In his book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, activist and award-winning food author Michael Pollan sums up healthy eating in 7 simple and liberating words. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
Eat Food: According to Pollan, “most of what we’re consuming today is not food, and how we’re consuming it — in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone — is not really eating. Instead of food, we’re consuming edible foodlike substances — no longer the products of nature but of food science. Many of them come packaged with health claims that should be our first clue they are anything but healthy. In the so-called Western diet, food has been replaced by nutrients, and common sense by confusion.”
Not Too Much: Most Americans suffer from a severe case of portion distortion. We quickly lose, or ignore, the awareness most had as infants that called us to eat when our body told us it was hungry and stop when it told us we were satisfied. Instead, our eating is governed by the clock, situation or our mood – and we stop when we are stuffed or the food is gone.
Mostly plants: Most of our plate should be filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It is well known that these foods help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases. Yet, American consumption falls fall below the recommended guidelines. According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation, 8% of us reach our fruit goals and only 6% reach the veggie goals.
These are simple principles. We know this – do we do it? (I know I can do better…)
The charge when we know better is to do better…consistently. This means taking a realistic look at what, when and why we eat. Then we must break the habits that oppose good physical stewardship. Following are some of Pollan’s common sense tips to make healthy eating happen.
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Don’t eat anything with ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store.
- Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. There are exceptions –i.e. honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food.
- Always leave the table a little hungry.
- Eat meals with your family – around a table and not a TV.
- Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline.