Eat Only Good Meals

Food is fuel. So say some fitness gurus. “Give your body what it needs to run and nothing else. You’ll be healthier — and that’s the most important thing.”

There are moments when I believe that. But not long moments. Hunger sets in, and I want to eat — and not just rabbit food. I want something substantial and luxurious and satisfying.

Eating. Sleeping. Sex. Do them perfunctorily — as those fitness gurus might advise — and they will feel like perfunctory experiences. Apply a little passion and imagination to them, and they can transform your life.

The ETR position? Make them count. Make each meal a good one.

It doesn’t take as much effort as you might imagine. And it isn’t expensive either. You can eat as well as any billionaire for a tiny fraction of a normal income. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to eat well; you need to spend time and care.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Don’t eat foods that are bad for you. These include foods that, although they may taste good, make you sick or give you stomach problems or make you tired. Many people are negatively sensitive to dairy and wheat products yet either don’t know that they are or don’t care. There are so many good things to eat. Why make yourself miserable for a cheap, temporary thrill?

2. Plan your meals. You don’t have to spend hours with recipe books and calendars, but if you take a few minutes each morning thinking about what you will eat, you may find that (a) your pleasure will increase due to the joy of anticipation, (b) your selection of food will improve because of the little extra thought you’ve invested, and (c) your midsection may thin a bit, because planned meals, studies say, are healthier ones.

3. Practice moderation. You can have too much of a good thing. Anyone who appreciates Entenmann’s chocolate doughnuts knows that. The trick to eating good meals is, in part, to eat no more than the optimum amount of any one thing. This applies to all foods, but it is especially true of the foods you like.

If you eat more than the optimum, two bad things happen: (a) Your pleasure is reduced to the point where you find no more pleasure at all (simply dumb), and (b) you usually suffer some negative side effect (you get fat or get stomach problems). One example: beer. Under the right circumstances, no one loves a cold beer more than I do. But I’ve noticed that the second beer is much less tasty and not nearly as good at quenching my thirst — and that the third is considerably worse. The only reason for me to keep drinking beers is to get a beer-drunk — not something I really enjoy. For me, beer has an optimum consumption level of one bottle. If I feel the need to get more alcohol in my body than can be provided by a single bottle of beer, I switch to another beverage — one that can still taste good after three or four. (Wine is the best choice, in this case.)

4. Go slowly. You can’t taste food when you wolf it down. I know. I’ve wolfed down at least a thousand good meals.

5. Stay focused. I don’t believe in multitasking. And this applies to eating too. Yes, it’s quite possible to eat and read or work at the same time — but if you do so you won’t enjoy your meal as much as you can. My recommendation is to eat good food slowly and in good company. Make each bite count. Enjoy the experience.

6. In addition to mentally preparing to enjoy your meal (which is the most important requirement in making it a good one), select good-quality foods that are good for you.

I’ve just read a book called “Neanderthin: Eat Like a Caveman to Achieve a Lean, Strong, Healthy Body,” by Ray Audette. Audette is a very bright guy who cured his diabetes and arthritis by swearing off all modern (processed) foods and sticking to a diet you could get “with a stick, naked in the desert.”

These are his 10 commandments:

DO eat (1) any fresh fish or meat, (2) any fruit, (3) any vegetable, (4) any nut (peanuts are not nuts), and (5) any berry.

DO NOT eat (1) wheat products, (2) processed meats or vegetables, (3) dairy products, (4) beans, or (5) tubers (such as potatoes).

This is a version of the high-fat, low-carb diet I’ve recommended before. Eating this way will make your meals better, because they will (a) give you more energy (carbs deplete energy, contrary to popular belief), (b) reduce your cravings for more food than you need, (c) build tissue, tendons, and cartilage, (d) improve your immune system, and (e) make you leaner and more muscular.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]
  • Hi Michael,

    thanks for this post. For me, I used to be an extremely passionate eater – and I’d stuff myself with all the good stuff. (Fortunately, I have good metabolism-karma). If my eating would be music, it would have been a passionate Beethoven Opera.

    Now, it’s turned into a little harmonious Bach melody. I eat slower. I chew more. I eat less.

    And it’s great. It’s a different kind to enjoy food, and one that both my body and my mind appreciate a lot. More energy, more clarity.

    On special occasions I still allow myself to overindulge myself and feast without reason. But since it’s only special occasions, I enjoy it even more.

    Also, I can’t stress the importance of company. Eating in solitude gives me little joy and I can be a “work eater” if alone. Most of my days are now arranged so I can eat in company. Sometimes even via skype, which I think is quiet funny. But better have a good friend on skype than let the TV run while eating is what I think.

    All the best,
    Joe Paz
    The Memory Improvement Man