“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan
It seems fitting to publish a short post about eating well now that we are in the midst of the holiday season; a time notorious for binge eating and drinking. I should know; I’ve been an active binge participant for decades now.
Michael Pollan has written an excellent little book on eating well. It’s called Food Rules. He has also nicely summarized the book’s message in seven words. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” Those seven words are everything we will ever need to know about eating well.
To explain just a bit, “eat food” means to eat foods that are not heavily processed and contain additives and preservatives that cannot be easily pronounced. For example, instead of buying apple slices in a plastic package that have been sprayed with preservatives to keep them from turning brown, buy a whole apple. And avoid prepackaged foods when you can. Instead of buying hamburger in a plastic tube or in a styrofoam and plastic shrink-wrapped package, buy it fresh at the meat counter and have it wrapped in butcher paper.
Next, “not too much.” Wow! If we all simply followed this maxim, the diet industry would disappear! Pollan explains that “not too much” has a couple of components. First, a serving size for anything you eat shouldn’t be larger than your fist or the palm of your hand. Now, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean we can have ten fist-sized servings of anything we want. Two must haves for each meal are protein (beans, nuts, lean meats and low-fat dairy products) and whole grains (whole-grain breads, pastas and cereals). Protein along with the fiber from the whole grains will leave you feeling satisfied longer while eating less. Now that’s a win-win!
Finally, Pollan says “mostly plants.” That doesn’t mean you have to live on salads. He’s simply saying that we should try to add more fruits, vegetables and whole grains to our meals. Plant foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. They also contain lots of phytochemicals, many of which contain disease-fighting properties you can’t get elsewhere.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a challenge to always follow these simple rules. However, I did manage to stick to holiday treats tonight that at least had nuts in them…fudge and peanut brittle…and I kept the serving size to no more than the size of my palm. 🙂 I doubt that Mr. Pollan would give me a passing grade on that one.
Pollan encourages us by saying that we don’t have to be perfect at this; we just need to try and continually improve our food purchases and our eating habits here and there by following his simple food rules. It does get easier to stick more closely to the food rules as we continue to practice them.
If you haven’t read Food Rules, I would encourage you to do so. It’s an easy read that you may well get through in one sitting. Then give the rules a try for 30 days. If you do, I’d be surprised if you don’t find that you have more energy, feel better and weigh less than when you started. What’s not to like about benefits like those?!!
Does this really work? Yes, it does. My wife, Kathy, and I can vouch for the food rules cuz they certainly work well for us…even though we occasionally fall off the wagon around the holidays.
Wishing you grace, peace and simple abundance…and a long and healthy life.