The Weight Loss Dilemma: An Amendment

by Andie Mitchell on April 26, 2012

After I published this post, I received the following comment:

“I’m confused…you say you put yourself in the first category of food purist- but your eating Laughing cow (fake), sweetener (fake) and wheat (still processed). I’m not saying these can’t be enjoyed…but I would hardly put you in camp one. Show a real block of cheese, plain water with lime and grains that’s aren’t processed and then you have ‘real’ food.”

This is an excellent, excellent point. For the comment writer, thank you; this is an important discussion.

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Here’s my response:

I think you are absolutely right. Laughing Cow cheese and sugar-free drink mix don’t quite constitute ‘real’ food. And I love them regardless. I don’t belong in Camp 1 any longer- I should make that clear between me and you. I can’t call myself a true food purist because, to be honest, it conflicts with my personal disdain for elitism. But before I go on- please know that I’m not implying that you or anyone who considers herself a truly clean eater is a snob in any way. In fact, I deeply admire those who eat mainly whole foods.  I am also not in the slightest bit a better individual for any of what I’ll share below. 

Hear me out.

I cringe at snobbery, at the very hint of placing one’s preference/choice above that of another’s. With wine, with chocolate, with food, with fashion- I have likes and dislikes, but they’re not better than yours. They’re not worse than yours. Taste is taste.  I completely understand having high standards, having strong moral and ethical ideologies, and indulging your personal preferences. It’s what makes the world fun- differences in opinion and choice. What we choose to put in or on or around our bodies is entirely personal, a manner of self expression and values. It’s incredibly gross for me to judge anyone for having preferences one way or the other.

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In fact, the only area I suspect my friends would call me snobbish or elitist, even, is in where I live- the city, the town, the building. I’m a surrounding snob. I need clean, polished, and, well, pretty around me. I’ve been known to pay a premium to rent apartments in affluent neighborhoods in the cities I’ve lived in during the past five or so years. And while I don’t want to judge anyone for living in a less-than-pristine area (it’s just impossible for many), I deeply care about my environment. It has to do with living in low income housing in a wealthy town growing up. It has to do with not having my own bedroom for some of that time and wanting badly to lie to friends who came over and wanted me to show them my room. It has to do with feeling poor. And truly, it is my own neuroses that keeps me wanting to live in desirable places. It’s a manifestation of my own adolescent insecurities. I get that.

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But the snobbery ends there. I’ll drink wine from a box, wash my face with dish soap, buy generic everything, consider cheap chocolate divine, eat lots of things that are dyed and preserved and chemically. I work in and around food. I’m exposed to some of the finest things the human palate can experience. I’m also a part of a community, professionally and socially, that embraces a Michael Pollan sensibility about food- “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” It’s a real farmers market-loving/from farm to table kind of crowd.

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Two of my best friends are food snobs- Lori and Camille. I love them dearly, and not in spite of their foodie high maintenance. I actually adore that picky, particular part of them. It’s part of what makes them intense and passionate and bold. And it’s not that they want to sit on high horses and look down at the masses eating McDonald’s, it’s that they genuinely prefer a gourmet meal. The thought of fast food alone will send shivers down each of their spines. I can’t tell you the number of times I tried to get Camille to do a late night Burger King run. Sister was vehemently against it.

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And really, I get it. Most of snobbishness comes from caring- about yourself, the environment, others’ perceptions of you, etc. It makes sense in so many ways- wanting to eat ethically, buying clothing that was not made in factories overseas where workers were likely treated poorly, respecting the quality of fine wines and music and film. It’s important to eat and live well.

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About two years ago, I would have considered myself the ultimate food snob. I’d gotten a few years into my weight maintenance, and I was wildly passionate about only eating real, whole foods. I was in love with health and nutrition and eating cleanly. I felt I was respecting my body, but beyond that- I shuddered at any hint of artificial anything in my food. I had this internal battle between always wanting to live up to the healthy citizen I’d become by nourishing with only the good stuff, and also realizing that I

just love fried donuts
I love Double Stuf (that’s the correct spelling, just so you know) Oreos
frosting made entirely of Crisco
Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls
American cheese
every last candy bar
Burger King
Taco Bell
I’m hungry just making this list.

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It required a reworking of lifestyle to get to a place where I wasn’t fighting myself. Nowadays, I eat almost immaculately clean in the eyes of everyone I know. Friends, family- they’d probably describe me as the healthiest, most vegetable-friendly individual they know. My mother gasps at my organic tofu, lentils, the sheer volume of my vegetable intake, all that jazz. But she also knows that I need a basket filled with Cadbury everything on Easter, every year. And that I will eat said basket. She knows to send me a box with 78 chocolate Mallo Cups when I live across the country and I’m without access to such delicacies. She mails me an entire double-layer cake to celebrate any success.

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Because I genuinely cannot live too cleanly or too dirty for long. I have to stay somewhere in the middle.

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The beauty of everything is balance. Part of what I love about the place I’ve arrived at now, after losing 135lbs and then working to keep it off since 2006- is the middle ground between wholesome and ‘holy sh** that’s bad for me!’. 

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There is no denying the power, the virtue, the absolute perfection in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, etc. They’re essential; they are wellness in tangible forms. These things occupy nearly all of my eating- see here for more about my view on an 80/20 life. I don’t need to write about their perfection; you know this. Every magazine, every healthy living blog- they’re incredibly helpful in teaching about nutrition.

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I want to do and be and eat a little of everything. I want to go out and drink too much and dance with my friends. And then I want to wake up, drink water and walk for miles while talking to those same friends. I want to eat pepperoni pizza alongside a salad double the size. I want to spend too much money on frivolity one week and then cut back the next. I want to stay up late for three nights straight obsessively reading the ‘50 Shades of Grey’ trilogy, and then try for a 9pm bedtime the following three. I want to eat everything from Laughing Cow cheese wedges to lima beans.

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Now, a valid argument here would be the suggestion that, for health- for ultimate wellness- one should understand that the chemicals, the preservatives and fillers put into the fake foods- they’re to be avoided. Our bodies aren’t meant to process junk. The additives could be poisonous, cancer-causing, all manner of negative. For this argument I say: Eat mostly well, then. If you can eat entirely clean, entirely pure and rainbowed in fruit and veg- honest to goodness- do that. It’s the very best.

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Some of us are more vibrant, just better when we cut out the less-than-healthy stuff. Some of us might not like the same convenience store carbs that I do- Butterfingers and Hostess mini powdered donuts, for example. Lots of people might not even have to bat an eye at turning down grocery store cake because either they don’t love it or they don’t love that it’s trans fat-laden and unnaturally hot pink and yellow.

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I’ll always want to eat trans fat frosting and orange dyed Reese’s pieces. I probably will always think Diet Coke tastes good, especially at the movies in some 42oz monstrosity. I will enjoy the taste of powdery sugar-free lemonade mix added to my bottle of water over the taste of plain water alone. It’s not about giving those things up. It’s about balancing them with goodness. And it’s not to say that these processed, packaged treats I mention here are part of my life everyday. They’re part of my once every week, maybe my few times a month. Spaced and special because of their timing.

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My only fear with those who write about health and wellness in a strictly pure-foods way, is that it comes across as a gospel and because of that- self righteous, unattractive, and strict. I’d hate to think that people out there, reading with good intentions and a desire to eat better, might think that the only way to get to a good place physically is by adopting a whole foods only lifestyle. It feels defeating to think that your eating must be perfect. It’s not an either/or; we don’t have to live on one end of the spectrum or the other. It’s not that you’re healthy or you’re not. It’s not clean eating versus crap eating. It’s both, that is- only if you want both.

