Book Review: In Defense of Food (Part 3)

As promised, here is part three of In Defense of Food. Parts one and two are back here.

The last section is about implementing those three rules in your life. And here I’m going to directly quote the book and how he adds subrules (if you will) to each of the three big rules. This is the point where he shows you how to go from eating all the crap that you now want to avoid like the plague and eat a healthy diet.
Eat food.: Food Defined
Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Pretty much go for whole foods and try to imagine if she would have been able to buy it when she was your age.
Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d) high-fructose corn syrup. Any of these by themselves aren’t too bad. But put them together and you don’t have food. You have some processed edible thing. Also, why would you want to eat something that you can’t pronounce and have no idea what it is?
Avoid food products that make health claims. If something is naturally low in fat, they don’t need to label it low fat. Also, since you’re trying to eat more whole foods, the fact that there’s a label is a warning sign right there.
Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle. In case you haven’t already noticed, the fresh stuff is on the outside of the store. That’s where you want to be primarily shopping from. I have to admit, rice and pasta and a few other things like that are in the middle, but most of what you want is on the outside.
Get out of the supermarket whenever possible. Go to the farmers’ market or your local co-op or a farm stand or join a CSA. There are many other ways to get your food, and it helps support the local economy!
Mostly plants.: What to Eat
Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. There are a million good reasons to eat the leaves off of almost anything. To name a few, they are full of fiber and vitamins and antioxidants. It’s what helps keep a plant growing, so why wouldn’t it be good for you!
You are what you eat eats too. Our diets have become so overpowered by meat and other animal products that we don’t eat enough plants, and neither do they. Grass fed beef has many advantages over grain fed beef, for example. So not only should we eat more plants, but so should what we eat.
If you have the space, buy a freezer. Buying in bulk is a great money saver. Buying a large amount of meat at once is usually cheaper than buying it a little at a time. The same goes for fruits and veggies. And, if you take the time, you can freeze a lot of vegetables as well.
Eat like an omnivore. Be diverse in what you eat! Much of what is packaged up on the supermarket shelves are corn, soy, and/or wheat based. Seeds. Before you turn down that rutabaga because it looks unappetizing, do a little research. There are many foods out there that may look strange or unappealing until you look into them and find out what they’re really about.
Eat well-grown food from healthy soils. Certified organic is not the only thing that falls into this category. Not everyone who grows their food in a good and healthy way are not certified organic foods for one reason or another. Farmers’ markets are full of great foods that are like this. Also, not everything organic is food. There are plenty of food products out there that are certified organic.
Eat wild foods when you can. You don’t have to start foraging in the woods for your next meal. But there are plenty of plants out there that are considered weeds, yet are good for you. Just make sure that they haven’t been sprayed with chemicals before you go picking them. Another way of eating wild is eating deer and the like and wild fish instead of farmed. Just make sure you’re not eating an endangered species.
Be the kind of person who takes supplements. If you eat a well-rounded diet, there is really not much reason to take vitamin and mineral supplements. But I will be the first to say that I do take a multivitamin and a magnesium supplement every day and an iron supplement three times a week. I also keep zinc on hand for when I come down with something. But I take them because I feel crummy when I don’t take the multi, the magnesium does make a difference in my day, and there have been plenty of times I’ve almost not been able to give blood because of my low iron levels. My advise is to try and figure out, or talk with a professional, about what you really need extra in your diet.
Eat more like the French. Or the Italians. Or the Japanese. Or the Indians. Or the Greeks. All of these people and others follow a traditional food culture, which we as Westerners desperately lack. Look into these other diets and try to incorporate them into yours.
Regard nontraditional foods with skepticism. The latest, greatest food product may turn out to be a great thing. But don’t jump on the bandwagon quite yet. Let others figure it out and save you the time and money.
Don’t look for the magic bullet in the traditional diet. The positives of any one traditional diet is the sum of it’s parts. There isn’t one particular thing in any one of them that you can take away and use on it’s own. It’s how the portions and types of foods all work together to produce the great results.
Have a glass of wine with dinner. One glass of wine has proven to have many health benefits. It helps you to relax and helps you be in a better mood. Red wine seems to have more health benefits than white. Also, alcohol, in moderation, is good for your heart and helps reduce the risk of heart disease. So look into different wines and have fun pairing them up with your dinners!
Not too much.: How to Eat
Pay more, eat less. Having a small amount of good quality food is better for you than having a large quantity of poor quality food. Many of those traditional food cultures show us that. But we Americans are all about how much can I eat before I can’t stuff another piece of food in. And we wonder why we’re overweight.
Eat meals. This is a hard rule for Americans to follow. We are constantly eating throughout the day. Don’t just have a candy bar because you’re hungry. Either wait for the next big meal, or start breaking your meals up into smaller and more frequent meals. Instead of having three large meals a day, have five small meals instead. But definitely try to eat them at a table with others. Eat dinner with the family at the table. You’ll sit and talk about your day and pay attention to what your eating. Also, you’ll eat it slower and thus will feel full when you’re done, instead of half an hour later. Which leads us to the next three rules:
Do all your eating at a table.
Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does. It’s not food, with the exception of milk and water. Also, it’s not cheap!
Try not to eat alone.
Consult your gut. Your body will tell you when you don’t need to eat anymore. Many of us have buried that little voice underneath what mom has told us since we were little, “Clean your plate!” If you seem to be eating less consistently, don’t put as much on your plate. Also, just think before you eat. You may simply be thirsty. Or what you thought you wanted isn’t what you wanted at all. Listen to your gut!
Eat slowly. It takes at least twenty minutes for food to get to your stomach. Take your time. Enjoy your food. Really taste it, experience all the flavors that are there. Don’t just hoover it all down and wonder why you’re still hungry.
Cook and, if you can, plant a garden. Being more involved with your meal helps you to appreciate it more. Also, by taking the time to cook a meal, instead of just heating it up, wakes your appetite up and you’ll be a bit hungrier by the time it’s done.

I will be using this book as a reference for myself and one to throw at others when they either ask how I am in such good shape, or they start getting annoying about how they eat. 😉 Either way, it’s a great read and a good book to have.


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