Real food rules are compiled from Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. He outlines a simple set of rules to help avoid highly processed foods and refined sugar in our modern food landscape.
Please note, this post contains Amazon Affiliate links that generate revenue for the site, at no additional cost to you, should you utilize one of the links.
Cutting processed foods can be a significant boon to your health and wellness. But it isn’t as easy as it seems. So many foods that seem like real whole foods like cheese or yogurt, may in fact be processed food-like products. Just a simple look at the ingredients list can show just how many substances other than real food go into creating it.
I have compiled 20 simple rules from Michael Pollan’s seminal work, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto that help you break out of the industrial food chain and embrace the lifestyle of real food.
If you’re new to the concept of real food I encourage you to start with Real Food Defined and make sure you start from the beginning of the Real food Rules with Rules #1-5.
Real Food Rule #16
In the day when the Carnivore Diet and Veganism are the loudest voices in the room, here is a quiet reminer that you are actually an omnivore. And you should probably eat like one.
Don’t let these new “health” fads fool you, they are just as extreme as their predecessors. Instead of no fat, no carbs, now its, no meat, or no vegetables.
Insead of cutting out huge swaths of delicious and totally healthy foods, focus on eating the real ones. By focusing on increasing the biodiversity of your diet, you can ensure you are getting the full spectrum of vitamins and micronutriets.
That and including lots of variety in your diet means you won’t get bored and tempted by all those colorful treats. Try to eat through the rainbow everyday, and you’ll be surprised how many different things you actually enjoy.
Real Food Rule #17
I bet you probably can’t guess the whole food that most processed foods are made from. Like a Twinkie, is it wheat, it sure doesn’t look like wheat anymore. But when you start eating more whole, real foods, you’ll realize the majority of what we eat has come from the ground.
And all those delicious plants are using the soil for nutrients. If that soil is nutrient-poor, and being over-farmed, it won’t have many nutrients to offer the plant. So it is so important to ensure that all of your food is grown in nutrient-rich soil. That way it has the most vitamins and micro-nutrients as possible.
So much of modern agriculture has stepped away from holistic farming practices. Instead of caring for the health of the soil, they instead douse it with chemicals and keep extracting plants out of it year after year. Responsible farmers know that the soil is just as important as the crop and work to ensure the health of their soil year after year.
Real Food Rule #18
This rule is so good for you and the environment. Eat as much wild animal products and wild produce as you can. Not only do you step outside the industrial food chain once again, but you eliminate part of the burden on the environment.
Modern industrial agriculture practices literally suck the life out of the land they farm. But wild grown vegetables, berries, and fruit can be an easy response to the factory farms.
You can hunt and fish your own animals, and collect your own produce depending on where you live. But you can also opt to purchase wild caught or picked versions in supermarkets whenever possible.
Not only is it better for the environment, but these foods are actually better for you too. Because they are forced to survive the harsh climates they develop high levels of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Meaning they are far more nutrient-dense than their cultivated counterparts.
Real Food Rule #19
When you are focusing on eating a diet rich in color and produce and variety, there is no need for supplements. Odds are you are getting plenty of vitamins and micro-nutrients as real, whole food contain the highest concentration of these.
But so many companies out there want to sell you a powder or pill that contains something you’re deficient in. And many are getting convenience that their health depends on this daily powder.
It is great to want to ensure you have all the necessary micro-nutrients. That means you are an active participant in your health and wellness.
But actually purchasing and taking supplements is probably unnecessary for most. So instead, just focus on getting a balanced diet of real food, moving your body every day, and reducing your stress and practicing positive sleep hygiene. All of these habits do more for you than most supplements on the market.
Real Food Rule #20
Traditional and ancient diets seem to have the greatest health benefits. It doesn’t necessarily seem to be what they actually eat that makes them so healthy. Instead it is the entire diet including the eating habits that create a healthy cuisine.
Many traditional diets include eating rituals that support good health. Things like smaller meals, focusing on balance, and eating with others, are all good and healthy eating habits. Habits like these will prevent weight gain or ill health.
Try to eat like the traditional cuisines dictate. Focus on the sum of the entire food culture and not just on the one or two “healthy” ingredients that they revolve around.
I encourage you to return to an older style of eating, one that focuses on shared meals, simple, local ingredients, and traditional, seasonal meals that focus on balance and complete nutrition.