Michael Pollan’s Food Rules

PART I: What should I eat? (Eat food.)

1. Eat food.

2. Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

3. Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry.

4. Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup.

5. Avoid foods that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients.

6. Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients.

7. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.

8. Avoid food products that make health claims.

9. Avoid food products with the wordoid “lite” or the terms “low-fat” or “nonfat” in their names.

10. Avoid foods that are pretending to be something they are not.

11. Avoid foods you see advertised on television.

12. Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.

13. Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

14. Eat foods made from ingredients that you can picture in their raw state or growing in nature.

15. Get out of the supermarket whenever you can.

16. Buy your snacks at the farmers’ market.

17. Eat only foods that have been cooked by humans.

18. Don’t ingest foods made in places where everyone is required to wear a surgical cap.

19. If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.

20. It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.

21. It’s not food if it’s called by the same name in every language. (Think Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles.)

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PART II: What kind of food should I eat? (Mostly plants.)

22. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.

23. Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food.

24. “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].”

25. Eat your colors.

26. Drink the spinach water.

27. Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.

28. If you have the space, buy a freezer.

29. Eat like an omnivore.

30. Eat well-grown food from healthy soil.

31. Eat wild foods when you can.

32. Don’t overlook the oily little fishes.

33. Eat some foods that have been predigested by bacteria or fungi.

34. Sweeten and salt your food yourself.

35. Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature.

36. Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk.

37. “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.”

38. Favor the kinds of oils and grains that have traditionally been stone-ground.

39. Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

40. Be the kind of person who takes supplements—then skip the supplements.

41. Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.

42. Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism.

43. Have a glass of wine with dinner.

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PART III: How should I eat? (Not too much.)

44. Pay more, eat less.

45. . . . Eat less.

46. Stop eating before you’re full.

47. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored.

48. Consult your gut.

49. Eat slowly.

50. “The banquet is in the first bite.”

51. Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.

52. Buy smaller plates and glasses.

53. Serve a proper portion and don’t go back for seconds.

54. “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.”

55. Eat meals.

56. Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods.

57. Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.

58. Do all your eating at a table.

59. Try not to eat alone.

60. Treat treats as treats.

61. Leave something on your plate.

62. Plant a vegetable garden if you have the space, a window box if you don’t.

63. Cook.

64. Break the rules once in a while.

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