64 Rules for Eating Right from Michael Pollan

Michael Pollan is sounding suspiciously like my mother: “Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.” And: “Do all your eating at a table.”

Or maybe more like that little angel that sits on one shoulder: “Avoid food products that contain high fructose corn syrup.” (Not, he says, because it’s less healthful than sugar, but because it’s a sign of a highly processed product.)

Those and 61 other notions make up the influential author’s new book, “Food Rules” (Penguin, $11 paperback), meant to be a simple guide to eating, something anyone can use without reading through a lot of science and nutrition research. And it is really simple, with many of the rules along the lines of things many people know if they stop to think about it. Pollan, author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and a professor at UC Berkeley, makes some of the advice clever: “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

The book is based on his mantra: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Pollan bemoans the fact that many people rely on “experts” to know what to eat when, really, there are just two major facts.

The first is: “Populations that eat a so-called Western diet – generally defined as a diet consisting of lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains … invariably suffer from high rates of the so-called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.”
And the second is that people who eat a range of traditional diets don’t suffer from those diseases.

Many of the rules are based on traditional wisdom; some are based on more modern notions.

Rule No. 27: “Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.”

No. 36: “Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.”

And, there’s the all-important last rule – thank goodness: “Break the rules once in a while.”