‘Food Rules’ is a nice book because it cuts straight to the point. I think that the idea of sitting down to read a book about nutrition or starting up a new diet makes most people’s eyes glaze over with boredom. Personally, I love reading about nutrition, health, and fitness because I’m obsessed with it but, even for me, the nitty gritty of nutrition often comes across as being overly complicated or dry and boring.
‘Food Rules’ is different. It presents 64 different rules or ideas to remember when thinking about food and then it follows up with a concise explanation of why the rule is important. There is ease and simplicity to the way that the book is laid out, so it is perfect to carry around with you and read on the go. I continue to get a lot out of it just by browsing over it over and over again. I have probably read the book 3 times cover-to-cover by now, and each time I am reminded of something, and another important puzzle piece is solidified within the overall map of mind. And that's just it: getting too involved in the details gives many people the ‘paralysis by analysis’ syndrome. There are so many times that I have read contradictory pieces of information regarding nutrition and I think, for many people, they just throw their hands up in the air and give up on trying to understand because there is too much information out there and each author or guru discounts the ideas and the concepts of the next.
There are so many fad diets and easy ways to quickly shrink your waistline out on the market, but I think what I was really looking for was something basic and sustainable. ‘Food Rules’ does that really well. It gives the reader basic, simple ways of thinking about the way that hey are eating. Basically, Pollan advises not to consume processed foods (or “edible food like substances” as he calls them), and to watch how much you eat and when you eat it. All of these aspects of the book are talked about in other books as well but there is something very nice in his paired down and easy approach. There is very little fluff.
I could really read the entire book in about 30 minutes and walk away with some tangible ideas that I could take with me. Some of my favorites are, “Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods” “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dinner like a pauper.”) I think eating has become this unthinking thing that most people just kind of fall into and in order for us to transform these automatic patterns that we have developed, it’s nice to be able to rely on phrases or sentences that can pop into the mind automatically.
The less complicated the “rules” are, the more apt one is to actually remember them when they are about to eat. At this point, I have internalized a lot of the points made in ‘Food Rules’ and I have begun to do the right things more of the time on an unconscious level. I no longer need to remind myself in the same way that I did in the beginning because it has become a pattern, a thing that I have learned to do. And I remind myself by browsing through it whenever I have an extra moment.
I have learned that I need constant sources of inspiration to motivate me and to remind me of why I am doing what I am doing. With social pressures from friends and family, it is easy to get sidetracked one or two weeks into a new plan. And that’s why I like to have inspiration close at hand. So that I can ask myself, “What am I doing again?” and then read a little bit, get inspired and say, “Oh yeah. This thing.” Without the inspiration nearby, the mind can get clouded and revert back to old ineffective patterns. There really is nothing extraordinarily mind blowing or new in ‘Food Rules’. No way to let you cheat and be healthy. It is not about how to have a six pack while gorging on pizza and cookies. It turns common sense into a rule book, a guide, a way of life. It’s about how to make nutrition work for you in the long term. And I’m sure that other books on nutrition lay out similar rules as well, just not in as concise or direct a manner.
As a trainer in New York City, I see a lot of people who have very little free time on their hands to get things done. Reading this book will take hardly any time at all. It is memorable, applicable, and it will work.