RCL Exclusive

Can ‘The Dude Diet’ Let You Eat Dirty and Still Live Clean?

Serena Wolf, author of the popular men's cookbook, explains how to have fun while cooking healthy.

Health By

Serena Wolf took a big chance when she outed her boyfriend, Logan, on the internet – as what she affectionately calls “a nutritional idiot.”

Clearly, he wasn’t offended by this categorization as he’s now Wolf’s husband.

Logan also managed to surreptitiously inspire Wolf to create a whole new genre of cooking, one she has molded into a culinary guide entitled The Dude Diet.

The ten-chapter book contains 125 recipes created with both nutrition and taste in mind. It’s curated with a humorous narrative that references several bad habits, from to inhaling food, to getting the ‘meat sweats,’ to post-workout blowout meals.

The book also contains 14 Dude Diet Commandments and advice on how to ultimately ‘get your sh-t together’ in the kitchen.

According to Wolf, she first told Logan that he needed to eat better, his first response, was, “I’m not eating gross vegan meals.” Because Wolf is neither vegan nor does she like, ‘eating gross food,’ she saw this as a challenge. “I was like, ‘look, there’s a way you can eat a more whole food-based diet without it tasting bad. He said that he didn’t believe me, so I realized that I had to prove him wrong.”

Wolf reveals that she didn’t try to sneak anything into her new dishes that she knew her man didn’t like, she just looked for ways to make what his palate craved in a healthier fashion. “I know he likes comfort food like lasagna, cheese sticks, chicken fingers and things like that. I knew I could revamp them in a way that didn’t change how they look or taste. I wanted him to be psyched to eat them because if he’s not super excited about the thing I’m making, then it’s not a success.”

The book actually started as a just a simple blog post on Wolf’s site, domesticate-me.com

“After a couple of months of getting him to start eating healthier, I wrote what I thought was this one-off post,” explained Wolf. “In the post, I wrote that it wasn’t just about making the meals, it was about talking to him about nutrition because he’s a very well-educated man, but he couldn’t identify a health snack or meal to save his life.”

One off that one post, Wolf says the response was overwhelming. “There were guys saying, ‘is this a real diet? Should I do it?’ And, women were like, ‘my boyfriend/husband/dad is a nutritional idiot so I’m going to test this out on them.’ It just took off and the whole concept of The Dude Diet was born.”

Wolf is quick to say that it’s not men’s fault that they don’t seem to have the nutritional education that women do, pointing out, “women are bombarded with nutritional information and body image data all day every day in a way that men are just not. So, most men just don’t think about food and what it means for their body in the same way that women do.”

Soon after that one fateful blog post, Wolf ended up writing approximately 40 subsequent columns that tackled everything from responsible boozing to portion control, with the main goal of tackling different areas of nutritional confusion and debunking some dietary myths as well.

Then, using 65 recipe testers, Wolf worked on the book for two years.

The overall creation of the manuscript was a positive experience, but Wolf did encounter some frustration in the taste-testing process, saying, “Everyone that tested the recipes were normal, regular people and I’d send two people the exact same recipe and one would say, ‘this could use more spice,’ and another would say, ‘this is too spicy.’ So, at a certain point, I had to go with my gut and find what I considered the middle ground.”

For those readers concerned about the complexity of the recipes, Wolf explains, “Everyone is so busy. That’s just a given, So, my goal was to make it a realistic, healthy lifestyle guide so the majority of the meals are doable in under an hour, with the target really at 30 minutes.”

She went on to say, “It shouldn’t be this huge chore to make yourself a meal so I think it’s important to really try not to make it one. So, turn on the TV, turn on some music, open a beer or pour some wine and then start making something. That’s the way to do it.”

Wolf is aware that the title of her book, The Dude Diet, might cause just a slight bit of confusion at first glance, but she says, “Obviously ‘dude’ is a traditionally gendered term, but it can also mean being laid back and that’s one of the things that I’m going for here — fuss free but tasty food.”

She points out that it’s true that most cookbooks are purchased by women, remarking that, “for better or for worse, if you write a book geared toward women it can alienate men. But, if you write a book geared toward men it doesn’t alienate women because at the end of the day women can either relate to it or laugh with or at what it says.”

Being realistic, Wolf adds, with a laugh, “I set out to create something that’s funny to read so women will buy it and men will read it on the toilet and then they’ll meet in the kitchen to actually put off these meals.”

For those twosomes out there, Wolf says, “I’m not into working out as a couple, but eating together is something that you’re going to do anyway so if you can make the experience good for both of you then that’s awesome.”

Wolf insists that The Dude Diet isn’t a ‘fad diet,’ but rather one that can be maintained throughout a lifetime. “This isn’t about counting calories. Not everything is low fat or low calorie or paleo, but they are all made with real foods like lean meats, whole grains and vegetables.”

Mostly, Wolf wants people to realize that, “we already have enough people telling us that we should feel badly if we don’t make nice meals for ourselves and our families. There’s enough aspirational lifestyle brands that say, ‘you should be doing this or you’re failing.’ If you can have more fun and stop striving for perfection, you win. That’s what this book, and the whole Dude Diet movement are all about. So, go cook something healthy and laugh and have fun with you’re doing it.”