Eat Food

FOOD RULES by Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan is a journalist. He’s written mostly about the things we eat and how & why we eat them. He has written the sanest, most easily digestible (pun intended) stuff on food and diet that I have ever written. In his books, he’s tickled important information out of our instincts & traditions, scientists & chefs, and grandmothers & great-grandmothers, and written them in easily read books and essays.

While Mr. Pollan has written eight food-related books, FOOD RULES might be his most important. Why? Because he gives us bite-sized (yes, another pun) chunks of advice, gleaned from all of his studies, on how and what we should eat. If we followed half of his advice, there is no doubt that we’d be healthier and happier.

The list below includes every aphorism from the book. In the book FOOD RULES, each aphorism is accompanied by a mini-essay. Buy the book. Read the essays. Apply the advice. At least as much of it as you can.

  1. Eat food
  2. Don’t eat anything your great‐grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
  3. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry
  4. Avoid food products that contain high‐fructose corn syrup
  5. Avoid food products that have some form of sugar (or sweetener listed among) the top three ingredients
  6. Avoid food products that have more than 5 ingredients
  7. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third‐grader cannot pronounce
  8. Avoid food products that make health claims
  9. Avoid food products with the word “lite” or the terms “low fat” or “nonfat” in their names
  10. Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not
  11. Avoid foods you see advertised on television
  12. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
  13. Eat only foods that will eventually rot
  14. Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature
  15. Get out of the supermarket whenever you can
  16. Buy your snacks at the farmers market
  17. Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans
  18. Don’t ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap
  19. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
  20. It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car
  21. It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language (Think Big Mac, Cheetos or Pringles)
  22. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves
  23. Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food
  24. Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs and other mammals].
  25. Eat your colors
  26. Drink the spinach water
  27. Eat animals that have themselves eaten well
  28. If you have space, buy a freezer
  29. Eat like an omnivore
  30. Eat well‐grown food from healthy soil
  31. Eat wild foods when you can
  32. Don’t overlook the oily little fishes
  33. Eat some foods that have been predigested by bacterial or fungi
  34. Sweeten and salt your food yourself
  35. Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature
  36. Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk
  37. The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead
  38. Favor the kinds of oils and grains that have traditionally been stone‐ground
  39. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself
  40. Be the kind of person who takes supplements – then skip the supplements
  41. Eat more lie the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.
  42. Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism
  43. Have a glass of wine with dinner
  44. Pay more, eat less
  45. Eat less
  46. Stop eating before you’re full
  47. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored
  48. Consult your gut
  49. Eat slowly
  50. The banquet is in the first bite
  51. Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it
  52. Buy smaller plates and glasses
  53. Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds
  54. Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like pauper
  55. Eat meals
  56. Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods
  57. Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does
  58. Do all your eating at a table
  59. Try not to eat alone
  60. Treat treats as treats
  61. Leave something on your plate
  62. Plant a vegetable garden if you have space, a window box if you don’t
  63. Cook
  64. Break the rules once in a while
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One thought on “Eat Food

  1. I disagree about supplements, but only up to a point.

    Some is still required, but common sense needs to be applied or it gets right out of hand.

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