Some of our favorite rules from Michael Pollan’s book Food Rules
For good dental health, you need good overall health – start with what you eat, or don’t eat…
#1 Eat food.
These days this is easier said than done, especially when seventeen thousand new products show up in the supermarket each year, all vying for your food dollar. But most of these items don’t deserve to be called food – I call them edible foodlike substances. They’re highly processed concoctions designed by food scientists, consisting mostly of ingredients derived from corn and soy that no normal person keeps
in the pantry, and they contain chemical additives with which the human body has not been long acquainted. Today much of the challenge of eating well comes down to choosing real food and avoiding these industrial novelties.
#4 Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
Not because high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is any worse for you than sugar, but because it is, like many of the other unfamiliar ingredients in packaged foods, a reliable marker for a food product that has been highly processed. Also, high- fructose corn syrup is being added to hundreds of foods that have not traditionally been sweetened – breads, condiments, and many snack foods – so if you avoid products that contain it, you will cut down on your sugar intake. But don’t fall for the food industry’s latest scam: products reformulated to contain “no HFCS” or “real cane sugar.” These claims imply these foods are somehow healthier, but they’re not. Sugar is sugar.
#9 Avoid food products with the word “lite” or the terms “low-fat” or “nonfat” in their names.
The forty-year-old campaign to create low-and nonfat versions of traditional foods has been a failure: We’ve gotten fat on low-fat products. Why? Because removing the fat from foods doesn’t necessarily make them nonfattening. Carbohydrates can also make you fat, and many low- and nonfat foods boost the sugars to make up for the loss of flavor. Also, by demonizing one nutrient – fat – we inevitably give a free pass to another, supposedly “good,” nutrient – carbohydrates in this case – and then proceed to eat too much of that instead. Since the low-fat campaign began in the late 1970s, Americans actually have been eating more than 500 additional calories per day, most of them in the form of refined carbohydrates like sugar. The result: The average male is seventeen pounds heavier and the average female nineteen pounds heavier than in the late 1970s. You’re better off eating the real thing in moderation than bingeing on “lite” food products packed with sugars and salt.
#12 Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.
Most supermarkets are laid out the same way: Processed food products dominate the center aisles of the store, while the cases of mostly fresh food – produce, meat and fish, dairy – line the walls. If you keep to the edges of the store you’ll be much more likely to wind up with real food in your shopping cart. This strategy is not foolproof, however, since things like high-fructose corn syrup have crept into the dairy case under the cover of flavored yogurts and the like.
#19 If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
#27 Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
The diet of the animals we eat strongly influences the nutritional quality, and healthfulness, of the food we get from them, whether it is meat or milk or eggs. This should be self- evident, yet it is a truth routinely overlooked by the industrial food chain in its quest to produce vast quantities of cheap animal protein. That quest has changed the diet of most of our food animals in ways that have often damaged their health and healthfulness. We feed animals a high-energy diet of grain to make them grow quickly, even in the case of ruminants that have evolved to eat grass. But even food animals that can tolerate grain are much healthier when they have access to green plants – and so, it turns out, are their meat and eggs. The food from these animals will contain much healthier types of fat (more omega-3s, less omega-6s) as well as appreciably higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants. (For the same reason, meat from wild animals is particularly nutritious; see rule 31.) It’s worth looking for pastured animal foods in the market – and paying the premium prices they typically command if you can.
#36 Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.
This should go without saying. Such cereals are highly processed and full of refined carbohydrates as well as chemical additives.
#45 . . . Eat less.
This is probably the most unwelcome advice of all, but in fact the scientific case for eating a lot less than we currently do – regardless of whether you are overweight – is compelling. “Calorie restriction” has repeatedly been shown to slow aging in animals, and many researchers believe it offers the single strongest link between diet and cancer prevention. We eat much more than our bodies need to be healthy, and the excess wreaks havoc – and not just on our weight. But we are not the first people in history to grapple with the special challenges posed by food abundance, and previous cultures have devised various ways to promote the idea of moderation. The rules that follow offer a few proven strategies.
#54 “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.”
Eating a big meal late in the day sounds unhealthy, though in fact the science isn’t conclusive. Some research suggests that eating close to bedtime elevates triglyceride levels in the blood, a marker for heart disease that is also implicated in weight gain. Also, the more physically active you are after a meal, the more of the energy in that meal your muscles will burn before your body stores it as fat. But some researchers believe a calorie is a calorie, no matter what time of day it is consumed. Even if this is true, however, front-loading your eating in the early part of the day will probably result in fewer total calories consumed, since people are generally less hungry in the morning. A related adage: “After lunch, sleep awhile; after dinner, walk a mile.”