Do You Live By The Rules?

Food rules. We’ve all heard them at some point or another; kitchen closes at 6 o’clock, no carb diets, food pairings, etc. All these rules can make your head spin. Which do you follow and which do you simply toss out the window? Why are there food rules in the first place?


Over the last 100 years, it seems there have been more new trends in the diet and food industry than there have been people. While we are constantly learning about the way the body utilizes nutrients, are these “rules” really necessary?

Well, I’m here to say, STOP with the quirky food rules already!  We don’t need them!! What we NEED is for people to realize that if you are eating healthy, WHOLE foods, 80% of the time, then you are doing a darn good job.

The following are 3 food rules that need debunked and then I’ll provide you with some REAL “food rules” to live by.

“No carbs.”

I have never been a believer of the no-carb, low-carb, or no carbs past a certain time trends. Our bodies NEED carbohydrates in order to function properly; our bodies utilize carbohydrates in order to store glycogen, which, in simplest terms, help to fuel our bodies.

Initially, you will lose weight following rules of a low carb diet. When the intake of carbohydrate is inadequate, the body uses protein (muscle) and fat to burn first as fuel. Losing weight seems easy at first because you are losing water and muscle; and we all know that with loss of muscle, there is a decrease in basal metabolic rate (metabolism), which equals fewer calories burned per day!! No thank you.

So what should you do? How about balancing carbohydrates throughout your whole day? Typically, adults need 50-60% of their diet in the form of carbohydrates. Use this 50-60% to fill up on healthy carbs: fruits, vegetables, and filling fiber!! Now that’s a rule I can live by!!

Remember: carbohydrates are NOT the enemy!!  Click on the link for more info!!

“7 o’clock: The kitchen is closed.”


There are plenty of big named celebrities tooting the benefits of closing the kitchen after a certain time. Oprah is the perfect example of someone who sets specific food rules like this and yet, continually battles her weight.

The problem with this “rule” is that we all have different schedules. Maybe you don’t even get home from work until 7:30pm! Then what? Do you starve all night? Not a good idea.

The truth is, it really does not matter what time you eat. It all boils down to calories in vs. calories out. The main problem becomes differentiating between mindless munching and true hunger. Ask yourself: Does an apple or some carrots sound good right now? If so, you are truly hungry. If the only thing that sounds appealing is a big bowl of ice cream, well then you know it’s probably just a craving.

Instead of placing strict rules on when you can and cannot eat, what about listening to your body through natural eating (click on the link for more information!)?

I wrote another article about late night snacking that can provide some ideas on what to do if you find yourself searching for food in the evening.

 “My body needs to detox.”


I hear this often. Many people go through periods where they feel that if they just detoxified their system they would feel less fatigued and jump start their weight loss.

On its own, a healthy body is designed to continually cleanse the body and rid it of toxins. There are various detoxification methods: diets, colon cleansing, and water irrigation devices that can do more harm than good.

Toxins enter the body through swallowing, inhalation, passing through the skin, or invading bacteria. Organs like the liver and kidneys are the body’s own personal purification systems, filtering the blood and eliminating toxins in the urine. We also possess enzymes, healthy bacteria, and digestive acids that work to neutralize toxins and eliminate them in the stool. So, as you can see, healthy individuals were born with the natural ability to cleanse the system.

So if we don’t detox, then what SHOULD we do? Help your body, help itself. Eat lots of fresh produce, get plenty of exercise, and drink lots of H2O!! Meet your body’s nutritional needs by NOT eliminating but incorporating!! ADD fruits, vegetables, lean protein sources, and healthy fats!!


So as you can see, not every “food rule” necessarily needs to be followed. With further inspection, most of these quirky food rules can be tossed!!When it comes to eating, the ultimate FOOD rules to live by are as follows:

  1. Do not eliminate ANY food groups. We need each and every one in order to provide our bodies with proper nutrients.
  2. Follow principles of natural eating. Be mindful of the foods you consume and do not live by the clock.
  3. Incorporate! The more whole foods we add to our diet, the less room there is for the unhealthier fair.

