Food Rules To Live By

A friend passed this article along to me, and I found lots of food for thought (no pun intended … oh, who am I kidding, pun intended) therein.  It’s from the editors of Eating Well magazine, a great rag with a great mission.  Eat well … what a lovely thought!  Don’t starve, don’t gorge.  Simply eat well.

None of these “rules” is revolutionary.  Maybe that’s the revolutionary thing about them: they’re telling us what we know instinctively, but what we’ve managed to move away from anyway.  Eat rich, fatty food in moderation, if at all.  Don’t make meat the cornerstone of all your meals.  Stay away from added sugars, and avoid empty calories.  Be physically active.  Experts needed to gather to tell us this?!

Well, unfortunately, yes.  Not many Americans live by these guidelines (I don’t like calling them “rules,” because everyone must make his own choices about what to eat and how to live – I don’t think we can impose “rules” on our eating.  It’s not that simple – unless we’ve got allergies or medical conditions that make rules for us.  Just a little semantic do-si-do of mine).  So we need to be told to keep our calorie intake reasonable and our nutrient intake high, and that plants are really good for us.  Sheesh.  Also tell us that night is dark, and water is wet.

We’re clobbered with marketing, news, and pseudo-news about food every day.  Eggs are good, eggs are bad, industry is mean to chickens, eggs are riddled with salmonella because they’re mean to chickens.  Vitamin D will cure anything.  Soy will cure anything – oh wait, maybe not that, or that, and it might make that worse.  The extra-value meal is only another dollar?  Well, I’m throwing money away if I don’t take advantage of that, aren’t I?

All of the messages and confusing one-liners about miracle foods and weight-loss magic cloud the essentially simple truths around eating well.  My guru Michael Pollan says it best: “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.”

Anybody surprised by any of the “rules?”  Maybe we’ve partially gone wrong by waiting for some earth-shattering “answer” to the questions, “what should I eat?  How can I get my weight under control?”  The answers are simple and instinctive.  Not a pill or an innovation, but a way of life.  Much more complicated than a pithy answer to a seemingly-simple question.

Let’s all resolve to take advantage of the bounty of the season, whatever season we’re in, and to enjoy foods that we know feed our bodies well.  That’s a heck of a good start.

P.S. If you haven’t snagged a copy of Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, or really anything he’s written, do it!

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