I love to learn about the healing value of food. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, plants and foods are an important healing source in the form of herbal medicines, and in teaching us about what foods can help us get back into balance. The basic tenet of eating healthy is to go with the flow of nature.
And I believe that is the essence of what Michael Pollan writes of in an article for the New York Times that begins, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
A helpful blog posting on inspired protagonist has paraphrased Pollan’s rules.
- Don’t eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Avoid food products that come bearing health claims. They’re apt to be heavily processed, and the claims are often dubious at best.
- Never eat food products containing ingredients that are unfamiliar, unpronounceable, or more than five in number. Or that contain high-fructose corn syrup. These are all signs that the food has been heavily processed.
- Do as little of your shopping at the supermarket as possible. Farmers Markets are much better food sources.
- Pay more, eat less. It’s a lot healthier to eat less high quality (i.e. expensive) food than it is to eat a larger quantity of poor quality food. It’s like beer. Better to drink one really great craft-brewed ale than a whole six pack of swill that costs less than that single bottle.
- Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
- Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. People who eat by the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier. Any traditional diet will do: if it weren’t healthy, the people who follow it wouldn’t still be around.
- Cook. And if you can, plant a garden. To take part in the intricate and endlessly interesting processes of providing for our sustenance is the surest way to escape the culture of fast food and the values implicit in it.
- Eat like an omnivore. Try to add new species, not just new foods, to your diet. The greater the diversity of species you eat, the more likely you are to cover all your nutritional bases.
To the last point, I would add, eat like a rainbow-eater. Eat the (natural) spectrum of food colors.