It is true that the less sugar I eat, the less of it I crave. It’s true that the better I eat, the better I feel physically. It’s true that I’m so very happy to eat my body weight in produce each and every day. But it’s also true that in six years of eating well and being at a healthy weight, I still haven’t lost my lust for the foods I ate growing up- the ones with twelve hundred ingredients and not a one that’s wholesome.

The reason I’ve been able to keep a level head about my body and what goes into it is because I’m all-inclusive. And perhaps that doesn’t work for everyone. Perhaps it shouldn’t work for everyone, either.

I tend to think of all the crazy amounts of vegetables that I eat as giving me enough antioxidants and superpowers to fight against any of the Hostess products I consume. I picture roasted broccoli pushing peanut butter cups through my digestive system like an unwanted guest. Because even if my body doesn’t love the occasional pint of high fructose corn syrup, my mind does. And she needs obliging, too.

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An important note: Please know that there is nothing wrong with eating as cleanly as one can. (If you do and if you strive to- I applaud you.) There is similarly nothing wrong with having Skinny Cow ice cream bars in your freezer beside organic frozen vegetables. (Tell me you have Cool Whip?) There’s nothing wrong with any of it and my bottom line remains: Judging others’ eating styles and deeming food choices as inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ only leaves us feeling and looking ignorant and unenlightened. 

The point of this post, as always, is to let you know that there’s middle ground. And also that I don’t want this blog to exclude anyone who’s hungry. My table serves Kit Kats and kale chips in varying amounts.

{ 159 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa @ squatsandsquash April 26, 2012 at 6:08 pm

You are my hero!! Love love love this response, even though you owe NO ONE an explanation. Just enjoy life, enjoy food!! Being an elitist or a “food snob” is still putting food on a pedestal of sorts, and frankly I’m tired of caring so much about it! I will surround myself with clean, whole foods, but if I’m at my girlfriends house and she offers me a cookie that SHE baked from a box, you’re dang right I’m gonna eat it and not think twice :) keep doing what you’re doing, and enjoy life!

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The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh April 26, 2012 at 6:10 pm

If I weren’t married, I’d marry you. You. Rock.

And yes…Cool Whip is the in fridge.

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Adrian April 26, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Wow. To think that it is so hard to eat things that aren’t processed is crazy, but limiting yourself just to follow a label (purist) is a bit rediculous. I admire your honesty because honestly I couldn’t live without alot of the foods that are not “purist”. Great post

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debbie April 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

As someone who has struggled with swinging to extremes when it comes to my habits and hankerings, I applaud and strive for your level of balance, compassion and kindness — not only to yourself, but to food, to the universe, to little debbie snack cakes and to your readers. Thank you for reminding us that no one way is truly better than another.

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Liz @ Tip Top Shape April 26, 2012 at 6:48 pm

I don’t think you should have to categorize yourself at all. You eat the way you eat — and that is perfectly fine. I feel sometimes we try to put ourselves into these tidy boxes and it’s just unnecessary.

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Brooke April 26, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Love this post! I love that you have found balance in your life. You are truly an inspiration!

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Alice April 26, 2012 at 6:59 pm

i have seriously been struggling with this the last few days. having lost weight by eating a diet comprised of whole foods alongside their processed counterparts, i’m starting to ponder the ramifications of processed food both on my own health, and on the worth at large. basically–how can i say i want to eat ethically, but not know where my pre-crumbled goat cheese is from? how were those little goats treated? my salad dressing has 15 ingredients, but i really like it?

as i work to figure out what works for me, i will be thinking about this post (and many more of yours, i love you), and i thank you for letting me see how you have come to peace with these questions.

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Sarah April 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm

thank you for such a level headed response. i wish i could have put it into words as well as you did- and i absolutely agree.

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Meredith April 26, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I completely agree with you! I tried my hardest to eat all “whole foods” and avoid all processed, artificial foods after I had lost 40 lbs, but in this day and age it is nearly impossible! I also think that the idea of TELLING myself that, no, I could NOT have even one single tutti frutti jelly bean eventually led to me consuming the entire bag of jelly beans, and then whatever else was in close proximity. It is good to just meet somewhere in the middle of what your head is telling you and what your tummy is wanting.

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The Brides' Maid April 26, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I’ll bet you a million dollars that we live on the same hill! I hope to see you at the ‘Bucks (or the Menchie’s) up on the avenue and if you see a blonde with twin one year old boys, give me a shout out. I’ll eat preservatives all day long with you my friend!

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Becca April 26, 2012 at 8:10 pm

You are amazing. This post encapsulates everything I feel about food… from the kale to the chocolate cake. I have always looked at your blog as a judgment free zone and I truly adore it. I hope the book submitting went incredibly! I will be first in line to buy! (Or first on Amazon to pre-order :))

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Sarah April 26, 2012 at 8:26 pm

Agree. Like, totally.

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Meg April 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. Your words are so genuine and your honesty is refreshing and incredibly inspirational. The goal of all ‘whole foods’ all the time has always seemed to me like setting oneself up for failure — so few can realistically muster up that kind of discipline day after day. I think your approach to balancing and making sure to eat treats infrequently enough that they remain treats is absolutely key.
Also, I literally breathed a sigh of relief when you wrote that you love Taco Bell… such a weight off my shoulders to know I’m not alone in that!

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Judy April 26, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Stumbled onto your blog last weekend and can’t get enough. Almost one week of looking at food and myself totally differently. Thank you for saying what I am feeling but don’t have the words.

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Candace@journalfemme April 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I’m not sure if you’ve read Geneen Roth’s Book “Women Food and God” but I think you would enjoy her food philosophy of “If Love Could Speak Instructions” which addresses facing the emotional side of food, and the relationship that many of us struggle with in trying to balance it. Roth talks about never dieting again, but taking time to understand your hunger and responding to your body with kindness and love. Rather it’s eating a kale salad with organic roasted beets, or homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies – the key is awareness of what & why we are eating, and by staying conscious, appreciating every bite, one can learn to adopt a normal, healthy, but food loving lifestyle.

With that said I suppose for me it all comes down to balance.

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Cas April 26, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I dont think I could live life without eating good…and bad. I think its different for each person. I think you have found your middle ground and that is where I want to be too..my middle ground… where I can indulge and also control.

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Tom Townsend April 26, 2012 at 11:27 pm

I may be the first guy to respond to your post! It’s breathtakingly fantastic! ok, I made a new word too.

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Annette April 26, 2012 at 11:34 pm

I love, love, love this attitude. So many people get so bent out of shape over “good” and “bad” food – it’s all food folks and the moral judgement is more about the person eating it than the food itself. Sure, I get it, some foods are healthier than others but really, do we “punish” ourselves for eating the “bad foods” and “reward” ourselves for the “good”? Nonsense! My stomach yearns for Oreos as much as it does for a ripe, red, fresh tomato. And there is Cool Whip in my freezer alongside the organic strawberries. What’s not to love? Eat it. Love it. Move on. Great post!

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suki April 26, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Great post, Andi. That’s how I feel about food. I’ve got my oh-so-healthy moments, but I’ve gotta have my chocolates+gummi bears too.

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Shelby April 26, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Thank you for this reminder of why I follow you. It’s so refreshing to read what seem to be my thoughts exactly put better than I could ever explain them myself.

