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Michael Pollan's Food Rules

Michael Pollan's Food Rules to Live By

I've had a crush on Michael Pollan for a while now, and though the specifics of his food manifesto may be hard for everyone to adopt, I think his basic rules are ones to live by: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (And processed food is not food.)

Whenever finishing a book or essay by Pollan, I always walk away with a new food rule myself. I was excited to see that in this year's annual New York Times Magazine food issue, Pollan turns the tables, asking what food rules we the readers live by.

There were thousands of submissions, and of those, Pollan picked the ones he felt made the most sense for a healthy life. What I found interesting was what he said about the ones he didn't use, "a banquet of food policies that even when they made little, if any, nutritional sense . . . nevertheless opened a window on our current thinking about food: the stories we tell ourselves, the games we play and the taboos we invoke to organize our eating lives."


I've been guilty of this myself — eating something "healthy" when it was nothing more than processed crap.

The reader-submitted rules are fun and wise, and the NYT's presentation make them a treat to read through. One of my favorites:

Avoid snack foods with the "OH" sound in their names: Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, Tostitos, Hostess Ho Hos, Etc. —Donna David

In this piece, Pollan offers up another one of his own rules that I adopted years ago: pick butter over trans-fat-loaded margarine. Surely he and Julia Child can't be wrong.

What food rules do you live by?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
Giasbash6260 Giasbash6260 7 years
No wheat, dairy, gluten, sugar, soy (except for soy sauce), rice, whey, nuts, pork, grain-fed red meats - yup that sounds about right.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
I follow the guideline: eat lots of little meals a day rather than 2 or 3 big meals. If I spread my healthy meals over several hours, I'm less likely to have a sugar crash and binge on something not healthy.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
A lot of those rules talk about being mindful of what you're eating and not just inhaling random food throughout the day. Our society makes people think that you should always be eating something, but I've found that for me personally, I eat on my own schedule and according to when I'm hungry...not when everyone ELSE is necessarily hungry. I like the idea of avoiding the "oh"s...Doritos, Cheetos, Fritos, burritos, taquitos, spaghetti-ohs, Ho Hos, the list goes on and on.
Zulkey Zulkey 7 years
That doctor sounds like a C word (sorry I couldn't resist)
darc5204 darc5204 7 years
I agree most with "Don't create arbitrary rules for eating". Thus, I can't agree with all of the other ideas, but it's nice to see that people are thinking about it in a smart way. I think there's an exception to every rule (healthy processed foods, organics that aren't better, treats that calm cravings instead of breaking your diet). So as Zulkey said, I think most of the reader rules make excellent guidelines, but I couldn't follow them like law.
tylergrl33 tylergrl33 7 years
I loved "better to pay the grocer than the doctor" - Well said!
Zulkey Zulkey 7 years
the thing I thought reading this is that I have 'guidelines,' not 'rules' because, well, I break rules. I could never live according to the "no seconds" rule, for instance.
Meearya Meearya 7 years
I liked the "If you're not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you are not hungry." But then again, apples are one of my favorite things, and I prioritize eating one every day as my snack between breakfast and lunch, and look forward to it so much. So I think I could always be hungry enough to eat an apple!
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
I really enjoyed "don't eat anything you wouldn't kill yourself" and "better to pay the grocer than the doctor" but all those rules were great! My personal rule I've lived by ever since I can remember: The food you eat should be dictated by your hunger, not by the amount of food left on your plate.
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