Eating like our Grandparents and Great-GrandparentsPosted: March 17, 2013
In Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, Pollan describes how eating has become more complicated than it really should be. He describes how nutrition science is a very young science and that we heavily rely on experts to tell us what to eat when in reality they do not know as much as it may seem. He emphasizes how before scientists (government, public health organizations, and food marketers) began telling us how to eat, we relied on our mothers, grandmothers, and more distant ancestors (tradition and culture). He goes on to say how “it’s gotten to the point where we do not see foods anymore, but instead we look right through them to the nutrients (good or bad) they contain.”
He believes there are two things we should know about the relationship of diet and health. First, people who eat the so-called “Western diet” comprised of processed foods and meats with lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except fruits, vegetables, and whole grains-suffer high rates of “Western diseases” like obesity, Type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. His second point is that people who eat a wide range of traditional diets generally do not suffer from these chronic diseases. His overall philosophy is: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. This comes from his previous book In Defense of Food.
Pollan provides 64 simple rules for eating healthily and happily, which are framed in terms of culture rather than science because in many cases science confirms cultural beliefs like eating tomatoes with olive oil is good because the lycopene in the tomatoes is soluble in oil and thus making it easier for our bodies to absorb. Food Rules is broken up into three sections. The first section focuses on helping you “eat food.” This is the ability to tell the difference between real food and “edible food like substances” as Pollan likes to refer to them. he lays out rules/guidelines to help you make healthy choices. The second section is aimed at choosing among real foods. And lastly, the third section focuses on how to eat by moderating our eating and taking time to enjoy it more.
I really enjoyed Food Rules because it is very simple and easy to understand. This makes it easier to remember the rules Pollan describes. Pollan also includes a lot of humor that makes it a very entertaining book to read. Its small size makes it a quick read and something you can carry around easily too. It is probably the best diet book I have read so far. I would definitely recommend it to my peers. In fact, I already have.
Here are some of my favorite rules from the three sections:
- #2: Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- #7: Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.
- #19: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
- #24: Eating what stands on leg (mushrooms and plants foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs, and other mammals).
- #36: Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk.
- #37: The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.
“Not too much”
- #47: Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
- #54: Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.
- #57: “Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.