QUESTION: What FOOD rules do you live by??

Don’t forget!! Only 3 more days to enter the Kardea Nutrition Bar Giveaway!! Not a lot of entries so your chances are high!!


24 comments to Do You Live By The Rules?

  • [...] I probably wouldn’t be as consistent as I am)! As you know, I don’t follow “food rules,” but if there were to be one “rule” that I try my best to live by, it [...]

  • Funny, my blog is called Eating Rules — and it’s meant to be a play on both the eating rules we’re talking about, and the joy of eating.

    Although I’ve focused my website around three rules, I’ll try not to take offense. ;)

    Actually, I’d say they’re highly aligned with what you’re talking about here. Here are my rules:

    1. When you eat grains, eat only whole grains.
    2. Don’t eat High Fructose Corn Syrup.
    3. Don’t trans fats, hydrogenated oils, or deep-fried foods.

    Now, there’s a corollary guideline: One meal a week you can cheat, eating anything you like.

    Although these rules aren’t “perfect,” and you still need to eat heathfully within this framework, I think that if we all followed them we’d be, as Erin says, about 80% of the way there.

  • This is a great post! I don’t know if I have that much rules I live by, maybe that I try to eat less bad fat because of my cholesterol.. and that I need a salad daily which is a good thing :D

    I’ve never understood the “no food after 6pm”-rule, it sounds terrible!I get hungry just thinking about it :D

  • Great post! It’s crazy how often different diet plans and new food rules come out. Most of them are ridiculous, but people cling to them anyway! We crave these “simple” rules that will provide the magic answer to weight loss…it’s not really about health at all. For example, I’m a runner, so I always eat a lot of carbs. So many people look at that as unhealthy, which is ridiculous to me. Just because you start dropping weight eating only steak, eggs, and bacon, it doesn’t mean that your heart is healthy!!

    I say this, but it’s not like I’ve been immune to all the rules in the past. I experimented with many different ways of eating, all which ended up driving me crazy. Now I focus on eating as many whole foods as possible, trying to give my body variety and not stressing about it so much. Food should be enjoyed. :)

    One rule that I do have that I think is super important is to start each and every day with a good breakfast. Usually oats + flax + PB to keep me full. And breakfast boosts your metabolism for the day, so it’s a win-win!

  • hmm…i think i live by a lot of rules, and yet no rules all at the same time! (lol…is that even possible??) i don’t eat red-meat or cheese, or anything deep-fried, and i don’t drink pop, and yet i don’t feel deprived in the least! i know if i wanted them i COULD have them, nothing is considered “off limits”, which i guess is why it’s so easy for me not to have them in my diet. i don’t suffer “forbidden fruit” syndrome, if that makes sense :P

  • @The Candid RD: 25g of sugar, that doesn’t even sound easy. I wonder how much sugar I eat in a day. Maybe I don’t want to know.

  • GREAT post, hey girl…wow I need to stop by more, I have been really lacking in my blog visiting , time is always an issue…I totally agree evey one’s schedule is different and starving is not an option…I never understood detox, seems like everyone I know that has done it, loses control and binges the next week???so really what’s the point, I hate food rules and I try not to take in alot of sugar and always try to raise my veggie intake..


  • Great post! So yeah, the night time eating rule really gets to me. I cringe when people tell me they don’t eat after a certain time. I mean, it’s understandable not to eat right before bed, but if you get hungry at 9pm, EAT! I can never go to bed on a empty stomach, it makes it hard for me to fall asleep, so this rule is obviously broken.

    I do live by one food rule, religiously (accept for the occasional weekend when I let it slide…) and that is that I try not to consume more than about 25 grams of added sugar each day. IT sounds easy, but it’s not! Added sugar is everywhere. This rule really helps me stay on track with my “healthy eating plan” :)

  • I think the only food rule I follow is “Eat real food”. I try to avoid processed food as much as I can because I have no idea whats in them. Every once in a while I try to cut back on refined sugar too, I know we need carbs but my intale of cookies needs to be monitored!

