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First dates can be unnerving enough without the added stress of following rules about what to eat and what not to eat. I’ve heard everything under the sun about this topic, and these rules are on the verge of ridiculous.

Don’t order anything with onions or garlic, because you won’t have kissable breath. (But, I’m Ukrainian. My life revolves around onions and garlic. Why hide this fact from him now?)

Don’t order pizza, corn on the cob, chicken drumsticks or anything that you’d have to eat with your hands. (At the risk of looking like you’re visiting Medieval Times on a middle school field trip.)

Don’t get the spaghetti, because it’s way too messy. (Pulling a Lady-and-the-Tramp is really only cute in cartoons.)

Don’t order soup. Too slurpy.

Don’t eat asparagus, because your urine will smell. (Um… at what point on this nightmare of a date will I be in a situation where he’s taking a whiff of my pee?)

With all these rules, what’s left on the menu for a hungry girl to eat? A piece of chicken breast with rice on the side? How depressing!

And to add to the madness—why is it that, when eating dinner with a man, a woman feels pressure to eat less than she normally does? The man can’t actually believe that all she usually has for dinner is a small garden salad with dressing on the side (hold the croutons).

News flash: We’re all human and we all eat. I say the best perk about first dates is the free food! It makes all the nerves, embarrassment and fear worth it.

One of the better first dates I’ve been on involved authentic Mexican cuisine, complete with hands-on chips and guacamole and deliciously overflowing tacos. We just dove right in! The conversation was so casual and fun. The fact that we weren’t putting on some etiquette show made us feel at ease—like ourselves. And I’m sure the margaritas helped, too.

After all, what kind of guy do I want to date? A stuffy snob who uses the proper silverware and knows which type of wine goes with tilapia? Not really. I’d rather date the guy who cheers loudly for his favorite baseball team, who enjoys a cold beer on a hot day, and who loves a good New York pizza ordered in on a Tuesday night.

And then once in a while, a fancy restaurant might be fun. But only with a guy who doesn’t take that stuff too seriously… and who understands that I eat real portions of actual food on a regular basis.

So, bring on the spaghetti and meatballs! You can still eat like a lady while enjoying the foods you love—and not pretending to be something you’re not.

There is one rule you should always follow, however: No matter how full you are… don’t ever, ever, EVER skip dessert.