The 5 Levels Of Healthy Eating

You're reading a website that's based entirely on food. That means that you like to eat. That also probably means that you find it difficult to stay in shape. I know I do. With all the eating I do, it's a constant battle between my midsection and the giant mountain of hot dogs that I choose to consume on the regular. Since the calendar just struck January, I've made my yearly vow to eat less and I bet you have, too. It won't last.

There's a progression that occurs when you vow to eat better in the New Year. Like Elizabeth Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief (denial, anger, etc.), there are five stages of healthy eating. Your resolve starts out strong and then, slowly but surely, gets less and less resolute. I've already skipped the first two and I'm willing to bet I'll be back to Level Five by the end of the month. Since we're filled with such good intentions right now, though, it's a great time to go over all the levels.

Level One: "Food? I don't eat food. I drink food."

You vowed to leave pizzas in the past. Now, it's just you and the juice. With wild naïvité, you signed up for a five-day juice cleanse. You made it through two days. As you pour the rest of your juice down the drain, just think of all the money you wasted that could have been better spent on new jeans that actually fit.

Level Two: "Have you met my new best friend? His name is Kale."

The juice didn't work out, but you're not ready to give up. Instead, you're going veggie, baby. Kale at every meal, lentils twice a day and grapefruit for breakfast. Thin is in and you're taking the farm route to relevance. Less than a week later, you call it quits. You love meat. Why would you even consider living without it? It's time to tell kale to hit the road.


You've read about the Paleo Diet and you think it's EXACTLY what you need to stay in shape for 2013. All the meat and vegetables you want and all you have to do is avoid grains, sugar, legumes and dairy? You can do that, dude. You can definitely do that. Except you can't. The restriction is too extreme to maintain. You need real ice cream, not coconut milk "ice cream." You need a crust on your pizza that's not made out of bacon. The ketogenic effects of the diet may have cured your epilepsy, but you're crushing hard on some churros. Level up!

Level Four: "It's all about portion size."

What if you could eat everything you want but in small enough amounts that you're able to maintain a healthy lifestyle? That's the dream, right? You know you can do it. No restrictions beyond how much of something you can eat. It's the perfect solution. Until you realize that four ounces of steak is basically nothing, and it's really hard to stop eating that bowl of pasta when it tastes so damn good. Portion control is only effective if you have self-control. You don't. Few of us do. That's why we're going through these levels.

Level Five: "Pass the chocolate gravy, please."

Just wait until 2014. You're going to be so in shape, dude. For now, though, just sit back and enjoy the Cheetos.

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