Lillian Wilson

Food: What The Heck Should I Eat by Mark Hyman

A comprehensive guide to nutrition, providing science-backed insights and practical advice.

Food What The Heck Should I Eat

The book has received 3.98 ⭐️ on GoodReads.

Have you ever been told that oatmeal is the ultimate healthy breakfast, only to later hear that it might not be the wisest choice? Or perhaps you grew up believing that milk is essential for strong bones, only to discover it may not be the bone-building elixir it was once hailed to be? These are just a few examples of the countless nutrition myths that have left many of us scratching our heads, wondering, ‘What the heck should I eat?’ The barrage of conflicting information from media and TV has only added to the confusion, making it challenging to discern fact from fiction.

Fortunately, there’s a book that delves deep into these dietary dilemmas, offering clarity and science-backed guidance. In this review, we will explore the enlightening pages of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? by Mark Hyman. This read aims to unravel the mysteries of nutrition and provide a roadmap to healthier eating in a world fraught with nutritional confusion.

Author’s background

Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, holds several prestigious positions in the field of functional medicine.

Dr. Mark Hyman (r)

He serves as the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and also holds the chairmanship of the Institute for Functional Medicine. Dr. Hyman is also a prominent author with multiple bestsellers featured in The New York Times. His notable works include Eat Fat, Get ThinThe Blood Sugar Solution, UltrametabolismThe Ultramind Solution and The Ultrasimple Diet.

What is the book about?

Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? by Mark Hyman addresses the pervasive confusion and misinformation surrounding nutrition. The author, with 35 years of nutrition study, empathises with the general public’s bewilderment due to contradictory advice from experts and shifting dietary recommendations.

Hyman highlights how the media frequently reports conflicting research findings, leaving people unsure of what to eat. The book criticises the food industry’s marketing of seemingly healthy products, often laden with additives and chemicals. To combat this confusion, Hyman introduces the concept of the Pegan Diet, which combines elements of various diets like Paleo, vegan, and Mediterranean. He emphasises that there шs no one-size-fits-all approach to eating, and humans are adaptable to various diets.

The book underscores the critical role of real, whole food in shaping health and society. It argues that food is not just sustenance but also medicine, affecting every aspect of our lives, from health and community to the environment and economy. Hyman exposes the detrimental impact of an industrial food system focused on processed, nutrient-poor foods laden with harmful substances.

Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? aims to serve as a comprehensive guide based on the latest nutritional science, offering insights into various food groups and ethical considerations. It encourages readers to embrace whole, flavorful foods and simplifies healthy eating. The book also discusses the importance of nutritional supplements in a modern world characterised by depleted soil and environmental toxins.

Table of contents

  • Introduction
  • Part I Ending Food Confusion, Fear, and Insecurity
  • Part II What the Heck Should I Eat?
  • Meat
  • Poultry and Eggs
  • Milk and Dairy
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Fats and Oils
  • Beans
  • Grains
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Sugar and Sweeteners
  • Beverages
  • Part III What Else You Need to Know About Food
  • Things to Keep Out of Your Food
  • Things You Can Add to Your Diet
  • Good Health Starts in the Kitchen
  • Part IV The Pegan Diet and How to Eat for Life
  • Before the Diet, the Detox
  • The Pegan Diet
  • Meal Plan and Recipes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Discover More: Mark Hyman
  • About the Author
  • Books by Mark Hyman, MD
  • Resounding Praise for Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?
  • Notes
  • Newsletters

Five key takeaways from Food: What The Heck Should I Eat

1Prioritise a plant-rich diet

Dr. Hyman’s book underscores the critical importance of adopting a plant-rich dietary pattern. While it doesn’t mandate strict veganism or vegetarianism, the emphasis lies in diversifying your plate with nutrient-dense plant foods. This approach encourages consuming a wide array of colorful vegetables, leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains. By doing so, individuals can significantly boost their intake of essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber. This plant-rich approach not only supports overall well-being but also forms the foundation for sustainable weight management, as these foods are naturally low in calories while being highly satiating.