  • ugg, i hate food rules! i used to be the no food after 7pm rule follower but have let that go. the only “rule” i follow now is to make sure i eat when i’m hungry, not when i get a craving, bored or anxious!

  • I get so scarred when people start following silly rules like this, and the really sad part is they pick up the ideas for these rules from blogs! thanks for reinforcing positive and healthy behaviors! This inspired to to write a new post for my own blog, I hope you dont mind if I spin off your idea, i will give you credit.

  • I definitely don’t follow those rules :) Although there are plenty of times when my head starts thinking I need to do that: cut carbs, stop eating so much, etc. But I know that just because those things work for someone else does not mean it will work for me. Plus, those all seem like short term quick fixes — I’d rather do something that I can live with for the rest of my life!

  • I live by one food rule religiously:

    Eat what your body wants when it wants it.

    Not saying we should run out and buy a cake whenever we crave it..but if your body’s craving carbs, have carbs. If it needs sugar, have fruit. Cravings occur for a reason and it’s usually because our bodies actually *need* that certain macromolecule. And if that happens to be at midnight then so be it. :)

  • oh man, i lived by low carb for two years. I would always hate it when I would slip and eat carbs and Id immediately gain like 5 lbs. Now, I eat healthy grains and my weight is stable and I feel so much better.

  • I definitely “break” the no carbs and no eating after 7 rules. And I never have any desire to do a detox. I love just eating for me.

  • I just love your blog because you always remind me to eat sensibly…and not to fall into these various diet fads! I loved the way you analyzed each of the “rules” that so many people think they have to live by. I eat a lot of my food after 7:00 at night…because I stay up rather late and sleep in the next morning. I fuel my body with good, natural food, but I don’t let the clock determine when I can and can’t eat! I try to eat every few hours, and I make an effort to eat as much organic produce as possible!

  • What a great post! The whole detox thing is one of the rules that bugs me most. Like you said, that’s what our bodies are there for.
    I am glad that you don’t hear too much now a days about no carbs. It is always interesting to me how people are so quick to try out a fad diet.

  • Ugh, don’t even get me started on the no carb, diet food rules, detoxing, etc…the only “Food Rules” I live by are Michael Pollans…no franken-foods, and I EAT FOOD (real food), those are my rules :-)

  • If the only thing that sounds appealing is a big bowl of ice cream, well then you know it’s probably just a craving.- that’s a rule I ask myself.

    Your tips rock. I also find that if you want something, wait 15 min and see if you still want it.

  • I don’t follow any strict rules other than trying not to eat right before going to bed. I sleep better without a full stomach. Eating balanced meals throughout the day means I don’t need to have strict rules.

  • Great post! Yes, NO MORE FOOD RULES! I agree with everything here. It is so hard for most to figure this out since the media, magazines, do a great job of confusing and tweaking everyones mind. One day you are suppose to do this, another day not, Say “so” and “so” (a celebrity perhaps) got results by doing this(maybe the Master Cleanse) so it must be good right? Wrong!:)
    No carb left behind baby! Listen to your body and nourish it- is my rule.

  • The one thing I have a little laugh about is the “no carbs” thing. Most people who say they’re doing the no carbs thing don’t have any clue that carbs are pretty much in everything- so you’re going to get them whether you like it or not. Plus, I’m a believer in the body craving what it needs. So sooner or later, I expect and am not surprised by a huge bread/carb binge of some sort when people do that one…

  • Oh the “carbs are evil” theory… I used to subscribe to that one. Thank goodness those days are behind me :)

    I’ve never been a detox-er and I’m so glad. I’ve seen so many people drive themselves crazy with lemon water “diets”.

    The only “rule” I follow is eating every few hours… I need to or my blood sugars go nut-so!

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>