With these seven words, Michael Pollan, author of “In Defense of Food”, encapsulated the best dietary advice you will ever receive.
Deceptively simple. Amazingly comprehensive.
Eat food. This means eat REAL food. Food your great great grandmother would recognize as something she grew up with. Your great great grandmother would not recognize margarine or Capn’ Crunch cereal, or Wonder Bread. She wouldn’t know what to do with a Coke or Mountain Dew. Or red dye #40, BPA, BHT, caramel color or MSG.
Not too much. Food portions have become absurd. Today’s regular bagel is the supersized bagel of old. Single entrees at restaurants can often feed 2 people. Dessert for one can be enough for a small family. "Hara hachi bu" is an ancient Japanese saying instructing diners to quit eating when they are 80% full. It’s good advice.
Mostly plants. If you’ve been reading our blogs, you know that we are fans of eating lots of plants. Beans and greens, nuts and seeds, fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Favoring plants makes sense because calorie for calorie, they are the most nutrient dense of all foods. And the data around the healing properties of plant based diets is overwhelming.
Note that Mr. Pollan does NOT prescribe eating only plants, or certain protein/fat/carb ratios, or the eschewing of a category of ingredients (like grain), or the favoring of a certain cuisine, or preparation method, or way of eating that dates back to paleolithic times.
And notice he's not obsessed with calories or even weight loss. Because weight loss is the natural consequence of eating whole real foods in reasonable amounts.
The beauty of his simple advice is that it allows for great flexibility, recognizes the diversity of various global cuisines, and preserves the ability to eat delicious food. And, unlike all the advertised diet plans, this approach doesn't require deprivation because it celebrates moderation.
But the advice also assumes that you will be cooking from scratch. Because that’s what our great great grandmothers did.
Step One helps you to eat real food, not too much, mostly plants when you can’t – or don’t want to - cook from scratch. Because our great great grandmothers didn’t get home from the office until late, travel for work, or live surrounded by time-sapping technology. I suspect most of them didn't have high cholesterol either.