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Danielle Esparza April 27, 2012 at 12:10 am

I love this post. We shouldn’t be here to judge each other’s food choices, but to realize that at the end of the day, it’s to each his own. Yes it pays to eat healthy, but it also pays to indulge in all the preservative-laced, artificially colored, trans fat laden goodies that almost everyone craves at some point. Why? Plain and simple-because they taste good. Another reason-because often they bring us back to simpler times when we were kids and pretty much ate whatever we wanted without reserve, without obsessing about calories, and simply because we liked it. Some say we shouldn’t eat to soothe ourselves. I say, sometimes a bag of carrot sticks just ain’t gonna cut it. Should we do it all the time? No. Is it sometimes necessary? Hell yes. I absolutely love whole foods. But I also love “fake” ones. Doesn’t make me better – doesn’t make me worse. Thank you for reminding people of that fact. :)

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tina April 27, 2012 at 2:06 am

Love it

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MelissaNibbles April 27, 2012 at 2:06 am

I think people asked because the pictures seemed to contradict what you were saying in the post. I don’t think anyone was questioning your eating style. It was just kind of a mixed message. I like that you responded in a mature and kind manner. Great post :)

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admin April 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Melissa, you are absolutely right. I realize now that this post may come across as me defending myself against feeling my eating was being attacked. That was never the case. The reason for this post was that you and other commenters made excellent observations. I truly cannot put myself in a foodie purist category if I’m still loving Laughing Cow and sugar-free lemonade, etc. I am grateful that this was pointed out, because ultimately, I realized something about myself and the way I perceive my own eating. You are fantastic because you always say what you mean, what you are thinking. I’m glad you’re here.
-Andie

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Morgan April 27, 2012 at 2:52 am

I applaud you with the widest smile I have in my dresser full of smiles *scrambles through dresser and pastes on smile with the label “Ah, somebody finally understands”*.

Thank you for addressing this issue. Now I am going to giggle each time I eat broccoli and then a piece of cake.

You’re an inspiration! Thank you :)

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Cookie April 27, 2012 at 3:25 am

Amen … you go girl! Love your philosophy.

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Angie April 27, 2012 at 4:57 am

Great post. I couldn’t agree more. I am still in the “weight loss” phase (I will do whatever I can to lose weight), so I do NOT fall into the whole foods/clean eating camp right now, although I somewhat desire to move in that direction someday.

My biggest thing is the appreciation for NOT judging others who make different choices. Those who believe that if your decision in something differs from theirs, you’re wrong.

Thank you for this post!

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Morgan April 27, 2012 at 5:19 am

Very Well Put! Bravo!

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Barb Mc April 27, 2012 at 5:37 am

Amen, sister! Well said!

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Leighann April 27, 2012 at 5:42 am

Well said!! I’ve been a long time reader and I applaud you for bringing this to attention. I’m studying Nutrition and will be a RD (registered dietician) in a year or so and I fully back up what you say. Good for you for being honest, “mostly wholesome”, and smart to know where your desires are good and bad food wise. Your sense of balance and happiness with yourself and your lifestyle is enlightening and the world would benefit far more if everyone applied your thinking.

Good for you, and I love your blog!!

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Jill Maksim April 27, 2012 at 5:46 am

Love this! And I love your blog!!

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Margie Visnick April 27, 2012 at 5:50 am

I love your posts! I, too, love all foods…and want to enjoy them all in moderation! Thanks for keeping us real with your honesty!

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Patty April 27, 2012 at 6:03 am

LOVE your blog, read it everyday! This was a wonderful post, love the balance.

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Natasha April 27, 2012 at 6:10 am

Perfect…perfect…PERFECT response. I agree, applaud, and high five you :) I now consider myself “all-inclusive” too – Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for making those of us who like to indulge every once and a while – well…normal.
xo
Natasha

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Trish April 27, 2012 at 6:13 am

You.Rock.Andi :)

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Laura Brooke Allen April 27, 2012 at 6:17 am

Oh, JOY. FREEDOM. PEACE. The three components to test righteousness by. You, my dear, can wear that crown while dining. You remind me of Jesus. He spoke to the self-righteous legalists “you brood of vipers” with similar cadence. He acclaimed mercy, joy, life “It’s for freedom that I set you free.” He released from suffering and bondage-
“I came to set the captives free…” He scoffed at the rule makers- putting his unwashed hand in their food- to their elitist disdain. He loved ruthlessly- “let the little children come unto me.” He said, “I will give you life, and give it to you abundantly.” You bear the mark of His image. Thank you. I am sooooo excited to live today. Grateful, L

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Rachael April 27, 2012 at 6:18 am

This post is so sincere and eloquent and completely jives with how I feel daily. I have definitely pictured my beautifully roasted veggies pushing the sticky sweet cinnamon roll through my body. Makes it totally acceptable in my mind :)

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Miss McBooty April 27, 2012 at 6:26 am

You are so beautiful.

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Jennifer April 27, 2012 at 6:47 am

How much do I love this post? THISMUCH!! I can’t say I’m there yet with this elusive balance. But I do hope to get there one day (soon, God willing), and reading these kinds of things helps reinforce these ideas into my very thick head. Trying to undo years and years of body image issues and a rocky relationship with food is not easy, but I will get there.

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Michelle April 27, 2012 at 6:53 am

Thanks for posting this response. I’ve been pondering this issue lately as I struggle to eat cleaner & feed my family without(or at least really minimizing) preservatives or processed foods. It is such a battle to feed my family without any processed foods while maintaining a tight budget, nearly impossible in our society, imo. To eat well & maintain balance in other aspects of daily family life is hard enough without constantly focusing on wheather or not all the fruit I buy is organic or how processed that cracker is. It’s difficult to feed your family without feeling guilty because I can’t afford to only shop at Whole Foods or only buy organic produce(I buy if it fits into the budget). I strive to provide the healthiest food on a sensible budget while minimizing processed food. I will be able to work out these feelings of guilt about how well I feed my family thanks to your post.

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Christine F. April 27, 2012 at 6:53 am

Fabulous post. And it pretty much sums up why I read your blog. I love your honesty and the way you look at food. Reading your blog makes me strive for the 80/20 – you’re a reminder that you can make it work and be happy. :)

Thanks Andie!

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Mbb April 27, 2012 at 6:56 am

appreciate your honesty in this post – SO true. all of it.

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bridget April 27, 2012 at 6:57 am

Life without beer battered cheese curds, I don’t think so. Thanks for the reminder that balance is key! You have an amazing talent.

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Heather April 27, 2012 at 7:07 am

Well put! Thank you for sharing that! I think very similarly to what you wrote. I try to eat well, but have a love for that which is not healthy for my body, but don’t feel bad when I indulge occasionally on those things. Keep up the beautiful writing!

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Jenny April 27, 2012 at 7:12 am

When I got sick with cancer 7 years ago, I was a size 6. Due to all the steroids I took and my immobility, I am now a size 14 and feel awful. My metabolism is awful. When my family of 6 went to a local hamburger joint after a baseball victory for my son, a lady greeted us, and then pointed to my burger and said, “That’s why you can’t lose weight and why people get cancer.”
I felt humiliated. Until 2 days later when I pulled up to a stop light and looked over and saw her smoking a cigarette. Our eyes met and then I actually felt sorry for her elitism, as she had to be tremendously embarrassed.
Thank you for having a site where I can come to feel encouraged and find balance. Life is hard enough without the shame and judgment we pour onto one another.

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Lori April 27, 2012 at 7:20 am

UNBELIEVABLE that someone would actually say that to another person. How rude.

