Of all the influences over my journey in transitioning to natural foods from processed, Michael Pollan is probably one of the main ones. His book In Defense of Food is a little abrasive, in-your-face, and no-nonsense. The man isn't looking to pat someone on the shoulder and encourage them that they're probably doing okay in their eating habits that aren't the best. He wants to turn the Western diet on its head. And then cut the head off. And I'm inclined to agree.
The problem with the Western diet is that food is replaced by nutrients. The focus is now on the vitamin A we get when we eat spinach, instead of taking the time to just appreciate and eat spinach with our loved ones. We've made it so complicated. Not to say that vitamins and minerals aren't important. But food is more than just the sum of its parts. And so is eating in itself, which Michael explains in the book. Focusing too much on the specific chemical inside a food and what it can do for you results in what he calls the American Paradox: "the more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become." We Americans have a reputation for being unhealthy, yet we're the most obsessed with nutrition. As much as health organizations claim this is "heart healthy" or that is "low in cholesterol", obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and the like are still an epidemic in our society.
In this book, Michael Pollan suggests a very simple answer of what we should eat that's then elaborated on and broken down into laymen's terms: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." He's trying to persuade us to break out of our eating fog and make thoughtful food choices that will enhance the quality of our living. To help ourselves better understand what it means to be healthy than just what's told us by a diet association spewing the latest "studies" supplied by whatever companies are funding it at the time (looking at you, American Heart Association).
I love this book. It's the main driving force that officially convinced me to let go of the habits I was afraid to lose in "eating naturally", and that eating whole foods would make me feel so, much, better. It was the right thing to do. And guess what? Whole foods are GOOD. So I want to share with you some of Michael's guidelines I've gleaned to use in my food choices. He starts with what to eat, and you can read how he elaborates on each guideline in his book. It's worth a read.
- Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
- You are what you eat eats, too.
- If you have the space, buy a freezer.
- Eat like an omnivore.
- Eat well-grown foods from well-grown soils.
- Eat wild foods when you can.
- Eat more like the French. Or the Italians. Or the Japanese. Or the Indians. Or the Greeks.
- Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism.
- Don't look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet.