Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

The title of this post, “Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” is a now famous quote by Michael Pollen. It’s the tag line for his book “In Defense of Food”, which is a fabulous book. I’ve broken down this great quote, because I think we all have a little something to learn from it. This post is predominantly directed at people following a paleo diet, but it is absolutely relevant to everyone.

Micheal first tells us to “eat food“, which for many people is way harder than it looks. We need to really decide what food is. Do you know exactly what that food looked like in nature? Then it’s probably food. If it had to go through three or four (or 24!!) steps to get there, it’s not food anymore, I don’t care what it’s called on the package (because non-food items usually come in a package), it’s likely not food. For those of you following the paleo way of life, sure there are some real foods out there that aren’t “paleo”, but there’s nothing paleo that isn’t real food. That’s just the nature of paleo – it’s simple, real food. So what’s the lesson in this? Try not to get caught up in the hype of marketing, labels, single nutrients (high in vitamin C! or high in Fibre!) or even superfoods (you know these….the acai berry, goji juice, mangosteen…). Yes, some may be real foods, but if they aren’t, they are just great marketing. Someone, somewhere is making a butt load of cash because they made a food product sound like the best thing ever! As far as the superfoods go; no one food is so much better than the other that it deserves all the praise! Enjoy a little of everything and don’t focus on the “perfect” this or the “latest” that, that’s taking the whole essence away from simple, real food.

Lesson two (and this one can be a bit confusing in the Paleo world), “Not too much”. Simple enough but difficult to implement. Paleo often preaches to eat as much as you want, but there’s a reason for that. The Paleo Diet focuses on protein and fat, two staples that are very satiating. They fill you up fast and give you lasting energy. If you eat until you’re full, you can almost guarantee you won’t eat too much. But there’s the problem right there – I’ve often missed it myself. Eat until you are full. I think a lot of us forget what that means. We started eating paleo and quite literally went to town! “Full schmull!! I can eat as much as I want! It’s Paleo!” Whoa – we need to get something straight. Just because a food is good for you, doesn’t mean you should stuff your face with it until you can’t breathe and you need to unbuckle your belt. This goes for any eating style, paleo, vegetarian, SAD (Standard American Diet), any diet at all. Michael Pollen was right, us paleo folk have got the “eat food” part down pat, but I think some of us may need to look at the “not too much” part a little closer….myself included lately. I am by no means asking you guys to count calories. That’s bull. Calories in vs. calories out just doesn’t work (unless you are on an extreme end on either side), it’s outdated science, but eating until satiety is a good rule to follow. Eat. When your full, stop eating. Pretty simple. If you are hungry again an hour later, eat some more. Just make sure it’s all real food! Learn to listen to your body and it’s signals, when you start doing that, maintaining an ideal weight and excellent health is easy. (Please note, if you are still having sugar, processed grains, processed food, artificial sweeteners, excessive caffeine or alcohol, you may not be able to listen to your body’s “full” signals at all!!- cut out the non-food items that mess with your satiety signals and it’s just like pressing the “reset” button!)

And finally lesson three; “Mostly Plants”. This is another area where a lot of us go wrong when we first venture into the paleo eating style. “Really, I can have bacon? Awesome! Bacon and steak and bacon and chicken and bacon and bacon…..” You get the picture. Yes, you can have bacon, you can have good quality meats, you can eat all sorts of delicious foods, but a big staple still needs to be plant foods! If you were eating nothing but perfect grass-fed beef and pasture raised chicken, eggs and pork, I wouldn’t be as concerned, but most of us are not. Our meat quality is not what is was 100 years ago and it certainly isn’t what it was 10, 000 years ago! Vegetables are still a huge source of valuable nutrients for us. They help alkalize our blood, support our immune system, feed our beneficial bacteria and do a myriad of other things that we haven’t even discovered yet. Did you know that studies done on supplemental vitamin C do not produce the same results as 1/100th of the same dose of vitamin C when eaten in a whole food. There is something beautiful and magical in eating whole fruits and vegetables. I know it sounds all “mystical”, but it truly is. There is so much we don’t know about our food, we are discovering more and more every day, but we do know that eating lots of veggies certainly doesn’t hurt us! So go ahead and your enjoy your bacon or steak, but don’t forget to give some plants centre stage at your next meal.

Remember, change takes time, but think about what you are eating, make educated choices, ask questions along the way; that’s how we all learn. One of the reason’s I wrote this post was in response to some of the questions I have been receiving from you guys. Your questions make me think – thank you for that, keep em coming!

If you haven’t read Michael Pollen’s book “In Defense of Food”, I highly recommend picking it up. No, he’s not paleo, but his food philosophy is bang-on. I also highly recommend his book “Omnivore’s Dilemma”, and if you want a great little “bathroom reader’, check out “Food Rule’s”.

I will leave you with Michael Pollen’s Rule No. 20:

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



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Categories: Love to Learn!, Ranting and Raving, REAL FOOD


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