food lifestyle

Michael Pollan’s rules for eating

Michael Pollan’s rules for eating have been picked up by various people, including the Daily Mail and the Huffington Post. I came across them on Generous. A journalist and food writer, Pollan has talked to nutritionists, scientists, cooks and folklorists, looking for guidance on navigating our bad food culture. The results are in his book Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, and they’re proof that simple wisdom and common sense will do just as much for you as nutritional information and consumer labelling.

Here are ten that I liked:

  1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
  2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
  3. Shop around the edges of the supermarket. Real food has a shorter shelf life and is usually placed on the outer edge of the shop where it can be replaced more easily.
  4. Always leave the table a little hungry –  ‘tie off the sack before it’s full’, as they say in Germany.
  5. Don’t eat alone.
  6. Only eat food cooked by humans.
  7. It’s not food if it has the same name in all languages (like a Big Mac), or if it arrived through the window of your car.
  8. A healthy plate of food will likely feature several different colours.
  9. Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored.
  10. Avoid foods that are labelled ‘low-fat’ – just eat the real thing in moderation.


  1. I’ve totally noticed the last few years that I don’t go in to the middle of supermarkets. Veg aisle, Fruit aisle, cheese and dairy and bread….and we’re out!

    I like this guys advice however he does blatantly rule out rice and pasta with point 1. My parents weren’t aware of them till their twenties!

    1. True, and it would probably wipe out most international cuisine, like all the Thai dishes I’ve been enjoying recently. But then perhaps that’s part of the point, keeping things local as well as fresh.

  2. Here’s another bit of wisdom – don’t be the first one to eat at a table, nor the last one.
    Another thing we do here in our part of the world is to make sure we don’t empty out the serving bowl when pouring into our plates. The absolutely last person to eat does that…

  3. Pingback: Rules for eating |

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