Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

7 Words & 7 Rules for Eating

I listened to the BBC's 'Analysis' programme last night: Michael Pollan on Food. He's a persuasive speaker, very clear in his views and says everything he's learned about food and health can be summed up in seven words:
Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
Probably the first two words are most important. "Eat food" means to eat real food -- vegetables, fruits, whole grains - and to avoid what Pollan calls "edible food-like substances." What I like most about this is that its a full-on attack on the 'food industry', which has been able to define what 'food' is and essentially to drive our diet into one dominated by 'no-effort things that we consume' - and it really hasn't turned out too well, what with 6% of the population of the UK now diagnosed as diabetic (3.2 million people!) and 64% of adults are classed as being overweight or obese (Pollan also advocates fish and meat - and although his views don't equate with my own about REALLY respecting the lives of our beautiful animal friends by not imprisoning them, sentencing to death and then devouring their corpses, he does at least consider some aspects of organic production and sustainability).

Here's how (from WebMD):
  1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. "When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?" 
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.
  3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
  4.  Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions -- honey -- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," 
  5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry. Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, 'Tie off the sack before it's full.'"
  6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. "Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?" 
  7. Don't buy food where you buy your petrol. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car (and where the US goes, UK follows...).
I think the sum total of the impact of this thinking - especially the redefinition of adulterated processed products as 'edible food-like substances' - is to begin to counter the propaganda of the food industry, which uses knowledge of human psychology and desire to make their product irresistible to us: 'naughty, but nice' to 'disgusting and damaging'...