Eat Anything You Want, Just Cook It Yourself

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Want to learn how to eat well without the need for fad diets or deprivation? This short video narrated by Michael Pollan does a nice job of explaining his simple “just cook” rule:

Found via Farnam Street. Also see my book review of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Some other thought-provoking videos on the same RSA channel as well.

It’s now been nearly a month of cooking mostly at home from scratch. With proper planning, the cooking hasn’t been too overwhelming and we are definitely spending less money on food. But I must admit I haven’t lost much weight. The food is so good and new and interesting… I’m eating too much! Hopefully I’ll adapt and perhaps I’m getting healthier in other ways (less salt, preservatives, binders, fillers, etc).

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  1. Captain Betty says

    Just knock out the carbs (breads, grains, sugars and starches); stick with proteins, fats and good veggies and low sugar fruits – you’ll be satisfied longer, you’ll loose weight and your health will improve. I’ve been low carb/paleo for over 4yrs and dropped 50lbs. I’d strongly suggest watching FAT HEAD the movie (on netflix or at your library).

  2. Listen to the Cap'n says

    Definitely want to echo what Captain Bettie wrote. Polan’s right that french fries are a pain to make, but rice, baked potatoes and cake from a box are not (to say nothing of soda pop!). Pollan’s advice is a huge (and very important) first step, but taking the next step of making better choices at the grocery aisle can help a lot. For me, cutting out most of the carbs led to taking off nearly 20% of my body weight (from an overweight (but not obese) starting point).

  3. In my experience, you are more likely be eating more when you are the cook and the Dad of the house.

    The reason being, men, like myself, tend to be overly proud of their own cooking. So when the food turn out to be good, they indulge; when it turn out bad, they eat more to pretend it is good or to destroy the evidence of bad cooking.

    On top of that, if you are a Dad, you end up finishing whatever your wife and/or kids couldn’t or wouldn’t finish anyway, whether at home or eating out.

    So for all the aspired home-cooking dads out there, expect better health, but don’t expect weight loss (unless you have infants who do not sleep through the night)

  4. I wholly respect Pollan and his approach to eating real food and healing your body naturally, but if this bit about losing weight by cooking was true, Paula Dean would be a stick figure…but she’s not. She’s a fantastic cook with diabetes who leaned heavily on butter, fat, and sugar. Cooking at home is a start and a great foundation to better health, but it is not all that there is. Making good choices (lots of veggies, lean protein, and less calorie-dense beverages) in the foods that you eat and paying attention to your body are just as important! Good luck on your weight loss and health gain journey 🙂

  5. He’s got it half right. I counsel patient’s that if you want to be healthy you have to eat food that you make yourself. However, you can still eat a diet free of fruits and vegetables doing that. You have to make your own food, plus be wise about what you prepare.

  6. Alexandria says

    This works for us. I suppose we also very much believe in moderation, when it comes to everything. So maybe moderation + cook it yourself?

    My spouse lost his job when I Was first pregnant. We went from a 100% eating out household to a 90% eating in household, to save money and to eat better while pregnant. I was busy having babies and so on, but my “already underweight” husband lost 10 pounds that first year. It was INSANE! That was just a wake up call and financially and health-wise we will never go back the other way. I always say I notice when I eat out on the waistline before I notice it in the pocketbook, any more. & we don’t eat out that much, but if eat two dinners out in one week I will always always always gain weight. It doesn’t matter if I ordered a salad with no dressing and eat less than usual. This part has always boggled my mind. I just feel like any and all restaurant food has an absurd amount of calories.

    We don’t portion out or carbs, or anything really. We eat whatever we want. Personally, I am not a great eater. But my husband does all the grocery shopping and doesn’t buy much crap. So that helps. He buys some crap because moderation is okay. (I find that eating at home I don’t gain weight, ever. I probably eat way more on the unhealthy side of the scale than my spouse does).

    • Alexandria says

      P.S. I Was going to say – I eat more on the unhealthy side than my spouse. But more on the healthy side than most Americans, for sure. Somewhere in the middle.

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