I revert to the mean. That’s not a system but it’s a recurring pattern, and it has worked out OK so far.
I do, however, have a few very basic rules (or superstitions) that I try to keep in mind when making food choices. Your mileage may vary (and I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, in case you haven’t guessed), but here they are:
1. Use a plate, not a bowl. Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers, foraging for roots and chasing antelope, but now we drive our lazy asses to the grocery store and consume most of our calories through a straw, in nugget form, or wrapped in an oversized Dorito. Even the humble bowl was invented simply to collect food and funnel it more efficiently down our gullets. Thus for many of us, a plate and fork represent our one remaining opportunity to chase our food around for a while before we put it in our mouths. Avail yourself of this opportunity; you will eat more slowly, and therefore less.
2. Fads are stupid. Remember oat bran? Atkins? How eggs were going to kill us all? We eat lots of things that are bad for us and we should try to eat less of them, but life is too short to embrace every new wonder food, or to purify ourselves of whatever has been declared this month’s slow poison. Eat cleaner, greener food–and less of it–and you’ll probably be healthier. That’s not very exciting to talk about at parties but it’s easy to remember and act on.
3. Remember that it’s OK to be hungry, it’s OK to say you’re hungry, it’s OK to eat like you’re hungry, and it’s OK to be pleased about feeling full. “Oh, I’m not hungry.” “I’m just having coffee.” “I couldn’t possibly eat the whole thing.” “Ugh, I’m stuffed; I feel sick.” All perfectly fine to say if true. But women especially spout this crap all the time because it’s expected of us. We’re supposed to have delicate, ladylike appetites. Our figures are one way society checks up on us, but no matter what we look like, we’re also expected to pay lip service to the “I don’t want anything, I have no needs or desires,” ideal of womanhood. For god’s sake, stop it. Pizza is awesome. Pie is the best thing God ever invented. I would put on cleats and climb over people–nice people–for good beer or chocolate. I can eat an entire loaf of homemade bread in an afternoon, and I’m proud of it. I try not to eat like that all the time, but why lie? In short, don’t let a society that invented Hot Pockets tell you how you should feel about food.