We are expanding on Michael Pollan’s three basic food rules:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Today: how much?
We spend a lot of time with people on this question. There are a lot of variables to consider: age, lifestyle, habits, preferences, current health, exercise habits and fitness goals, body type, and more. We don’t create diets for people. We just simplify food and eating. Keep it simple, personal, and sustainable.
So here are our top suggestions:
- Learn (or re-learn) and follow your body’s innate signals of hungry and full. Pay attention to that for a few days and see what changes.
- Give up your membership to the clean plate club. Just because it’s in front of you doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Stop when you’re full.
- Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored or because someone else is eating.
- Slow down. Give your body a chance to tell you enough and yourself a chance to recognize it.
Often people want some sort of system to follow, maybe an app to track what they eat, to count something like grams or calories, or they want to use short-cuts like shakes, bars, or manufactured meals. (We get that. Life’s busy and this healthy eating thing is initially disruptive to established routines.) But we take the long view, and unless there is huge benefit to be gained from such a tracking or counting system we prefer to let food simply be food and focus on quality and your habits around food.
One tool we do use is this really simple visual guideline for men and women. We use this primarily because we’re sold huge portions – by companies with more interest in (repeat) sales than your health. But it’s also simple to use: no numbers, no counting, no tracking. Just eat about this much 3x/day. Again – there are many factors that fine tune your personal diet – especially if you’re very active or an athlete – but this is a starting point for the average person. Many people, once they start eating according to their body’s needs, are surprised at both how little food it takes to maintain a healthy human being, and how much we are over-served.
So; eat food. Not too much. Next up: mostly plants.
NOTE: For those interested in reading further, Michael Pollan’s Eater’s Manifesto is a great short read. And for a full take on his top three guidelines, there is Food Rules. Also a fast read, and we’ve got a few copies in the office if you want to borrow one.