May 8, 2023 - Politics & Policy

The food fight in the White House: Biden's diet

President Biden stops for ice cream at a Baskin-Robbins in Portland, Ore., last October. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

There's a delicious (surf and) turf battle inside the Biden White House — over the president's plate.

  • The food fight has pitted Joe Biden — who prefers carbs over greens — against First Lady Jill Biden, who has been pushing the commander-in-chief to eat more fish and veggies whether he likes them or not (he doesn't).

Why it matters: The internal tug-of-war over Joe Biden's diet is just one of many public and private steps being taken by close aides and the first lady to keep the 80-year-old president healthy as he prepares to run for a second term.

State of play: Some Biden aides have long noted that he eats "like a child," with a food palette that skews beige.

  • His favorite dishes include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, BLT's, pizza, cookies, spaghetti with butter and red sauce, and ice cream that he occasionally makes into a full sundae, according to current and former Biden aides.
  • On Friday while visiting D.C.'s Taqueria Habanero, Biden ordered churros and a chicken quesadilla.
  • A teetotaler, he often drinks orange Gatorade.

Zoom in: In September 2021, the president's sister Val came to the White House for a private dinner, and the first lady selected their entree: salmon in a pastry shell with a medley of vegetables.

  • "Damn, she makes me eat this healthy stuff all the time," said the president, who's not a fan of salmon, according to Val's recounting of the dinner in her memoir.
  • With the first lady out of sight, Biden had some lemon pound cake and finished a carton of Breyer's chocolate chip ice cream for dessert, Val recalled.

Zoom out: Biden works out with a physical therapist, Drew Contreras, many mornings.

  • Actor Jason Bateman jokingly asked Biden about his routine during a podcast interview last November: “Are we blasting back and bi[ceps]’s on Tuesdays and Thursdays?”
  • “Yes,” the president replied, “as a matter of fact.”
  • But Biden acknowledged that fitness is more complicated at 80.
  • "The difference in age, if I let it go for a week I feel it," he told the hosts. "I used to be able to go for a week and nothing would change."
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