Finding the “Yes” in Saying No

I’ve talked to a lot of people lately who are giving up certain foods for a period of time, either for Lent or for a cleanse. Most often, the discussion is accompanied by grimaces over giving up sugar or wistful sighs at mention of meat.

But giving something up in a deliberate act doesn’t have to be about deprivation. In fact, I would argue that honing in on something that has taken a little tighter grip than we’d intended and purposefully letting it go for a spell is a powerful mindful eating practice that will open us up to something new and positive.


I’ve found that when I’m feeling anxious about a certain area it helps to take a bold action in exactly the opposite direction. If I’m stressed out about not being able to get everything done, taking a leisurely half-hour lunch in the garden reinvigorates me and leaves me much more productive than if I’d worked nonstop. If I’m freaking out about not having enough money to cover expenses, giving boldly takes my fear away and puts my needs into perspective.

That same type of “positive shock” is activated when you deliberately give up a certain type of food or habit. If you choose to set aside meat for a few weeks you can either whine about it … or you can see it as an opportunity to explore the world of vegetables, whole grains, seafood and soy in ways you’re not able to when you have the crutch of “chicken tonight, ground beef tomorrow” (and to feel great about how you’ve shrunk your carbon footprint!). If you choose to pass on desserts with highly processed flour and sugar, do it mindfully and notice how awesome your body feels in return.

Giving things up doesn’t have to be accompanied by disappointed groans. When we say “no” to one thing, we’re opening ourselves up to a “yes” in another area. When you find that yes and focus on it consistently, you’ll be amazed at just how full you feel.

Temptation in the 20%: How to Stop Eating When You’re Full

Hara hachi bu is a Japanese term that roughly translates to “eat until you’re 80%  full.” It sounds simple, I know, but many deeply profound concepts wear a simple shell. This is one of them. Hara hachi bu is sound advice for many reasons. It takes your brain about 20 minutes to register how much your body has eaten, for instance, so stopping when you feel about 80% full means you’ll likely top off around 100%. It also gets you tuning in to every bite rather yielding to the temptation to mindlessly barrel through a burger.


For me, though, that 80% is the border over which the battles of will are fought. Here’s a snippet of what my brain sounds like when I’m eating a so-juicy-and-delicious-all-I-can-do-is-close-my-eyes-and-hum burger and I hit my 80% mark.

Willful Me (turning a shoulder to Mindful Me): “Shut up, I’m eating.”

Mindful Me: “You know, you’re just going to feel like crap if you eat the whole thing.”

Willful Me: “I’m not listening, I’m not listening …”

Mindful Me: “Seriously, why don’t you just put the rest down and take it home.”

Willful Me: (suddenly taking faster bites): “But there’s really not enough left to take home.”

Mindful Me: “Then why don’t you just put down those last couple bites so you don’t stuff yourself and you can feel a bit better about this whole thing.”

Willful Me: (holding the last bite in front of my mouth): “But I WANT this burger!”

I’ll bet if you miked everyone’s minds at that burger joint you’d hear a lot of conversations that sound like this.

The problem is, we don’t have much experience in listening to our bodies and stopping when we’re full—much less 80% full. Instead, we’ve just re-engineered our food so that we can eat more and more and more of it (oh, I remember the glee when Snackwells would come out with a new cookie flavor). Or we’ll “lighten” something up with the implicit notion that we can eat more of it.

But that’s missing the point.

When we ignore our body’s cues for the sake of … MORE … we’re snubbing our nose at the complex, wonderful system that connects our brains to our tummies.

FYI, I did feel awful after eating that whole burger. I was nauseous and uncomfortable all night, and was mentally flogging myself with guilt (“what was I THINKING?”). But I had another experience with another burger a few months later that felt entirely different.

I cut the burger in half and luxuriated in every bite of the first half. Then I noticed myself starting to feel full. I waited for a few minutes, sipping my beer, and noticed that I continued to feel more full even without eating more. Sure, I was still eyeing that other half. But I remembered how it had felt when Willful Me had had her way last time and, finally, I pushed my plate away.

“I’m done,” I said.

“Aren’t you going to have any more?” Christopher asked?

“No,” I answered. “I’m done.”

I felt great. I felt respectful. I felt at peace.

