If you’ve glanced at my Goodreads box lately, you may have noticed the addition of a book called Food Rules by Michael Pollan. It is a brilliant, brilliant collection: so much so that I intend to write an entirely different post on the book itself and the medium it’s presented in. This post harkens more to the message of the book.
While the book has many great messages (it is full of adages and other wisdoms), a common theme I come away with is this:
You are what you eat.
This is not a new saying. We hear it often: you are what you eat, do, see, watch, listen to; who you associate with.
But when you start thinking of this in terms of grains and vegetables vs. maltodextrin, ferric orthophosphate, high frutcose corn syrup, xanthan gum, disodium inosinate, tripolyphosphate and red 40 (none of which my word processor recognizes as words, nor would my great grandparents recognize as food), the message doesn’t just resonate. It rattles. I don’t know about you, but if I am what I eat (that is, if my body absorbs it and it impacts my life and health now as well as over time), I would much rather be an apple or spinach or brown rice than a synthesized chemical. You know– punctuated with cookies and doughnuts here and there.
We live in a time when heavily processed and/or sugar-, salt-, and fat-injected foods are abundant and often more affordable than their healthier, wholefood counterparts. I did not realize to just what degree until I read Rule #13 in Pollan’s book:
Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
The rule elaborates: most stores are laid out the same, with fresh produce, meat, dairy, and baked goods around the edges and all the processed foods in between. Think about all of those center aisles. Think about how much of the store they take up. Are our diets like that, too? What does that say about us? And given that, is it any wonder, as Pollan says in his introduction, that
Populations that eat a so-called Western diet– generally defined as…lots of processed foods and meat, lots of added fat and sugar, lots of refined grains, lots of everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains– invariably suffer from high rates of the so called Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
It gives one something to think about– and that’s just the introduction.
The book gives dozens of excellent pointers and pearls about what and how to eat from as many cultures and origins. Rather than tell you my favorite “rules,” I think I will just encourage you to pick it up– it’s a worthwhile read. But if I can leave you with anything on the topic, it would be this: your diet impacts your life. Make the most of it.