You’ve heard the saying, keep it 100? As in, keep it real, keep it honest 100% of the time. This is how I thought I had to approach my diet. If I wasn’t eating meat, I was 100% not eating meat. The same with carbs or sweets. Gluten-free, low carb, no meat, no dairy, eat as raw as possible…My diet was all over the place because I was trying to incorporate all these principles & all it was doing was confusing me. Then, I realized that I don’t need to incorporate every single thing into my diet 100% because just how realistic is that? For some people it works but I would dare to say a say, 100% raw diet or a 100% grain free diet is not realistic for the everyday person. The thing that they don’t tell you is that even most raw foodist are not 100% raw. While there are definitely raw purists out there, many of them eat between 5 & 40% cooked foods with norm being more around 15-25%. And interestingly enough, eating raw is not mutually exclusive with eating vegan. Many raw foodist eat meat, they just eat it raw. Think sashimi & beef carpaccio, nova lox & prosciutto. The same goes for vegetarians…there are varying degrees of consuming animal products as well–vegan to pescatarian. I would love to give up meat because I know how bad even the best grades of wild, grass-fed, free-range, hormone-free & organic meat can be for you if you eat too much. However, I love my thick cut bacon, lamb, & pork belly…notice how it’s all the heaviest & fattiest meats I like? I wouldn’t miss chicken or turkey at all if I never ate it again but oddly, pork sends me! Well, I know I can’t eat it every day but I also know it’s unrealistic to restrict myself from eating it ever again. So by making meat 25% or less of my diet, I can make it a realistic lifestyle choice. Of course, I do try to keep it on the lean side, but a good thick piece of nitrate-free, all natural bacon from the butcher’s case is such a treat!
So the government has updated the food pyramid we grew up with to a plate illustrating portion sizes. If you read all the captions, you can see it is a step in the right direction. However, they have a long way to go:
Below is the plant-based plate to which I personally subscribe. It focuses on whole, unprocessed, plant-based foods.
So here’s an idea of what my diet looks like:
75% plant-based–when I look at my plate I try to make sure 3/4 of it is filled with plant-based foods (leafy greens, fruits, veggies, sprouts, legumes) & only 1/4 meat or protein. And I ONLY eat meat at dinner (ideally) which also automatically cuts my meat intake. Another way to gauge it is by the number of meals you are eating. Say you eat 21 meals in a week (3 squares/day). Of those, only 4-5 of them should contain meat. Doing it this way, after snacks are taken into consideration, I find it easy to stay below the 25% mark for meat. When I meal plan for the week I make sure there are only a couple meat entrees on the menu to give me some wiggle room.
75% raw–this is yet another layer. I’m not quite ready for a 75% raw diet outside of a temporary period of time(say, a juice feast) but I think 50% is a realistic goal for me. Maybe I’ll get there, maybe I won’t. Right now I’m good with the 50%. But for those of you who are ready to make this a permanent lifestyle change, ideally 75% of what you’re eating should not be cooked above a temperature of 115 degrees. This does not mean eating carrot sticks and green apple slices all of the time–it means eating things like open lasagna w/pesto & arugula, fresh salsas & guacamole, warm soups & sauces, pumpkin spice chia pudding w/ caramelized bananas & pecans–say wha?! There are tons of ways to make cookies, soups, marinaras without cooking them & killing all the enzymes. Raw food does not have to equal cold food.
75% vegetables–so of the 75% plant-based foods I’m eating, I strive for 75% of the fruits & vegetables to be vegetables & leafy greens. This is a matter of personal preference. I know that my body cannot tolerate too much sugar, natural or not, before I start to feel the effects. Additionally, I do not drink cow’s milk & limit my cheese to raw goat cheese. However, I do eat yogurt & heavy cream (in a sinful cup of coffee) on rare occasions, so this is yet another area I try to keep it 75%.
For those of you who aren’t at this place yet, you can still apply this concept. I think it’s important to set realistic but simple goals or you will just confuse yourself. I have looked at so many low-carb diets–Atkins, South Beach, Paleo, The Whole 30, The Beauty Detox…and the list goes on. On some you can have legumess others you can’t, some soy, other say it’s awful for you, dairy, meat, whole grains…they all have conflicting views. More hardcore clean eaters incorporate food combining (eating your foods in a certain order or in combination with specific other foods). It can be more than overwhelming. After all of the research I’ve done I have designed a plan that works best for me. You should do the same. By paying attention to how different foods make you feel you can get a better idea what works & doesn’t. After I gave up gluten many of my issues disappeared–no more feeling full & bloated all the time, no more hives or constipation. But what I also realized was that I had an intolerance, not a serious full-blown allergy or Celiac disease & I could have it in moderation. So again, I try to keep my diet 75% gluten-free. If you know you are eating too much meat but you don’t think you can cut it down to 25%, how about striving for 75% of your meat to be lean cuts like chicken or turkey breasts? You can pick a percentage or fraction that works for you. I am just suggesting that you ease up on yourself a little bit. I think it’s pretty safe to say, after awhile you won’t even want the things you are trying to limit as much as you did before & you will get healthier, look younger, live longer & be more awesome!
The best way to recalibrate is to start with a juice feast & at the end of the feast start re-introducing things into your body. Tomorrow I will discuss what you need to do to begin your own juice feast. The first thing is deciding on an amount of time–3 days, 7 days, 14, 30, you decide. I want you to be realistic because I want you to succeed…you can always decide to feast for longer once you reach your goal or you can step it up a notch (maybe more juice, less food or less cooked meals). Then start thinking about your goals–lose weight, more energy, better skin, better test results on your yearly physicals, less ailments, etc. They all sound good, right? But your priorities will dictate the layout of your own personal plan. Like I said, we are all in different places–some of us have never juiced, others are familiar with everything I’ve talked about. Where do you fall on the trajectory? What are your goals? I’d love to hear! Food for thought, literally. We’ll talk about the levels of juice feasting tomorrow. Until then…
love & light,