Rules for People Who Want to be Told What, When and How to Eat

If you secretly long for those simple “clean your plate” days of childhood — but don’t want to actually clean your plate — there’s a new book for you.

Michael Pollan, the author of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” has synthesized that tome’s analysis and explanation into “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.”

It doesn’t get much easier than this.

Each page has a simple rule, sometimes with a short explanation, sometimes without, that promotes Pollan’s back-to-the-basics-of-food (and-food-enjoyment) philosophy.

Rule No. 1: Eat food.

He explains that he’s referring to edible items that haven’t been processed beyond recognition. A third of the book focuses on this theme. The second part addresses the type of food people should eat: Mostly plants. The third part focuses on how much food (you might be able to see this coming): Not too much.

Among the gems: Be the kind of person who takes supplements — then skip the supplements. (That’s Rule No. 40.) Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk (Rule No. 36). It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car. (Rule No. 20). Try not to eat alone (Rule No. 59).

So if you need simple directions to achieve a more healthful, perhaps more sane way of eating — not a fancy, complex eating plan involving percentage of carbs and timing (and you also don’t want to have to read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” though you think you should) — this could be your year.

(As for cleaning your plate, he advises against it. Rule No. 61.)