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One of my favorite sayings about food is Michael Pollan’s dictate to “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” That about covers all the food rules a person needs to have. Admittedly, it’s not always easy to do.

Pollan suggests we should eat foods our great grandmother would recognize and only rarely eat the ones that are boxed or made in a plant or otherwise processed. How many generations away are we from eating real food? My first food was not breast milk but formula. 

Pollan notes in this article that "The American paradox is we are a people who worry unreasonably about dietary health yet have the worst diet in the world.” Perhaps we simply like to worry? Or have the luxury to do so? Or perhaps being so many generations away from real food has made the processed kind increasingly irresistible as it saturates our holidays and family memories. 

If you like rules, this article lists 7 that Pollan explains to help guide our food choices. Remember that whichever rules you choose, they should make you happy. Eat happily.

Daverick Leggett, a farmer and teacher, echoes a similar sentiment as Pollan in this article. Legget says most of us eat too much and we worry too much about what we eat. Worry creates stress that interferes with digestion. Leggett writes, “So worry, especially about food, is damaging. In fact I would go further and say that today worrying about food, overwhelmed as we are by too much often contradictory information and stimulation, has become a pathology.” 

His article ends with these rules: “don’t worry, enjoy, eat less, eat better, consider the rhythms of nature, have fun in the kitchen and eat an inclusive, broad diet.” What would happen if we took any one of these principles and played with it for a while? 

Try this. Choose one of those ideas – don’t worry, enjoy, eat less, have fun in the kitchen. Ask yourself which one shift you’d most like to make and is best for the fall season. Ask yourself which one you’d like to apply to your whole life, not just your relationship with eating. Make a big (and pretty) sign that you post in your kitchen. Play with it throughout autumn. In early December, decide if you’d like to continue to focus on that one principle through winter or you’d like to choose another principle for the next three months.

I recently read a post about Chinese Traditional Medicine that gives me another set of 3 very simple guides for food. I can ask: Who is the eater? What is the amount? What is the condition?

There are no good or bad foods. There may be, however, appropriate and less beneficial amounts of food for a particular person to eat at a particular time. I might eat chocolate, a stimulant, in the morning but not at night. I might enjoy ice cream when I’m feeling healthy and the weather is warm but avoid it when it’s colder or when I’m not feeling great.

I don’t want to add too many rules, but, really, we have to keep this one in the forefront: Eat with joy and gusto.

Here’s a rule, the rule of Enough, that continues to challenge me.  Eat a little less than you think you need or want and see if you are satisfied 20 minutes later. Be patient. Learn how to eat not too little and not too much, but just the right amount for you right now.

Enjoy eating with other people, which is one of the best digestive aids available.

 Relish fruits and vegetables that are locally in season. It’s the season! Savor. Enjoy. Be nourished.