June 26, 2012

85% Plan

As I mentioned in a previous posts, I’m going through a major lifestyle change regarding my eating habits. I’ve always considered myself a decently healthy eater. I’ve always had an affinity for vegetables and studying amateur nutrition facts. Alas, my obsession with nutrition is usually short-lived and only surface-level. But this time? This time it’s become an addiction. After obsessively monitoring and journaling about my food intake for several months now, I've realized I’m not nearly as much as a healthy-eater as I once thought. My diet has been composed of too many carbohydrates, fats, and sweets and not nearly enough nutrient-dense vegetables, even though I continuously profess my love for most vegetables.
This journaling obsession started as I was starting a Biggest Loser challenge at work and after I read the book Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman. Dr. Fuhrman's life-long diet plan for optimal health and to fight chronic disease is summarized as:
  • 1 lb of raw green vegetables per day
  • 1 lb of cooked green vegetables per day
  • 4 fruits per day
  • 1 cup of beans per day
  • Up to 1 handful of nuts per day
  • No oils or salts added, you get enough from nuts and other vegetables.
More detail here.

I don’t know about you, but that seems seemed a bit extreme to me. More power to you, if you can pull it off. For those that couldn't completely commit, he recommends following it at least 90% of the time. At the time I thought "That's still extreme, buddy, and I don't want to miss out on some of life's biggest joys because I'm this strict in my eating."
I briefly thought I should give it a try, just to see how my body feels on such a plan. That thought led to an extreme cycle of food consumption monitoring. I went through week-long phases where I tried different methods/diets I was reading/watching about, they were:
  • Eat to Live lifestyle diet (I wasn't properly prepared at the time and didn't give it a fair try)
  • High protein to build muscle mass + lots of vegetables
  • No Processed Foods
  • Paleo Diet
Then my birthday came (and went) and I had re-entered a two-week period of eating crap. I knew I needed to get back on track. After more documentary-watching, I started to think that vegetarianism may be the way to go for ultimate long-term health. There are counter arguments to a complete vegetarian diet, because you can only get some vitamins from animal-based foods. Below is what I'm hoping to make my lifestyle diet plan:

(not that far off from Dr. Furhman's original "crazy" plan, eh?)
Again, as I stated, I'm doing this for ultimate long-term health. From the books I've read, the documentaries I've watched, and the doctor-written blogs I follow, I've determined this is the best plan for me. So far anyway.

If you would've asked me 10 years ago if I would ever become a (85%) vegetarian, I would've answered with an emphatic no. Even 10 weeks ago I would've had the same reaction. If you look at health studies, cultures that eat more meat end up with more chronic diseases. Americans by far eat too much meat. Yet the National Dietetic Counsel believes that meat, in moderation, is not bad for you. I agree. I just want to be cognizant of the amount I'm consuming. Similar results are found for dairy products. Plant based foods are the way to go for me.

I've found the hardest part about this transition is the time it takes to prepare meals. The meals that I make are simple and delicious and I feel great after eating them, but it does take some extra preparation time. I mean, do you know many vegetables you have to eat meet your daily caloric intake? Answer: a lot.

Of course there will be times when I can't follow this plan as strictly as I'd like (read: RAGBRAI or any event in rural Iowa) and those times I'll "cheat" and it will be okay.

1 comment:

chimes said...

I love this!

I don't do veg / raw but I try to do non-processed foods I would say 95-97% of the time. I cut them pretty much completely out of my diet. I try to eat only whole foods.

I guess if I sit down and think about it, I only have meat at one meal of the day and not every day. So I guess I'm probably closer to 85% on that than I think!

Good luck with this. You will do great!