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Perfectionist eating not for me

Perfectionist eating not for me

Or: Yes I eat burgers

At a recent luncheon meeting, the menu choices were:

  • chopped salad with chicken
  • turkey sandwich
  • burger and fries

Guess which one I had. The burger. The woman next to me, who also had a burger, remarked that she was surprised that I — a dietitian — was eating a burger! My reply: I love burgers. We then veered into a discussion about the importance of protein for older women.

Why was my burger order surprising? Am I presumed to eat some perfectionistic diet, whatever that might be. Apparently it wouldn’t include burgers. Well, far from it. So I wanted to set the record straight. I do not eat a pristine healthy diet and I don’t expect anyone else to do that either.

By the way, there’s a term for ‘perfectionistic eating’: orthorexia. “Correct” eating. It’s officially characterized as a variation on an eating disorder. There is no official definition of perfectionistic eating. It could be vegan; it could be keto; it could be low carb; it could be gluten free, or any other variation on obsessive food avoidance.

Speaking of perfectionistic eating..

I got onto the Food Pyramid topic after someone sent me a photo of the Berkeley Food Pyramid. It’s been around for a few years, and I’m not entirely sure it’s a tongue-in-cheek commentary on Berkeley or is actually serious. But like me, they put coffee, wine and chocolate in their own tier, so maybe it’s semi-serious.

I do hope people choose a mostly healthy, plant-centric, sometimes vegetarian diet. I also hope people are not obsessed about food choices, that they enjoy treats, in moderation, and eat foods they enjoy. Of course, that assumes you enjoy vegetables, grains, and unprocessed whole foods.

The image above is my own personal humorous but realistic Food Pyramid, within the limits of food emojis. There aren’t any standard emojis for yogurt, kale, olive oil, tofu or Rye Krisp multigrain crackers. The foods are arranged in terms of importance to me rather than grouped together based on food characteristics. But note, the basis is vegetables. I love vegetables. You should, too. Other than that, bread and coffee loom large in my life.

Here’s an idealized version of my Food Pyramid. Again, vegetables are the basis. Protein foods are emphasized. Unfortunately I was lacking emojis for things like legumes, other nuts, oils, unprocessed meats and whole grains. Otherwise I would have included all of those.

Your own pyramid might put an alternative hot beverage, or no hot beverage, at the top. Pasta and other grain foods can be included in the middle. Note: no section reserved for highly processed foods or sweets.

If you’re looking for an easy and non-judgmental way to envision your food preferences, fill out your own pyramid. What are the foods that make up the base of your pyramid? Do sweets take up a lot of room? If so, I suggest a shift to more vegetables and significant protein (from whatever source).

Perfectionist eating — NOT — Part 2

At a lunch gathering today the hostess served up a delicious heavy-duty chocolate frosted, peanut butter chocolate layer cake.* Some people even added ice cream, but I drew the line there. The cake was delicious. I ate and savored every bite. I won’t need to do that again for months.

*In case you’re wondering: bake a think layer of chocolate cake in a 13X9 pan. While it’s still warm, spread with peanut butter (about 1/4 inch thick). Top with chocolate frosting, again about 1/4 inch thick.