A Few Food Rules to Follow

By November 7, 2010 9 Comments

Hi everyone, it’s Katie C., one of Dustin’s contributors.  Over the weekend, I found myself flipping  through Michael Pollan’s “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual”.  In this quick read, Pollan lays out 63 short rules about what to eat (food), what kind of food to eat (mostly plants), and how to eat (not too much).  We’ve all heard many food rules (many of which contradict each other), but here are a few that I think are sustainable for a healthy lifestyle, with some tricks that I have found helpful for me.

What should I eat?

#3 – Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.

When you open up your pantry at home, are you likely to find Monosodium Glutamate Xanthan Gum, or Disodium Guanylate?  Probably not, but if you have commercial ranch dressing in your refrigerator, those are the exact ingredients you’re getting, in addition to 17 others.  One question I try to ask myself is, if I were to make this product at home, would I use these ingredients?  If not, it’s probably not a good purchase.  I don’t even know how to pronounce Disodium Guanylate and I highly doubt Dustin goes looking for this item on his grocery store tours

What kind of food should I eat?

#39 – Eat all the junk food as you want as long as you cook it yourself.

Okay, so I don’t completely recommend this rule of Pollan’s, but I do think there is some truth to this.  Most of the junk food we eat is processed and contains ingredients we’re warned about in the previous rule.  There’s nothing wrong with the occasional treat as long as these treats aren’t eaten too often and contain whole, natural ingredients with some nutritional value.  Here’s a trick I use if I’m at the grocery store: if I see a treat that I want to try, I first look at the ingredient list.  If there are ingredients I don’t want to put in my body, I simply put it back.  When I get back home, I go online to find a recipe for a healthier, homemade version of the food (this trick works great at restaurants, too).  I was recently at a grocery store that’s often thought of as “healthy” and found spinach tortillas that I wanted to try.  I didn’t like what I saw in the ingredients, so I found a great recipe online to make my own version.  Making my own version helped me enjoy a treat without getting any food additives and stopped me from overeating.  I don’t know about you, but I’m much likely to keep the amount of treats I eat in check if I know I’m the one who has to cook them rather than conveniently buying the pre-packaged version from the store! 

How should I eat?

#59 – Try not to eat alone.

When I think about the times that I’ve completely gone against the two previously mentioned rules, I notice that they often have one thing in common: I ate those foods alone.  Just a few weeks ago, I found myself eating a few mini Kit Kat bars in my office (don’t worry Dustin and Karen; this was before your challenge to throw out all the candy 🙂 ).  Would I have polished off those candy bars if I was sitting in a meeting in front of my coworkers?  No!  In fact, I found myself wanting those wrappers to stay at the bottom of the garbage can, hidden from sight!  Because I don’t have a family, I find myself often cooking for one or two, so I try to make an effort to eat dinner most nights with my significant other.  We look at our schedules and do our meal planning on the weekend.  If I know that we have plans to eat dinner together, I much more likely to stick to the healthy menu I made and avoid eating the junk convenience foods I might otherwise eat.  Many of you are moms and are probably responsible for cooking for your family each night anyway, so try this trick instead:  if you find that you’re eating lunch at your desk each day at work or grabbing something from the cafeteria, find a co-worker who’s also committed to a healthy lifestyle and make plans to pack your own lunch and eat together at work.  Get out of the office (I know, it can be hard) and take some time to eat a nutritious lunch.  If you can find a “healthy lunch partner”, you’ll feel much more accountable to pack a healthy lunch each day.  If you have extra time, take a walk outside and move around a little; you’ll feel much better during the afternoon.

What food rules do you follow?  Share the tricks that work for you!