Earlier this year I began gathering examples of these rules, or personal food policies, for a short book I’m publishing in January. My premise is that for all the authority we grant to science in matters of nutrition, culture still has a lot to teach us about how to choose, prepare and eat food, and that this popular wisdom is worth preserving — perhaps today more than ever, in this era of dazzling food science, supersize portions and widespread dietary confusion.
It's really interesting, isn't it, to think about how people managed to eat well for hundreds of years, and generally only starting getting it all out of whack lately. Granted, I know from my weakness for historical fiction that during the Tudor years they were convinced that salad made you infertile, so I'm not saying they had it all right, but still, there's obviously something to the way we used to eat that kept us slimmer.
In a separate piece, Pollan cites his favorite examples of cultural food rules. Check out his favorites here.
My food rules?
- If it has a mother or came out of the ground it's probably good for you. If not that, then at least look for things that your great-grandparents might have eaten. That helps you avoid all the processed crap out there.
- Don't eat food that imitates other food. That rules out both processed crap and tofu for me. Real butter and cream are my friends.
- Only eat unhealthy foods if it's going to be really worth it. Chocolate souffle? Yes. Twinkie? No.
- I try to generally eat well, but don't deny myself splurges once in a while. Too much denial leads to binging (I've seen the scientific studies to prove it - in one, people who typically denied themselves sweets, overate with a much greater magnitude when they were asked to try some ice cream. They were so used to denying themselves, that they couldn't stop eating, whereas non-deniers were able to stop themselves after a few spoonfuls!)