I’m not saying I’ve mastered the territory struggle for that 20%, but I have learned a few battle lessons. Here’s what helps me stop when I’m 80% full:

  • If you’re at a restaurant and you’ve got a big plate of food, create a smaller portion of it for yourself somewhere on your plate. If you’re at home, start off with a smaller portion. Then let yourself enjoy it with abandon (no guilt allowed!) and less temptation to keep eating.
  • If you catch yourself having a conversation like mine above, try to deliberately subvert your Willful Self. Argue back (“you know what, YOU shut up!”). Throw in some hot buttons (“Fine … if you want to feel like a helium balloon all night, go ahead. I’ll bet you’ll feel great at the pool tomorrow too.”). Your Willful Self is not playing by the rules or being rational, so throw in some curve balls to take control away from her.
  • Know, KNOW that you are not saving any starving children by eating the second half of your burger. Yes, it’s probably going to go to waste. So next time, you find someone to share it with.
  • Take a break. When you start to feel not hungry, just hit the pause button for a few minutes. It will give you time to check in with how you feel and helps disengage the autopilot that your Willful Self may have you on.
  • When you’re feeling somewhere around 80%, DECLARE it. Say, out loud, to yourself and/or the table, “I’m done.” It’s powerful.
  • Don’t believe your Willful Self when she plays the card of “but if you don’t eat it all, you’ll be hungry again in an hour.” If you get hungry again in an hour, you can have a snack.

Give these a try and let me know if they work for you!

Get Over the Guilt

I came of age during the height of America’s low-fat craze; guilt is built into my circuitry. When I’d eat a virtuous meal of steamed veggies I’d end up feeling deprived, but if I dared add olive oil I’d be leveled by guilt. This deprivation-guilt cycle only intensified as I willed the numbers on the scale to drop; the more I obsessed over what was on my plate the more miserable I’d become until, finally, I’d fall off the see-saw and eat an excess of all the “bad” foods I’d been depriving myself of.

get over guiltBut I’ve learned it doesn’t have to be that way. And in My Nourish Mentor, others are learning it too. As one of them put it, “When I’m eating right, I don’t even want to eat the way I used to. I love that confidence and awareness in my eating.” Here’s how–and why–that happens. And it’s so simple it seems ridiculous. “Good foods” prepared in enticing ways can bring loads of pleasure and “bad foods”–if you’re talking foods like olive oil and chocolate anyway–really aren’t bad at all in reasonable portions.

For me, it was a combination of gaining a firm grasp of what certain foods were doing to my body–that olive oil helped regulate my cholesterol, for instance, and that refined starch sent my body through a tumultuous blood sugar spike without giving it anything to grow strong–and then deliberately taking my eye off the numbers and refocusing on enjoying what was on my plate.

Ironically, once I had that grounding embedded within me and stopped thinking so much, and instead just enjoyed myself, my weight actually dropped. Because what I wanted to eat had changed. And it’s not just me. The person I quoted above just mentioned this week that she’s lost 8 pounds, and another member 20, while on the program … and neither one have once felt deprived.

I’m not talking mindless binging, mind you. I’m talking about engaging with food as, well, food–not a conglomeration of nutrients and numbers and percentages that are destined to make us either miserable or fat or both. The bottom line is that our bodies know better than we think they do. And once we have a bit of a grounding in sound nutrition, we know better than we think we do.

So I challenge you to give yourself a break. See what it feels like to simply enjoy your meals. Notice how thinking about them as food instead of something sinful or healthy impacts what (and how much) you eat. Notice how it makes your body–and your mind–feel. And, sure, go ahead and check the scale. Now, that’s a mindful eating practice you’ll enjoy with every bite. I’ll bet you’ll be surprised by the results.

“Top Chef” Carla Hall Shares Her Recipe for Moderation

I’m a “Top Chef” junkie, and one of my all-time favorite contestants is Washington, DC-based Chef Carla Hall. Where other contestants brought ego and attitude to the table, Hall always served up her own flavor of generous, spirited optimism. She consistently dazzled judges with her creative spin on nourishing fare, like a stellar vegan African Ground Nut Soup. The show’s viewers shared my affection for Hall and voted her the fan favorite in the recent “Top Chef: All-Stars.” And now she’s one of the favorite co-hosts on the popular ABC daytime series, “The Chew.”

carla hall

Hall originally wrote this blog post for her site and is letting us share it with you here. We think you’ll love her philosophy on healthy eating and why good nutrition, moderation and occasional indulgences all belong on the same plate.


