The renowned author of books relating to healthy eating, Michael Pollan wrote in his book Food Rules, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”. In just three sentences, he is able to summarize how we should all be approaching our daily eating habits. I actually have this quote framed on my office desk to remind myself and my patients the importance of eating properly.
“Eat food” means we should be nourishing ourselves and not eating “food-like substances.” What are “food-like substances”? These are things that look like food but are adulterated by man-made chemicals. Did you ever have trouble pronouncing the ingredients on a packaged item? If so, then you may want to skip that food.
“Not too much” refers to the fact that we should be eating reasonable portions relative to our activity level. Most of us these days live primarily sedentary lifestyles, sitting in an office, relaxing at home on the couch, or even me writing this blog right now. We need to eat accordingly and avoid excess calories. This can also refer to the fact that we should reduce our intake of high calorie foods such as fats and sugars.
“Mostly plants” references the fact that a lot of the studies regarding diets and health are finding that ingesting too much meat increases our risks of cardiovascular disease. Almost all animal protein will also come with some fat, usually the saturated type which can clog our arteries. Eating plants is also usually associated with a lower caloric intake. Plant fibers make us feel more full without providing a lot of calories compared to the same amount of meat protein.
Currently, there are so many fad diets out there such as Paleo, Whole30, Ketogenic, Intermittent Fasting, to name a few. While there are benefits to some aspects of some of these diets, most of them are not sustainable in the long run. Sure, maybe someone could follow it for six months or even a year, but for the rest of your life? Not likely. I recommend we eat sensibly most of the time and live by Mr. Pollan’s three simple sentences.