Rules, Rules, Rules…Too many rules?

Rules of Etiquette

This post originally appeared as a guest post on the Attune Foods blog.

Are you familiar with Michael Pollan’s work?  If not, stop what you’re doing and go get yourself copies of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food right now. These two books have been a driving force in the recent change in conversation about real food.

They were also a big part of what encouraged me to re-focus my life on helping myself and others find ways to eat and live more healthfully. So when Food Ruleshis follow-up to In Defense, came out a couple of years ago, I picked it up as soon as I could.

This short book is a collection of somewhere around a hundred brief guidelines for healthy eating. As I read it, I found myself nodding at each one, thinking, “Yup, that sounds good.”

But what happened after I turned the page? The previous rule fell out of my head, and I was on to the next one, nodding in agreement once again.

After making my way through all those rules, I was completely overwhelmed. It’s just too complicated! As an awareness or educational exercise, the book is absolutely terrific. But as a “how to” guide? I think it fails miserably.

Contrast that with his wonderfully simple, spot-on advice from In Defense of Food:  “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

If you were to choose that one line as your healthy eating mantra, how effective do you think it would be?  Certainly far more so than trying to remember (let alone follow) a hundred other rules, right?

My point is this: We need to keep it real, and we need to keep it simple. With so much on our plates these days (pun intended, sorry), it’s mission-critical to find ways to whittle things down to the really important stuff.  The simple stuff we can remember and take action upon, day in and day out, so it becomes a consistent way of life.

Personally, I eventually settled on three of my own rules, which became the foundation of my blog. They’re not perfect — but I try hard not to let perfect be the enemy of good.

  1. When you eat grains, eat only 100% whole grains.
  2. Don’t eat high fructose corn syrup (here’s why).
  3. Don’t eat hydrogenated oils, trans fats, or anything that’s been deep-fried.

(I also add a corollary, to make this work in real life:  Once a week, go ahead and cheat. Eat anything you want… Because I love french fries as much as you do.)

So those are my rules for keeping it really simple. Do you have your own set of rules?  If so, share in the comments!

Photo by -Jeffrey-.

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