By Carla Hall

The key to smart food choices starts with a healthy balance of nutritional foods that allow for some less nutritional foods in moderation. I personally have temptations and unhealthy foods that call my name from time to time. But in order to avoid the feelings of deprivation that can lead to weight gain, you must indulge.

Yes, indulge! Everyone needs to treat themselves from time to time for following a healthy and balanced lifestyle. But be sure to treat yourself in moderation. Know when enough is enough.

Here are some quick tips to help you eat the things you love without overindulging.

Pay attention to your body, and stop when you’ve had enough.

I love food, and I love to eat, and being a chef, I’m constantly around food. If I don’t pay attention to portion sizes and my body’s cues, I’ll keep eating and eating until the food is gone. Eating slowly helps me pace myself and allows my brain to catch up. Matthew [Hall’s husband] is constantly alerting me when I eat too fast.

Eat only when you’re hungry.

This can be difficult for most people. One great way to tell if you are really hungry or just being impulsive is to ask yourself: If the plate was full of broccoli would you still eat it? If you wouldn’t, then don’t reach for the treats that are tempting you.

Give in to your cravings from time to time.

If you have a sweet tooth, go ahead and eat a cookie. But only have one instead of two or three . . . or the whole plate. Easier said than done, I know. Eating in moderation requires training on your part. If you’re able to train yourself to give into cravings without binging, you’ll be able to enjoy the not-so-good foods from time to time.

Use your salad plates.

Studies have shown that using smaller plates at meal time will help you eat less. Another easy trick is to keep the serving dishes in the kitchen while you eat in the dining room. This forces you to get up and walk to the kitchen if you want more.

Everything in moderation leads to a happier, healthier life, as demonstrated in my approach to cooking natural and organic meals with Southern and French-inspired flair.

Beyond what you put in your mouth, regular exercise every day will help you add balance to your life. It’s a natural progression to watch what you eat if you have a consistent exercise regime. Those who have a balance of diet and exercise will ultimately reach total health and wellness faster than those who don’t.

1/6/11 Nourishing News Roundup

As the first week of the new year draws to a close, food news has already made some headlines. Here are some of our faves:

Safe Food at Last?

The landmark Food Safety Modernization Act is signed into law. But will the new Congress cough up the cash needed to make it work? NOURISH Evolution

Vote for SuperFood Drive

We recently profiled Nourishing Hero and SuperFood Drive founder Ruthi Solari, who is dedicated to stocking America’s food banks with nourishing whole foods. Ruthi is one of five finalists in the Sambazon Acai Warriors of Change Contest, which will award a $10,000 grant to an individual who is making positive social, environmental and economic change. Cast your vote by Jan. 21 to help Ruthi win: Sambazon site

Something’s Fishy at Costco

Shop at Costco? You may have noticed the company’s recent efforts to “green” its image and banish red-list fish from its stores. As the Greenpeace Oh No Costco campaign reveals, these amount to greenwashing rather than genuine efforts (for example, many of the threatened fish Costco has turned away were never sold in its stores in the first place). Now you can let Costco CEO James Sinegal know you expect better: Oh No Costco

True Sustainable Living

Does living a truly sustainable life mean living like a peasant? Or is there a middle ground? San Diego-based journalist Jill Richardson explores those questions while spending time in Chiapas, Mexico. AlterNet

Ban the Bottle

If you haven’t broken the bottled water habit yet, the Environmental Working Group’s 2011 Bottled Water Report may provide the motivation. By and large, the industry gets low marks for transparency on the source of water, how it’s purified and testing for contaminants. Even when companies are required to share information they don’t. Less than one-quarter comply with a California law that requires bottled-water labels to list the source of water and two ways for consumers to reach the company to obtain a water quality report. Which water is best? Filtered tap water, says the EWG. Environmental Working Group

Focus on What You Eat

A pair of new studies provide more evidence for the benefits of mindful eating. Carnegie Mellon University research finds that if you vividly imagine eating a food you crave you’ll eat less of it in the long run. Another study, from the University of Bristol in England, reveals playing a computer game while eating lunch makes you more likely to snack later in the afternoon. Why? Distracted eaters were less likely to remember how much they’d eaten and felt less satisfied than study participants who paid attention to what they ate.

Body. Soul. Planet. Part 2

This series was inspired by the blockbuster book Eat Pray Love. Like the book’s author Elizabeth Gilbert, we all have our journeys, and we all have our epiphanies along the way. Here are some postcards from mine that led me here. Now. Nourished. This is Part 2 of 3. Click here for Part I: Body.

body-soul-planet-in-greeceMemories of Greece … and a lingering memento of a rockin’ good tzatziki recipe


My soulful awakening around food happened during a year abroad in Europe. The reverberations, though, lasted decades.

