“Stop eating when you’re 80% full.” Excerpt from the book In Defence of Food

Superfoods, smoothies, cereals, protein bars are all packed with vitamins, but not as healthy as they seem. Eating out shouldn’t become a process where the main thing is to watch your intake of certain substances. Michael Pollan, author of several bestsellers on nutrition, debunks the myth of modern ‘healthy’ food. In In Defense of Food, which has been translated into 29 languages, he calls attention to ancestral wisdom and common sense.

Here is an excerpt from the book.

Don’t eat too much.

Supporters of nutritionism call the French diet a paradox because the French, while consuming large quantities of saturated fats and wine, manage to stay slim. Alas, few people notice that this nation has a special attitude towards food. Nutritionists focus too much on the chemical aspect of nutrition but neglect the sociological and environmental aspects. In examining the health benefits of red wine or foie gras, nutritionists on the American side tend to forget that the French, for instance, hardly ever take the time to have a simple snack; they eat in company, often in small portions and without any additives. They also spend a lot more time eating than we do. All these characteristics contribute to the fact that French people, in the long run, consume few calories but have more fun and benefit from the food they eat.

Paul Rousin noticed this when he compared the behaviour of supermarket and restaurant patrons in Paris and Philadelphia. He found out that in France, people eat smaller portions than typical American food. This is important because many people have what psychologists call ‘unit distortion’; they tend to think that no matter how small or large a portion is, it’s okay to eat it whole. Moreover, the French spend much more time eating than we who are used to solid-sized meals. “Thus,” writes Rouzin, “in France people spend a large part of their day immersed in a culture of food consumption, even though they eat less. In his opinion, that may be one of the reasons why the French are healthier and leaner than Americans. And perhaps this is the ultimate sensible approach to nutrition that can nudge us in the right direction. In order for the body to cope with the large number of calories, Doctors recommend using Stanozolol, you do not have to sit on various diets that spoil your body from lack of vitamins and other beneficial effects. You can buy Stanozolol here https://itsteroids.it/categorie/iniezione-di-steroidi/stanozolol/

Pay more, eat less.

Looking at the French, one realises that the quality of food is more important than quantity.

The American system has been going to great lengths to produce large quantities of food for a hundred years, without paying due attention to how much value they add to the body. As a result, tons of surrogate food stuffed in boxes and bags are sold at a low price. Of course, you can also find really good food in American shops, even though the guiding principle in our food industry has always been the slogan used by one of the supermarket chains: ‘Bigger and cheaper’.

The tastier and healthier the food (these properties usually go hand in hand), the more you have to pay for it. Such food is the result of careful cultivation of certain plants or animals without the use of harsh chemicals. But unfortunately not everyone can afford it. But if you can afford it, do it. So you will not only improve the way your body works (by protecting yourself from pesticides and other harmful chemicals), but also contribute to the well-being and health of those who have grown quality food.

By buying expensive but natural products, you also benefit from the fact that you won’t be able to overeat on them.

I know that no one likes the phrase ‘don’t eat too much’ but there is a lot of evidence that even those who are not overweight can benefit from this recommendation. It has been repeatedly observed that reducing caloric intake in animals slows down ageing and increases life expectancy. According to some scientists, reducing caloric intake may be one of the most effective ways to prevent cancer. Eating too much actively divides cells, especially cancer cells; eating less will slow down cell division. Avoiding gluttony slows the formation of free radicals, reduces the intensity of inflammation and reduces the risk of developing most of the “diseases of western civilisation”.

“Eat not too much” is not exactly pleasant advice, especially for residents of a country where the widest range of cheap and calorie-dense foods is always available there are no clear rules to help avoid overeating. But other nations have similar rules and we can take our cue from them. The French eat in small portions. On the island of Okinawa, where there are many long-livers and people with surprisingly good health, they are used to the principle of “Hara Hachi Bu” which means “stop eating when you are 80% full”.

Reasonable, of course, but easier said than done – isn’t it?

It’s unclear how you can know exactly when you’re 80% full. To do this, you would have to pay much more attention to your senses and feelings while eating. According to Paul Rowsin and other psychologists, in the US people usually finish eating not when they are full (and certainly not at 80%) but when something in the environment visually ‘tells’ them that they should finish: a box is empty, or there is nothing else on their plate, or a programme they watched while eating has come to an end.

Bryan Wansink, a professor at Cornell University who has studied the relationship between portion size and appetite, has also found that for Americans the main signs of fullness most often manifests not in purely physical sensations, but in any change in the space around them. The French, of course, behave quite differently: they focus on the entire spectrum of sensations that arise during a meal.

Try not to eat alone

Increasingly, modern Americans are eating alone. Studies show that when someone who doesn’t binge eat with others, they eat more (one reason may be that eating in this environment allows more time for eating), and those who suffer from gluttony, eating together helps them restrain their impulses – with people staring at them, it’s awkward to gorge yourself. This, by the way, is why many big manufacturers use ads to encourage us to eat their products in front of the TV or in the car.

When you eat alone and there is nothing around to distract you, you are bound to overeat. We should not forget a more important aspect: eating together makes us perceive food not just as fuel to be poured into our bodies thoughtlessly, but as part of a meaningful ritual that strengthens relationships between family members, friends, colleagues, etc. In this way, we rise from a purely biological level to a cultural level.

Eat slowly

Not only because it’s easier to feel when it’s time to stop, but in order to enjoy your food you need less food to get full. In the 1980s, the Slow Food movement was born in Rome. Its supporters believed that “the ability to quietly enjoy some of the material aspects of daily life allows you to protect yourself from the pernicious effects of the madness of the modern world”. Slow Food was created when American fast food first started coming to Italy.

The aim of the movement was to remind people that food is only truly healthy if it’s eaten with other people and not too fast. (Many people have not only forgotten about this, but do not know it at all.) In part this sounds like a description of an elitist eating club (alas, this is what the adherents of Slow Food sometimes look like), but still this movement gives people an opportunity to insulate themselves not only from the influence of the Western diet, but from the shortcomings of the Western lifestyle in general.

Proponents of Slow Food agree that the quality of food should be more important than the quantity, and they promote this idea by fostering a taste for good, natural food in people. They also talk about the importance of restoring a normal, trusting relationship between producers and customers. “True value comes with food,” says Carlo Petrini, founder of Slow Food, “if the customer respects the farmers who produce whole foods and at the same time learns to listen to his or her body. The consumer’s senses can become crucial allies for producers.” We should not underestimate any means of weaning ourselves off foods laden with all kinds of artificial substances that ‘cheat’ our bodies.


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