Michael Pollan's Food Rules List An Eater's Manual

Photo courtesy of karimian's at Flickr
Photo courtesy of karimian's at Flickr

"Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" is the latest book by Michael Pollan. Pollan is a Knight Professor of Journalism at University of California -Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, and he is also the Director of the Knight Program in Science and Environmental Journalism. In addition to teaching, he lectures widely on food, agriculture, and gardening but it is for his insight and philosophy on our food and diet that he has become a near household name leading to him being named as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2010.

His two books prior to ”Food Rules”,“In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” have earned him many accolades. “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” was one of New York Times ten best books of 2006 and it also won the California Book Award, the Northern California Book Award, the James Beard Award for best food writing, and made it through to the final of for the National Book Critics Circle.

Pollan has summed up his philosophy in just seven simple words “"Eat food -not too much mostly plants." and “Food Rules” gives us 64 rules in just 139 pages by which to live this philosophy.

So why should we follow the 64 rules laid down by Pollan in the 139 pages of “Food Rules” to adapt our shopping and eating habits.

  • Americans and others who eat the typical “Western” diet high in processed foods, meat, added fat, sugar and refined grains suffer from the “Western” diseases of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
  • People who consume traditional diets, free of the highly processed foods that line our supermarket shelves, experience these diseases at much, much lower rates.
  • As countries with traditional cuisine have become more Westernized and exposed to our way of eating they have become increasingly likely to suffer from the Western diseases.
  • Those people who turn away from our Western eating habits often experience a rapid and significant improvement in their health.

Are there any surprises in the 64 rules – perhaps one or two but what these rules do is us provide a common sense approach to eating and shopping which many have said sounds just like the sort of sound guidance that their Mother or Grandmother would provide.

To give you some examples here are twelve of Pollan’s Food Rules

  1. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
  2. Avoid foods that have some form of sugar or sweetener listed among the top three ingredients
  3. Stop eating before you're full and try to eat only to 67 to 80 per cent capacity
  4. Don’t get your “fuel” from the same place your car does
  5. Do all your eating at a table, not at a desk, while working, watching television or driving
  6. Keep healthy things on hand if you need to snack between meals
  7. Eat food cooked by humans, not corporations
  8. Buy a freezer
  9. Eat animals that have themselves eaten well
  10. Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk
  11. Wherever possible buy fresh food at farmers' markets
  12. Break the Rules once in a while (My favorite!!!!)

If you found this article interesting you may also enjoy reading the series that I've written reviewing some of the more popular weight loss and lifestyle programs.

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Comments 20 comments

Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 5 years ago Author

Hi Kris

The rules in the book are simple and the advice sound!

Thanks for popping by!


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 5 years ago from Indiana

Michael Pollen is one of my favorite authors - I love this book. A quick read and easy to follow. I use it with my clients quite often. Great review!

Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi dawn

I agree totally.


dawnM profile image

dawnM 6 years ago from THOUSAND OAKS

great article and I love the one about eating animals that have eaten well themselves, I alsway go out of my way to purchase any meat that is organic, grass feed not caged, no hormones. What they put in food today is insane and unhealthy....

Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi Katie

I'm pleased that you liked the picture - it is very well composed. The book definitely provides very sound advice.


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi Maita

Thanks for popping by.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

WOW that is a fantastic picture in the intro. Michael Pollans Food Rules an Eaters Manual is a great and refreshing list of tips. One at a time and time for all... Thanks and Peace :)

prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

awesome advices specailly follow grandma, Maita

Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi wrenfrost

Thanks for stopping by. I agree 64 rules is a manageable number which you can adopt a few at a time. My favorite is "Don’t get your “fuel” from the same place your car does"!


wrenfrost56 profile image

wrenfrost56 6 years ago from U.K.

I really enjoy reading your diet reviews Amber and this is no exeption. Following 64 rules is a good managable idea and thanks for the 12 you shared. 'Don't eat anything your grandmother would not recognise as food' was my favourite. :)

Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi anginwu

There are 52 other rules, one of which is to "Cook" so I guess you approve of this rule too!! Thanks for commenting and rating up.


anglnwu profile image

anglnwu 6 years ago

I love all the 12 rules, they make so much sense. Of course, the last rule rules! I'm a strong believer in making my own food--I cook every day and that helps me control what goes into my food. Rating it up!

Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hello James

I have a lot of time for Micheal Pollan as so much of what he says makes perfect sense. Your kind words of praise are much appreciated.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 6 years ago from Chicago

Outstanding! I have read several reviews of this book and I think the author—and you—are right on target. You have done us a service. Thank you.

Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi Pamela

Stopping eating before you are full is an excellent method to control your weight but the type of food you eat also matters. Junk food just doesn't satisfy properly which is why so many people overeat. (I know that this doesn't apply to you as you keep well away from this sort of food.) Thanks for taking to the time to read and comment.


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hi Billy

Thanks for your "review". Micheal Pollan is definitely on my to follow list, so much of what he says just makes total sense. You don't make it to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People if you don't have anything worthwhile to say.


Amber Allen profile image

Amber Allen 6 years ago Author

Hello NaserQa

Nice to meet you. Thank you for reading and commenting.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Amber, This is a good hub with very good suggestions. I have been cutting back on the amount I eat by stopping before I am full. It only takes a few minutes for the hunger to be gone.

billyaustindillon profile image

billyaustindillon 6 years ago

Great review - I will definitely research these books.

NaserQa profile image

NaserQa 6 years ago from Qatar

i like the article

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