Eat what you love. Stop when you’re satisfied.

Eat carbs. Eat butter. Eat ice cream. Eat cake. Eat bacon. Eat chocolate (!).

Let me guess, you are thinking: Wait! Didn’t she recently mention she was one set of final exams away from a degree in Nutrition? And isn’t she just ten frenzied months of internship away from being a registered dietitian? What is this?! A dietitian *slash* ice cream advocate. Gasp!

Though I stand firm in my promotion of increased veggie intake, I stand equally firmly in my conviction that you should eat what you love and love what you eat. In doing this you can be healthy and happy and fit. Take a look at so many foodie folks; food bloggers, writers, chefs, and food critics alike – people who eat for a living – who stay trim while regularly whipping up rich, delectable, lip-smacking treats. Yes, you can have your cake and your size 6 (or 14, or 2 or whatever size you are comfortable at) jeans, too.

Food is such an insane pleasure. Everything to do with it – squeezing mangoes and sniffing herbs in the market, discovering new recipes that inspire your imagination, moments spent in the kitchen chopping and seasoning and creating something wonderful, sharing a scrumptious dessert straight from your oven, the sheer delight of biting into something delicious … food is simply one of the richest human experiences.

So, for that reason, I will share with you the most riveting yet simplistic revelation born of my nutrition education joint with my feverish love for edibles. Are you ready? Here it is: Eat what you love. Stop when you are satisfied.

When I started my studies in dietetics, I was acutely aware of the “wickedness” of my enthusiasm for chocolate. I mean, it seems preposterous to gleefully consume a warm dark chocolate cookie with a slab of gooey, white chocolate nestled on top directly after Nutrition 371 Nutrition Through the Lifespan. But Blue Chip Cookies bakes up the dreamiest imaginable of such concoctions, and I am keenly aware of the vicinity of said shop to the afore-mentioned class. Then later in my degree, I made a revolutionary decision. I was going to eat the damn cookie, with unabashed, explicit delight, and then I was going to lick my fingers and probably pick the crumbs off my shirt and eat them too. And so should you. Eat the cookie. Or the burger. Eat whatever melts your butter. Eat what you love with all of your senses.

Then comes the next part. And if that was the yin, than this is the yang. Now, the yang is perhaps the single most important piece of nutrition advice you will ever hear, so you might want to say this to yourself out loud. Okay, this is the yang: Stop. Eating. When. You’re. Not. Hungry. Anymore. It is quite a foolishly simple concept, but many people just don’t do it. Put down your fork when you have eaten just enough, and don’t pick your fork back up again. No one is telling you how much to eat but yourself. It is a skill, and it takes practice, but once you have gotten into the habit, it is as easy as breathing and the feeling of being too full will start to feel so uncomfortable you will avoid it at all costs. Knowing how to eat mindfully is a key element to including all the foods you love as part of an overall healthy diet.

Of course there is more to it, too. Like exercise, and balancing indulgences with healthier choices. But if you have a joyful, respectful relationship with food, you are less likely to abuse it. You are much more likely to be happy and healthy. The point is to make room for what you love. Guilt-free. You can have your bacon and your bikini, too. Piece o’ cake.

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