One would think, when I say that I lived in Paris, that I could credit that country with my first food epiphanies. Not so. While there were many high points during my year at the Sorbonne, food, for the most part, wasn’t involved in most of them. I was a student on a tight budget living on cafeteria food (as uninspiring in France as it was in the U.S.). The impressions that did get through were more observational than participatory. Walking through open markets on the way to class and having my senses rattled awake by pigs heads, spice bins and cheese that smelled like dirty barn stalls. And the relaxed, unselfconscious way people savored coffee or a meal, rather than the obligatory rush I was used to in America.

But it wasn’t until I landed semi-permanently in Greece that my paradigms were really jarred. Friends and I had stopped in Corfu on our summer travels and I (does this sound like a Nora Ephron movie or what?) fell in love. Alexi and his family owned a souvlaki joint a few blocks off the main beach. I ended up living with the family over the summer and working in the restaurant.

One of my first realizations that all food was not created equal was a simple breakfast … What I didn’t get until later was that it was an egg that had been laid by a neighbor’s chicken no more than a few hours earlier and fried in olive oil pressed from their own olives at the local mill.

One of my first realizations that all food was not created equal was a simple breakfast. Mama fried eggs and I literally swooned at first bite, it was so rich and crisp and oozy and delicious. I thought she’d done something to make those eggs taste so incredible, so I blurted, “How did you do this?” To which she responded (with a suspicious glance), “I fried an egg in olive oil.” What I didn’t get until later was that it was an egg that had been laid by a neighbor’s chicken no more than a few hours earlier and fried in olive oil pressed from their own olives at the local mill.

Everything there was simple and real and over-the-top delicious. Wine was fizzy and fresh and kept in an old Coke bottle in the fridge. The olive oil, stored in the ouzo bottle by the stove, was cloudy and pungent. Whole lambs hung flayed by the roadside, waiting to be spit-roasted for one summer festival or another … and I’d actually find myself looking forward to the butcher hacking off a chunk for me. (When I later returned to the States I remember being repulsed by all the Styrofoam packages of meat and chicken. It felt disrespectful to eat meat so removed from what it had been.)

There were guitars and bouzoukis and chortles and cheers and messy fingers and greasy chins. What there wasn’t amongst that crowd was guilt or fat gram counting.

But I was also realizing that food did more than just taste good. In Greece, it was the centerpiece to the experience, the glue between people. After work at the souvlaki stand, at midnight or so most nights, we’d gather with Alexi’s friends at someone’s house or restaurant for dinner. There would be platters of lamb or fish stew, always a big salad, hearty bread and feta, and a big bowl of tzatziki. There were guitars and bouzoukis and chortles and cheers and messy fingers and greasy chins. What there wasn’t amongst that crowd was guilt or fat gram counting—it was just pure joy.

During that time food took on a language of its own. Alexi’s father, Spiros, had a heart attack while I was there and I was put in charge of caring for him at home. There was a total language barrier. But he took it upon himself to teach me vocabulary by showing me how to cook. I still remember scalding my hands on hot potatoes as we (he) peeled them for skordalia. We pounded them with so much garlic that when I snuck a taste it was like someone had socked me in the nose (Spiros just laughed).

We’d never spoken more than “this is a potato” and “this is a table,” but we’d come to know and trust and love one another during our time in the kitchen, and both of us read it in the others eyes.

When he had a second heart attack and had to be moved to Athens, I sat with him at his bedside as the family conferred in the hallway with the physician. We squeezed each others hands until they were white and stared at each other with tears streaming down our cheeks. We’d never spoken more than “this is a potato” and “this is a table,” but we’d come to know and trust and love one another during our time in the kitchen, and both of us read it in the others eyes.

All of these experiences lay somewhat dormant once I returned to America, still in full-swing fat phobia, until the double-whammy with my own health. As I grasped for ways to heal, something in me went, “Wait … you’ve seen how food can nourish not just your body, but your soul. You know food is about more than just food.”

In Europe, I’d unwittingly discovered a different kind of emotional eating; one that, rather than being a crutch for tuning out, was a tool for connecting and reflecting several times a day.

