“Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not Too Much.” In his new book, Food Rules, Michael Pollen tells us to “Avoid food products containing ingredients a third grader can’t pronounce.” (Rule 7)
When did food get so complicated? Pollan distills eating into 64 easy-to-digest “rules,” most we already know but may be ignoring.
Populations who rely on the “Western” diet – lots of processed foods, meat, added fat, sugar and refined grains – suffer from high rates of the “Western” diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
People who consume traditional diets experience these diseases at much lower rates. Though their diets vary widely, from the high fat (seal blubber) diet of the Inuit in Greenland to the more well known Mediterranean diets, the common theme is whole food, not processed. The more exposed to the “Western diet “people become, the higher their rates of “Western” diseases.
Rule 8. Avoid imitation foods and food products that make health claims. A food which has been stripped of its natural goodness (processed), then had “nutrients” added back in, is no bargain for your body.
Rule 19. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
Rule 21. It’s not a food if it’s called by the same name in every language: Big Macs, Cheetos, or Pringles, for instance.
Rule 39. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. French fries weren’t a staple of the American diet until the food industry took on the job of washing, peeling, cutting, frying and cleaning up the mess.
Rule 63. Cook more. The decline in home cooking closely parallels the rise in obesity.
Rule 60. Treat treats as treats.
Rule 64. Break the Rules. Pollan says, “There is nothing wrong with special occasion foods, as long as every day is not a special occasion. Special occasion foods offer some of the great pleasures of life, so we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of them, but the sense of occasion needs to be restored.”