The Secret to Simple, Healthy Eating—in Seven Words

The Secret to Simple, Healthy Eating—in Seven Words

As a continuation of the clean-eating series, in this post, we look at simplifying what you eat using a straightforward seven-word guide.

Kicking off the new year with healthy eating habits

With the new year just around the corner, many people will make the annual New Year’s resolution to eat better and lose weight. Some will resort to diets with catchy names (remember the Cabbage Soup Diet?) in hopes of shedding pounds quickly and easily.

However, like most New Year’s resolutions, the initial enthusiasm is sure to dwindle (right around week two of eating only what the diet says you can). 

Enjoying the benefits of healthy eating has less to do with a diet and more to do with changing how you think about food. 

That’s where a simple mantra comes in. 

Michael Pollan, the prolific author and thought leader on nature, culture and how we eat, coined the following seven-word phrase: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

In a short PBS video, Pollan talks about the seven words. 

Eat food: The foods we’ve been eating for a long time that are not processed. Choose food your grandmother prepared, such as meat, fish, vegetables, fruits and grains.

Not too much: Food portions in the U.S. have expanded to an alarming size in recent decades. Unfortunately, the piled-high plate has become a habit, blurring our perception of what we need to eat to feel satisfied. 

Experiment with food quantities, by halving what’s on the plate and waiting a while before going back for seconds.

Mostly plants: For many, meat is the dominant food on the plate with vegetables playing a side role (ever heard of a side of meat?). 

Try switching things up by creating your meal around vegetables. You may notice that you feel more comfortable after eating as your system digests the lighter fare.

Keeping food choices simple for long-term benefits

As we mentioned in our last post, removing processed foods from your diet is a good start. Often, processed foods include added sugar, salt and fat. These unnecessary ingredients can lead to weight gain and contribute to chronic health issues (like diabetes and heart disease). 

Also, walking into the supermarket can turn a quick trip to pick up a few things into filling the cart with boxed and canned foods. It’s an easy trap to fall into—the packaging is bright and the marketing promises ‘lower cholesterol’ or ‘improve heart health.’

Here’s something to consider: Pollan discusses the center-aisle packaged food as taking food from a beautiful, natural product and turning it into an “edible food-like substance.”

Navigating food shopping the healthy way

What if next time you dropped by the supermarket, you didn’t go down the middle food aisles? 

What if you shopped in the produce section first? There are no marketing claims or complicated ingredient labels. 

Most likely, your shopping experience would result in healthier choices.  Moreover, that would put you on a path for eating good food, not too much and mostly plants.