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Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) April 27, 2012 at 7:21 am

Andie, you are my Foodie/Blog hero forevermore. This is a fantastic, well thought out response. And no, you don’t have to explain yourself to anybody, but you took the opportunity to yet again be an inspiration and send your message to those of us who may be struggling with our own diet plans–and balancing our favorite childhood comfort foods (from Chop Suey & Sloppy Joes to Skittles & Twinkies–PS HOSTESS MIGHT BE CLOSING WE GOTTA STOCK UP!!!) with a healthier lifestyle. You have the best philosophy on the matter, the 80/20, and you give hope to so many who fear they’ll have to say goodbye to these memories-within-food forever. Thank you yet again, I’m happy you’re my bloggy friend and idol :)

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Jennifer April 27, 2012 at 7:24 am

THIS is the reason you are awesome. I feel like you, each and every day when it comes to food. However, I still have a lot of practice to do in the cleaner part of my diet. I still eat more processed food than I know I should, but I try every day to be fairly healthy. You are just fantastic with your response and I cannot wait for your book. I will be telling everyone to buy it.

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Lanae April 27, 2012 at 7:34 am

One word for you Andie – BRAVO!

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Kat April 27, 2012 at 7:41 am

This was one of the most beautifully written blog posts I’ve ever read! I echo your sentiments exactly. I am bookmarking this and sending it to all my girlfriends. (and maybe my hubby too! :) )

xo Kat

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Ann April 27, 2012 at 8:00 am

Amen.

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Andrea April 27, 2012 at 8:04 am

LOVE this post!

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Emily April 27, 2012 at 8:05 am

I have one word, and one word only, AMEN!!!!!!!!

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Laura Benson April 27, 2012 at 8:06 am

This is so fabulous. One of my favorite blogs you’ve written yet. I too have had moments of “fundamental foodism” in my life, and most of us just can’t maintain that level of purity and really feel like we are experiencing a full life. Thanks for your words, and for your incredible example! You represent most people, I think.

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mariana, costa rica April 27, 2012 at 8:08 am

:)
i hear you

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SarahJ April 27, 2012 at 8:13 am

Great post and so true. Thanks for such an honest post. Balance is SO necessary to our physical and mental health.
I’m very glad a friend pointed me to your blog, and I’m looking forward to reading more!

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Melissa Wecker April 27, 2012 at 8:16 am

I walked into my favorite local coffee shop this morning and ordered my usual large sugar free vanilla latte made with skim milk. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a fresh bagel on display calling my name. I had visions of it smeared with gooey cream cheese. Normally, I’d have looked the other way and decided I was better off without it.

But, not today. Today I brought the bagel back to my office and ate it bite by bite, just as you described.

And it was everything you said it would be.

My first bagel in years, thanks.

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Jacquelyn April 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm

That is awesome Melissa! I love the power of blogging :)

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Erin April 27, 2012 at 8:18 am

Incredibly well stated.

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Leanne@Around the Table April 27, 2012 at 8:19 am

AMEN!!

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Nikki R. April 27, 2012 at 8:22 am

As a person who struggles with loving to eat healthy, but also having a serious addiction to all things cake, this post pretty much spoke to me. I think I can finally come to terms with eating my healthy salmon and veggies, but not feeling like crap if I get a chocolate craving and make my partially unhealthy chocolate microwave mug cake (it’s pretty awesome, and takes about 10 minutes all together). Thanks for this!

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ally@girlvfood April 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

I lost the majority of my weight on a very restrictive, mostly vegan diet. I have since transitioned into a diet that is mostly vegetarian (just because I’m in graduate school and I don’t have time to prepare meat during the week) and healthy and full of green foods, but sometimes I want a diet coke. Or frozen yogurt. Or those trans-fat clogged frostings you speak of that really makes me want a cupcake made from box mix. I feel inviting those things back into my life not only made me saner, it actually made me healthier. Just live your life and be happy, and that includes cupcakes. Although my kryptonite is brownies. Brownies and carbs. Big Bavarian pretzels and chocolate brownies. I credit falling in love with relishing my life more. Falling in love with someone and falling in love with myself.

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Tammy April 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

THIS is why I love reading your blog! Thank you!!

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Mary April 27, 2012 at 8:34 am

“I have likes and dislikes, but they’re not better than yours. They’re not worse than yours. Taste is taste.”

Thank you.

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Kerry F April 27, 2012 at 8:48 am

I agree 100% with everything you have said. Thank you for saying it!

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Christina April 27, 2012 at 8:52 am

Well said.

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knh771 April 27, 2012 at 9:25 am

I loved this post! I, too, have lost 135 lbs. and have been working on maintenance now for three years. I remember when I was starting down this road and I’d talk to people who were in maintenance and they would talk about occasionally having a piece of cake, I would gasp in disgust. How could she take such a risk?! But over time, I am finding a middle ground that’s livable.

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Michele April 27, 2012 at 10:09 am

♥♥♥ this response! Your posts are my FAVORITE! I also love the idea of the broccoli pushing through the Reeses. It’s nice to be reminded that we can eat goodies as long as we eat MORE GOOD for you foods as well!

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Ellen April 27, 2012 at 10:32 am

This is why I read your blog. I love food, and I generally try to eat and serve whole foods. I enjoy trying new foods and eating at fancy-schmancy restaurants. However, I also love Butterfingers. And Dr. Pepper. And old fashioned donuts. So, I occasionally indulge. And I don’t feel guilty about it, because most of the time I’m a health-food machine. But it truly is ALL good to my tongue and my mind.

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Jenny April 27, 2012 at 10:34 am

I just ADORE your blog!

Thank you for bringing sunshine to my day! :)

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Cija Black April 27, 2012 at 10:54 am

Thank you so much for this reply on so many levels. First your writing is so from the heart and honest and love that. But it is so inspiring to hear from someone who has walked the walk of finding your true size and then maintaining it and do THAT in a way that is realistic. Life is meant to be lived and everyone has a different path to do that.

Oh and you don’t owe any sort of explanation to anyone but I really appreciate the one you did post…it is a great example for all of us. Thanks and keep writing!

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Katie G April 27, 2012 at 10:56 am

One word, two syllables….BOO-YA!!!

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Amy April 27, 2012 at 11:05 am

I too love your response. I have found people who follow Paleo/no wheat/no dairy/etc diets to be very judgy and kind of hard to deal with in regards to their lording their diet choices over other people. I eat healthy most every single meal. I eat lots of vegetables. I count calories. But if I want to eat a candy bar, I do it. Who cares about the wheat or dairy, ya know what I mean?

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Sara April 27, 2012 at 11:13 am

I LOVE this! Thank you so much.

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sarah April 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Beautiful as always. I guess with putting yourself out there….there will be lots of opinions. I only hope I can get to a good place of balance. I have one life and that life had better include Peanut M&M’s…..cause if not…it’s not worth living-IMHO

Big hugs.

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Lindsey E. April 27, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Well said! You need to be able to find a balance in life, not just when it comes to food, but in life! For dinner last night i had a grilled chicken breast, roasted spring veggies and a plain baked potato, it was delicious and i felt great about the choice i had made. for dessert i had a big ol’ bowl of fruit loops…it was delicious and i felt great about the choice i had made. it’s all about balance.

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Rachel April 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I admire your ability to articulate your thoughts in a clear and logical progression. I’m an English teacher, so I not beautiful writing whenever I see it. You have a wonderful diction and syntax.

I also agree with the content of the post.

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Julie April 27, 2012 at 1:30 pm

Thank you for clarifying that Andie, I have to admit I felt a little discriminated against when you slammed bagel thins – one of my absolute favorite inventions! ;o) But your clarification made me see that we still have a lot in common. I too like to toot my own horn for my efforts in eating clean, but by no means am I to be considered a food purist! I have friends that would think I am, but I am far from it. I enjoy whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and can even go meatless for days on end and never feel deprived. I arrived at this point after losing a significant amount of weight through dieting “the right way” by increasing my fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and decreasing my processed foods. Instinctively I knew this was the way, but reactively I still chose to buy crap for convenience sake. After following the instructions to eat right every day, I had lost 60 lbs, which on a 5’0 frame is A LOT of weight! Because I lack the discipline to eat right, every day, I find myself at a happy medium about 20lbs heavier, but maintaining nonetheless. Maintaining for me includes a list of foods that I can NEVER eat again; the good news is that the majority of the list doesn’t taste good to me anymore anyway. It is for this reason that I choose the Laughing cow, Bagel Thins, and Light bread, and love that they offer a freedom that before them, didn’t exist for me. Keep up the good work, I love your blog and can’t wait for your books to come out!

