Sure, nobody likes rules, but these food rules will ultimately make you feel healthier, happier, and freer. Too many folks are trapped by their addictions to food, their fears of food, their body image issues all wrapped up in food. Corporations make billions off of this unhealthy relationship with food. All of that can be changed. Follow these food rules (or adopt your own) and you’ll be healthier and happier than you ever imagined.

The 80/20 Rule

This is the most sustainable way to maintain wellness over a lifetime. Eat pure foods and drink pure drinks 80% of the time and allow yourself small pleasures 20% of the time. This equation admits that we are human and that trying to be perfect 100% of the time will lead to failure. In trying to be perfect or following a strict diet, you will falter, perhaps over indulge, and beat yourself up about it later. This cycle reinforces anxiety and fear surrounding food. You can break this cycle by retraining your brain to consider small pleasures as well-deserved. Eat well the majority of the time and celebrate with treats occasionally.

Eat like a king in the morning, a prince at lunch, and a pauper in the evening.

Here’s the deal, despite the general belief that eating late at night will cause you to gain weight, science does not agree. Turns out, a calorie is a calorie no matter the time of day it is consumed. However, many people report that their worst food choices happen late at night. After a long day at work, it seems well-earned to veg out in front of the T.V. with junk food. But mindless eating in front of the T.V. is a bad habit that leads to weight gain and other health problems if not kept in check.

Try repeating this morning, noon and night mantra to retrain your brain, and eventually you’ll see evening time as a great opportunity to practice restraint.

Drink Water

It can’t be said enough. Water is food for your cells. Water is your fuel. Drink a lot of it. Dress it up with cucumber slices, lemons, and mint. Make iced tea (and don’t sweeten it). Enjoy hot tea late at night with a teaspoon of honey as you watch the sun fall off the sky. Water will make you feel purer in body, mind, and soul.

Local, Seriously

This isn’t a fad, this is a fact: local food is healthier for the environment and you. Corporate produce is sprayed with ungodly chemicals. Corporate produce is picked before naturally ripened in order that it may ripen as it’s transported across the country to various grocery stores. By the time you purchase this produce and get around to cooking it, it has lost the majority of its nutrients. Basically, you’re eating chemical-ridden cardboard posing as food. (Not to mention the cost to the environment.)

This isn’t hippy dippy stuff anymore. This is the choice between supporting billion dollar companies or supporting your next-door neighbor who happens to grow heavenly heirloom tomatoes. This is a choice between eating questionable foods from questionable sources or eating life-affirming food with value and story. Your choice.

Avoid Packages

Avoid the crinkly papers and boxes with bright colors. Avoid the marketing. Avoid the hype. Purchase food grown from the ground by a source you trust. Not only is this better for the environment, it’s better for your body. Packaged food is filled with sodium, transfat, gluten, corn, soy, sugar, sugar substitutes, GMOs, and chemically-sprayed ingredients that destroy health.

Think like Michael Pollan:

Michael Pollan quote 2

Cook Your Own Food

Or let your husband or best friend or mom cook your food. At any rate, make sure there’s a real human in the kitchen peeling and sauteeing. The point is, stop popping corporation-cooked food products into the oven and thinking that’s dinner. That isn’t cooking, and that isn’t food.

We’ve been convinced (by corporations) that cooking is dudgery, a burden for which we don’t have time. RUBISH! You must fall in love with cooking again (if you aren’t in love already). Cooking is one of life’s greatest pleasures. The chopping and baking and simmering and smoking is a delight of the senses and a retreat for the meditative mind! And there exists no finer joy than sharing a beautiful home-cooked meal with someone you love.

Fall in Love with Food

Fall in love with food from the ground up. See what it feels like to grow a carrot from seed to fruit. Harvest that carrot and eat it. Can you taste the hard work, anticipation, and love? I bet you can.

Walk to the neighborhood farmers’ market. Gaze at the wild colors of fruits and vegetables still smelling of sodden earth and shake hands with the farmer who proudly, who humbly grew that food. Carry your delicacies home and prepare them right then. And when you eat, you’ll feel truly blessed.

Share the experience of cooking with your kids and with your friends. Host dinner parties and expand your cooking abilities. Try foods you might be afraid of just for the sake of exploration. Respect food but also have fun. After all, food is a joy and one of life’s best forms of bliss.

love of food