I read this article the other day and found it very entertaining. It kind of struck close to home. I do try to eat well for the most part (80:20), and I’m always hearing suggestions as to what the best foods/diets are: ‘Hormone diet’, ‘Blood-type diet’, ‘Elimination diet’, ‘Paleo diet’, ‘Intermittent Fasting’, ‘Gluten-free’, ‘Dairy-free’, ‘Vegan’, ‘Organic only’, ‘Vegetarian’…. A friend of mine recently sent me this site which outlines even more diets and all of their claims. It’s informative, but a bit overwhelming… there are lots of things to keep in mind when it comes to what you put in your body!
I really like what Michael Pollan says in 7 words, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” This statement definitely has room for interpretation, but I think its bang on (at least my interpretation of it :)). By eat food he means REAL FOOD, food made from scratch, food with ingredient lists that you can comprehend. This can be taken to many different levels, here are some ideas which range from easy to much more challenging:
- replacing sugar-filled peanut (or other nut) butter with ‘real’ peanut butter
- making soup from scratch instead of a can
- flavouring your rice or tacos with your own spices
- replacing ‘artificial vanilla flavouring’ with vanilla extract
- making condiments or buying ones with simple ingredient lists: ketchup, mustard, mayo, sauces (curry, pad thai, tomato, alfredo…), salad dressings
- using honey and maple syrup instead of processed sugars
- replacing iceberg lettuce with romaine, green leaf, red leaf, arugula, spinach, sprouts, kale…
- eating fruit pops instead of popsicles, juice instead of pop, and fruit instead of juice
- buying plain yoghurt and flavouring it with your own fruit, jam, honey, or maple syrup
- using whole grains instead of refined grains
- avoiding ‘fast food’
- using natural food dyes
- plain popcorn + your own salt/butter instead of pre-flavoured bags
- cook your own beans
This list could go on for ages, and most of us don’t have time to make our own everything. In general: the less processed the better- you want to eat things that are more a product of nature than of industry and you want to be able to understand the ingredients lists..
The not too much component is the one I probably struggle with the most. Food is good! However, there are many health implications to being overweight and obese. Furthermore, animal studies have consistently shown that caloric restriction increases lifespan. And when looking at the ‘Blue Zones’- areas in the world where people are living the longest, the populations generally eat less at meals and consume fewer overall calories. This isn’t the only factor in their longevity by any means, but there is a correlation.
Lastly, mostly plants means lots of fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are filled with nutrients and other health-promoting constituents, they are generally low-calorie (esp. vegetables), they contain fiber, and they achieve satiety, meaning less calorie-dense other foods. Mostly plants to me doesn’t mean no meat, I think meat is a great source of protein, iron, and B12, but fruits and vegetables should make up most of the diet.
So there you have it, my food philosophy, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
*Disclaimer- I haven’t actually read much of Michael Pollan’s stuff, so I don’t know his whole philosophy, I’m using this quote because I think it provides a good framework.