Monday, March 28, 2011

Food Rules! It Does. But This is About the Book.

  I recently read the book Food Rules by Michael Pollan.  It was very interesting. It's a small book - I read it in about an hour (to the amazement of the kids) and found the prologue to be especially interesting. I spent half a day spouting nutritional advice to the hubster and the kids. They found it very amusing.

Really, if you read no other book about nutrition in your life - give this a try. Most of what it contained wasn't news to me. For the most part it's common sense, but it's nice to see if all in one place, in such a concise and understandable way.

The book consists of 64 simple rules to follow to eat healthy, many of which overlap.

Here are a few of the rules I really liked:

  • Don't eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. He specifically mentioned those wonderfully sweet, colorful tubes of yogurt. Are those food? The kids sure enjoy it. But with all the added sugars and colors it's not really much more than a dessert. Granted one with some healthy ingredients but those may well be overshadowed by the sheer mountains of added sugars and artificial colors. What else would great-grandma not recognize? Twinkies? Fruit Loops? Plenty of other stuff I'm sure.
  • Avoid foods that have some form of sugar or sweetener listed among the top three ingredients. This makes sense. If it has that much sugar added it's either very unhealthy or inherintly disgusting in that it requires such huge amounts of sugar to make it palatable.
  • Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients. This one is interesting. If it contains more than 5 or so ingredients it is most-likely heavily processed and contains a lot of salt, sugars, additives or any number of other chemicals. Take a look at the ingredient list for Hamburger Helper, or a frozen pizza. You're better off making something from scratch or sticking to something less heavily processed.
  • Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not. Things like margarine (basically oils and chemicals dressed up to look and sometimes taste, like butter), artificial sweeteners, fake fats, etc. These things are generally very heavily processed to get to the state they are in. I don't follow this one necessarily. I use margarine and butter and (at least until now) haven't leaned too much one way or the other. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. But I do tend to want to avoid artificial sweeteners. I put them in my coffee and I drink diet soda, but I'm not entirely comfortable with them. I plan to cut out the soda altogether as soon as my home stash is exhausted. Should be interesting.
  • Stay to the edges of the supermarket - avoid the middle. The middle is where you find all the processed, overly-salted, overly-sweetened stuff. It's best to stick to the periphery of the store as much as possible where the 'whole foods' are. Things like fruits and veggies, meat, dairy products.
  • Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk. This one will be difficult for us. We eat a lot of cereal and most of the cereal we eat is highly processed with lots of refined carbs and artificial colors. Things like Fruit Loops, Trix, Cap'n Crunch. You know - all those sweet sweet tasty cereals. The good news is we also like Cheerios and Rice Krispies and Kix which may not be uber-healthy, but they beat the heck out of some of the rainbow-colored stuff. And actually, for the past year or two I've been eating mostly oatmeal and granola. An occasional bowl of Cap'n Crunch may find it's way into my stomach, but for the most part I try to stick to higher fiber cereals in the morning to fill me up. Even Sweet Pea eats the (homemade) granola and amazingly enough, I even got the hubby to eat a bowl of oatmeal. [gasp] I know I know! Amazing.
  • And this one I especially like: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. This rule was written under the assumption that most people won't bother very often to make their own junk food - cookies, cakes, etc, so it will be an occasional thing. Well, he doesn't know me. I would bake several times a week if I could. I love baking. So, I guess this is one rule I shouldn't follow.
  • Buy smaller plates and glasses. This one too is interesting - there was a study done that showed that by switching from a 12" plate to a 10" plate people reduced the amount of food they eat by 22%. That's significant! And worth a try.
Overall, this was a great little book. Chock full of great advice. Pick and choose what you want to follow, but any small changes could make a big difference. If you want to make improvements, you have to start somewhere and this book will give you some great ideas on where to start. Check it out.


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