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Michael Pollan’s Food Rules Highlights the concept of removing the Western Diet and living with a much healthier, nutrient dense diet. The book’s base is one rule: eat food, mostly plants, but not too much. It provides 64 rules to guide you through it. As I observed my own diet, I compared it to what would be an ideal Michael Pollan diet. By the looks of it, my diet breaks just about every rule that Pollan set. My diet completely contrasts whatever rules the book setup, but there are certain things that the author mentions that actually apply to my eating habits.
First part of the book, eat food. Anyone just reading that could think, “Well of course, we all eat food.” But the reality is we’re not really “eating food.” Like Michael Pollan puts it, “we are eating food-like substances.” And the supermarket is the food-like substance headquarters. Which brings us to Pollan’s rule, “Get out of the supermarket whenever you can.” (Pollan, 15) In the past few years, I don’t remember one meal I ate which was not prepared from something we purchased at a supermarket. Not all things from the the supermarket are terribly unhealthy for you but chances are that if you walk in there, you’ll end up with some highly processed food in your cart. That is usually the case with my family, our main source of food is the supermarket. He also mentions a lot about the ingredients list and mentions rules like “Avoid food products that have more than 5 ingredients.” (Pollan, 6); or something like “Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.” (Pollan, 3) In reality, these rules apply to maybe the majority of food that Americans consume, and to be honest I don’t think I have gone a few days without eating something packaged or processed.
The second section of the books is that titled, mostly plants. He explains how our Western diet heavily depends on some sort of animal protein and how we don’t really need to consume the amount of protein we are. He also points out how any other traditional diets are still way better than our Western diet (Pollan, 41). Majority of the dinners that I have at home are cooked by my mother and somewhat traditionally Mexican. Just the basics, what we have almost every day, is rice, beans, cactus, and some other entree. Another rule that my household follows is “If you have space, buy a freezer.” We have blackberries grow in absolute abundance during the summer in our backyard as well as green grapes. My mom likes to save bags of them in the freezer. Freezing food keeps the nutrients and it preserves food for longer, so you can have fresh fruit or vegetables anytime. To sum up this section of the book, a plant-based diet with mainly local foods is the way to go, and it’s even better if you grow it yourself.
The third and final part of the book is, not too much. This is mainly where my diet may fall in the middle. Pollan says to stop eating before you’re full (Pollan, 46), but I end up eating to the point where I’m about to burst. But, in this section he also says to eat at the table (Pollan, 58), something I do 85% of the time. He emphasizes on portion control and the fact that we eat way too much . He also points out the importance of the meals you have throughout the day and how breakfast should be your best and most important meal (Pollan, 54). It is actually in reverse for me because I eat my best meal at dinner and a small thing for breakfast. I think the trouble with that is that in this society, people are trying to quickly get where they’re supposed to in the mornings and completely forget about putting something like breakfast on their priorities.
To sum it all up, Michael Pollan really makes you think about your diet and makes you ask, “Am I really eating what I should?” It makes me want to start making small changes to my lifestyle and share this with my family and tell them about the health risks there are with continuing to follow a Western diet. Since I do a lot of snacking, I could start by replacing some of my cookies and chips with fresh fruit or vegetables. I’ve done a good job of drinking mostly water and almost eliminating soft drinks from my diet, but I want to work on getting rid of juice as well. Small changes can make a big difference.
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