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admin April 27, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Julie, thank you. I’m sorry to have seemingly slammed Bagel Thins- gosh it wasn’t really the intention. I do see how you’d gather that I was hating on them in the post. Shame on me.
I get why they’re appealing, and why they can be great for breakfast and sandwiches. Please forgive me for coming across as Judgy McJudgerson.
-Andie

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Julie April 30, 2012 at 8:54 am

forgiven :)

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Jen April 27, 2012 at 1:57 pm

Excellent Post!!
I agree 100% with you and I also thank you for writing this post. I try my best to eat right and feed my small daughter right – but sometimes its fine to lighten up a little and LIVE – enjoy those treats without feeling that guilt and shame about it. 80/20 – love it!

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Candace April 27, 2012 at 2:03 pm

When I read the beginning of this post I felt my face getting hot with frustration. It’s obvious the comment made by this reader missed the point. The blog isn’t called “can you stay for dinner….no not you, you ate a poptart yesterday. I meant the vegan behind you”. (for one thing that would be a ridiculously long title and two, this blog means more than singling people out for what they eat).

After I took 5 minutes to chill, I’m actually glad the reader posted what they posted because it gave you the perfect opportunity to prove how poised and brilliant you are. Once again, amazing post. Kudos to you, Andy. This is why I continue to look forward to reading your blog daily.

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Katie April 27, 2012 at 2:29 pm

“I picture roasted broccoli pushing peanut butter cups through my digestive system like an unwanted guest.”
YES!!!

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admin April 27, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Friends, thank you for your kindness.

I do just want to note that I found NO PROBLEM with what the commenter said- the one who sparked this post. I did not take offense and I did not think that the commenter was attacking my eating by pointing out the fake foods I love. I guess I should amend this amendment post. The point of all of this writing above is to show that after receiving such an appropriate and valid comment by a reader (that I cannot call myself a food purist if I’m loving on Laughing Cow processed cheese, etc), I realized that my self-categorization needed to change. I am not, indeed, the food purist/whole foodie that I’d originally thought I was. This post is my reevaluating my food philosophy in front of all of you. And all because one lovely reader brought up a good point- a slight flaw in my previous post. I applaud that person for their honesty.
As always, please always say what you want here. I welcome all kinds of comments.
-Andie

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Sylvia April 27, 2012 at 3:14 pm

If this blog was all about grass-fed organic recipes with ingredients I could never afford, I wouldn’t enjoy it very much. There are plenty of blogs like that.
I am so glad for the way you make weight loss and maintenance accessible for people who are not living on a Whole-Foods, gym-rat budget. Its very easy for us to get freaked out thinking that we’re one local organic farm away from ever being healthy. I think you do a really good job at quelling that type of discouragement in people.

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katecooks April 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

at one point in my life, i ate a lot of 100 calorie packs and foods labeled “diet.” now i find myself eating more whole foods because those things just never satisfied me the same way! a homemade, fresh out of the oven cookie or a chips ahoy 100-cal pack? no contest for me! still, even though i might eat cleaner now than ever before, there are ALL kinds of foods to enjoy out there…i think your idea of moderation is the way to go. much better than restriction!

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jamie April 27, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Love it…Love you. Seriously one of your best post yet. I am striving to become just as balanced as you describe, and at the same time raise my incredibly beautiful daughters (3) to become the same way. Hoping they will love themselves and be able to love the differences in those around them. Keep writing! I grow more wise with every word that I read.

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Danielle April 27, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Every weight loss story I’ve read has gone something like this ” I lost the majority of my weight by eating sugar free this and diet this and low carb this. After I achieved my goals, I transitioned into eating whole foods”. There is nothing wrong with ppl cutting corners to still enjoy foods they love without consuming extra calories. Living a processed free life is truly impossible and downright stressful. For my sanity, I will enjoy a diet coke with my skinny cow ice cream for dessert, then I will have my green smoothies the next morning. All about balance my friend!:) xo

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Brittany April 27, 2012 at 7:57 pm

I absolutely adore this quote!!! I want to frame it in my house! ‘ I want to go out and drink too much and dance with my friends. And then I want to wake up, drink water and walk for miles while talking to those same friends. I want to eat pepperoni pizza alongside a salad double the size. I want to spend too much money on frivolity one week and then cut back the next. I want to stay up late for three nights straight obsessively reading the ‘50 Shades of Grey’ trilogy, and then try for a 9pm bedtime the following three.’

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Brittany April 27, 2012 at 7:58 pm

I love this quote! I want to frame it in my house!!!
‘ I want to go out and drink too much and dance with my friends. And then I want to wake up, drink water and walk for miles while talking to those same friends. I want to eat pepperoni pizza alongside a salad double the size. I want to spend too much money on frivolity one week and then cut back the next. I want to stay up late for three nights straight obsessively reading the ‘50 Shades of Grey’ trilogy, and then try for a 9pm bedtime the following three.”

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V April 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm

love.

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jolene April 27, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Oh man, I just fell in love with this blog. I myself have been struggling with my weight ever since I had my daughters. It’s been super hard battling hypo thyroidism, doing bootcamp, hot yoga, and kettle bells, while trying to lose weight, and enjoying the foods I love. I fell in love with cooking at a young age because my dad was a cateror….and then again fell face first, head over heals in love with cooking and trying new foods, new recipes after my first born. I live to cook, I love to eat, I love to taste …and while I do struggle with my weight, I couldn’t fathom the idea of giving up a lot of foods that aren’t “clean”….I love my sweets, my fried foods, my fatty foods, my carby foods, and like you put it its about finding the yin in the yang, or the protein in the mousse. Like you, you find simple pleasures in living surrounded by beauty because of your childhood, there is nothing wrong with that…you can indulge inwhatever makes your heart flutter. I undulge in eating at restuarants and hearing my 7 year old daughter tell me, “Mom, this food is ok, but you can make it WAY better!”…and at that probably a whole hell of a lot healthier, but it’s not about me being able to cook it better, healthier, it’s about the atmosphere, the bonding, with family, the trying new foods and going home and recreating the healthier better tasting version, its about enjoying life whether its in the taste of a double choclate reeses peanut butter cookie,, sweating your toush off for an hour in hot yoga, it’s the yin and the yang baby….it’s about being mindful of everything and being happy with life. Thank you for every single word you put down on this post, I am sending it to all my girl friends who need to be enlightened and stop with the herbal life and start eating to a healthier, happier, satiated loving beautiful woman. Congratulations with your success in your happer healthier beautiful self….you truly are an amazing woman!!!!!

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Amanda L April 27, 2012 at 10:07 pm

Amen sister! I have been reading your blog for the last year and you have made me feel so positive about the relationship I have with food. My Dad is a chef, so as you can imagine I LOVE to eat. But he really did not instill healthy food values in us as kids. We ate steak, or chicken fried steak, or fudge, and so on and so forth. So as an adult I really had to figure out how to walk the line. Because of your blog, I have found a new best friend in black beans. Actually, at least one – two dinners a week are vegetarian/vegan. Do I eat at restaurants Friday and Saturday? Usually yes. But I eat really healthy and work out 5 times a week. I deserve some freaking indulgences! Thank you for reinforcing that I can have my cake and eat it too, and then eat salad the next day :) P.S. My husband would like to send his many thanks. Your recipes have provided him many yummy dinners and you are his favorite blogger!

