dsc02357 - Where I Draw the "Real Food" LineSo. Is anyone else wondering how the heck it’s only Tuesday? I shouldn’t complain because it seems things are on the mend, but whoa-oh-oh, the universe has been testing and re-testing me like it hasn’t done since, oh…last Mercury retrograde period.

My computer crashed yesterday. It was like the melting buttercream on my stale cupcake hell of a Monday. I’m talking achey knees, no time to sit down, screaming patients, piles of work, slow trains and red tape. I almost stormed out in tears. Twice. Hormones doing the hormonal equivalent of backflips. Advil-resistant cramps. Of course. And then the Blue Screen of Death.

Fortunately, Apple fixed my little Macbook Air right up for no cost (the word “unacceptable” works wonders, I’ve been learning recently), and after a lengthy restoration process (thank god I had Time Capsule), I was ready to get to work…at 10 pm. Productivity fail.

Still, my knee feels better, I’ve got a brand new hard-drive, and I was able to restore everything. I also made my favorite brussels sprouts to have with my  leftover brown rice and beans and I had a beautiful grilled peach with yogurt and almond butter for dessert. Overall, I’m feeling pretty content, if wiped out.

So what’s still nagging at me?

Low-fat cheese.

Can someone please tell me why anyone would choose a mound of low-fat shredded mozzarella when buffalo mozzarella exists? I get so annoyed by all these recipes that tell you you can make your pizza healthier by using low-fat cheese. Pizza is still pizza and if you really want to be “healthier,” why not just cut that super-sized portion in half and freaking savor the full-fat cheese in its un-f***ed with glory? A side salad with a little oil and vinegar will fill in the blanks, leaving you just as satisfied—if not more so—than if you’d inhaled a big serving of the substitute-laden stuff.

dsc02258 - Where I Draw the "Real Food" LineWhen will Americans ever understand this? We’re “allowed” to enjoy high-quality items that are a bit higher in calories, so long as we leave room for it in the context of a balanced day. Low-fat cheese is not the answer, people!

In Italy, the days’ lecturers often joined our group for dinner so that we could ask them questions in an informal setting. One night in Rome, I had a lovely time talking to a Dr. Vincenzo Bacci and his wife, who was equally delightful. We somehow got on the topic of low-fat products in Italian markets. Though there are far fewer low-fat products available (good luck finding Snackwells in Rome), a few varieties of low-fat cheese could usually be found in the dairy section.

dsc02404 - Where I Draw the "Real Food" Linedsc02483 - Where I Draw the "Real Food" LineA classmate of mine started asking them about whether Italian women actually eat low-fat cheese. The wife laughed.

“If I were trying to lose weight, instead of eating low-fat cheese,” she said, “I would just not eat cheese at all.”

I like that sentiment—give me the real deal or nothing at all. The key really is moderation. I know that’s a very vague concept so I won’t attempt it here, but if my inner RD had her license yet, she’d say, “Slow down. Chew. Swallow. Take a moment to reflect on the flavor, texture—a meal is an experience you’re supposed to enjoy, not a chore you need to get done as quickly as possible.” Or maybe we should just stick to Michael Pollan’s rule: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Still, I know there are a lot of realities working against my viewpoint, but I prefer to see them as challenges…As part of my new job (details soon, I promise—we’re still getting the site looking pretty), I am going to be doing a weekly “healthy swap” article, where I show how to make a dish healthier by swapping out one ingredient for another, and I’ve made a promise to myself to avoid low-fat cheese if at all possible. I have to draw the “real food” line somewhere…

Hungry for more?

Subscribe to get the latest nutrition information, self-care strategies, and healthy living tips delivered right to your inbox.

Powered by ConvertKit