Michael Pollan’s Food Rules

Eat real food, not too much of it, and more plants than meat. That pretty much sums up Michael Pollan’s philosophy toward eating in his new book Food Rules, which was published yesterday.

Pollan says the idea for the book came from a couple of doctors who had read In Defense of Food and were looking for some basic guides to hand out to patients in order to help them eat more healthfully.

Because our healthcare crisis in the U.S. is linked to our diet– roughly three quarters of the two-trillion plus spent on healthcare in this country goes to treat chronic diseases–many of us can improve our health by changing our lifestyle, especially diet. The problem is the food industry doesn’t want us to alter our eating habits, or they lose profits.

Pollan, after spending several years trying to answer the supposedly
incredibly complicated question of how we should eat in order to be
maximally healthy, discovered the answer was shockingly simple: eat real
food, not too much of it, and more plants than meat. Or, put another way,
get off the modern Western diet, with its abundance of processed food,
refined grains and sugars, and its sore lack of vegetables, whole grains and

Food Rules is a collection of straightforward, memorable, everyday rules for eating, a set of personal policies that could, taken together or even  separately, nudge people onto a healthier and happier path.

Pollan  solicited rules from doctors, scientist, chefs, and readers, and then wrote a bunch himself, trying to boil down into everyday language what we really know about healthy eating.

Here’s a sample from Food Rules–a half dozen policies that will give you a taste of what you’ll find in the book: sixty-four food rules, each with a paragraph of explanation.

#11 – Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

#19 – If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.

#36 – Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

#39 – Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

#47 – Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.

#58 – Do all your eating at a table.

For explanations of the above rules, check out his book. And, check out his article, “Rules to Eat By” in The New York Times Magazine this past fall.

If you have any more food rules to share with Michael Pollan, he’s still collecting them at pollanfoodrules@gmail.com.


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