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Meg April 27, 2012 at 10:12 pm

This is such an awesome and beautifully written post!

Just the other day I was listening to my friend go on and on at the gym about how she’s transitioned into cooking healthy food that tastes good instead of unhealthy comfort food. Something in the back of my head thought… yeah I’m all about healthy eating, but I still like donuts from time to time. I think that you can still consider yourself a healthy eater even if you don’t eat perfect whole foods 100% of the time. Life is too short. When I’m on my deathbed I’m sure I won’t regret eating a burger or piece of cheesecake. ;)

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Alice April 28, 2012 at 7:50 am

Oh jeez, Andie, your thinking is just the moderate, considered kind I want to have.

I lost 50lbs a few years back and have recently gained 15 back through illness, and losing it feels like torture I can hardly bear. I thought I was done with this! I thought I could enjoy making my pizza bases and putting three types of cheese on, of baking huge, puffy, moist blueberry muffins and having one every day after dinner. Now I find myself drinking diet caffeine-free coke just to chase away the hunger pangs, because if I have to drink another glass of water I will scream.

Life in the losing phase is made bearable by sweeteners, artificial flavours, food colouring, fake bacon. By making a sundae with a crumbled Weight Watchers cake slice and a scoop of dairy-free, fat-free, ice-cream flavoured air.

But even when these extra pounds are gone, I will still be eating McDonalds Happy Meals and sucking on sugar-free lollipops. Because I think life is too short to be a purist, and plastic food is fun.

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Maureen April 28, 2012 at 9:54 am

Kudos for this post! I’m trying to turn my life around having dealt with a broad spectrum eating disorder since I was 11 years old. I flip through all manner of unhealthy eating from eating compulsively, to NOT eating, and everything in between. Needless to say my inner child is a wounded mess.(Yes, I’ve been getting help with this for some time.) I’ve begun to really hone in on this BSED, with the help of people who love me and walk beside me, and I’m ready to move beyond. Food has been a friend/foe forever, so I tend to beat myself up when I “mess up” with my food/eating plan. This post has given me more encouragement than words alone could ever say. Thank you, THANK YOU for saying that eating doesn’t have to be, nor should it be an all or nothing thing.

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Linda April 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

Amen!!

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Erica April 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Balance, as with anything is the key, and we as individuals are responsible to ourselves to find the balance that works best for us. I think that has been one of the most valuable things I have learned over the last two years. I had always heard that you can have everything in moderation, but it never made sense because it always felt like someone else was saying what the right amount of moderation was. Once I finally took responsibility for the decisions I was making, both exercise and foodwise, I have been able to find a place for the dark chocolate kit kat next to the piles of fresh green veggies on my plate. I love them both equally and for the different benefits they offer. Thank you for being an advocate for the all inclusive life.

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angela@spinachtiger April 28, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Great topic, compelling writing. I am from the school of hearty, healthy comfort food from scratch. What does that mean exactly? I use real butter, cream, farm fresh eggs, and decent meat. Tons of veggies, and I bake. I’ve often wondered if people think I’m a hippocrit because one day I post roasted asparagus and the next day a chocolate cake. But this is how we eat. And, then the one thing I never tell my readers. I eat Breyer’s low carb ice cream every night. I guess it’s the 80/20 rule, but I make that 80 count. This is better than the 20/80 rule right? This is an ongoing discussion, and judging by your reader’s comments you really hit a nerve and that’s what makes you a great blogger.

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Gail B. April 28, 2012 at 8:39 pm

well said :)

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Marie-Sophie April 29, 2012 at 12:07 am

That was an amazing post on one of the most difficult topics for a blogger to write out there!! There is SUCH controversy and I always feel that you can’t put it right without a boatload of people being pissed off by some line you wrote.

This is the most balanced and honest post I’ve read since starting to read blogs in late 2009 … and I fully agree with everything you say!!!

I struggled with eating a super healthy diet, getting all those recipes and info and inspiration from blogs. While it has helped me tremendously adopting a healthier lifestyle (without anyone around me in real life having the same habits as I have), I also felt under some pressure to be my very healthiest self.

And then I realized that I can’t really do “green monsters” (only sometimes and then only like 100ml before I’m done), I feel lots better eating small salads because my body doesn’t feel happy with a kilogram of raw veg but with a bit of raw and more cooked veg thrown in. I need carbs at night or I can’t sleep. I am not a runner. I am a yoga-loving, circuit and sprint-loving person. It’s ok to do sports once or twice a week if work doesn’t allow it. Other people can still do it. It’s ok if you can’t.

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johnny April 29, 2012 at 4:30 am

Wow! Your insight is so keen. You state what is so obvious and you make us all feel great about being normal and not trying to fit anyone into a predetermined hole. Not that we can just do anything just because it feels good but we don’t have to live our lives trying to fit into someone else’s idea of right. Thanks for the words of freedom!! :)

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Cassie April 29, 2012 at 2:11 pm

This is so fantastic. When I first found your blog, I fell in love with it because of everything you wrote in this post. As a young woman, I have swung from one extreme to the next (binge drinking college student to clean eating vegan, etc.) for the past few years and to the point where I felt as though I was one step away from a truly diagnosed eating disorder. More blogs like yours should exist where a message of “everything in moderation” resonates. There are already hundreds of clean eating, purist, vegan, vegetarian, or raw blogs that exist, you represent a great message. Thank you for all of your great thoughts!

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Kim April 29, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post!! So well said :) I too actually like to picture that the broccoli I eat for lunch is cleansing my system of the piece of cake I had the night before :) If you’ve never been to the restaurant Black Bottle in Belltown, they have “broccoli blasted” on the menu that is out of this world amazing! Love reading your blog and am continually surprised that I can relate to so much of what you have to say.

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Jenn April 29, 2012 at 6:39 pm

I LOVE your blog and this post. As someone who has lost 75 lbs with 10-15 more to go, I am so fed up with those who preach nothing but food elitism and snobbery. Thank you for being a calm, cool voice of reason in a chorus of “everything must be organic”.

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Jessie April 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm

This was an incredible post – especially for someone like me who is still learning the tricky art of balance. Loved it! :)

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Brittany April 29, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I have saved this post to read when ever the balance battle begins inside my head. I am an “all or nothing” person and strive for the balance out described in this post. My question to you in how did you get to the stage when you could just have one or two cookies or chocolates without binging on them for the rest of your day? or feeling like your whole day has been ruined because you had that little bit of un-wholesome food? I would love to be able to enjoy a bit then put it back and move on without the guilt or uncontrolled addiction to keep eating…
ps. when is your book out? your an inspiration!

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Kim @ Kickin' it with Kim April 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Wow. I just recently discovered your blog and I can’t tell you how much I LOVE this post. You worded everything perfectly. I’m halfway through my weight loss journey and although, I eat much healthier now, there are certain things I’m not willing to give up.

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Alana April 29, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I want your rainbow cupcake. It looks amazing.

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Kate April 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Preach. I can’t tell you how refreshing your candor is! I’ve gotten so tired of how holier than thou parts of the “healthy living” blogosphere has become. I’m not sure what they’re trying to prove in some cases, but I can say that my Google Reader list has become much shorter. Because really, life is too short to NOT live a little! It’s better to find balance than to make yourself crazy over food.

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*Andrea* April 29, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Love this post! Your writing is so beautiful, honest, and poetic :) I’m still working on being a mindful eater and also provide my body with nutrients, but I am always suspicious when people use extreme terms “good” or “bad” with food. the word “purist” itself is just not a word I jive with. anyway, i read a good book called “it’s not about the food” and the author mentioned how Orthorexia is one of the latest trends, and is actually an eating disorder in disguise. so i think it’s great and incredibly relevant for you to discuss this topic here.

