Thursday, March 26, 2009

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I just finished reading In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. It's a fascinating book about our culture’s food choices. The first half of the book is a little dry, but builds the foundation for why our eating choices need to change. He focuses on nutrients, food myths, evils of the food and drug industries, and how food has become increasingly less "food-like" over time. In the second half of the book, he explains how we actually need to eat. His message is Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Eat food.
Pollan explains that "food" is whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, meats and other items that usually contain five or fewer ingredients. You must know what all of the ingredients are and nothing should be difficult to pronounce. He then proceeds to read the ingredients of Wonderbread and explains how far away from "bread" it actually is. Most store bought bread has so many unknown ingredients and high fructose corn syrup, that it's much more like fluffy sugar and much less like bread.

Not too much.
The author emphasizes that most products that advertise health claims should probably be avoided. Most reduced fat or fat free products are highly processed contain a great deal of synthetic products to make up for the fat loss. Pollan also reflects on the titles added to food such as free range, grass fed, and organic. Buying items from farmer's markets or locally is superior to any of these titles. Free range can mean that chickens were allowed to stand on a dirt plot for an hour or more a day. Grass fed can be applied to any cattle because they were almost all fed grass as calves. Instead, we should look for titles like "pasture raised" or "grass finished" to insure our food is the most nutritious.

Mostly plants.
Pollan is not strictly favoring or opposed to vegetarianism (read his previous book, The Omnivore's Dilemma.) However, he does favor a diet of one meat product per day and the rest fruits and vegetables. Even further than that, the plants should be mostly leaves and less seeds (flour, corn, grains and most of what we eat.) Eating in-season will also provide a more balanced diet and introduce us to foods we would not normally choose.

Some of his most profound statements from this book:

Avoid food that makes health claims.

Shake the hand of the hand that feeds you.
(In buying as much food as you can from farmers.)

Eat only food your great-grandmother would recognize as food.


Ben is on night three of sleeping well. He sleeps from midnight to 10am waking at four and eight. That is definitely manageable for me and makes my life so much easier than the previous weeks.

Our Gumdrop pacifiers came in today too! the only kind Ben likes

Josh ordered them and didn't realize there were color choices, so we have fifteen pink ones, five orange and five blue. We're fine with that. It's still easier than driving back to the hospital for more.

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