Eat: Mich's Rules to Eating

After last week's fiasco, I just want to write about something that actually makes me happy, so...

...let me talk about food.


I adore food.

Let me amend that.

I adore food.

I love food so much, I set up an Instagram account dedicated to food I ate, just so that I can remember where I had delicious food, and where not to go for food again (such as reminding myself a place has crappy service, for example).

When it comes to my food, it's always been a balancing act between my love for food versus my NEED to not look like a blob.

While I believe that good food is life, I also believe that looking in the mirror AND feeling comfortable with what I see is also important.

As much as people preach body positivity - and while I do believe this that you should try to love your body at every size even if you're working to reduce it - I KNOW that I feel most body positive only at a certain size (not weight, mind you, but size).

I also think it's important NOT to overeat, and consume way too much sustenance.

Being someone who's prone to gaining 2 pounds just after inhaling the fumes of a slice of cake, I walk a tightrope between trying to maintain a certain size and to eat what I like at the same time.

It's pretty much been an almost 2-decade long tightrope walk, and while I relax at times or get so stressed out I pretty much don't care for anything except to drown myself in sugar, the tightrope is never too far away from me.

As soon as I realise I can't fit into a dress, or into shorts I love (for a while last year I didn't even want to wear shorts anymore because I felt so sad about my waist length), I fall into even further despair.

Then I get up and go burn the calories.

If you've followed me on Instagram for a while now you'll know that I picked up hiking as a hobby again in the middle of last year, and started strictly exercising on an almost daily basis on my stationary bike.

Since 2018 started, people have been telling me their observations and opinions that:

a) I have lost weight, and

b) I am too skinny.

I totally do not believe in b) at all, as I am of an average weight according to my BMI, but perhaps they mean that I am too skinny in comparison to before.

A lot of people also ask me how I lost weight, and HONESTLY, IT WAS NOT EASY AT ALL, and I get slightly offended when I see people hawking "slimming tea" and whatnot, especially when they say "oh you don't have to change the way you eat and exercise to lose weight!".


But I digress.

When it comes to eating, I do limit myself in the amount, but I do not think I limit myself in the enjoyment I have for food. Here's why:

1) When you eat less, you only eat the "best"

I get grumpy when I eat food that's not up to my standards in terms of taste. After all, if I have to limit the amount of food I take in, I better be getting some of the very best - and in this case, I don't mean fine-dining best, I mean DELICIOUS best.

Even something like this simple fried potato stick with flavoured curry salt makes me happy, as long as it's delicious (street food is best food).

When your food intake isn't that much,  you only insist on eating the best (for you) in that limited amount. That will be a natural reaction, after all.

Personally, I honestly think food appreciation with this eating habit becomes HIGHER, because you know it's RARE.

Like the saying goes, everything in moderation, right?

2) I avoid buffets

As such, I don't go to buffets if I can help it, unless I am on holiday or it's a celebratory occasion like the Lunar New Year. The concept of all-you-can-eat seems great, but it runs contrary to my belief that I should consume food in moderation.

Plus, I am certain that buffets generates too much food wastage, and makes people take food for granted. I do not want to be like that, so...

3) Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dine like a pauper

In a typical day, these are what my meals look like:

a) Brunch

b) Dinner

That's a fancy presentative picture of soup. Indeed, I do usually drink soup (of the non-cream variety) for dinner, and then I'm done with meals for the day. I generally don't eat supper, either.

So in all honesty, the meal that really sets the day is breakfast. Night time is for my first love, sleep, and I've noticed that sleep and heavy meals don't go well together in many ways. Heavy meals affect my sleep quality negatively, and makes me want to choke something when I wake up in the next morning and see the effects on my body scale.

So... yeah. This rule is the rule that makes me happiest when it comes to eating, and so I stick to it.

4) I "plan" my "eating binges" according to the year, AND

Of course I don't eat like that every day. There are days of the year where I will definitely eat more than usual, whether it's due to festivities or being on holiday.

Last year, when I planned to travel to Japan, I ramped up my exercising intensity AND also moderated my food intake even more about three months before.

This was all so that I could eat food like this:

... AND not feel guilty later on when I pile back on what I've lost.

FYI the world is unfair and cruel and while I lost 3 kilograms in the 3 months through daily hard torturous working out prior to my Japan trip, I gained 1.5kg in the span of just 9 days in Japan.

Worth it.

5) food is 80% sustenance and 20% emotional need to me. 

I've come to figure out that when I overeat, it's an emotional reaction rather than my body actually needing what I'm eating.

People stress me out? Ice-cream!

People irritate me? Potato chips!

People being unreliable/ annoying as per usual? ONE BAG OF CHEETOS AND TWO LITRES OF CHOCOLATE MINT CHIP ICE-CREAM!


I do have a tendency to eat my feelings, since if I actually verbalized my feelings and told people exactly what I thought of them, I'd probably end up isolated. Actually that doesn't sound too bad...

Uh, moving on.

While food as an outlet is much better than violence as an outlet, it's not that great an outlet when you look at yourself in the mirror after a huge binge and feel even worse about your lack of self-control.

Food is meant to be sustenance, not an answer to one's emotional needs. 

That's not to say I completely ban sweet stuff from my diet. I do require the occasional sweet or savoury treat every now and then, munch my way aggressively through them, and feel slightly better afterwards.

What I did try to do, though, was to find other outlets besides food to deal with my negative emotions. From exercising to reading quotes, I did my best to not immediately reach for food once I felt negative emotions.

Thanks to these eating rules, while I still struggle with my relationship to food, I think I have a much better relationship with food now compared to 10 years ago. I've even learned to prefer healthier alternatives, from picking tea instead of soda, to being completely fine with just fruits for dinner (and actually preferring fruits to heavier meals).

Here's to loving food AND loving the fact that my food habits doesn't make me a blob.

Bon Appetit.