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Brianna (Portlandier) April 29, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Amen sister! I am struggling with maintaining a healthy diet and I hate depriving myself totally only to go back completely A healthy balance is best!

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Michelle in N. Cal April 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm

WONDERFUL POST! I too live right in the middle: case in point: my Mio water-enhancing drops (artificial and horrible) right next to my stevia LOL

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Tamara April 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I can say without a doubt that your blog is *the* one I relate to the most out of all the other food/weight loss-related ones and this post only made me love you more. Well said and written!

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Ashleigh April 29, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I am sooo happy I have found your website! These are the exact thoughts I’ve had as Im starting my own weight loss journey. I want to eat as healthy as possible for me and be a good example for my kids, but I also don’t want to completely give up having a piece of cake at their birthday parties or going out with my fiends and getting dessert for the rest of my life! :) I want to get over the feelings of guilt associated with any type of “bad” choice and just enjoy living. Its all about balance and finding whats right for you. Thank you for your inspiring story.

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Sarah April 29, 2012 at 9:06 pm

I didn’t think I could love your other post more, until I read this one. It is going to be permanently bookmarked on my computer. This beautiful balance you speak of is what I strive for for daughters and what I wish for for every woman (and man for that matter!) and for myself. Love it.

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Misti April 29, 2012 at 10:25 pm

I love your blog so much. And this post. I’m still quite early in my weight loss journey (I’ve lost a 1/4 (30lbs) of my total goal) and am so inspired by you. I’ll be the first to admit that I am FAR from being a food purist. Quite the opposite actually. But, I have been making an effort to choose better foods & not just ones that fit into my calorie goal for the day. I hope I can find the balance one day of whole foods & the not so whole foods that I love so much. Thanks to you, I know it’s possible.

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Connie Musgrave April 30, 2012 at 4:11 am

Wow. I just started trying to clean up my food and was already feeling guilty about still having desires for junk food. I felt like if anyone knew, they would think I was a failure. You have just taken that guilt away. Yes, I WILL think about it from time to time. Thank you so much for this article. It truly freed me from feeling inferior for my thoughts.

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Emily April 30, 2012 at 4:44 am

Well done. I couldn’t agree more and hope to find myself further and further on the side of whole foods as I get my weight to where I want it…I think 80/20 sounds perfect. I’m probably 50/50 right now. That being said…how amazing was the “Fifty Shades” trilogy?! I’m re-reading it a week later. ;)

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Kara April 30, 2012 at 5:04 am

I lost 60 pounds over the last 2 years. When people ask me how I did it, I tell them 80% of the time I eat good, whole foods. Love this post. It shows we are all human.

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Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! April 30, 2012 at 5:53 am

Great response and wonderfully written as usual!

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Maxine April 30, 2012 at 6:45 am

I remember someone saying: “You’re not a health nut; you eat chicken wings”. In all honesty, a few chicken wings here and there will not kill you or make you obese. It was easier for me to eat moderately until a few years ago, when I developped food allergies to peanuts, almonds, and certain food additives (aspartame, sorbitol, sodium benzoate), so now, I have had to switch what I eat and indulge in. Doritos have been replaced with Rain Coast Crisps and goats cheese, baked goods with homemade treats, and an extra glass of wine here and there. We all have choices and decisions to make and should just let people be and not label them as food snobs, food purists etc. You post great recipes Andy, and have shared your story with all of us; thanks!
P.S I used your pulled pork recipe as a base for mine, and it turned out awesome.

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Melis April 30, 2012 at 8:15 am

I love this post- just as much as the last one that prompted it. I am in your camp!

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Amanda April 30, 2012 at 8:37 am

Hear hear! Some people just need that balance in their lives. I love roasting all kinds of vegetables, having hummus in the morning, and the feeling of eating good and losing weight.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m going to give up my weekly nacho date with my boyfriend, and no one is going to take away my summer cyclone ice creams!

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Carrie April 30, 2012 at 9:44 am

This needs to be published EVERYWHERE.

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Summer April 30, 2012 at 10:15 am

It’s funny, when I first read the original post, it seemed obvious that the pictures contradicted the words… and I thought that was the point. As in, you were saying, “This is how I eat, I can eat good, pure, whole things… but I like fake stuff, too” and then the juxtaposition of things that aren’t whole and pure photographed in a beautiful way. I don’t know… maybe I just read too much into things.

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Jessica @ Stylish Stealthy and Healthy April 30, 2012 at 11:06 am

Some day when you come and visit me, I’ll be sure I have some organic produce to go along with a box of wine and tastykakes. Clearly we agree on the importance of balance in life.

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Frugal Portland April 30, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Very well said. I am a food snob, and I still don’t think my decisions are better than anyone else’s.

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Brooke April 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm

This is wonderful. I think that what your readers LOVE about you is that you do embrace all types of food, and embrace them with abandon. It’s inspiring to all of us who are in the midst of our own battle, seeing that YES. We can DO IT.

And knowing that I do eat well 80-ish percent of the week makes me savor that piece of chocolate or naughty cupcake that much more. All the same, I love a fancy schmancy dinner out as much as the next girl.

It’s totally ok to be food-bipolar.

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Ashley April 30, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I just happened to stumble upon your blog today (as one is apt to do online) and this post spoke to my heart. I’ve been struggling to find this balance in my own life and it isn’t easy. Right now I’m a 99/1 kinda girl who is trying to be an 80/20 (or at least a 90/10) girl. Trust me this is a vast improvement over where I was 9 months ago. I want to get to a place where I can have an Oreo or two or six and not feel like it’s the end of the world or that I’ve been “bad.” Thanks for the post!

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Stephanie April 30, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I completely agree with your balanced view of eating! It’s good to try and eat as clean and as whole as possible, but I just can’t give up my diet dr. pepper!;) Thanks for writing this response!!

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Candace April 30, 2012 at 6:09 pm

I just recently discovered your blog, and I am so thankful I did. I am in the middle of my own weight loss journey– I’ve lost 50 pounds so far! I started losing weight by trying to only eat real foods, and discovered that it was really challenging. So now I’m doing Weight Watchers and am eating lots of lower fat/calorie foods. I agree with you 100%: that it is best to eat wholesome foods but do what you need to do and don’t be scared to enjoy food. Thanks for writing this!

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Amy Potter (@hellomisspotter) April 30, 2012 at 7:10 pm

So many yeses! I wish you were the narrator of my life.

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Tammie May 1, 2012 at 2:08 am

Damn, I love you.

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Chelsea @ Chelsea Eats Treats May 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

I love everything about this post. I love how specify that this is what works for you, and might not be the solution for everyone. I love how you share your struggles with the foods that so many of us love and can’t give up. I love that you showed us your progression and how much you’ve learned along the way. Maybe it’s because this is also how I handle balancing a healthy lifestyle, but this really spoke to me. Thanks for posting!

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Shay Harlan May 1, 2012 at 7:41 am

Double High Fives to you Miss Andie.

I read this while eating my breakfast of organic home-ground oatmeal topped with organic local berries, a spoon of organic local natural peanut butter, a drizzle of raw local farmer’s honey and a splash of local organic non-homogonized milk….delicious.
While reading this response and today’s post I was also sipping my organic fair-trade coffee. A cup of joe that just so happens to have been topped with Redi-Whip. I also may have pressed the canned whip tip shaken and straight from the fridge into my mouth for a few blasts of something that makes me happy. Healthy probably not so much- detrimental to my wholesome breakfast? Not even close.
Thank you for your continuous sincerity and honesty.