In America, emotional eating connotes mindless binges—an attempt to soothe, or cover up, hurts rather than face them. In Europe, I’d unwittingly discovered a different kind of emotional eating; one that, rather than being a crutch for tuning out, was a tool for connecting and reflecting several times a day.

The woman nibbling a croissant and sipping a café au lait at a sidewalk café was giving herself the luxury to let her mind wander where it may. The friends gathered over feasts laughed and sang together, yes, but they also comforted, celebrated and encouraged one another during their time around the table. The simple family meals made and shared in love brought sustenance and space for disagreements to be aired and opinions to be shared.

By being soulfully nurtured through food several times a day, people seemed to have less of a need to go overboard and more of a propensity to come away from a meal balanced and content.

As all of this swirled about my psyche during the years of healing, how I ate became as important to me as what I ate, which is why mindfulness plays such a big part in the Nourish message. I discovered that if I was at war with my food—because made me feel fat, or sick, or it tasted awful—then I’d never be truly fed. In the end, as it is with most people, my food journey was more about making peace with food as it was learning what to eat.

Stay Tuned for Part 3: Planet, where I realize that the choices I was making about food not only nourished or depleted my body and soul … but the planet as well.

Process Your Food Personally

In a day when so much of our food is delivered to us pre-cut, pre-made, pre-cooked, I would argue that we’re neglecting ourselves. A meal can be a full-on amusement park of an experience if we let it be, especially when you process your food by hand.

process-food-personallyThink of a finished dish as a dot. Now picture each interaction we have with the ingredients as concentric circles surrounding that dot. Pounding a curry paste in a mortar and pestle, for instance, is a complex undertaking that would add several rings around the dot of “vegetable curry.” Lose the mortar and pestle and blam the ingredients in a food processor and you erase a few rings, like the satisfying soreness that sets in as you pound and pound and pound wondering “is this ever going to work?” and that epiphany moment when individual ingredients yield and it really does. Buying prepared curry paste deletes even more rings—like the conversation with the person at the market about chiles and where to find lemongrass stalks—until all you’re left with is a shell of “eating” around “vegetable curry.”

I’m not saying don’t ever buy another jar of curry paste—I know I’ll continue to do so in the future. I’m simply suggesting that how involved we get with preparing our food really does make a difference. It’s a wonderfully satisfying mindful eating practice.

So here’s my challenge: Pick a night (or day) when you’ve got some time, choose something you wouldn’t normally make from scratch – salsa, curry paste, vinaigrette, you name it – and make a homemade version. Then notice the difference–not just in how it tastes, but in how you feel throughout it the whole process.

Nourish Yourself in the New Year: Consider a Fast

The topic of fasting may seem strange on a site dedicated to eating, but I’m going to argue that it’s apropos. Let me clarify up front, though, that I’m not offering up a fast as compensation for damage done during the holidays. Those pounds that came on during the weeks of celebration will ebb away as normal routine sets in if you’re mindful about what and how you eat (you all know me well enough to know that I don’t believe in see-sawing between extremes). Instead, I’m suggesting a fast—even for a handful of hours—part of a mindful eating practice to recalibrate yourself and enrich your awareness of how food affects you physically, mentally and emotionally.

consider a fastAs much as gathering to feast (which we’ve done a lot of in the past few weeks) feeds our souls and unites us to one another, fasting allows us to reconnect to ourselves. It moves us from the external to the internal, from ingestion to introspection. Richard Foster says in his Celebration of Discipline, “We cover up what is inside us with food and other good things, but in fasting these things surface.” Shockingly so, I discovered.

When I’ve fasted in the past physical hunger, ironically, was a minor part of the experience. In the first few hours of fasting I was distracted, cranky and even a bit fearful (it definitely goes against natural instinct to deprive yourself of food). But as the day wore on, the chatter quieted and my mind fell into a pensive stillness. There was an awareness there that isn’t when I’m going about my daily routine. I breathed deeper, moved more deliberately, listened more acutely. I went to new places within myself and connected dots I’d never seen before. Far from being something I do as punishment, I’ve come to think of fasting as hitting pause on daily life to take a soulful solo journey.

The How-To

There are many methods of fasting, but it need not be complicated to be effective. I prefer to fast from the time I wake up throughout an entire day, breaking the fast with breakfast the next day. But you could also fast from lunch to lunch, essentially skipping dinner one night and breakfast the next morning, resuming your meal with lunch.

