It was the author of The Omnivores Dilemma, Michael Pollan, who summed up the wisest diet with the epigram: Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.
He expanded on this pithy advice in an article for Time Magazine called “Six Rules for Eating Wisely”. Having done research for his book Pollan found that the way food is processed and produced is making people and the planet sick. Here are his rules for eating wisely:
1. Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.
There are many foods that are manufactured, not grown. Eat food, not food products.
2. Avoid foods containing high-fructose corn syrup.
High-fructose corn syrup, as well as other types of processed sugars, is bad for your health. It is in so many processed foods including cereals, soft drinks, tomato sauce, baked goods, ready meals, soups and salad dressings. What chef uses high-fructose corn syrup? Not one. It’s only found in the pantry of food scientists, and you don’t want them cooking your meals.
3. Spend more, eat less.
Cheap and nasty manufactured food makes people fat and sick. It’s also bad for the environment. The higher the quality of the food you eat, the more nutritious it is and the less of it you’ll need to feel satisfied.
4. Pay no heed to nutritional science or the health claims on packages.
It was science that told us margarine made from trans-fats is better for us than butter made from cow’s milk. Science was wrong. Consider that the healthiest foods in the supermarket – the fresh produce – are the ones that don’t make the same sort of health claims that typically festoon the packages of many highly processed foods.
5. Shop at the farmers’ market.
You’ll begin to eat foods in season, when they are at the peak of their nutritional value and flavor, and you’ll cook, because you won’t find anything processed or ready-made. You’ll also be supporting farmers in your community, helping defend the countryside from sprawl and saving fuel by eating food produced nearby. A lot more is going on at the farmers’ market than the exchange of money for food.
6. How you eat is as important as what you eat.
Focus on the whole eating experience. People are often in too much of a rush, heating up ready meals and wolfing them down. The healthiest way to eat is to follow the traditional rules: eat moderate portions, don’t go for seconds or snacks between meals and it is best to stop eating when you aren’t quite full. Also avoid eating alone and/or in front of the TV and eat with pleasure, because eating with anxiety leads to poor digestion and bingeing.
Relax. Eat Food. Mostly plants. And savor it.