Food Rules: An Eater's Manual reviewed at tips4running.com

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
- Michael Pollan

Those simple seven words sums up Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan. The book lists a total of 64 different rules for eating, but they all fall under the umbrella of the rule above.

How is this information valuable for a runner? I've read numerous accounts of runners going vegetarian, or limiting their meat intake and improving dramatically. Most meat is highly processed. Also, staying away from chips, soda, cookies and other processed foods keeps preservatives, and unnecessary chemicals out of your system. Cleaner fuel means a faster running engine.

The book is broken into three sections. First Pollan defines what food is. The rule that helps me understand this is “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it is made in a plant, don’t.” When food is made in a factory, numerous preservatives, sugars such as high fructose corn syrup, unhealthy fats, excess carbohydrates, and sodium can and will get mixed in. The Western diet, which leads to an incredible amount of health problems, is based upon eating prepackaged or fast food. Real food is found on the outer aisles of the grocery store (such as the produce section). It is not found in the chips and cookie aisle.

The second section focuses on what real foods we should eat. Simply put we need to eat mostly plants. We should flip the ratio of meat to plants ratio upside down. “Instead of an eight-ounce steak and a four-ounce portion of vegetables, serve four ounces of beef and eight ounces of veggies,” suggests Pollan.

The final section of rules gives tips on how to eat not too much. Humans are designed to be able to eat more than what they need at the moment. This is because sometimes food would be scarce in the years before modern civilization. Now a days, food is cheap and way to easy to eat too much of. There are several cultures that address this issue by saying to eat until your hunger is gone, not until you are full. A simple rule that can help with this is use smaller plates and glasses.

I think it helps to read some of Michael Pollan’s earlier books, such as The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals or In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. You then understand how we have created so much cheap and unhealthy food. Cheap food is a good thing if you don’t have money for other things. However, most of us can afford to buy higher quality food. Cheap food comes with a huge cost though. If you eat too much of it, you’ll be paying the doctor for all of your health ailments: obesity, hypertension, diabetes, even cancer!

Overall, the book is a delicious bite sized guide into how you can improve your eating habits. Follow Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: An Eater's Manual and you will be on your way to a much healthier lifestyle.

- Reviewed by David Tiefenthaler

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