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I’m a healthy eater, but sometimes I think people take nutrition guidelines too far, causing people to obsess and worry about their diets rather than enjoy the meals they eat. I follow most sound nutrition advice, but some methods of calorie cutting or fat-reducing I throw out the window.

Rules I break:

I use real fat.

I’m talking cream in my coffee, full-fat cheese on my pizza, full-fat cream cheese on my bagel. Saturated fat is satisfying, and I refuse to add skim milk to my coffee or reduced fat cheese to my pizza.

I eat real sugar.

Sweeteners without calories freak me out. The jury may be out on artificial sweetener’s potential health hazards, but I’d rather sacrifice the 100 calories to know what I’m consuming.

I drink wine and beer over low-cal cocktails.

If I’m craving a drink, I will choose beer or wine 100% of the time. Just because vodka + soda is low in calories does not mean it’s a healthier choice. Drinking is meant to be enjoyable and a splurge of sorts, not a place to cut corners. The Europeans enjoy wine and beer on a regular basis, so I’m going to go ahead and say it’s OK to do.

Sampling some delicious beer.

Sampling some delicious beer.

I eat refined carbohydrates.

Most often in the form of potatoes or corn, fast absorbing carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy, particular before a long run. Potatoes and corn are vegetables, and I have a really difficult time believing that any vegetable is an unhealthy choice.

Rules I follow:

I never skip breakfast.

Breakfast is never an after thought. I’m almost always ravenous when I wake up, so starting the day off with breakfast happens 100% of the time. I eat the same thing during the work week, which is prepared overnight: 1/2 C oats, 1/2 C Greek yogurt, 1/2 C almond milk, and cinnamon, stirred and left in the fridge overnight. In the morning I add walnuts, banana, and honey. I don’t know why but I still haven’t become sick of this breakfast in the two years I’ve been eating it.

Overnight oats.

Overnight oats.

I eat frequently.

I’m hypoglycemic, so I’m eating constantly to keep my blood sugar up. I eat three medium-sized meals a day plus a few snacks.

I stop eating when I’m 80% full.

This does not mean I stop eating when my plate has 20% left on it. I’m a card carrying member of the clean plate club, but I try to stop eating when I feel full, not overly stuffed.

Clean plate club.

Clean plate club.

I don’t eat fast food.

Apart from Chipotle, I never venture into a Taco Bell or McDonald’s. Upon becoming healthy, this food doesn’t appeal to me at all. I also don’t eat meat, so my options are very limited and tend to completely lack protein.

I eat real food.

I don’t eat much processed or packaged food. I try to follow Michael Pollan’s rule of “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants” This very simple rule is the key to a healthy diet in my opinion, and I think most everything else can fall by the wayside.