Monday, September 13, 2010

Food Rules

I've talked before about my love of Jamie Oliver and cooking.  About the healthy changes in eating, cooking, and supplement taking I've been making over the last few years.  However, if you had told me two years ago that I would be the kind of person who would read an entire book (even if it was a smallish book) on the topic of simple ways to have a healthier diet, I'd have laughed at you.  Long and hard.  And then I was converted to healthier ways because of necessity when my own health failed me, and last week I actually read a whole book on the topic of healthier eating.  I read Michael Pollan's "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual"

I borrowed this one from the public library, but it's one I'll be ordering and adding to my own library.  I'm also, having whet my appetite on one of his shorter works, planning to read at least one more of Pollan's books on the topic of food - where our food comes from, and how to eat in a way that will make us healthier.  Pollan sums up his healthy eating philosophy in seven words.  "Eat food.  Not too much. Mostly Plants."  You can't get much simpler than that.  More than that, though, this particular book was funny in preventing it's wisdom.  It was broken into three sections of rules, 64 total, one for each sentence in Pollan's seven word philosophy of eating.  I'm including some of my favorite rules from each section below:

Eat Food:
  • Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food
  • Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce
  • Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
  • Eat only foods that will eventually rot
  • If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don't.
  • It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
  • It's not food if it's called by the same name in every language.  (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles.)
Mostly Plants:
  • Eat your colors
  • Eat animals that have themselves eaten well
  • Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk
  • "The whiter the bread, the sooner you'll be dead."
  • Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.
Not too much:
  • ...Eat less
  • Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
  • Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it
  • Don't get your fuel from the same place you car does.
  • Treat treats as treats
  • Cook
  • Break the rules once in a while
Realistically, this was one of the most practical, doable, and basic books I've ever read on this topic.  (Well, it's the only book I've ever read on the topic, but I've read a whole lot of magazine articles and this is still the most basic compilation I've come across.)  More than that, though, what I appreciated was Pollan's sense of moderation.  He doesn't suggest that you make all 64 rules hard and fast - his advice is to pick some from each section and make those changes.  The explanations that go with each of the rules were simple, yet convincing, filling in the gaps of some of the less obvious things, and I actually felt like I walked away from this book with some new ideas for healthy eating, and knowing things about food that I didn't realize before.  Like I said at the beginning, though I initially borrowed this one from the public library, I'll be purchasing a copy ASAP for my own library.

My question is this - which of these rules do you like the best, or what "rules" of your own do you live by for healthy eating?


kirsten michelle said...

I've always been curious about Pollan's books when I've seen them, and I'm pretty sure I've got a few on my Amazon wishlist. I've been a healthy eater for the past several years (had to due to some seriously nasty stomach & digestive issues), but James and I recently both got a kick in the pants with Jillian Michael's Master Your Metabolism book. Since it was marketed as a weight-loss book, I didn't expect to find a lot of the same wisdom that you iterated here. She even goes into beauty products, cleaning products, what we cook in, what we store food in -- and how it can all affect your hormones and overall health. Pretty stunning stuff, and like I said, sounds like a lot of the same wisdom (I never knew some of those ingredients in processed foods were as bad as all that.) But they are -- they are baaaaaaaaaad!!

Lisa said...

hmm... might have to look for that one... but definitely recommend Food Rules for sure :)