What’s Good For Us, What’s Bad For Us

My dog CosmoEver since he was a puppy, whenever my dog Cosmo’s stomach is upset, he wants to eat grass.

Over the years, Jordan and I have concluded that this grass-eating regimen must be just what the doctor ordered. Cosmo eats some grass, throws up, and feels better. “How amazing,” I’ve thought more than once, “that he knows just how to take care of himself. What a wonderful biological instinct.”

But there are two sides to this story. Whatever glowing holistic instincts Cosmo might have, he’s also been known to eat discarded chicken wings, pizza crusts, and horse shit. (Sorry.)

In other words, he’s still a dog.

This very morning, in fact, he whined to go for his walk — something he rarely does (Cosmo will sleep in til noon, if we do) — which told me, “his stomach’s bothering him,” so off we went.  I watched him prowl for grass and leaves to soothe his stomach. “Ah, Cosmo, such a wise, health guru,” I thought, and then jerked back to reality to pull him away from a pile of chicken wings he was trying his best to inhale.

The thing is, both things are true: Cosmo knows what’s good for him. And he also knows what he wants. His instincts tell him to pursue both.

People aren’t very different, are we? I know going to the gym will make me feel better, or taking a yoga class. I also want to lounge on the couch. I am compelled to do both things. Choice by choice, only one set of instincts wins out — the ones that draw me toward my optimum health, or the ones that provide immediate gratification. Unlike dogs, we can learn, over time, that the rewards of health are the greatest rewards, but still, I wonder…. what happens to the part of us that just wants what we want? We can train ourselves in a particular direction, but underneath it all, that pile of chicken bones will always look pretty darn good.

How do you choose between bones and grass?



6 thoughts on “What’s Good For Us, What’s Bad For Us

  1. As much as I hate moderation, I do think it's the only trick I've found that lets me enjoy both bones AND grass, without going too far down either path. Let's face it, a life of just grass can get pretty damn dull, and it means basically pretending a large part of yourself (at least for me) doesn't exist. I need nights on the balcony with a cigar, a comic book and a scotch as much as I need nights at the keyboard and microphone writing songs as much as I need nights at the gym or yoga class as much as I need nights on the couch watching bad kung fu movies and eating candy. These are all parts of me, and I ignore any of them at my peril. Balance is a hard thing to find, but you only get there by experimenting – just like a recipe, you need to try adding an egg or two, maybe cutting back the flour, etc. until your creation comes out the way that works for you. Just throwing in too much of one thing may seem like a good idea, but in the end you won't get something balanced – and balance is delicious.


  2. He is sage! And I love his comment. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes of all time: "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman


  3. YES! I do the same thing. You have to have those days where you indulge and just be in that moment. Have that Pumpkin Spice Soy Latte – but have a tall and not a venti. Have some pizza and a beer. Then just taper the next day and be smart about it. I've finally gotten to this time in my life where I can see that and get it. I'm almost 40. I am now more content with myself than ever and realizing that losing 10-20 pounds is not a race. It will come off in due time. But live – live while I can and do the very best I can. Love this post, Amanda!!


  4. Tracy, so sorry I didn't see your comment sooner! Sounds like you've figured out the perfect grass/ bones balance 🙂 I just started working with a company called Clean Plates that promotes healthy + delicious eating (based on the belief that the two are not mutually exclusive!) and the founder, Jared Koch, encourages an 80/20 rule: try to make healthy choices 80 percent of the time, and don't be hard on yourself if 20 percent of the time, you make choices based on other factors (like, "I NEED PIZZA NOW.") I think we fail when we expect 100% purity in any endeavor.


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