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Mr. Henry’s Dietary Dicta [with Exceptions]

1) Never drink soda.
Exception: When on a summer day against all sound advice and good judgment you take a taste of the kifta at the bus stop in Larache, Morocco, drink a large bottle of Coke right away as an anti-bacterial agent. Then get home soon.

2) Don’t eat anything after dinner. No exceptions.

3) Don’t drink alcohol after dinner.

Exception: one short Scotch neat in a brandy glass, or perhaps a beer before bed uniquely for digestive purposes, i.e., in lieu of an Alka-Seltzer.

4) Skip dessert after dinner.
Save it for breakfast when your natural disinclination to binge on sucrose has not been impaired by last night’s wine, laughter, or her eyes.

Exception: fresh fruit

5) Eat crunchy things.

They satisfy.

6) Avoid anything icky-sticky.
Exceptions: carrot cake, banana bread, and once in a while some mousse au chocolat or good French pastry. (Pace Joan who wrote to critize Mr. Henry’s condemnation of cream cheese. Since truth is now to be told, he loves cream cheese icing on carrot cake. But is this an appropriate venue for authentic cheese?)

7) Fill up on the salad and the vegetables.
Eat the meat as a taste treat, not as the primary focus of the meal.
Exceptions: steak tartare, sashimi

8) Make dinner a small meal.
Make lunch a bigger one. And since you want to be able to move around in the afternoon, you won’t stuff yourself at lunch.

9) Never eat fried foods for dinner.
They are difficult to digest by bedtime and are too fatty anyway. Of course, everyone agrees that french fries are the most delicious creation, the food of the gods. When you eat them — and you WILL eat them — do it at lunchtime.

10) Drink weak tea as a substitute for a caloric snack.
Drink hot water all through the winter months to combat dehydration. Just keep putting hot water on that peppermint tea bag. It’s a Chinese scholars thing.

11) Walk everywhere you can.
Walk briskly, especially when you are feeling tired or hungry. Often that craving for a snack is just a need for increased circulation.

12) Break a sweat.
Work out hard every day, especially when you feel tired.

13) Don’t eat candy.
Exception: good dark chocolate

14) Go easy on the carbs.
In particular eschew the wicked white foods.
Exceptions: an occasional fresh baguette or properly prepared sushi rice.

15) If you must snack, pick a food with value like the noble pistachio.
Consider them to be the next meal’s entrée and adjust your plate accordingly.

16) Go to bed hungry.

This last rule is the most important and the hardest one to incorporate into your routine. To sleep empty is to sleep better. You avoid dyspepsia, esophageal reflux, and nightmares. Moreover, you awake hungry and ready to eat a solid breakfast – the very best of all dietary habits.

Each night Mr. Henry pushes his organism to the brink of hypoglycemic coma until it falls like a stone, the roiling Henry brain starved of all creative or destructive juices. It’s a battle won by strict adherence to routine, the nightly victory of regular habits over adolescent urges to (shudder) watch TV, a habit every bit as pernicious as a drug.