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How I learned to eat less bad
with this one not-so-simple trick
I used to be a picky eater. Extremely picky.
When I was a kid, I would order a cheeseburger from McDonald’s with nothing but ketchup on it. Lettuce? No thanks. Onions? Pass. Pickles? Actually, I still don’t like them. Back then, ketchup might’ve been the only “vegetable” I liked. During dinner at home, I would procrastinate eating the food I didn’t want, driving my parents crazy in the process. I was always the last person sitting at the table, still picking around my plate as if the broccoli would somehow magically go away.
As I got older, my palate expanded, but it expanded to food that was terrible for me. If I was at a restaurant with friends, my go-to line was, “What’s the most unhealthy thing you have on the menu? I’ll have that.” At the time, I thought it was just a silly, meaningless joke, but now I know it was really my insecurity about my dietary choices coming out. Deep down, I knew I should’ve been ordering something like a salad every once in a while.
For most of my life, I could get away with eating just about anything I wanted, seemingly without any consequences—beyond maybe an upset stomach from eating too much. Being a tall, lanky guy with high metabolism has its benefits. For a while, at least.
As I matured into middle age (I can’t believe I just wrote that), my poor diet choices started to catch up to me. I would eat out way too much, my portion sizes were too hefty, and I snacked on garbage like chips too often—even though I was starting to see the effects of my choices reflected back in the mirror. Add in a bunch of stress and you have the ingredients for really not fun health stuff like hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Luckily, I’ve avoided any major health scares. But things might’ve been different if I had kept heading down that road.
So what changed?
Simply put, I met my wife Allison.
While our first date was at a sushi joint, the second time we got together at her house and she cooked salmon, quinoa, and assembled a tasty salad with homemade dressing. I didn’t really like salmon at the time and I had never eaten quinoa in my life (I couldn’t begin to tell you how to pronounce it then either). Yet I enjoyed the meal.
She told me how she was a registered dietitian at our local hospital. She taught me how she thinks about the food we put in our bodies every day. She enjoyed cooking for me and I loved trying foods I never would’ve cooked for myself, let alone ordered at a restaurant.
Nowadays, I’ll eat whatever she puts in front of me. Sautéd kale? Let’s do it. Fermented tofu with Jamaican jerk seasoning? Bring it on. Baked salmon with a pecan-panko crust? Sign me the hell up.
Food is her calling. She meticulously plans our meals—from growing ingredients in our garden to buying just the right food at the store, from saving and repurposing every last scrap to calculating exactly how much each plate costs. And it all brings her joy.
I’m a lucky man.
And now, you’re lucky too. Because she started a newsletter to show how you can put your food to work too. That’s literally the name of it: Put Your Food to Work. Twice weekly, she’ll be sharing her simple and sustainable approach to preparing and eating healthy, delicious, and budget-friendly food.
Check out her first post below. And don’t forget to subscribe to get her next one.
Okay, now back to eating my midnight snack. Some bad habits are harder to kick than others.
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