Some people will eat anything. Doesn’t matter what it is. Doesn’t matter where it’s from. Doesn’t matter what producing it might have done to other people, animals or the environment. Doesn’t matter what it does to their bodies or their health. Unfortunately, many in the world have little choice.
For those who don’t eat anything — and have a choice in the matter — there are “food rules.” Some have rules for health reasons. Others for moral reasons. Others for environmental reasons. Or socioeconomic, political or religious reasons. Some people boycott particular companies. Some people have food allergies. Some are on diets. Some people have eating disorders. Others just don’t like the taste of certain foods. Some go on hunger strikes. Some create rules based on a combination of these reasons.
Carnivores eat meat. Vegetarians don’t. Omnivores eat plants and animals. Ovolactovegetarians only eat eggs, dairy and vegetables. Pescetarians eat fish, but not meat. Fruitarians eat fruits, nuts and seeds, but not animal products, vegetables or grains. Vegans don’t any animal-based products. Locavores only eat locally-sourced food. Raw foodies only eat raw food. People on the Paleolithic diet eat the presumed wild plants and animals that various human species consumed during the Stone Age. Some eat just Halal, or Hindi, or kosher. Cookie monster…well you know what he ate.
Michael Pollan offers three simple rules in his 2008 book In Defense of Food: 1) Eat food. 2) Mostly plants. 3) Not too much. (Last year, Pollan released Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual.)
Diet coach Dr. Judy Citron suggests: 1) Only eat when you’re hungry. 2) Don’t eat standing up. 3) Eat smaller portions and eat more slowly.
Author of best-selling diet book I Can Make You ThinPaul McKenna recommends: 1) When you are hungry, eat. 2) Eat what you want (not what you think you “should”). 3) Eat consciously and enjoy every mouthful. 4) Stop when you are full.
YES! Magazine blogger Vicki Robin has eight rules, created after a month of “hyperlocavorism” (she only purchased food that was produced within a 10-mile radius of her home):
- I will purchase as much as possible direct from the producer.
- I will savor, say grace, and eat slowly and with others as often as possible in my solo, willful, and busy life. I will cook for others as much as possible. From scratch.
- I will allow my life as an eater to make me aware of the web of life that supports me, and all of us. I can use a phrase as simple as “food system” to remember.
- I will inform myself about the regulations, laws, and customs that give us both obesity and starvation. I will vote about it. I will write about it. I will donate.
- I can nudge the system in the right direction with my choices, and I intend to. I will support local sustainable agriculture everywhere. I will work towards the ideal John Robbins talks about: “May all be fed.”
- I will ground myself in the presence of judgment-my judgment of myself and others; others’ judgment of me-and just love the one I’m with. We are all such marvelous day-glo beings, full of color and life.
- I will enjoy the sensual, delicious act of eating.
- Continue to write about, think about, research, advocate for-and eat-food.
No matter what food rules we may or may not have for ourselves, it makes sense to think about what goes in our bodies — and why. Indeed, from overweight fathers passing on a diabetes risk to their children to salmonella risk from dirty industrial egg farms to tainted peanuts from Georgia, scientific research and current events continue to prove the old adage that we are what we eat.
To paraphrase Socrates, an unexamined diet is not worth eating — especially when it comes to hemlock.