Food Rules – Michael Pollan, Maira Kalman Book Summary

Food Rules – Michael Pollan, Maira Kalman | Free Book Summary

Food Rules – Michael Pollan, Maira Kalman

We have been eating wrong all our lives. This book shakes our belief patterns on food and diet.

What we need to know about food

The western diet is responsible for nearly all Type II diabetics, 80% of all cardiovascular disorders, and 33% of all malignancies.

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These diseases do not affect populations that consume a diverse range of unrefined foods.

Your health may improve if you abandon the Western diet.

Food processing eliminates nutrients, introduces contaminants, and increases absorbability (causing insulin challenges).Free book, podcast summaries

The Western Diet

Populations that consume a so-called Western diet—generally defined as a diet high in processed foods and meat, high in added fat and sugar, high in refined grains, high in everything except vegetables, fruits, and whole grains—always suffer from Western diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

How can this be avoided?

  • Consume nutritious, local foods that your great-grandmother would recognise.
  • Anything processed should be avoided.
  • Purchase from your neighbourhood farmer’s market.
  • Avoid foods that include components that no normal person would keep in their pantry.
  • Avoid foods containing high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Avoid foods with sugar (or sweetener) listed as one of the first three ingredients.

A Different Diet

People who eat a diverse range of traditional foods are less likely to develop these chronic diseases. These diets range from extremely high in fat (the Inuit of Greenland live primarily on seal blubber) to extremely high in carbohydrate (Central American Indians live primarily on maize and beans) to extremely high in protein (Masai tribesmen in Africa subsist chiefly on cattle blood, meat, and milk).

They make you sick and then charge to make you feel better

The more food you process, the more profitable it becomes. Despite the fact that it is an unhealthy diet, you are usually marketed processed food because it is highly profitable for the companies.

The healthcare sector makes more money treating chronic diseases (trillions of dollars per year) than it does preventing them.

Example: Artificial sweeteners: For unknown reasons, research (in both humans and animals) suggests that switching to artificial sweeteners does not result in weight loss. However, it is possible that deceiving the brain with a sweet reward stimulates a craving for even more sweetness.

Food To Avoid

  • Food products with more than five ingredients should be avoided.
  • Avoid foods with ingredients that a third-grader could not pronounce.
  • Avoid eating foods that make health claims.
  • Food products with the wordoid “lite” or the terms “low-fat” or “nonfat” in their names should be avoided.
  • Avoid foods that masquerade as something they are not. Imitation butter, also known as margarine, is a classic example.
  • Avoid eating foods advertised on television. It’s not worth eating if they have to spend millions to sell it.

Consume only foods that will rot over time.

It’s not food if…

  • It’s not food if it came through your car window.
  • If it has the same name in every language, it is not food. (Consider the Big Mac, Cheetos, or Pringles.)
  • If it was not cooked by humans and came from an industrial plant, it is not food.

Remember: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was manufactured in a plant, avoid it.

The Truth About Plants

Scientists may disagree on what makes plants so beneficial—the antioxidants? fibre? What about omega-3 fatty acids?— But they all agree that they’re probably good for you and can’t hurt.

Countless studies show that a diet high in vegetables and fruits lowers the risk of dying from all Western diseases.

You’ll consume far fewer calories if you eat a plant-based diet, because plant foods—with the exception of seeds, grains, and nuts—are typically less “energy dense” than the other things you eat. Vegetarians live longer and are healthier than carnivores.

Remember, the whiter the bread, the quicker you’ll drop dead.

Fermented Foods

  • Two of the world’s most nutritious plants, lamb’s quarters and purslane, are weeds, and some of the healthiest traditional diets, such as the Mediterranean, make extensive use of wild greens.
  • Plants in the fields and forests contain higher levels of various phytochemicals than their domesticated cousins.
  • Many traditional cultures swear by the health benefits of fermented foods, such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, soy sauce, kimchi, and sourdough bread, which have been transformed by live microorganisms.
  • Many fermented foods also contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that help the digestive and immune systems function better and reduce allergic reactions and inflammation.

Those supplements are not working

  • Various studies have found that supplements do not work.
  • People who take supplements are healthy for reasons unrelated to the pills.
  • People who follow the rules of a traditional food culture eat healthier than those of us who eat a modern Western diet of processed foods.
  • Any traditional diet will suffice: People who follow it would not be alive if it were not a healthy diet.
  • When borrowing from a food culture, consider how the culture eats as well as what it eats.

How to Eat

  • What you eat may not be as important to your health (or weight) as how you eat.
  • Pay more and eat less, or, as grandmothers used to say, “pay the grocer rather than the doctor.”
  • Eat until you’re satisfied.
  • Do not ask yourself, “Am I full?” But, has my hunger subsided? That moment will come sooner than you think.
  • Consume food only when you are hungry, not when you are bored.
  • One old wives’ tale says that if you aren’t hungry enough to eat an apple, you aren’t hungry.
  • Consult your instincts.
  • Eat slowly and deliberately.
  • Breakfast fit for a king, lunch fit for a prince, and dinner fit for a pauper.
  • You must prepare your own food.

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