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Michael Pollen’s Rule Book

March 17, 2012

            In my quest to stay motivated I found myself browsing through the health and diet section at Barnes & Nobles.  Michael Pollan’s Food Rules caught my eye for two reasons.  First, I recognized the author from another of his books,  Omnivore’s Dilemna.  Dorie and Brooke were required to read at UNT.  Second, it was small and concise and each page was laided out in a easy to digest format.  There was a “rule” in bolder print, centered across the top of the page and it was followed by 2-3 paragraphs to explain and clarify.

            The rules, or mantras, as I would call them made you say, “Oh,… that makes sense.”  My favorite of all was the following:

If it comes from a plant, eat it.  If its made in a plant, dont.

That made sense to me.  My “diet” did not have a specific list of “eat these” and “don’t eat these.”  Instead I used common (or in reality, not so common) sense principals of healthy eating.  From the very start, this was about learning to create a habit of eating healthfully forever.  No short term food plan would work.  This had to be a transformation of how I approached food now and for always.  That is exactly what it has become.  The goal from the start was to align my beliefs in some core Jewish teachings about the essence of our bodies with my lifestyle.  What I believed and what I was doing had to get on the same page.  I felt like a hypocrite when I would teach my students the rabbinic value that our bodies were on loan to us from G-d and we were responsible to care for it with respect.  I was not respecting my body or the relationship between myself and G-d.

            So, Michel Pollen was right.  Fruit and vegetables were to be a staple in my everyday eating.  Many people ask me what I do when I am hungry.  I tell them, “I eat.”  I allow myself unlimited fruits and vegetables at all times.  In fact, the very first rule I gave myself on week one was that I could not eat anything after 9:00 pm except fruits or vegetables.  I needed to break the very bad habit of eating late.  This resulted in three beneficial things.  One, I didn’t feel restricted when I was eliminating this standard meal time for myself because I was allowing myself to eat.  I just had to eat the right things.  Two, I started to enjoy more fruits and vegetables.  There were my only choices and I began to appreciate them.  If I had a choice between a bowl of cereal or carrots, I would prefer the cereal.  If my choice was carrots or apples or cucumbers etc. then the fruits and vegetables became the best choice instead of second choice.  Third, I found that I was able to eliminate another nightly consumption, the antacid pill.  Guess what?  I no longer wake in the middle of the night with painful heartburn.  I no longer need several pillows to prop up my head so the reflux will not return.  I have not taken a prilosec or maalox or tums or pepto in a year.

            More Food Rules I like:

  • Don’t get fuel for your body at the same place you fuel your carOk, that makes sense.
  • If it comes through the window of your car, it’s not food.  Ok, that makes sense.
  • Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.  Ok, that makes sense.
  • Eat food that will eventually rot.  Ok, that makes sense.
  • Eat real food.  Ok, that REALLY makes sense.
  • Eat the rainbow.  Okthat sounds attractive.
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