MIchael Pollan / Resources

Food Rules

food rules Food Rules, An Eater’s Manifesto

Michael Pollan does it again – he writes an interesting, easy to understand book about food and health.  In Food Rules, Pollan breaks down what has become an unnecessarily complicated matter – food – and creates simple rules to eat by.

Pollan argues that eating has become far too complicated.  More, now than ever before, we have experts (doctors, diet books, health claims, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), food pyramids) telling us how to eat, what to eat, what not to eat, when to eat, how much to eat – yet (in general) Americans are still confused, overweight, sick, and disease ridden.

So, what is the truth about food and health?

Pollan suggests that there are three facts that are indisputable among all doctors and scientists alike:

  • Fact 1: “Populations that eat a so-called Western diet – generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains – invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.  Virtually all of the obesity and type 2 diabetes, 80% of the cardiovascular disease, and more than one third of all cancers can be linked to this diet.”
  • Fact 2: “ Populations eating a remarkably wide range of traditional diets generally don’t suffer from these chronic diseases.  These diets run the gamut from ones very high in fat (the Inuit in Greenland subsist largely on seal blubber) to ones high in carbohydrate (Central American Indians subsist largely on maize and beans) to ones very high in protein (Masai tribesmen in Africa subsist chiefly on cattle blood, meat, and milk), to cite three rather extreme examples.  The same holds true for the more mixed traditional diets.  What this suggests is that there is no single ideal human diet but that the human omnivore is exquisitely adapted to a wide range of different foods and a variety of different diets.  Except, that is, for one: the relatively new (in evolutionary terms) Western diet that most of us now are eating.”
  • Fact 3: “People who get off the Western diet see dramatic improvements in their health.”

Rules to eat by


In his book, In Defense of Food, Pollan extablishes his three main food rules:

  1. Eat food
  2. Mostly plants
  3. Not too much

In Food Rules, Pollan explains 64 short and simple rules for eating healthily and happily.  These rules fit categorically into one of the three main rules.

Here are a few of my favorite rules:

  • Don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
  • Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients
  • Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
  • Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food
  • Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature
  • Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored

Food Rules is a quick and interesting read – I highly recommend picking up a copy!


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