In Michael Pollan’s Escape from the Western Diet, Pollan goes into detail about our diets, how the food and medical industry affects what we eat and also how to improve our eating habits to further benefit our health and daily lifestyles. Michael Pollan describes the “Western Diet” as a diet consisting of heavily industrialized and processed foods; eg. fast food chains or any form of sustenance that has been artificially made. The Western Diet is so common nowadays because it is fast, cheap and easy and what’s a more convenient way of sustaining our bodies with fuel than quickly grabbing an inexpensive bite to eat to accommodate our busy and hectic schedules?
Many scientists and nutritionists have all linked health problems and diseases to the foods we eat that fall under the western diet criteria and because the majority of the population partakes in a Western diet, the majority of us Americans suffer the same health risks. Many scientists and doctors came up with theories and hypotheses about how to eat better to improve our health, but we shouldn’t follow just one of those theories or put all of our eggs into one basket per se. Pollan states that “Scientists can argue all they want about the biological mechanisms behind the phenomenon, but whichever it is, the solution to the problem would appear to remain very much the same: Stop eating a Western diet.” (Pollan 435). What Mr. Pollan is saying is that while there are many different theories and studies telling us how to eat, but we shouldn’t stick to a diet based on only one of those studies, because all of them all have the same conclusion which is to completely stop eating a Western diet. While I agree that we shouldn’t just devote ourselves to solely one of these theories or studies on diets, I do not agree with completely stopping eating a Western diet to live a healthier lifestyle.
As Pollan stated in his text, there are many different studies and theories in nutrition. In my early twenties, I was very much interested in bodybuilding and fitness, obsessed even. Any true fitness guru would tell you that nutrition is key for proper body building, so as a student of the weights, I studied nutrition and different diets vigorously on my free time when I wasn’t pumping iron in the gym. One fact holds true in my studies and it’s that every human being’s body is different and while one diet might work on one person, the same diet might have a different effect on another. For example, one of my best friends, we’ll call him M for the sake of anonymity, practices a true Western diet every day. He’ll eat a Big Mac at Mcdonalds for dinner and sour gummy worms for dessert almost daily, yet his abs remain shredded like the cheese on top of an uncooked pizza. M also works out every day and when people ask him why he replies, “So I can eat all of this junk.” Now it sounds wonderful to be able to eat what you want, when you want, but when I tried partaking in a Western diet as a daily source of nutrition while at the same time working out religiously, I still managed to feel myself growing a cup size or two unlike M who has pectorals of steel.
I decided to try a different approach in nutrition to assist in my quest for a Greek body, so I researched different diets online. While researching, I thought of my friend, we’ll call him V, who has epilepsy and was instructed by his physicians at a young age to eat a very strict diet to avoid any seizures or epileptic episodes. The type of diet he practices every day is called a ketogenic diet. One example of a ketogenic diet is the infamous Atkin’s Diet, which is described by Dr. Atkin’s as, “ Designed to flip the body’s metabolic switch from burning carbs to burning fat.” (www.atkins.com) According to Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, a ketogenic diet is, “A very low-carb diet, which turns the body into a fat-burning machine. It has many potential benefits for weight loss, health and performance, but also some potential initial side effects.” (www.dietdoctor.com) I was very much interested in this type of diet because it allowed me to partake in a Western diet by eating whatever I wanted minus any carbohydrates. That means bacon and eggs for breakfast, 4×4 burgers protein style with extra cheese sans the bun and french fries at In-N-Out for lunch and all the processed hot dogs and SPAM sans the bread or rice for dinner. While satisfied with eating what I wanted, I found myself lowering my BMI in a short amount of time leading me to my peak physical form.
So as I completely agree with Michael Pollan’s assertion that you shouldn’t stick to one study or diet one doctor or scientist says, I don’t agree with his belief that you should completely stop eating a Western diet to improve your health or lose weight. I wholeheartedly believe that each individual’s body and metabolisms are different and that if you are looking to improve your health or lifestyle, you should do your own research and try out different methods that suit you and your preferences. I tried following Pollan’s three rules: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (Pollan 440), but that method leaves a lot to be desired, because unless you have an iron will and the discipline of a Tibetan monk, it will drive you insane. I believe that mental health and physical health are intertwined like yin and yang and if you’re deficient in one, the other will follow, so splurge a little. Treat yourself to a Mcrib or a Shamrock Shake when they’re in season and don’t drive yourself crazy keeping track of your macros or worrying that the $5 shake at Jackrabbit Slim’s is worth its weight in sugar.
Works Cited Page
(Michael Pollan. “Escape From The Western Diet.” “They Say/I Say.” Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, Russel Durst. New York, W.W. Norton & Company , 2012, 434 – 440. Print.”)
(Eenfeldt, M.D., Dr. Andreas. “A Ketogenic Diet for Beginners.” Diet Doctor. N.p., 1 June 2017. Web)