Eating doesn’t need to be complicated. In a new 139-page book on what we should eat and how we should eat it, author Michael Pollan challenges us to do what we all know we should do: eat clean, healthy food in its natural form.
I found Food Rules at the local bookstore almost by accident and what first caught my attention was the subtitle, “An Eater’s Manual.” It turns out that this is not your typical book on nutrition. Rather, what you will find hidden between these sparsely-filled pages is a series of brief but poignant statements on what we put into our bodies.
Many of the 64 rules are based heavily on common sense, but the way Pollan structures them among related themes and the delicate humor he plants here and there make each page seem fresh and lively.
Food Rules is broken down into three parts as follows:
- Part I – What should I eat? (Eat food)
- Part II – What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants)
- Part III – How much should I eat? (Not too much)
The entire premise of Pollan’s work can therefore be broken down to just seven words: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. Pretty much every line in the text somehow addresses one or more of these three concepts. Yes, they may sound simple, but in reality, they do make sense. We are inundated with technical jargon and fancy formulas for everything we do these days, so it was nice to see something like this for a change. In the opening paragraphs, Pollan explains the need for a simplistic approach to nutrition education:
Eating in our time has gotten complicated–needlessly so, in my opinion. … Most of us have come to rely on experts of one kind or another to tell us how to eat–doctors and diet books, media accounts of the latest findings in nutritional science, government advisories and food pyramids, the proliferating health claims on food packages. … But for all the scientific and pseudoscientific food baggage we’ve taken on in recent years, we still don’t know what we should be eating.
Okay, so you’re probably wondering what could be so great about a 139 page book about common sense “rules” pertaining to food. Well, do you realize how much the Standard American Diet (SAD) has been transformed by junk foods and processed foods over the years? We have become a nation addicted to three things: fats, sugars and salts. Our food contains more and more empty calories and artificial ingredients and it is about time someone addressed these problems in a fun and readable manner rather than academic babble.
Here are some of my favorite rules in this book:
- Rule 12. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
- Rule 19. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
- Rule 20. It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
- Rule 40. Be the kind of person who takes supplements–then skip the supplements.
The fact that the rules are so concise just makes this a fantastic book for understanding food at the most basic level. You don’t have to be a fanatic and you don’t even have to follow all of these rules in order to improve your health. Just learning about an important topic like nutrition benefits you in tremendous ways and you’ll probably see yourself reacting subconsciously based on what you’ve read.
So if you have about a half hour to spare, check out Food Rules by Michael Pollan. It’ll help you answer that age-old question: What should I eat? It’s simple as pie … well, not literally, because that might contain high fructose corn syrup.