This Simple Advice on Eating Will Help Set You Down the Right Path for New Years

It's the first Monday of the New Year and many of us may feel like we should begin acting on those resolutions. “Eat healthier” is one that tends to be at the top of everyone's list. But when it comes down to what kind of diet we should pursue, we can quickly get bogged down in what science to follow.

“Food is a very sensitive, personal issue,” food author and journalist Michael Pollan told Fast Company in an interview. “So much of the discussion about food is very dour. Eating should be about pleasure, and we've turned it into this high-anxiety pursuit. One of the things I'm trying to do is get people to relax a little bit about food and realize that there's so many other ways to look at it.”

Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones Solution, and his team have traveled the world, looking at regions where populations enjoy longer-than-average lifespans. What makes them so special?

“Longevity happened to them,” Buettner explained. “In other words, it was something that ensued from their environment as opposed to something they tried for.”

It's not to say changing one's diet cannot happen for us. Buettner and his team had the opportunity to observe a different lifestyle surrounding food. Beans and whole grains were a big part of their diets (about 65 percent) and next came fats (most of which came from vegetables). Meat was not a big part of their diet — 90 percent of calories came from plants.

Pollan has found the same to be true in his own research, summing up Buettner's findings into one simple piece of advice: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.

But as Buettner explained, this lifestyle happened to these people. It's ingrained in their culture. For Americans, it takes more resolve to change a lifestyle of meaty BBQs to one of beans and nuts. It could explain why many New Year's resolutions fail.

It's important, Pollan says, to not let the food industry set the agenda for you. While many of the salty, sweet snacks push our evolutionary buttons, we can help ourselves to better, home-cooked meals. The task will just require more resolve.


Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

Photo Credit: KENA BETANCUR / Stringer / Getty

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less
Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
Mind & Brain

Do human beings have a magnetic sense? Biologists know other animals do. They think it helps creatures including bees, turtles and birds navigate through the world.

Keep reading Show less