And you don’t have to “supersize” or load up your plate to eat enough to fill you up. Michael Pollan says we confuse the amount of food with the food experience. We tend to equate quantity with enjoyment when they’re not the same thing. Europeans and most Eastern cultures eat far less food overall than Americans, yet still have intense food experiences. The meal itself, and the shared enjoyment is what makes the eating experience pleasurable. And although you’ll find some of our American “fast food” in other countries, you’re more likely to see people eating leisurely family dinners or lingering over a meal in a café rather than eating behind the wheel of the car!
Preparation doesn’t have to be complicated and you don’t really need a lot of heavy sauces when you use quality ingredients and take the time to cook them properly. When you choose vegetables and fruits in season, they just taste better, and when your taste is satisfied, you feel full faster. You might be surprised to know that a wide variety of crops are harvested in the fall (squash, apples, endive, garlic, grapes, figs, mushrooms) and winter (citrus, kale, radishes, turnips, leeks) in addition to products that we usually associate with the summer, like sweet peas, corn, peaches, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and green beans!
And don’t get me wrong, eating at a restaurant can still fit into your healthy lifestyle. Again, choose places where the food is actually prepared, not pre-manufactured and take the time to actually dine, not just “unzip” your mouth, throw the food in and leave!
Tasting menus and tapas plates at many restaurants offer wonderful flavors to experience with others, without the massive portions at the “factory” restaurants. And offering tastes to others at your table makes dining out a shared experience that everyone can savor. It’s a good way to try new foods without having to commit to an entire plateful.
On a recent family trip, we ordered a couple of plates (some meat and some seafood) for the table, sliced, portioned and served family style. Without a full plate to “clean,” we all had our fill without overeating (and some of us even tried foods we had never eaten)!
Pollan says to think of the law of diminishing marginal utility. When you realize the real pleasure in food comes in the first couple bites, and it diminishes thereafter, that’s a kind of reminder to focus on the experience.
So, defined, real food is:
food [food] n 1. something that nourishes, sustains, or supplies.
real [ree-uhl, reel] adj 1. true and actual; not artificial
The current “real food” movement honors the cultural aspect of eating by identifying the importance of tradition and relationships in our food experiences, and also takes into account the pleasure we derive from food’s taste and our connection to those tastes.
It’s not a guarantee by any means, but the idea is, if you eat real food, your body will respond positively, be it losing or maintaining weight, or building both strength and endurance.
And check out Pollan’s short pamphlet-like book, Food Rules. He wrote it with a simple rule (actually sixty-four rules) concept. We’re all so overwhelmed with the research on nutrition, but he says you don’t need to know all the science (of nutrition) to make smart decisions. It provides “a real radical distillation of everything (he’s) been working on. It’s really just to help people to act. It’s about daily practice more than theory.”