Nutrition Bites "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants," Michael Pollan

Nutrition Bites
Lauren Futrell Dunaway,MPH, RD, LDN
May 25, 2010

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants,” Michael Pollan

These seven words describe one author's opinion on food and health. Michael Pollan has written several books regarding the policies and processes that drive the food we eat in the United States. His most recent book Food Rules describes what he calls “a set of straightforward, memorable rules for eating wisely.”

Pollan suggests that many Americans are consumed by healthy eating, and yet we have one of the worst diets in the world. He provides these rules as ways to redirect our focus to the foods we should be incorporating into our diet.

Here are a few individual and food-environment guidelines to keep in mind when you are on the track to healthy eating:

Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store.

Picture the store where you shop. Located on the perimeter of the store are fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and low-fat dairy. Foods that perish quickly – think less processing involved – are on the perimeter because they have to be close to the loading docks to be replaced when they go bad. This is not saying you can't veer into the middle to buy whole grains, dried fruit, and so on; it's just a good guideline to keep in mind when you shop.

Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline.

Pollan mentions that one study reported that 20 percent of food is eaten in the car in the U.S. The foods sold in gas stations and convenience stores are traditionally calorie-dense snack foods with little nutritional value.

Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.

Over time, we have started to include more processed foods into what we eat and we don't stop to consider what's in them. These foods often have added sugar and salt along with food additives for color and preservatives.

Pollan suggests looking at nutrition labels to see what you are actually eating. The lower the number of ingredients in the food you eat, the less likely it is that the food is heavily processed. Just for fun, go to your pantry and see how many things you can find with five ingredients or less. In America today this is a difficult task.

Eat together

The image of the American family eating together at the dinner table has shifted to eating in our cars, around a TV, and alone. Eating with friends or family can help you plan meals; give an opportunity to encourage kids to try new foods; and learn to enjoy the meals you are eating instead of grabbing something for convenience.

Eating wisely and eating healthy doesn't have to be complicated, but it is important to stop and think about the foods you consume. Think about the foods you eat, what's in them and how and where are you eating them. Taking these small, simple steps will help make the healthy choice the natural and easy choice.

Topics:   nutrition , obesity

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