Don’t Be A Cheeto: Happily Eating “Unhealthily”

“How are you so thin??” 

I heard this today from a very lovely woman visiting our winery.  She expressed shock and horror that a.) I eat bread and pasta and cheese regularly and b.) that I am 5 months pregnant.

How to answer? I’ve been mulling it over since and decided to inflict you good folks with my response.  First, I could start out by explaining that I used to be one of the millions of Americans with a weight problem.  That I worked out religiously, ran those miles to sweat calories only to eat too much of preservative packed “healthy” foods without realizing what I was ingesting.  This is true.  Second, I should give a huge shout out to PJ Rex at Deerfield Ranch Winery who taught me about proper portion control (think 1 salad plate) and the 100% importance of eating vegetables and olive oil-dressed salad at the end of every day.  Roughage… *ahem* cleans you out overnight.

Really though, it was about moving to Sonoma and adopting a healthy attitude about life and movement and most importantly, eating REAL food and drinking REAL wine that changed my life.  And my figure.  In fact, I stopped killing myself at the gym, took up pasta at least once a week, eat greens AND bread almost daily — and lost 64 pounds.  In 8 months.

So what to eat for dinner? Or lunch?  Easy: REAL FOOD.

Michael Pollan writes about America that “…other countries, such as Italy or France, [decide] their [food] decisions on the basis of such quaint and unscientific criteria as pleasure and tradition, eat all manner of “unhealthy” foods (i.e. bread, pasta, triple creme cheese, full butter) and, lo and behold, wind up actually healthier and happier in their eating than we [Americans] are… Yet [he] wonders if it doesn’t make more sense to speak in terms of an American paradox — that is, a notably unhealthy people obsessed by the idea of eating healthily.” (Omnivore’s Dilemma).

The plain truth is that “Industrial Agriculture” and “Industrial Eating” is wielding terrifying damage on our environments and to We the People as individuals. Granted, I am speaking from within a national treasure — northern California is a virtual breadbasket of artisan foodstuffs, cheeses, farms, and ranches.  Some 85% of what is produced here is consumed within a 65 mile radius.  The wine, oils, and cheeses alone!! (*swoon*)

Sharon at Oliver's Market cheese counter. The Cheese Monger of Mongers!

So when I up and moved to Sonoma, the choices available to me were overwhelmingly healthy and actually real food.  But that’s just it.  It is REAL food.  The list of ingredients on a label is in English — if there even is a label.  Real Food does not come in a box.  Real Food does not come in flashy packaging.  Real Food is not a soda pop or bag of candy or super-sized anything.  Not that I ate alot of crap before but I had no idea what I was doing… or missing.  Real Food tastes soooooo much better.

Today, I shop the outside perimeter of the super market.  AVOID the interior aisles! Load up on green vegetables, meats, butters, cheese, garlic, pancetta, fresh pastas, tomatoes, apples, locally baked breads, and dairy instead.  There is no difference between the foods I eat today and likely what my grandparents would have consumed in their 30s.  Arguably.  (I don’t like gin or halibut or instant coffee, so those are theirs.)  I took the cold plunge from that first weekend here in 2007 and cut out all foods that weren’t 100% real food.  And seriously lost pound after pound. But it will suck as the processed flours and refined sugars leave your system.  Plan on being cranky for a good week.

The rule of thumb is simple for happy, healthy eating — and living.  You ARE what you eat. If you want to be a Cheeto, then fine.  But if you don’t, then eat as fresh and as close to the source as you can.  Read the label — eat REAL foods.  Your body is not meant to be junked up with dirty, chemically created “foods” and drinks.  If you want to live healthy, more slender, “clean” lives, then eat REAL foods.  Throw out everything else.  I promise you, your body will thank you.  Plus, your ass will look fantastic.

And for the love of God, eat real butter, cheese, olive oils, and avocados.  GOOD fats do not make you fat.  They are delicious!

2 thoughts on “Don’t Be A Cheeto: Happily Eating “Unhealthily”

  • This is brilliant, Abi. I completely relate to everything you say here, and can verify (based on my own journey) that you speak the truth. Since cleaning up my diet, practicing portion control (I only use salad plates now unless I have one of the formal pieces of china out for a special occasion), and taking up running, I have lost 19.5 pounds since June. I still have a long way to go, but for the first time I don’t have to be stressed about it. All I have to do is eat clean. It’s not like I ate a bunch of fast food or other junk, but now I am extra vigilant about cooking just with basic ingredients—or as basic as possible and doing things like making our own bread or our own marmalade. What you say about shopping the perimeter of the store is very on point. And since I adore good cheese and real butter, not to mention olive oil (my favorite fat), I really appreciate your comment about that, as well.

    And congrats on your 64 pounds! You are always stunning and radiant in your pictures. Healthy food makes for a healthy mind and healthy body!

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