In his book “In Defense of Food”, author Michael Pollan describes what he calls
Three Simple Rules for Eating
I can’t tell you how much I love his quote from that book, because he makes it SO easy to understand. Now, if we could just get more people to actually DO this, we could literally turn our health crisis around overnight.
In fact, a friend of mine and I were discussing this subject just the other night.
My friend is a young man on a very limited budget, so when he shops – he buys whatever he can afford that he knows will fill his belly. Because for him and many others, ‘not being hungry’ is the ultimate goal.
He buys items like:
- White bread
- Boxed cereal
- Eggo waffles
- Processed cheese and lunch meat
- Hot pockets
- Frozen burritos
- Pop tarts
It’s cheap, it lasts, and it fills him up.
I tried to explain the difference between real food and processed fake foods, and what I would buy if I was on such a limited budget ….but he just didn’t get it. The mere idea that he could possibly eat better was completely foreign to him.
“What’s wrong with this food? ” and “I can’t afford to eat like you do”.
So let’s look at these rules a little closer shall we?
Because I really think it could make a huge difference in the way we feel and our overall health.
Rule #1: Eat Food
The definition of food is this:
Any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.
Would you consider Eggos nutritious? How about Hot Pockets or Pop Tarts?
I personally wouldn’t even call that food. In fact, probably 90% of everything you see in the grocery store is not what I would call food.
- Little processed packages of salt, sugar, and fat? Sure.
- Empty calories? Yup.
- Things that will fill your belly? Definitely.
But is it food?
To me, food is that which grows naturally on a vine, or from a tree or stalk. Real foods, or WHOLE foods, are beans, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, peas, lettuce, carrots……
Food not only fills our bellies, but it fills it with all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we need to grow and maintain healthy bodies. You simply don’t get that with fake processed foods. What you DO get is nutrient poor, high calorie, “enriched” foods that have a few chemical vitamins added after the fact.
Real food grows ON a plant, it’s not manufactured in one.
See the difference?
But here’s the problem…that fake processed stuff is dirt cheap compared to real food. It tastes good, fills your tummy, and lasts forever in your fridge or on a shelf. It just doesn’t have any nutrition…..
And the danger in eating all these processed foods, with virtually no nutritional value whatsoever, is that one day it will catch up with you in the form of one chronic disease or another.
Look at our obesity crisis, or the worldwide pandemic of Type II Diabetes. We have GOT to re-teach ourselves how to eat right or it’s just going to get a lot worse.
We need to eat food, not food-like substances and as I was telling my friend, it doesn’t have to be expensive.
So if you’re also on a limited budget and want to include more “real” foods into your diet, here’s where I would start:
- Beans: They’re cheap, last forever, very nutritious, and easy to cook.
- Rice: Again, cheap, long shelf life, full of fiber, and very easy to cook.
- Veggies: Plain frozen veggies are very cheap and can be easily microwaved.
- Sauces: Tomato, Soy, & even Salsa spice things up and add a variety of flavors.
- Fruit: Fruit doesn’t have to be expensive. Forget organic for now, just eat some!
- Potatoes: Keep them dark and cool and they’ll last a long while. Very nutritious too.
With just these simple items, I could create a number of healthy, plant-based dishes that would not only be nutritious, but would taste pretty darn good too.
This is food. Or as Michael Pollan says – things your grandmother would recognize.
In the next part of this 3 post series, I’ll talk about Rule #2 – so stay tuned until then……