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Food rules: Help for the terminally confused

Sheesh! I am so sick of changing nutritional advice. When I was young, bread and potatoes made you fat. My grandmother said so. But, by some miracle, 30 years later, these same foods didn’t make you fat. No, it was just the buttery toppings you put on them. So said the nutritionists back then and we got permission to carbo-load. And now, deep into the age of the glycemic index, bread and potatoes make you fat again.

There are a gaggle of other confusions. Eat meat – you need it to be big and strong. Or, don’t eat meat – draft horses don’t eat meat and they are big and strong. Or, got milk? Good. But, on the other hand, milk is food for baby cows, not for humans: lactose intolerance tells us so.

And on and on until you want to throw in the towel and eat anything that fits in your mouth. So will someone out there please boil it down and tell us what is true? Are there any enduring truths, some universal rules to guide us as we trundle our carts around the supermarket?



Enter best-selling author, Michael Pollan, he who has made it his business to seek out the basics of nutrition. His most recent book is a short and sweet little thing called “Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual. The book answers the questions: What should I eat? How should I eat? Pollan distills world-wide nutritional research into short guideposts. You can read his book in one evening.

Because people who eat the typical Western diet – processed foods, a lot of meat, much sugar, much fat – suffer from a high rate of Western diseases: obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. It’s that simple: our diet makes us sick.




Pollan’s mantra is this: Eat food, mostly plants, not too much. And by food, Pollan means the plants and animals people have been eating for generations, not the highly processed foods that are coming to dominate the American diet.

In all, there are 64 tips in Food Rules, including such gems as: Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk. Also: If it comes from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.

If learning the food rules has exhausted you and you’d like to let someone else whip up a meal that Pollan would like, check out the Thai Kitchen Restaurant, 149 South Auburn, Grass Valley, open under new management and nicely refurbished. Even Cranky Pants will eat his veggies when the ladies at Thai Kitchen cook them up nice and crisp. You can choose to add beef, pork, chicken or tofu to their dishes – so all the taste bases are covered. Whole grain rice is available and delicious. Weekday lunches include soup and steamed rice and are just $8.95.

The Thai Kitchen menu is on page 40 of Waiters on the Go, a publication listing the take-out menus of Nevada County’s favorite restaurants. Several of them advertise their veggie options including Beach Hut Deli, Amigo’s, Afternoon Deli, Briarpatch, Diego’s, India Oven and Summer Thymes.

Call Waters On the Go at (530) 477-2899 or pick up their publication at many of our local restaurants. Online menus and info at waitersonthegoonline.com. Delivery charges range from $8.99 to 14.99.

Now to convince Cranky Pants we need to order out for broccoli.

Mel Walsh is a gerontologist, author and columnist. Her book, Hot Granny, is available at The Book Seller in Grass Valley. Visit Mel at http://www.melwalsh.com.


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