Portrait by Peter Samuels.
How did Summer Tomato get started?
When I finally got my weight under control by not dieting and focusing on Real Food, it was such a profound change that I decided to change careers. I started Summer Tomato to get my feet wet with writing in a new space. I’m really happy that it worked out.
What is a “foodist”?
A foodist is someone who uses food to optimize quality of life. Foodists know that food is the key to not only being healthy, but also feeling great, looking great, and eating amazing things. Foodists are the opposite of dieters.
What was it like researching your book?
It was fun! I’m one of those weird people that loves doing research and synthesizing it into something people can use. Fun fact: I finished writing Foodist 9 months early!
The power of habit seems to be a big part of the things you publish. For those not familiar with your methods, can you give us a simple way to introduce or change a habit to be healthier?
My whole philosophy is based on the fact that diets fail because they rely on willpower, and willpower is notoriously weak. To make lasting changes to your health, you can only do it with habits. Habits occur automatically and, once established, do not require willpower.
What distinguishes a habit from any other action is that it is preceded by a cue, or trigger. This reminds you to initiate the action, and is the reason willpower isn’t necessary. Habits are also always associated with a reward at the end. The reward reinforces the trigger to make it automatic.
The insight I had is that since building habits is the only way to achieve lasting health and weight loss, and habits require a reward, any healthy habit you want to create needs to be enjoyable. Think about that for a second. You have to like whatever you’re doing to lose weight and get healthy. When is the last time you liked a diet?
San Francisco is such a food scene. Is it hard not to get sucked into local trends?
I love following the food trends here in SF. It helps me keep my pulse on what is new and exciting. That said, I’m lazy like most people and only incorporate very easy and practical stuff into my own daily habits. I view the rest as simply entertainment.
THE (MT) Q & A
What is the biggest obstacle you face to doing what you want to do?
Managing time is the hardest, since I’m constantly bombarded with requests from people that I could never possibly fulfill. I wish people (especially PR folks) would do more research before reaching out to me and wasting my time.
What would be the worst possible job for you?
Hahaha. I think I would be a horrible flight attendant. Long hours, dry air and bad food don’t agree with me. I also don’t enjoy flying.
What are five websites you make sure to visit each week?
I love what The Atlantic is doing these days. I also read the NY Times, and find some great stuff on Medium. ScienceDaily and Medline keep me up to date in my field.
What trend are you sick of?
Nutritionism. Can we stop focusing on specific nutrients and just eat Real Food already?!
What would people be surprised to find out you’re obsessed with?
NBA basketball and karaoke. I’m probably the only person in America without an amazing voice who doesn’t require alcohol to belt out Madonna in front of her friends.
What is one song you always have to turn up? What’s one you always turn off?
I love Eminem. I despise Coldplay.
If you could have any piece of artwork displayed in your home what would it be?
I’m into street art. I’d love a Banksy. Otherwise some of Van Gogh’s cherry blossoms would be amazing.
What do you love most about where you live?
The food. I feel completely spoiled to live here, and I cherish every bite.
If we came over to your neighborhood where would you take us for a drink or a meal?
I’d tell you, but I’d have to kill you.