Whichever way feels right to you, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you’ll probably feel a bit depleted and emotional while you’re fasting. That’s normal. Don’t plan a lot of taxing activities—physical, mental or otherwise—on the day of your fast. I also like to have a journal nearby to capture the emotions and thoughts that ramble through my heart and head. In terms of physical preparation, eat light meals both before and after your fast, and be sure to drink plenty of water.

Will fasting make you healthier? Will fasting help you lose weight? The answer can be “yes” on both counts if you approach it not as a quick-fix for holiday binging, but as a way to become more mindful—long term—about the way you eat.

Just Say “No”

A friend of mine once said, “When we say ‘yes’ to one thing, we’re also saying ‘no’ to something else whether we realize it or not.” Wise words. And I find the opposite to be true, too. We often think of “no” as a negative response, but when stated purposefully it can open doors for very positive results.

just-say-noIt’s in that spirit that I write this—as much to myself as to you. I eye the bowl of leftover Halloween candy on the top of the cabinet, the birthday cupcakes in the freezer, the containers of Party Mix on top of the fridge, and know all too well how easy it is to indulge in a bite here and handful there. But when I stop and think about what I’m saying no to in that wordless, mindless “yes,” I realize I’m preventing myself from feeling strong and centered and wholesome and good. And those consequences cascade beyond just my body. After just a few spontaneous yeses to empty indulgences I begin to feel unbalanced and unmotivated, which takes a toll on my family, my relationships, my work.

Those are some big costs for little yeses. And understanding that is a big part of mindful eating practice.

So this week, especially as the paths are laid for the holidays ahead, I want to practice just saying “no” and feeling the fullness, balance and joy that comes as a consequence. I encourage you all to join me, and to notice the impact it has on you in the days ahead. And if you’re so inspired, share your experiences in the comments below . . . I’m curious to hear about all the yeses that come from saying no.

Making Sense of Moderation

Moderation isn’t sexy. It’s not going to sweep you off your feet, make you tingly, or cause you to swoon. And yet, moderation is one of the primary keys to overall wellness. It means enjoying what you love, and what feeds you, rather than denying yourself meaningful pleasure. It means seeking out balance in all things–those that are good for you, and healthful, and those that are indulgent and maybe even a bit naughty.

making-sense-moderation-pudding-postPracticing moderation isn’t hard, but it does require some forethought, so you’d be wise to cultivate habits that make it easier to achieve. Here are four points to help you do so:

  • Large dishes encourage you to eat large portions.  In his wonderful and insightful book Mindless Eating, psychologist and Cornell University Food and Brand Lab Director Brian Wansink, PhD, writes of the “mindless margin,” the food we eat unintentionally simply because it’s there in front of us. He suggests serving food on smaller plates to counteract this tendency. That way, you’ll eat only what you actually mean to.
  • Fat promotes satiety. Contrary to still-popular beliefs, a bit of healthy fat served alongside low-calorie foods actually encourages less daily calorie consumption than depriving yourself of fat altogether. Why? Healthy, unsaturated fats like nuts and olive oil promote “satiety;” that feeling of fullness after you eat. If you feel full, you’re less likely to feel famished, or deprived, later in the day. (Learn more about how eating fat helps you stay slim.)
  • Most recipes can be halved.  This is obvious, granted, but how many times do you make a full batch of cookies just because that’s the way the recipe is written? Only make a full batch if you actually want, and plan to eat, a full batch. Or keep out only what you’ll eat in the very near future and freeze the rest for a later date.
  • Acknowledge the law of diminishing returns. A concept borrowed from economics, this theory can also be applied to food. It means that the first few bites of a food are always the best, and each subsequent bite provides diminishing relative pleasure. So don’t skip indulgences, but keep portions small. Doing so will actually help you enjoy them more. Little ramekins are perfect for ice cream, warm apple crumble, and intense chocolaty pudding.

Do I follow these precepts all the time? No, of course not. I’m anti-deprivation, though, so I know that in order to keep my own diet in check, I’ve got to make choices that will minimize the risks of my going overboard.

So don’t tell me not to eat chocolate pudding, because I won’t listen. And don’t tell me it’s not good for me, because it is: it’s good for my soul.  Just don’t laugh when you see me eating my pudding from a tiny bowl with a wee little spoon. It’s how I make moderation work for me.


Cheryl Sternman Rule is a food and nutrition writer whose work has appeared in numerous national magazines, including EatingWell and Body+Soul. She is the voice behind the food blog 5 Second Rule.