This simple statement was made by, Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. I think we can use this statement as a guiding principle. If I was trying to get and stay healthier (and I always am) and I had to choose one weapon, I would choose nutrition.

Let’s break this recommendation down a bit. “Eat food”? Well, don’t we all do that anyway? Actually, many of the things we eat are so processed and adulterated that they barely qualify as “food”. What we really need to eat are real foods, things that are not processed and chemically altered, things that graze the land and swim in the sea and things that come out of the ground. Michael Pollan also made the point that when grocery shopping you should imagine your great grandmother walking through the aisles with you. If she would not recognize an item on the shelf as food, then it is not food. So Pringles, Cheese Curls, Twinkies, the myriad sugar-injected breakfast cereals and soda pop may not qualify.

Not too much”? This one is not too difficult to figure out. Most of us, because of the easy availability of food, simply eat too much of it. Whether it is out of habit, boredom, stress, sadness or sheer gluttony, we eat too much food and we do it all the time. Eat less. When you serve yourself a meal or go to a restaurant, simply cut the portion in half and share the entrée with your dinner partner. It should be obvious that doing so will have all kinds of health benefits, ranging from weight loss to prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even some cancers.

Mostly plants”? The research is pretty clear and unequivocal that we could all do with eating more vegetables and fruits, and in as much variety as possible. You will note that the statement is not “only plants”. Eating meat, fish, poultry and eggs is totally fine; it is just that we want the diet to be more plant centered. Your plate of food should have a heaping portion of vegetables and a small portion of whatever protein source you choose. Plants provide us with the vital micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and enzymes) that are essential for good health. They also provide dietary fiber and antioxidants in hundreds of forms and are the undisputed champion when it comes to healthy eating. Even the most orthodox and conservative nutritional scientists would not dispute this recommendation.

As with most things in life, the simple things are usually the most powerful. If you follow Michael Pollan’s rule you will be healthier and will add life to your years.

Tim Fargo D.C.

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