2Embrace healthy fats for optimal health

Contrary to the long-held belief that fats are inherently unhealthy, Dr. Hyman champions the inclusion of healthy fats in one’s diet. Specifically, he highlights the significance of omega-3 fatty acids derived from sources like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), flax seeds, and walnuts. Omega-3s are credited for their anti-inflammatory properties, critical roles in cardiovascular health, cognitive function, and even their potential to facilitate weight loss. By incorporating these beneficial fats, readers can nurture their bodies with essential nutrients while simultaneously promoting a sense of fullness and satisfaction in their meals.

3Avoid gluten and wheat

Dr. Hyman dedicates a portion of the book to unraveling the reasons behind the recommendation to steer clear of gluten and wheat for certain individuals. He elucidates how gluten can potentially trigger inflammation and digestive discomfort in susceptible individuals, shedding light on the difference between an intolerance and a true allergy. Additionally, the book addresses the potential role of gluten in conditions like autoimmune diseases and the value of exploring a gluten-free lifestyle for those experiencing health concerns related to gluten consumption. By demystifying these aspects, readers gain a deeper understanding of why some individuals benefit from eliminating gluten and wheat from their diets.

4Take care of microbiome

Dr. Hyman underscores the central role of the gut microbiome in overall health and weight management. He articulates how our diet can significantly influence the composition and function of the microbiome. By consuming whole, unprocessed foods, individuals can nurture a diverse and balanced microbiome, which, in turn, supports not only digestion but also metabolism and immune function. Additionally, the book advises against the consumption of artificial sweeteners found in diet sodas and processed foods. These sweeteners can disrupt the delicate balance of the microbiome, potentially contributing to weight gain and metabolic issues. By being mindful of these factors, readers can make dietary choices that promote a healthier and more harmonious relationship with their gut microbiota, thereby enhancing their overall health and well-being.

Strengths and weaknesses, according to readers’ reviews


  • Common-sense approach: Dr. Hyman simplifies healthy eating by emphasising natural foods over processed ones, making it easy for readers to grasp the basics of a nutritious diet.

  • Global perspective: What sets this book apart is its global viewpoint, discussing not only health but also the environmental and ethical aspects of food choices, shedding light on the interconnectedness of our diet with the planet and animal welfare.

  • Comprehensive and research-backed: The book’s thorough research and explanations make it accessible to a wide audience, irrespective of their medical background, leaving readers with well-informed and clarified views on nutrition.


  • While the book presents a structured dietary plan, it may not cater to those following plant-based diets, as it heavily emphasises the consumption of animal products, which may not align with certain nutritional philosophies.

Best quotes from Food: What The Heck Should I Eat

“The foods found to be the biggest drivers of disease were high-glycemic carbohydrates like potatoes, bread, and cereal.”
“The average American child has consumed 7½ pounds of chemicals by the age of five.”
“If we accepted the recommendation of the American Heart Association that we eat less than 5 percent of our calories as saturated fat, we would have to ban breast milk. (It contains a whopping 25 percent of its calories as saturated fat.)”

Final takeaway

Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? by Dr. Mark Hyman offers a comprehensive and well-researched guide to navigating the complex world of nutrition. It is a must-read for anyone seeking clarity amid the confusion of dietary advice. Dr. Hyman’s common-sense approach, emphasis on plant-rich diets, and advocacy for healthy fats provide valuable insights into achieving better health through mindful eating. Whether you are a nutrition novice or a health enthusiast, this book equips you with the knowledge needed to make informed dietary choices and embrace a more wholesome lifestyle.

Where to buy

You may purchase Food: What The Heck Should I Eat on Amazon at the best price. It is available in paperback, hardcover, audio and Kindle versions, so you may choose an option that appeals to you the most.

Healthypedia FAQ

Absolutely. This book is an excellent starting point for newcomers. Dr. Mark Hyman's writing is accessible and easy to follow, making complex nutritional concepts understandable for those just beginning their journey toward healthier eating.

Dr. Hyman's book is rooted in extensive research and draws from his 35 years of experience in the field of nutrition. He carefully presents evidence-based information, and the book's comprehensive approach ensures that readers gain a well-rounded understanding of nutrition, helping them make informed choices in a sea of conflicting advice.

Yes, this book priorities practicality. Dr. Hyman introduces the concept of the Pegan Diet, which is flexible and adaptable to different lifestyles. Moreover, the book includes a 10-day detox plan and provides recipes, making it easier for readers to transition into healthier eating habits.

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