There are hundreds, maybe thousands of various diet books on the market with differing views on how to eat, what to eat, when to eat, etc.   We are told to eat, low-fat, low-carb, negative calorie (foods that cause you to burn more calories than contained in that food such as celery is crap), high protein, organic, low-salt, whole grain, only fruits and vegetables, vegetarian diets.  Then we have the Atkins Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Ketogenic Diet, Zone Diet, The Pritikin Principle, Eat for Your Type, or whatever Oprah is currently following.  Seriously, it’s mind numbing.  No wonder people are confused about how and what to eat.

Whats even more sad is the fact that we need a set of rules to tell us to basically eat what we were eating over a hundred years ago.  To help, Michael Pollan has written a book aptly titled “Food Rules” which clearly defines 64 basic rules to follow for choosing which foods to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat them.  I would almost call this the ant-diet book and serves more as a guide to eating (the right way).  It is written out in plain-English common sense which appeals to someone like me who believes that eating food should never has gotten as complex as it has.  It is a quick, easy read which I consider the cliff notes to his other fantastic books on eating “In Defense of Food” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A History of Four Meals“, both of which I have already read and highly recommend if you are a food geek like myself.  The list price for this book is $12 at the bookstore but I wouldn’t spend more than $5 online.

Some of the rules in the book I enjoyed were ones like  “eat food: we’re inundated with over 17,000 food-like substances in the supermarket.  Is it even food?  Is it healthy for us?” or “avoid eating food products with ingredients a 3rd grader would not be able to pronounce” or my favorite which is “it’s not food if it is called the same name in every language (think Big Mac, Cheetos, and Pringles”.

Here is my own personal list of “Food Rules” that I follow-or try to follow-every day.


  1. Go grocery shopping more than once a week and buy mostly fresh fruits and vegetables, the lower the shelf life the better it is for you.
  2. Buy local because it is usually cheaper and local markets usually don’t carry all the extra crap like Twinkies that you don’t need anyways.
  3. Shop the perimeter only, seriously.  I know you’ve heard this one before but do you actually do it?
  4. Buy oats, nuts, and brown rice in bulk.  Save your money and don’t buy anything “instant”.
  5. Only buy frozen vegetables and fruit from the freezer isle.  I buy bulk frozen berries from the store to add to smoothies and oatmeal every day.
  6. Have your snack list ready so you don’t buy extra stuff you don’t need.  I stock up on fruit, cottage cheese, Greek yogurt, nuts, and whole food bars like LaraBars.
  7. Have extra sources of protein available if you are unable to get enough in for the day.  I can’t stress this enough but whey and casein protein powders can help you reach any goal whether it is building muscle or burning fat.


  1. Do all your cooking and prep work like fruit and veggie chopping in one day.  I do this every Sunday and it takes a couple hours but you are setting yourself up for success for the whole week.  Most people eat food that is convenient.
  2. Make large batches with tons of veggies that can be reheated all week.  I use my slow cooker to make stuff like chili and beef stew.
  3. Use your own ingredients.  If your ingredient has it’s own ingredients then it is not an ingredient.


  1. Use healthy recipes you find online or in a cookbook.  I find my best recipes by googling “healthy recipes”.  Go figure.
  2. Don’t eat in front of the T.V.  This was a big no no when I was growing up and still should be.
  3. Eat slowly.  Chew and enjoy.  If your food tastes like crap take cooking lessons.
  4. Put on some music, have a drink (one drink that pairs with the meal), and cook with your significant other or grill with your friends.  Food is meant to be enjoyed from start to finish and should be a lonely task.
  5. Do my dishes…I mean your dishes. (I really mean mine)

If you are really having trouble with the nutrition part of your weightloss puzzle then follow a planned eating guide I highly recommend  like the Precision Nutrition program by John Berardi.  Another less expensive program would be Leigh Peele’s Body By Eats which I would also recommend.


Written by Steve