Diets all seem to have a lot of rules. Thinking about food should not be a chore. Eating is a simple task that all of need to do to survive- and we have been doing it for thousands of years.
Counting grams for micro & macro nutrients, measuring ½ cup portions for serving sizes, determining the difference between a good fat and a bad fat etc. And last but not least if the ingredient panel looks like a chemistry experiment- put the package back on the shelf. Eating should just not be that difficult.
Don’t fall for the next fad diet, instead, check out what US food policy critic Michael Pollan. He is One of my favorite authors.
He 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, fish and meat — and to avoid what Pollan calls “edible food-like substances.”
Here are his 7 Rules for Eating:
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?” Pollan says.
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,” Pollan says.
5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” Pollan says. “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.
7. Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.
So when you look in your kitchen cupboards, do you see food-like substances or do you see ingredients – is it a jar of tomato sauce or a can of Spaghetti-O’s, is it a bag of almonds or a box of Pop Tarts – does the freezer have a steak and a bag of veggies or is it a Hungry Man dinner? Move towards ingredients, really reading the labels on the products you buy and move away from highly processed food ‘stuffs’ is a great direction towards healthier eating.
In other words, “Eat whole foods, a little high quality meat, more fatty-fish, and lots of fruits & vegetables”.