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The Diet Book You Can’t Miss – In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

December 28th, 2008 · 3 Comments ·


This book is an eye opener when comes to food – Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto. It is not really a typical diet book with recipe or calorie counting. The author shared with us why Western diet is the unhealthiest in the world. In fact, Michael Polloan’s 2006 book, “The Ominvore’s Dilemma,” was named one of the top 10 books of the year by the New York Times. I have read the book and here are some of its best extracts in my own words.

The Top 8 Important Tips Extracted From The Book:

  1. Don’t eat anything that your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Great grandmother, not even grandmother. So, assuming my great grandmother is still around, she should be 110 years old now, which is the year of 1898. At that time, no Starbucks coffee, no bottled yogurt drink, no chewing gum, no finger licking good Kentucky Fried Chicken.
  2. Avoid food products that make health claims. Many food companies spent much money to fund a research to come out with boldest claims in their marketing campaign. Therefore, you often heard how beer can help reduce heart attack or how chocolate prevent cancer type of scientific study. Worse, consumers tend to believe it. Most probably getting an excuse to eat those food. So, you can safely assume that if the food companies tried so hardy and convince us its product is healthy, it is usually not.


  3. Get out from the supermarket. Do not be misled by the statement and avoiding supermarket or convenience store at all costs. Rather, he is suggesting to avoid most of the processed products that are sold there. He mentioned that real food has disappeared from large areas of the supermarket and from much of the rest of the eating world. Avoid fast food outlet too. Go to farmers’ market instead. Buy locally grown goods like vegetables and eggs there.
  4. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves. Plant foods, especially those with leaves, are less energy-dense than most of the other things you might eat. By eating a plant-based diet, you will consume fewer calories (which is itself protective against many chronic diseases).
  5. Eat wild foods when you can. One of the most nutritious plants are seaweed because it is wild, and not grown purposely. Wild animals, too, are worth adding to your diet when you have the opportunity. But, do not kill any endangered species. Wild animal generally has less saturated fat and more omega-3 fatty acids than domesticated animals, because most wild animals eat a diverse diet of plants rather than grain. For example, wild fish have higher levels of omega-3s than fish rear in the pond.


  6. Eat less. Eat less when we get older. How? Serve smaller portions on smaller plates. Leave bones on your plate so that you can see how much you have eaten. Use glasses that are vertical than horizontal since people tend to pour more into squat glasses. Many have spent not only more money, but also more time. Eat less, and maybe you make up the financial difference.
  7. Eat meals. Many are snacking with junk food. People eat in front of TV, eat in the office and even in the car.
  8. Try not to eat alone. The author believes that we are less likely to eat more when others are watching. If you look at food marketing, it s designed to encourage people to eat in front of the TV or in the car.


Mun’s Comment

  • Pollan’s tone throughout makes the book a fast and entertaining read. However, there is still good bit of reporting, especially about the history of nutrition science.
  • The reason he did not share any recipe because he rather produced a series of rules that people could combine with their own inclinations so that they could have infinite number of eating styles and meal plans, instead of few rigid menu. He has boiled down the thrust of his argument to seven words. “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.”
  • Initially, I felt that he has made us feel hopeless, especially people living in city. However, having another deep thought – he is not trying to make us feel hopeless. Rather, he is trying to show what is wrong in order to give us the knowledge we need to fix it.
  • What impress me the most when he mentioned that we need to be as vitamin-conscious as the person who takes supplements, but don’t actually take them.

If there is a diet related book you need to read in this year, it has to be Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.



Category: Nutrition

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3 responses so far ↓
  • Tom Parker // Dec 29, 2008 at 3:32 AM

    Some good points there Mun, especially the first one. You can make your diet so much healthier by simply eating more real foods. Instead of going for that microwave meal have a stab at using real meats and vegetables to cook your own meal. Instead of going for that chocolate bar pick up a piece of fruit. Simple changes such as this can have a very positive impact on our overall health.

  • foongpc // Dec 30, 2008 at 1:23 AM

    I think I agree with everything he said in the book! I mean, I haven’t read the book yet, but agree with all the points you written. We are eating too much processed food, so stay away from supermarket is correct. Instead buy food from farmers’ market, although it’s sometimes hard for us to do that.

  • Angie Tan // Dec 30, 2008 at 11:37 AM

    Interesting book.

    Well, there’s a big revolution out there for people to start eating right and something called Slow Food Movement seems to be catching on, which is something I am interested to find out more about.

    Yep, we should stop eating less processed foods as you’re not entirely sure what is in that food, despite what the labels say. :-)

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