It’s no secret that the standard American diet (SAD) is hazardous to your health. Most of the
foods comprising the SAD foundation—like animal products (including beef, chicken, eggs, milk, cheese, fish, etc.), refined carbohydrates (bread, cereal, pasta, bagels, cookies, soda, etc.), and oils (including olive and coconut oils)—are strongly linked to obesity, heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes and autoimmune illness.
Similarly, the foods correlated to a reduction in all the leading causes of death—nutrient-rich powerhouses like leafy greens, fresh fruit, and beans—are conspicuously absent from the typical American fare. In fact, at the end of the day, we Yanks end up consuming about 90% of our calories from processed and animal foods and less than 10% from whole plants. According to the preponderance of the nutrition science literature, those numbers should be completely reversed—to protect our precious health and easily maintain a slim profile, we should be eating 90% of our calories from unrefined plant foods and less than 10% from refined and animal foods.
90%? That’s a lot! If you’re not eating cereal, bread, pasta, olive oil, cheese, grilled salmon, baked chicken breast, and hamburger helper, what DO you eat?
I’m glad you asked. This is an important question for all nutritarian wanna-bes because simply deciding to eat more healthfully won’t get you far—you need to have a clear plan come mealtime.
The basics of high-nutrient eating
First the basics of a nutrient-rich diet style, then the low-down.
Fruit: 3-5 servings/day
Raw Veggies: ½-1 pound/day
Cooked low-starch veggies: ½-1 pound/day
Beans, cooked: ½-1 cup/day
Nuts/seeds: one ounce/day
Ground flax seed: one heaping tablespoon/day
B12: thou must not forgo the B12, grasshopper
Whole grains: rolled oats, steel-cut oats, brown rice, quinoa, millet, etc.
Other: tofu, tempeh, unsweetened soy/nut milks
The first seven items on the guide above form the basis of a nutrient-rich food plan—they’re
non-negotiable. They are what you eat on a high-nutrient diet. The amounts I have assigned to each food group are geared towards the average overweight American.
If you’re like me and are trim and get lots of exercise, you’ll need more calories and therefore more food. In that case, add in some starchy veggies like sweet potatoes and winter squash or some of the “optional” foods, a few more nuts/seeds, and more beans (or maybe a WellBean). Keep in mind that whole grains (like brown rice, rolled oats, or other whole cereal grains) are not as nutrient-dense as starchy root vegetables.
What’s a serving?
Another good question, Dear Reader. Since “serving size” differs from one edible plant to the next, I have elected to simplify matters by setting the serving size of any fruit or vegetable at four ounces. Whether I’m chopping apples or asparagus, kiwi or kale, I count four ounces as a serving—so by that measure, you’ll be filling your gullet with between seven and thirteen servings of fruits and veggies/day, more if you’re trim and active. In fact, once you fully embrace the nutritarian way of eating, you’ll scoff at the 5-a-dayers from your lofty new perch!
Why isn’t 5-a-day enough?
Well, if you’re only eating a little over a pound of fruits and veggies (which would be about five