An Eater’s Manifesto’s Guide to Obesity

This weekend, on a long flight to Amsterdam, I finally got around to reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food“, which he describes as “An Eater’s Manifesto”.

Many of you may recall that when this book first came out earlier this year, it created a rather significant media stir – having now actually read the book, all I can say is that the attention was well deserved.

While I strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in food (and not simply nutrition), I must warn that this book has the potential to precipitate an identity crisis in anyone who has studied or does research in nutrition. Most dietitians will probably find the content rather sobering. The book is also not exactly what industry or policy makers want to hear. Nevertheless, all should read it.

Although the book is not specifically about obesity or weight management, I believe that the principles are sound and may in the end also help reduce your risk of weight gain – even if you don’t lose weight, it is likely that you will still be healthier (remember, health is not weighed on a scale).

Here are Pollan’s principles: (Warning SPOILER!)

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

– Don’t eat anything your grandmother would not recognize as food.
– Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that d) include corn syrup*
– Shop the periphery of the super market and avoid the middle
– Get out of the supermarket whenever possible
– Eat plants, especially leaves*
– You are what what your food eats too
– If you have the space buy a freezer
– Eat well-grown foods from healthy soils
– Eat wild foods when you can
– Be the kind of person who takes supplements (even if you don’t)
– Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism
– Don’t look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet
– Pay more, eat less*
– Eat meals*
– Do all your eating at a table*
– Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does*
– Try not to eat alone*
– Consult your gut*
– Eat slowly*
– Cook, and if you can, plant a garden

If you want to know what all these “rules” actually mean, sorry, you’ll have to read the book.

I have marked the rules that I believe especially apply to weight management with an *

Edmonton, Alberta