Book Review: Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan

2015 ended for me with a renewed focus on fitness so what better way to start the year than by reading Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual written by Michael Pollan.  Michael has written several very popular on the topic of food and healthy eating which includes The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.  The estimated time to read each of those books is 16 hours and 6 hours respectively, versus the 90 minutes it took me to read Food Rules.

Food Rules is broken down into 64 quick chapters spread across three main parts: Part I – What Should I Eat?, Part II – What Kind of Food Should I Eat?, and Part III – How Should I Eat?  The condensed version covering so many topics makes every page full of important information with no room for fluff.

I recommend picking up this book for anyone that is healthy conscience, looking for a simple way to make decisions about what to eat, or if you need a refresher on healthy eating.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

“People who get off the Western diet see dramatic improvements in their health.” – He shares about the French culture of eating and how French people tend to be healthier, skinnier and live longer than those on the Western diet.  His theory is the French eat smaller plates, don’t go for seconds, enjoy long emails so they eat slower, and usually have wine with their meal.

“If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.” – I thought this was a creative quote and re-enforces the concept that we want to eat more fresh foods versus processed foods.

“It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.” – This was a reminder for me when I find myself at a drive through window because I have a craving or no time to cook a meal.

“Eating what stands on one leg [mushrooms and plant foods] is better than eating what stands on two legs [fowl], which is better than eating what stands on four legs [cows, pigs, and other mammals]. – This is an old Chinese proverb but as Michael points out it neglects to include the no legged fish.

“The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” – Another great reminder for me when I’m at a restaurant and arrive starving which means I have a tendency to attack the bread.

“Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.” – The concept that we should eat our bigger meals in the morning when we have time to “work them off” throughout the day.  Having a big dinner, which a lot of us do, is really bad for your health.

“After lunch, sleep awhile; after dinner, walk a mile.” – This ties into the one above and walking after dinner is something I’ve started this year.  I haven’t quite figured out how to nap after lunch but maybe something I can shoot for later this year.

S policy: “no snacks, no seconds, no sweets—except on days that begin with the letter S.” – I really liked this quote because anyone on a healthy diet will have cheat days so it’s good to have a framework to help limit them.

I read this book in one Saturday afternoon and a few of the lessons I picked up have already helped me in my choice of food at a restaurant and also at the grocery store.  I love that the book was impactful for such a short read.