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My review of “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan

04/13/15

This post is more than 2 years old. It might not reflect my current skills and convictions.

I just finished reading “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual” by Michael Pollan. This book is a list of easy-to-remember rules to eat better. The original version (2009) had 64 rules but I got the new version illustrated by Maira Kalman (2011) which has 19 additional rules. It could be the only book you read about nutrition, and it could really help anyone find the way back to health, while maintaining the pleasure of eating delicious food.

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual

The cover, beautifully illustrated by Maira Kalman.

The book is divided into 3 different sections:

  • What should I eat? Eat food.
  • What kind of food should I eat? Mostly plants.
  • How should I eat? Not too much.

The first section is all about eating real food (what you can typically find at the farmers market) and avoiding processed food containing weirdly named ingredients (what you can typically find in the center aisles of your local supermarket). The second section explains that vegetables are great and should not be considered as a side but as the main item of every dishes. The third section was a little erroneous to me. Eating less is more a consequence than a cause of being an healthy human being. By eating real food and avoiding sugar and carbohydrates as much as possible, you will progressively be less hungry, be satisfied with less and like me, go from XL to M.

Also, Pollan talks a lot about calories but there’s not a single mention of the fact that all calories are not created equal. In addition, he seems to consider whole grains as OK (read “The Wheat Belly” or “Grain Brain” to be convinced that it’s not really OK) and saturated fat as bad (read “The Big Fat Surprise“), but you can feel he’s quite confused about it. He doesn’t seem to understand why the French diet, rich in saturated fats, seems to work pretty well. His conclusion is that French people eat less, and that’s the reason why they are not fat. As I said earlier, this is just a consequence, not a cause.

Despite these weaknesses, I really enjoyed the book and would totally recommend it to people who want to improve their health with rules easy to follow and don’t want to hear about technical terms like lipoproteins, triglycerides and ketosis.

I give it a ★★★★☆.

To conclude, here are my 5 favorite rules (with my comments below):

  • Avoid Food Products That Contain More Than Five Ingredients
    It basically eliminates everything processed.
  • Avoid Food Products That Make Health Claims
    Your broccoli doesn’t have to say it’s gluten free and has low fat content.
  • Avoid Foods You See Advertised on Television
    Only big corporations can afford that, and big corporations don’t want you to be healthy, they just want you to buy their shit.
  • Eat All the Junk Food You Want as Long as You Cook It Yourself
    You’ll notice that you eat less fries and cupcakes if you follow this rule.
  • Treat Treats as Treats
    Occasional exceptions are OK as long as they stay occasional.

I hope you liked my review!

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