Food Rules (Michael Pollan) Book Review

Michael Pollan is one of my heroes! His book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” was a huge inspiration to me when I started on my healthy lifestyle change.

Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants is his simple mantra.

Those words of wisdom define the three parts of Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.

Part One: What should I eat? (Eat Food)
Part Two: What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly Plants)
Part Three: How should I eat? (Not Too Much)

It’s definitely an easy to read book. 140 pages, a quick afternoon read, easy to understand. I think that was the reason I never bothered to read it until now. Too simple? But I was pleasantly surprised to learn a few insights from the book, that made me slap my forehead (figuratively) and say “duh! Of course! Why didn’t I realize that before!”

So, there’s 64 basic “Food Rules”. No, you aren’t forced to follow all of them, but it’s a good idea to try to follow a good many of them.

Here are a few of my favorite rules:

  • #2 Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  • #8 Avoid food products that make health claims – if it’s got a label with a printed claim, then chances are it’s probably processed!
  • #10 Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not – soy meats, butter spread, american cheese, artificial sweeteners, fake fiber. Michael Pollan mentioned in one of his lectures that he just noticed a food product called Splenda with Fiber! Now that is marketing genius! Jump on the weight-loss extra fiber bandwagon! Big food just keeps getting smarter and smarter, and Americans keep getting dumber, fatter, and more desperate!
  • #11 Avoid foods you see advertised on television – I’ve been living that advice for awhile. Big food is a HUGE BUSINESS, and if it can afford to advertise, then it’s best to stay away from that food product. Of course, this doesn’t always apply to whole foods, like nuts, beef, eggs, but at the same time, even they can be a little shady. Stay local and you won’t have to worry so much!
  • #21 It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles) – this blew my mind, because it’s something I never really thought of. Brand names are usually given to PROCESSED foods, not whole foods!
  • #24 Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cow, pigs, other mammals) – Chinese proverb
  • #26 Drink the spinach water – brilliant! Never really thought about it, but it makes great sense. Add it to soups and sauces, or even teas!
  • #33 Eat foods that have been predigested by bacteria or fungi – I do eat yogurt, but I need to really learn more about the benefits of sourdough bread, and making start baking some!
  • #34 Sweeten and salt your food yourself – I love this rule. Such good advice. So many processed foods start out with tons of sodium and sugar. It’s such a good idea to start with clean ingredients and season and sweeten to your own taste!
  • #39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. This rule was an eye opener. Could it really be that easy? If I want a burger, I should just cook one myself? bacon? cookies? ice cream? I think this one might have been my favorite rule!
  • #44 Pay more, eat less
  • #51 Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it
  • #63 Cook – A simple rule, that if followed, would alleviate so many health problems in America. Take the time to control all the ingredients in your meals, and you will be happier and healthier!

Now I know I am not a perfect eater, and I don’t live a “clean food” lifestyle 100% of the time, but darn it, I try my best! And that’s all we can do. I highly recommend this book! It’s under $5 at Amazon. How can you go wrong!?