Saturday, December 1, 2012

Michael Pollan's Rules

Michael Pollan, in his book "In Defense Of Food", lays out a few rules of thumb for what to eat. They are not only enormously helpful, but also rather amusing. I don't remember all of them (there are about 20 or so). Here are the ones that I found most helpful:

  • Only ever eat food that your great-grandmother would have recognized as edible. I.e., no green-colored sausage from a tube.
  • Prefer stuff from the outer rim of the supermarket. That's where they hide the fruits and vegetables. In Austria, this is actually more like "prefer stuff from near the entrance".
  • If something proudly proclaims that it's "healthy" on the package, avoid it like hell. Apples and broccoli don't need to tell you how healthy they are - you already know that anyway.
  • Prefer non-packaged food. The less plastic-wrap, the less industrial processing it has probably gone through.
  • Remember that you are eating food, not nutrients. What makes a carrot so healthy is not the vitamins and beta-carotin, but the combination of it all. That's why naturally vitamin-rich greens are way more healthy than vitamin pills.

Here are a few from my own recent experiences:

  • It is amazing what you can do with tofu. You just have to learn how to use the stuff, and many folks do get it wrong. My initiation was a vegan bolognese that tasted way better than the "original".
  • Yeast flakes (if that's the correct english translation for "Hefeflocken"?) plus ground almonds and salt make a perfect Parmesan replacement.
  • Once you get off the addiction, healthy food actually tastes way better than empty calories. If it doesn't, that means you have not found what works for you yet. Keep looking for good recipes. There are lots and lots of information on vegetarian internet forums or in cook books.
  • Buy a smoothie maker and start the day with a smoothie! Green smoothies are even better, but even "normal" smoothies will help you stay away from the packaged chocolate bars and candies.
  • Cook your own meals. It's fun, it doesn't actually take much time, and it tastes much better anyway. One of the traps of pre-packaged or delivered meals is that they come in large portions, and people tend to eat what's on the plate, so you will eat more than you actually want. If you cook your own meals, you can make your portion exactly the size you really need.
  • Always add good stuff, instead of avoiding bad stuff. After a good and healthy lunch, I find I have absolutely no need for a Big Mac or Döner Kebap.

Oh and one last thing: definitely try to replace milk with soy milk for a week. You might be lactose intolerant without even knowing (a huge percentage of the populace is, for evolutionary reasons). I found that it helped me a lot.

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