Rule 1 Change your meal perspective!
When it comes to good nutrition, essayist & food expert Michael Pollan says it best,
Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
All of this could easily sum up Pollan’s perspective, but, of course, he doesn’t just leave it at that! For the sake of clarity, he continues with some great foodie advice as a way of making his message clear. According to Pollan, “A little meat won’t kill you, though it’s better approached as a side dish than as a main.” Pollan, a self-proclaimed flexitarian, basically says that you don’t need to cast meat out completely, but simply shifting perspective on the traditional meal paradigm can go a long way. In regards to meat restriction, the truth is— “Vegetarians are healthier than carnivores, but near vegetarians (“flexitarians”) are as healthy as vegetarians.” Ultimately, personal and/or ethical choices determine the dietary lifestyle one chooses, but no matter where you stand with your foodie beliefs one thing is certain: “mostly plants” is key.
Growing up I always regarded the meat of a meal as the brawny, good stuff – a royal superior to the rest of the peasant side dishes. I guess you can say I was pretty elitist with my food, and many of you might relate to this also. Meat has always been widely promoted and encouraged, and fruits and veggies have often taken the sidelines, or even worse, aren’t even considered team players! And that’s not to say that meat isn’t at all nutritious, but I just think that fruits and veggies haven’t always gotten the best press. As Pollan says,
Don’t take the silence of the yams as a sign that they have nothing valuable to say about health.
The more I’ve been educating myself on the food topic, the more I’ve found that open-mindedness and small, significant shifts go a long way. Any time I go out to a restaurant, I’ve made a conscious effort to see the veggies as the good stuff—something that has become more natural with time. First, I scan the veggies on the menu and then I consider whether or not I’d like any meat to accompany my main dish. To be honest, it felt kinda funny at first— especially since most menus showcase the meaty entrees, but it’s amazing how a perspective shift can create a positive dietary change. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten this many veggies in my entire life! And I encourage you to challenge your current food perspective too.
Rule 2 Have a Worldly Appetite!
Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks.
According to Pollan logic: there is always something to learn when you engage in a cultural experience; if a culture has been around for several centuries, they must’ve learned at least a thing or two about food, happiness, and longevity. Pollan advises,
Pay attention to how a culture eats, as well as to what it eats.
In the case of the French paradox, it may not be the dietary nutrients that keep the French healthy so much as the dietary habits: small portions, no seconds or snacking, communal meals — and the serious pleasure taken in eating.” When it comes to the ‘food experience,’ approach might be just as important as selection. Things such as portion control (a behavioral habit), leisure and stress management are equally important to what you’re eating when it comes to living longer.
Countries that reportedly live the longest and healthiest lives include: Japan (Okinawa), Italy (Sardinia), Costa Rica (Nicoya), and Greece (Ikaria). It’s no surprise that some of these countries are on my places to visit list!
Remember, shifting food perspective, learning from other cultures, stress management, healthy habits, and plenty of greens is an excellent recipe for living a longer, healthier life!
**Dont forget to leave any comments or thoughts about this topic. How have you shifted your perspective? What have you learned from other cultures about food? Share!