Refined flours and sugars are out. Meat is out. When people hear this, they often say, "wow... what's left?"
It's a sad statement on our current food system when that question is asked, because it shows how far from eating healthy we've gone. The two least healthy things a human can readily digest have become our bread and butter, so to speak.
What happened to beans, nuts, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits?
Beans are amazing for you and totally delicious. . Black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, lentils, garbanzo beans, and white beans are all fantastic.
Besides being great with rice or in meals, you can also eat beans cold straight from the can. It's a great satisfying snack, supremely nutritious, and can be carried anywhere (get the ones with the pull off tops). They cost next to nothing, too, especially if you get them dry and cook them yourself.
Nuts are another great snack. Almonds are a perfect food - high in both protein and healthy Omega 3 fats (by the way.... these healthy fats do NOT make you fat). Walnuts, pecans, and all the other suspects are great too. Peanuts are among the worst (their fat composition isn't ideal), but are still fine.
When getting nut butters make sure that there are no added ingredients other than salt. Most companies add sugar and oil.
Vegetables and Fruits
Other than white potatoes, pretty much any fruit or vegetable is good for you and can be eaten with reckless abandon. Variety is a good idea, as is making sure you get enough dark greens. Fruits and vegetables have so many vitamins and minerals in them that it's ridiculous that they're usually side dishes.
We eat so few vegetables that we have to take pills to get nutrients. How backwards is that?
Think about an orange. It tastes like candy, is good for you, is refreshing, and comes with its own durable packaging that decomposes quickly and is good for the earth.
It's perfect. Compare that to starburst candies. They taste good too, but are terrible for you and come with packaging that pollutes. And that's not even considering the amount of energy it took to make them.
The modern grain refining process takes away the most nutritious parts of the grain, and leaves the nutritionally vacant inner part. What does that say about our food supply? We take away the good part and leave the junk.
Whole grains are great for you, though. Whole wheat, whole oats, quinoa, brown rice, kamut, and other grains are fantastic.
Grinding them down to whole grain flour is okay, but not as good as keeping the grains intact. A couple breads that are amazing are Ezekiel bread and Alvarado Farms bread. They sprout and mash the grains rather than milling them. The closer to the original form of the food you can get, the better it is.
Oils and Seasoning
Oils are generally bad, but olive oil is a shining exception. You can stir fry in it, use it to dip your bread in, make salad dressings with it, or use it to "butter" your popcorn.
Avocado oil is also excellent but more expensive and hard to find.
Coco butter (aka unrefined coconut oil), when in its semi-solid white virgin state, is also fantastic. You can even use it as a moisturizer for your skin. It's sweet so it's good for making healthy desserts.
Salt is fine for you IF you drink enough water so that you're peeing clear. If you let it dehydrate you then it's no good. Get sea salt - it's from the sea instead of being synthesized from chemicals. It tastes better too.
All spices are good to eat. Things like fresh basil are excellent to eat.
Putting it All Together
All of these ingredients are so good that you can eat pretty much any proportion of them and you'll be fine. Since they are foods your body "understands", you will probably naturally want to eat the correct proportions.
On this diet you don't really need to count calories or macronutrient breakdowns. Just eat whatever you want, and eat a lot of it. You'll be eating so much more fiber and water that you'll have to get used to eating more frequently or larger portions.
To give you a general idea of what to eat, here's what I might eat on a day:
- Oatmeal cooked in water with fruit, raisins, and almonds.
- Fresh squeezed unpasteurized orange juice
- Can of black beans
- Almond butter and sugar free jelly or banana sandwich on sprouted grain bread
- Steamed broccoli, cauliflower, carrots
- Kale with almonds and lemon
- Brown rice and lentils
- Sweet potato or squash soup
- Popcorn popped in olive oil
What it's Like
I'd tell you if the diet wasn't great. The one big compromise is that eating out becomes much more difficult. The first month or two takes some adjusting and you'll crave old foods. Strangely, I craved egg rolls, a food I was never particuarly into.
After a while you develop a disgust for traditional food. You see it for what it is- sustenance that is slowly damaging your body and working against your goals.
Eating becomes WAY more enjoyable and satisfying. Other people who have started eating like this say the same thing. You taste flavors you've never known, and you gain a deep contentment because you know that your body LOVES what you're putting in it. You know that you're eating the way you were designed to eat. You appreciate your food more.
Some people suggest that everything in "moderation" is okay. It depends what your standards are, and I find it hilarious that they always think the best option is moderation between things they KNOW are good for them and things they LIKE. Strange coincidence...
The argument that you need to eat meat and sugar to enjoy life is ridiculous too. It's the difference between surface and depth. Are cheap sugar induced thrills the key to enjoying life? Or is it eating in a way that is satisfying and in alignment with your values and goals?
You know where I stand.
This series finishes with Part V, where I cover some common objections.