This past week I sort of felt like I was in a nutrition therapy session loop (nothing to do with my Chicago loop office, just a rather continuous conversational loop).

Repeatedly my clients used the word “should”, like this: “I SHOULD not have ordered that sandwich, but I did anyway”. “I thought I SHOULD have eaten less of that, but it tasted so good”. “It was my birthday/anniversary/golf outing, so even though I didn’t think I SHOULD eat X, I told myself it was ok”.

See what I mean? Over and over and over. The theme of “should”.

There’s nothing wrong with “shoulds” when they’re used to keep you safe, healthy or happy, or make things convenient. For example, you should brush, floss, and shower daily (healthy, happy – you and others). You should keep gas in your car’s tank (safe), and extra toilet paper under the bathroom sink (convenience). Outside of that, where else does “should” serve you, or serve the process of eating intuitively and mindfully?

That’s the thing about “shoulds”. They don’t allow you to intuitively listen to, nor honor, the subtle signals that your body constantly sends you.

Your body will tell you what you’re in the mood for (maybe you actually DO want a sandwich). It will tell you how much to eat (maybe the amount you ate was adequate, instead of too much). And, your body will tell you when you’ve had enough (we all eat “celebratory” foods at celebratory occasions – your body will signal you to stop).

You can’t out-think, out-analyze, out-rationalize, or outsmart your body’s wisdom. . .don’t even try. Yet when my clients employ “shoulds” based on outside information (plate size, occasion, menu items), that’s exactly what they’re trying to do.

Speaking of “shoulds”, I frequently remind my clients that exposing themselves to foods they feel they should avoid lessens the power of that particular food. The food becomes less scary, and they’re less frequently confronted with, “I should not have eaten that entire batch of cookies”.

To that end, I’m sharing one of my favorite oatmeal cookie recipes; cookies regularly top the “should not eat” list.

I respectfully disagree.

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie

Oatmeal Raisin Cookie


Makes 2 dozen cookies.

1/3 cup soy milk

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (fresh is best)

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 quick-cooking oats

1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, use a fork to vigorously mix together the soy milk and flax seeds. Add in the sugar and oil and mix until it resembles caramel, about 2 minutes. Mix in the vanilla. Sift in the flour, spices, and salt, mixing the dry ingredients as they are being added. Fold in the oatmeal and raisins.

3. Drop dough in generous tablespoons, about 2 inches apart, onto the baking sheets. Flatten the tops a bit (use a spoon dipped in warm water) since they don’t spread much. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

4. Let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in a tightly covered container.

From “Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero