3 Simple Tips for Healthy Eating
Food marketing can be very confusing. With so many competing health claims (“Fat-free!”…“Essential healthy fats!”) and constantly revolving lists of do/don’t eat (“Whole wheat!”…“Wait, less gluten!”), it’s hard to keep it all straight and understand what it really means to eat well.
At Four Wellness Co. we don’t practice one-size-fits-all dietary guidelines—for example, animal protein, dairy or gluten work well for some people and not as well for others—but we do share one major overarching nutrition tip that applies to all of us:
EAT FOOD. NOT TOO MUCH. MOSTLY PLANTS.
This adage was originally coined by Michael Pollan (award-winning journalist, author and professor at UC Berkeley) in In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, his book contesting America’s obsession with nutritionism (a focus on eating nutrients rather than on eating food). Since then, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” has become a popular rule of thumb for following a healthful diet.
Here’s what it means:
There’s a difference between real food and “edible food-like substances.” Real food is something your great-grandmother would recognize (she was probably not too familiar with Go-Gurt, for example). You should be able to imagine real food in its natural form (e.g. a cow, an apple tree). And, for baked or prepared foods, you could expect to recognize all of the ingredients and would probably have them in your own pantry (flour, olive oil, salt, etc.)… most of us don’t have Yellow 6 or butylated hydroxyanisole in our home kitchens.
Not too much.
Many food cultures have rules about moderation. The Okinawans of Japan follow a Confucian teaching, “Eat until you’re 80% full,” and they have the highest life expectancy in the world.
(And lots of leaves.) Your digestive system evolved to eat lots of plants, and occasionally meat when a hunt was successful. (Anthropology nerd for a moment: although the fat from meat made our brains big and made us the humans that we are, killing a mastodon with handmade tools wasn’t that easy, and it wasn’t something we did three times a day. For early humans, meat was a supplement to a plant-based diet.)
Core principles of healthy eating
Here are some of our favorite tips for healthy eating, articulately described by Michael Pollan’s Food Rules:
Eat food. Don’t eat edible food-like substances; they’re edible, but they’re not food.
Avoid anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce, or ingredients no ordinary person would keep in their pantry. Or high fructose corn syrup.
Don’t eat food that won’t eventually rot.
Avoid products that make health claims.
Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store, where real, fresh food is kept near loading docks. Also, get out of the supermarket whenever you can. Shop at the farmers’ market and eat locally and seasonally when possible.
Eat like an omnivore. Diversify. Eat foods of many (natural) colors. Eat wild foods when you can.
If you eat animals, eat those that themselves have eaten well. (Also, eat animal products from animals that have eaten well.)
Cook. Eat junk food if you want, just cook it yourself.
It is not just what you eat but how you eat. Choose small portions, communal meals, and food culture over food science.
PSSST… ARE YOU EATING THE RAINBOW?
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FOUR WELLNESS TIP
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
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