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7 Michael Pollan-isms that will change your life

By Marie-Antoinette Issa |


IQS: Michael Pollan
Photo by: Netflix

You may have heard of Michael Pollan. His famous quote: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” resonates with so much of what we believe.

Sarah is a long-time fan of the writer and food advocate. In fact, she admits reading his Pollan-isms left her “transfixed.”

“He lays out the most deadset simple rules for eating that don’t tax willpower and brainpower,” says Sarah. “And they work. For health and for the planet.”

Unsurprisingly, his inspirational and easy approach to eating aligns with Sarah’s commitment to keeping things Simplicious.

But if he’s passed you by, here’s a quick introduction to one of our favourite foodies, and how you can apply his “Pollan principles” to change the way you eat, shop and live.

So who is Michael Pollan?

Journalist, author, producer and food advocate, Michael Pollan is probably best-known for his best-selling books, including Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual and In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto.

And now he’s at it again, with a documentary series Cooked, which looks at the evolution of what food means to us.

Why is the Michael Pollan message so powerful?

Whether printed out or produced for the small screen, Michael Pollan’s philosophies aim to simplify our approach to food. His Pollan-isms comes in response to what he calls the American paradox: “The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become,” he says. And he’s not afraid to use his platform to offer solutions to fixing it.

Pollan-isms to live by.

  1. “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Michael succinctly sums up the best way to wellness in seven simple words. This mantra, perhaps his most famous, comes from his book In Defense of Food, and as well as being super catchy, we love all it encapsulates.

Just Eating Real Food is the perfect platform to quit sugar. In fact, JERFing, avoiding processed foods, and eating a plant-based diet, is at the core of the I Quit Sugar message and one of the easiest ways you can give it up.

  1. “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food.”

Michael is an advocate of eating like your ancestors. And going back to the way your nanna cooked is one of the best things you can do for your future health.

For some IQS-approved, old-school wellness tricks, try sticking to meat and three veg, using real butter, eating whole foods like egg yolks and chicken skin, and even making your own bone broth like granddad did.

  1. “Real food tends to be on the perimeters of the supermarket…”

Unlike the middle aisles – stocked with mostly packaged food – the outer edges focus on fresh meat, fish, dairy and produce. The kind Michael says, “will eventually rot – which is a good thing for food.” When you build your diet on this type of produce, you automatically reduce sugars and unfamiliar, unpronounceable ingredients that can derail your plans for health.

  1. “We are what we eat eats too.”

Animals and plants are affected by the environments in which they are raised and grown. To maximise the nutritional density of these choices, make like Michael and stick to Sarah’s advice by picking sustainable, grass-fed meats,free-range eggs and organic vegetables whenever possible.

Your health and the planet will thank you.

  1. “Shake the hand that feeds you.”

Eating locally can be a fool-proof way to eat for wellness. Sarah often summaries her eating principles as a focus on sustainable food choices.  

“One of the biggest environmental issues on the planet? Food wastage. The biggest factor in the food wastage chain? Us. Consumers.” she says.

  1. “The cook in the kitchen preparing a meal from plants and animals… has a great many things to worry about, but ‘health’ is simply not one of them, because it is given.”

Domesticating yourself and learning to cook is one of the best choices you can make for wellness.

Sarah says, “Learning to cook is not negotiable. It means you know what’s going into your food and it’s a skill you will keep for a lifetime.” It’s why we’re big on homemade recipes at I Quit Sugar.

  1. “Most of what we’re consuming today is no longer, strictly speaking, food at all, and how we’re consuming it – in the car, in front of the TV, and, increasingly, alone – is not really eating, at least not in the sense that civilisation has long understood the term.”

Adopting a mindful mantra when you approach eating may be one of the most important decisions to make for your health. In fact, simply changing your behaviours to ensure self-awareness before you eat, can improve your emotional state and take you on a journey to wellness that lasts longer than lunch.  

What Pollan-isms or other food mantras do you live by?

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