Monday, February 1, 2010

I'm Hungry

Since January 4 I’ve been part of a six-week fitness/diet challenge through The Fitness Zone in Hot Springs. This is the third year I’ve subjected myself to this craziness. But it works. The first year I lost 14 pounds, and I’ve managed to keep it off. It’s amazing how much easier it is to do push-ups and pull-ups and run when you’re carrying fourteen less pounds. The challenge does a lot of people a lot of good. Participants earn points for exercise and for sticking with the diet plan. Exercise—no problem. Diet plan—big problem—at least for me.

I like to eat. I like to eat what I want to eat. And what I want to eat isn’t always on the challenge diet. Can you believe that chocolate chip cookies didn’t make the diet? And where is the spaghetti and the pizza and the barbecue? Not there either—oh the humanity!! In all fairness however, participants are allowed a cheat meal on Saturday and a recovery day on Sunday to eat whatever we want. You think you look forward to the weekends now? Get on this diet and weekends can’t get here soon enough. Forget Friday. "Thank God it's Sunday!" is my mantra for the challenge.

Anyway, I picked up a book the other day to help me get a better grasp of this whole food thing: what’s best to eat, what to avoid, how much is too much, etc. The book is called Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. It’s written by Michael Pollan. The dude’s not a nutritionist; he’s a journalist—but a journalist educated in all things food. He’s written other books on the subject like In Defense of Food and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. And he’s even won an award or two for his books.

What I like about Food Rules is that he keeps things short, pithy, witty, and in sync with common sense. He lays out the book in three sections, counseling us to eat food, to eat mostly plants, and to not eat too much. Within each section he states basic rules about eating—64 in all. Here are some of my favorites:

Rule 2: Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

Rule 7: Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.

Rule 12: Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.

Rule 13: Eat only foods that will eventually rot.

Rule 19: If it was made from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.

Rule 20: It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.

Rule 24: Eating what stands on one leg (mushrooms and plant foods) is better than eating what stands on two legs (fowl), which is better than eating what stands on four legs (cows, pigs, and other mammals).

Rule 35: Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature.

Rule 36: Don’t eat cereal that changes the color of the milk.

Rule 37: The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.

Rule 39: Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself.

Rule 47: Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored.

Rule 57: Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.

Rule 64: Break the rules once in a while. (This is my personal favorite.)

Food Rules is a quick read and a fun read. The book also struck a spiritual note with me because it reminds me of the glory of God’s creation and His ample provision for our basic food needs. The Bible doesn’t require a believer to live by a certain diet. Jesus said that Old Testament food laws aren’t binding on those who follow Him. But we can learn a lot from Bible food laws. Most of them are pretty much in sync with modern nutritional guidelines. And just exercising a little common sense in our eating practices will go a long way toward helping us shed some unneeded pounds and improve our overall health. And who knows? It may even help us live out this admonition of the Apostle Paul—one of his food rules: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Thank you, God, for food.


  1. I haven't yet read the book, John, but as a registered dietitian, I AGREE with all the "rules" that you posted! I'm excited about the new fitness ministry at church. Can't wait to see what God is going to do with this! Laura Lockwood

  2. Thanks, Laura. I think you'd enjoy that book. It's a quick read but chocked-full of good stuff.