Biden’s Diet

Let him eat cake.

A weird one, even for Axios: “The food fight in the White House: Biden’s diet.”

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.

I certainly hope this is being exaggerated for humorous effect. Surely, a grown ass man should be able to decide what he wants for dinner and to have dessert without his wife’s permission.

By all accounts, Biden is remarkably healthy for an 80-year-old. He works out regularly and seems to be quite slim. Unless his physician is telling him that he needs to give up certain foods, he seems to be doing just fine.

My diet is somewhat healthier than his but I sympathize with his not liking salmon and other fishy-tasting seafood. I’m more fajitas or steak burrito guy than quesadillas but I’ll gobble down a whole bowl of chips and salsa while waiting for them. I don’t eat as many vegetables as I should and cook a not-insignificant portion of those I do with bacon. I, too, like ice cream and other desserts but don’t indulge in them very often. Alas, I’m not a teetotaler.

Regardless, if the man hates salmon, it’s just absurd to try to make it part of his diet. Maybe give him some grilled chicken?

FILED UNDER: Health, US Politics, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Unless he’s spending he dinner hour scarfing down fast food, at 80, his diet won’t make much difference in his life expectancy. My in-laws were healthy eating and exercise fanatics, he died at 83 from Parkinson’s and she at 86 from a stroke and dementia. Even after is Parkinson’s had advanced she still wouldn’t let him have ice cream, I subverted that when I could.

    Heck how many nonagenarians and centenarian do you read about that still smoke and have a couple of adult beverages and don’t have the ideal diet?

  2. James Joyner says:

    @Sleeping Dog: There’s an old joke about a local newspaper reporting interviewing an old man in his home. Asked the secret to his longevity, he replied “Clean living. I never swear nor touch a single drop of alcohol.”

    A bit later, there’s a crash in the kitchen, followed by a stream of profanities. “What’s that?” asked the reporter.

    “Ah, it’s just Dad. Drunk again.”

  3. Kylopod says:

    @Sleeping Dog: But that gets to the problem with anecdotes. The longest-living person in modern recorded history reportedly smoked until she was 117. And longevity is always going to be the result of many factors.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:


    In the last couple of weeks there was an article reporting on longevity researchers that are coming to a consensus that good genes are are the primary reason that nonagenarians and centenarian make to their old age.

    The fatalists are right.

  5. gVOR08 says:


    And longevity is always going to be the result of many factors.

    Including, in many cases, poor record keeping.

  6. stevecanyon says:

    I think healthy living is good but you should also enjoy life. I remember Groucho Marx recounting in his autobiography how he was told by his doctor that he should give up smoking cigars. “You’ll live longer,” the doctor said. Groucho then said, “I don’t know if I’ll live longer but it’ll seem longer.”

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    My grandfather lived to 92. My father to 86. Both suffered from dementia/alzheimers. The pain I live with right now, I’m not sure I want to live anywhere near that long.

    eta My bad, Pop died at 87.

  8. Jay L Gischer says:

    Well, this sounds like a sitcom plot from the 90’s. And one that seems likely to build empathy for Biden among certain parts of the population. Inquiring minds want to know…

  9. steve says:

    My wife loves salmon and I don’t. Since I am the cook I make it for her and I usually have some since I know it’s probably good for me, but I still complain. She also wants me to eat more rabbit food. I am pretty sympathetic to Joe’s plight.


  10. James Joyner says:

    @steve: I’ll make salmon for my wife on the grill occasionally but will usually grill myself a steak or some chicken. My kids won’t eat the salmon, either, so…

  11. Mr. Prosser says:

    The only good salmon is salmon marvelously transformed into lox

  12. Kathy says:

    I cook entirely for myself, which is really nice as I tend to know what I like. You won’t be surprised to hear I’ve never cooked any kind of fish, mollusk, shrimp, etc.

    I do try to incorporate vegetables in the main dish, or as a side dish. Failing that, I make a large batch of cooked vegetables for dinner. The past two weeks I made a mix of soybean sprouts, snow peas, cabbage, onions, and grated carrots, with garlic, pepper, turmeric, and ginger, and a bit of soy sauce.

    I count pasta, rice, lentils, beans, and potatoes as vegetables, too. Formally they are grains and starches, but for sure they’re not animal or dairy, right?

    For breakfast I get oatmeal and fruit on weekdays, eggs and breakfast meats or grilled cheese on weekends.

  13. CSK says:

    What ever Biden eats, it’s better than the crap Trump shovels down his gullet.

  14. steve says:

    James- I do like shrimp. They grill really well and easy to cook in skillet. Scallops are good too, especially if you wrap them in bacon!


  15. James Joyner says:

    @steve: I like shrimp if it’s fried or sautéed or grilled. Scallops are hot or miss but the bacon wrapped version is usually a hit. I tend to like various freshwater fish (trout, crappie, catfish) and will eat squid (calamari) prepared the right way. I even like lobster but would generally rather have a filet at that price.

  16. David S. says:

    As someone who likes salmon raw, marinated, and cooked, my reaction is simply, “Orange Gatorade?” That’s the real scandal here.

  17. steve says:

    James- I like trout and catfish but have never tried crappie. Thought of them as junk fish and always threw them back in. Agree about lobster. Its OK but a waste of money if I eat it. Have you tried smoking trout? I occasionally smoke both trout and salmon. I leave the salmon to the wife and son but the trout is pretty good. I did a big batch for church a while ago and it was very popular.