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Emily May 1, 2012 at 7:44 am

I love your take on balance and indulgence. You always seem to post blogs about food and weight loss that address any conflicts or debates in my head!

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Trisha May 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm

I adore this post. Simply adore.

Of course I would love to fill my body with clean, healthful foods all day, every day. I feel fantastic when I do so. But sometimes I just want Doritos and Diet Coke for dinner. There will never be a point in my life when I don’t crave a little fake sugar or high fructose corn syrup. So by not depriving myself of those things when I crave them, I save myself from the inevitable binge of when I finally give in.

Balance is a blissful thing.

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anneliesz May 1, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I’m curious of the need we have to wear labels- it’s an interesting thing you bring up about the idea of being a food purist. It just sounds so dirty, doesn’t it? “Someone who has a deep passion for food”- well that’s something much broader and I have a hunch a “label” many of us can wear. As one of your readers so eloquently commented already, your approach of making a seat available for all who read your blog to “stay for dinner” is really the ambience you have created with your community. Thanks for keeping it real and taking a thoughtful approach to deconstructing your foodie position publicly while addressing one of your commenters. It really does provide food for thought. xo

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Vic May 1, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I was the one who wrote that comment. I stand by it. I also agree with what you wrote. Just so you know, I am not a food “snob”. And that in itself is judgement. I think bloggers and writers and health advocates (magazines, detoxes, gurus) have gone to the extremes and need to start living life more than worrying about everything that goes into their body. I was merely pointing out some discrepancies in your post – that is all. If you’re going to say you eat “real food” , that would imply in itself a sense of “snobbery” as you say (and ignorance in then showing processed foods) – I’m not saying and never said there was anything wrong with eating those foods – ever. You took that from what I said. I do take offense against you calling me ignorant when I was merely pointing out the obvious. But you wrote a response respectfully and I’m not one to pick a fight. :)

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admin May 1, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Vic,
Thank you sincerely for your comment then and now. You have made excellent points and ones that have certainly made me think. I never meant to call you a snob, nor to imply that you are ignorant. Please accept my apology for making you feel that way.
I did not- and do not- believe your initial comment to be judgmental of me or my food choices; I found it very valid, actually. The sentence I included at the end of my post against judgment was more a general conclusion I was arriving at rather than a dig at you. This post, though I do see what you’re saying, was a flowing tangent sparked by my own realizations about myself after reading your comment.
I am grateful that you opened up the discussion. I am grateful for your honest and quite accurate observation. You are right that in trying to spotlight the judgmental nature of snobbery, I in turn became judgmental myself.
Thank you for your interaction :)
Andie

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Vic May 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm

My goodness…you truly are a remarkable, remarkable person Andie. Most bloggers would shun, moderate or criticize such a comment. And the comment was sincerely non-judgmental – it was merely a question. I eat “real” cheese and cream cheese; I eat apples – and apple pie; I eat fruit with dessert – and chocolate.

What I appreciate is just how non-judgmental, intelligent (I wish you had italics here) and graceful (again in italics!) you are. I wish I carried half your strength.

Peace.

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Leslie May 2, 2012 at 7:58 am

bahahahaha I was looking at the OZ website and some how got to your blog :)

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Jen May 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm

I love that you’re a voice for food sanity in an internet full of dogma!

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ELC May 3, 2012 at 11:00 am

Very honest/inspiring/interesting/helpful/hopeful and thought-provoking. At 58, I’ve basically been on a perpetual “diet” for 45 years. I learned a long time ago I’m hardest on myself. Harder than I’d ever even consider being on my loved ones and friends. I seem to focus on my failures, completely forgetting I’ve had some great successes along the way. That I’ve made some admirable choices. It’s clear to me I will always have to fight an addiction to sugar and will never be willing to completely give it up.

I truly appreciate Vic’s candidness in his original question and his recent comment. It sounds like he can accept your explanation and embrace your kind apology. We all should continue to share our stories and experiences, our opinions and mistakes.

Andie, you have a beautiful blog I’ve enjoyed for a long time. Keep up your important work!

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Megan @ Weddings and Workouts May 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Love this post! It’s all about what works best for YOU, right?

I get really annoyed with bloggers when they get all judgey and, dare I say it, arrogant?

Glad to have discovered your blog :-)

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Lisa May 4, 2012 at 12:07 am

What a refreshing post. All things in moderation. This works for me too.

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Kathleen May 5, 2012 at 12:05 am

Absolutely – however, when you write a public blog, on the internet, you open yourself up to criticism. If people don’t agree with your views, they don’t have to read your posts. The same goes for you, you don’t necessarily have to read their comments.

Not that I don’t completely agreeing with you – but having a comments means you have to accept all, good and bad.

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Ali May 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm

This is EXACTLY how I feel. I feed my body good things as often as I can, but once in a while, I feed my soul. I feed it 711 slurpees or something deep fried and from a drive through. It makes me happy because it’s once in a while and it doesn’t make me bad. As I travel on my own weight loss journey I’m learning that moderation is KEY for both my mind and body.

So, thank you for posting this. It’s just what I needed to read today and it looks like many others agree.

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Laura @ My Pink Thumb May 10, 2012 at 7:21 am

FANTASTIC POST! Very well said.

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Tracy May 15, 2012 at 9:19 pm

Oh I just adore you…and if I was even remotely on the fence about you before (which I wasn’t), this post sealed the deal. You are my inspiration. Thank you oodles and oodles.

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Jamie May 17, 2012 at 5:43 pm

I have just caught up on your blog and I would like to tell you how much of an inspiration you are. Thank you.

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Sarah May 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I hadn’t read your blog in a while (don’t know why that is! I avoided blogs for a while) and just stumbled across it today and read this post. Your thoughtfulness and balances approach really speaks to so many of my internal struggles. I feel so guilty about eating certain foods that are stigmatized, that I’ll really only give myself permission to eat them during a binge. I feel like if I were able to be more balanced and not feel guilty about eating the foods I love, I wouldn’t be setting myself up for one and I’d be much happier as a result. You’ve given me a lot to think about! I feel really inspired.

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megan July 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm

I just found your blog today via Pinterest (somewhere between vegan black bean burgers and tikka masala) and now I can’t stop reading. You have true talent in the way you write. So matter-of-fact and you manage to stay real while not being offensive or goofy. They say you write what you know and it definitely shows you speak from the heart. Everything you’d experienced, not only in your weight loss journey, but also in your relationships with others and finding yourself, have provided such a powerful resource to share with others. No wonder you’re putting out books. Consider your blog added to my list.

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100%H July 29, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Oh Snap! ;)

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Heather March 26, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I have tears running down my face from this post. Thank you so much for writing this. I found your blog and I ADORE it. I will be the first in line to but your book. You are inspiring!! I was wondering if there was a way I could private message you?

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Crystal May 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Gosh. This is great! You have no idea how happy this just made me today. I feel like I am just like you in so many ways! I love food. so flipping much. I haven’t quite figured out how to balance everything yet, nor have I lost ANY weight but I stress about it constantly.
thus I go back and forth in between eating as clean as I can handle while stressing which makes me give up and not care and eat any and all that I want of what I want. all the while, not making any sort of progress which gives me frustration and anxiety. i love this post!
this might be perfect for me. thank you!!

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Beth August 16, 2013 at 1:27 am

I absolutely love your blog!

Years of trying to eat clean and pure foods led me right into an eating disorder…I starved myself quite a bit and got very sick. I have healed so much and part of my healing came from eating “dirty” foods. ;) I have to take it easy with what I eat. I can no longer be super strict about eating the “right” foods.

I wish I’d have found your blog sooner. You’re doing a great job!

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