While she was first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama quickly made national health a priority with her Let’s Move campaign against childhood obesity. She was also instrumental in the the fight to pass the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to make the National School Lunch Program more nutritious. Thanks to her efforts, to this day, Michelle Obama is associated with healthy meals.
But despite being a champion of healthy food, does Michelle Obama practice what she preaches? As it turns out, the former first lady has some pretty strange eating habits and even the occasional cheat day. Here are the strange eating habits of Michelle Obama.
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. While Michelle Obama may or may not agree with that idea, she knows how to make the most out of her breakfast.
NBC New York reports that on the same morning that the US government swapped the food pyramid system for a food plate system, Michelle Obama rocked a breakfast of turkey sausage, scrambled eggs, and fresh grapefruit.
As meals go, this is healthier than you might think. But it shows that Obama is not afraid to tuck into a breakfast full of protein.
An unexpected lunch
Like many busy people, Michelle Obama packs her own lunches to save time and save calories. And while what she eats sometimes changes, there is one staple of her lunchtime meals: turkey chili!
But not just any turkey chili. As Obama told Community Table, “I borrowed this recipe from my husband — it’s now the President’s Chili Recipe. When we lived in Chicago, we loved to invite our family and friends over to our house, make a batch of chili, and enjoy the evening together.”
Chili may sound like a surprising lunch choice, but Michelle’s recipe contains veggies and other healthy ingredients. All she has to do is heat it and start eating.
While her breakfast and lunch choices are a little surprising, Michelle Obama still keeps them relatively healthy. So, when does she like to go “all-out” with food? That’s usually around dinner time!
We know some of her dinnertime preferences thanks to celebrity chef Mario Batali. He told USA Today what he knows about Obama’s preferences: “I know she likes her steak.”
To this end, when Batali was preparing the final state dinner for Michelle Obama, he made some killer beef braciole. Accompanying this was a sweet potato ravioli and butternut squash salad. The crowning touch, though, was canapés made from the herbs and produce from her own White House garden.
A lover of (most) veggies
What is the most consistent part of Michelle Obama’s meals? The only answer to that is vegetables.
When she appeared on the Food Network show Healthy Eats, Obama delved into her love of veggies. “As I tell my kids, vegetables are something that has to be a part of your diet so we’ll find a few that you like, but there has to be a vegetable, and you have to finish it,” she told the hosts. “You can skip the pasta, but you’ve got to eat the vegetables.”
What veggies are the real winners? Michelle Obama likes broccoli and snowpeas the best. But she never learned to love beets and keeps these colorful vegetables off of her plate.
The occasional cheat day
For the most part, Michelle Obama is an inspiration when it comes to eating healthy. But even she isn’t afraid of taking an occasional cheat day.
What does a cheat day look like for Obama? It seems like she has a special love of burgers and fries. The New York Times reports that Obama took her staff out to eat at Five Guys before, and Politico reports that she loves eating burgers and fries from Shake Shack.
Ultimately, though, it seems that she might like the fries even more than the burger. She told The New York Times that the White House chefs could whip up a “mean batch of French fries” when she had cravings, but she made sure to only indulge on occasion.
It may sound surprising that health-food aficionado Michelle Obama loves pizza so much. Then again, given her Chicago roots, maybe we shouldn’t be that surprised that she adores pizza.
What are her pizza preferences, though? In April 2016, Obama told The Hill, “Almost every Friday I’ll eat, like, a veggie pizza on wheat.” She knows this is an unconventional choice, however, saying, “Now, that may not be something you like, but I like it.”
But her passion isn’t limited to veggie pizza. With the enthusiasm of a Ninja Turtle, Obama said, “You can have dessert pizza. You can do anything with pizza. It’s a very versatile, universally loved food.”
Is it too late for us to get an all-pizza food pyramid?
Nowadays, what Michelle Obama loves best about being out of the White House is that she and her family can travel around the world. And even before she left, her travels with Barack Obama helped her discover her love of Spanish cuisine.
“Spain has so much incredible food,” Michelle said in a 2017 interview, with Food & Wine. “I like anything with jamón, cheese, olives, bread and olive oil. I could eat that forever.”
Once she discovered a love of Spanish food, the next step was finding a chef who could satisfy her cravings while she was in the White House. “Barack and I met José Andrés when we first came to Washington and to the White House,” she said. “We learned about him through his phenomenal restaurants, which are among our very favorites in DC.”
Furthermore, she revealed, “I could sometimes sneak out with friends for dinner, and José’s restaurants were places of comfort, great food, good drinks and friendship.”
Simple meals lead to leftovers
Michelle Obama is rich and powerful enough to have private chefs on command and reserve entire restaurants for a special meal. But at the end of the day, she prefers simple meals and making them herself.
In a 2013 appearance on the Food Network’s Healthy Eats, Obama described helping her sister-in-law learn to make simple meals. “I was trying to tell her that you can cook a simple meal. Well, what she’s trying to cook is these complicated Asian dishes that require many pans and chopping. And I was like, no, no, you only do that if you have a sous chef.”
To help her out, Obama gave her sister a recipe for broiled chicken legs that can be served with steamed broccoli and either couscous or rice. “I could do that in 15 minutes, and then we’d have leftovers,” she said.
Of course, it’s possible to love a dish a little too much. Obama confided that because of how often she made that dish and then made her family eat leftovers, “My family is sick of that meal!”