Thanksgiving Dinner photo

Introducing EFSEP

Introducing EFSEP is aimed at anyone who is curious about the purpose of this website. I explain what can do for you, and why it’s important.

First, is it EFSEP or E.F.S.E.P?

Frankly, it doesn’t matter. It stands for:

  1. Eat Food.
  2. Sufficient.
  3. Especially Plants.

So, you can call it Ef.S.Ep. if you like. I’ll call it EFSEP.

You might think you’ve heard something similar before. EFSEP was inspired by Michael Pollan’s “Unhappy Meals”[1], in which he writes:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

That, more or less, is the short answer to the supposedly incredibly complicated and confusing question of what we humans should eat in order to be maximally healthy.

I’ve taken those sentiments, and turned them into an easier acronym. If you prefer Pollan’s style, stick with him. I’m not trying to compete. I just want to blog about these ideals, and try to make it easier for people to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

I hate the idea of dieting. So, this is an anti-dietism blog. The nearest I’ll get to the D word is to write about topics such as Traditional Mediterranean Eating Style. As Pollan recommends:

Eat more like the French. Or the Japanese. Or the Italians. Or the Greeks. Confounding factors aside, people who eat according to the rules of a traditional food culture are generally healthier than we are.

EFSEP: Eat Food. Sufficient. Especially Plants.

Let’s look at a typical dinner.

Thanksgiving Dinner photo
Is this your typical Thanksgiving Dinner?

Eat Food.
Avoid processed food-like substances. The additives will not help you stay healthy. This dinner looks freshly prepared, which is great.
When you buy food to prepare for your dinner, always read the labels. Do not buy anything that has chemical additives. If you would not use an ingredient in your own kitchen, don’t buy products that contain it. Keep food fresh (or freshly frozen) and simple. Use fresh, dried or frozen herbs. And, use spices for fantastic flavor that’s safe. Freezing and drying are safe ways to preserve real food. Don’t forget the pickles 😀 .
I don’t know how many people are invited for Thanksgiving in the photo. Let’s hope it’s a big crowd!
Eat enough food to fuel your lifestyle. We soon get bad eating habits, and overeating is one of them. You cannot fix this by dieting – that just makes it worse. EFSEP gives you tips to turn bad habits into good ones. Weight control forever, not just a few weeks.
Especially Plants.
Maybe the table-laying hasn’t finished in the photo? There’s just not enough vegetables for that much meat.
Now that my eating habits have improved, I know how to eat well from a table like that. I go for as much veggie variety as I can get. Then, I’ll add one slice of meat. It takes time to develop that habit. But, you don’t need to change everything overnight. Change one thing each month. More plants. Less animals.

Your Eating Habits

So, now you know what EFSEP is.

I hope I can encourage you to eat sufficient food that’s mainly from plants.

What do you think of EFSEP? Please tell me about your eating habits in the feedback form below.

Leave Introducing EFSEP to read the EFSEP Home Page.

Introducing EFSEP Comments

EFSEP visitor responses and associated research include:

Michael Pollan’s Unhappy Meals

George asked “I see that Unhappy Meals article is over 10 years old. Is it still relevant to modern eating habits.”

I’m pleased to say that it continues to be cited as an important approach to healthy eating patterns. Recently, Leggat encouraged UK health authorities to adopt Pollan’s principles[2]. With ideas that apply to the American MyPlate plan as much as the English Eatwell Guide.

Given all of this evidence, my advice to Public Health England would be to issue new guidance that at the very least highlights the growing evidence suggesting ultra-processed foods may be detrimental to health. Whilst my favorite advice from writer Michael Pollan – ‘Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food’ – may be a little extreme, sufficient evidence has accumulated to justify warning against the consumption of such foods. Advocating for a ban on the sale of ultra-processed food would be both unreasonable and untenable, thus policymakers need to rethink their priorities, placing more emphasis on promoting the health benefits of unprocessed foods and improving their affordability and accessibility. Additional policy should be implemented to restrict marketing of ultraprocessed foods and to add warnings to their packaging. Reformulation of processed foods to comply with arbitrary macronutrient limits defined by the Eatwell Guide should be discouraged. Programs to educate children and young adults on the health benefits of whole foods as well as the potential dangers of ultra-processed foods should be included in the National Curriculum. Whilst these are just a few examples of relatively simple policies, they have the potential to alter the health of our nation for the better. Without their implementation, I fear the current epidemic of chronic metabolic disease will continue to expand, and our waistlines along with it.

Personally, I don’t think the advice I’ve emboldened is extreme. Because our great-grandmothers would recognize new foods that might be introduced from abroad. And they would be familiar with new varieties of real food. As well as new recipes, preparation methods, and cooking techniques. But they would not want to turn their kitchens into laboratories or their gardens into factories. So we must remain watchful when buying ready-made meals. To ensure that wholesomeness is not sacrificed to convenience.

Introducing EFSEP References

  1. Pollan, Michael. “Unhappy meals.” The New York Times 28 (2007).
  2. Leggat, Jennifer. “‘Processing’nutrition advice: how to inform guidelines on ultra-processed food.” Cambridge Journal of Science & Policy, Vol 1 (2020), Issue 2.