How do you eat all that fruit?

So many people ask me about my diet. Most have a hard time believing that I eat exclusively fresh fruit and some raw vegetables and greens.

Aside from wondering where I get my protein (which I get plenty of, thank you) or calcium (ditto) they wonder how in the heck I can eat so much fruit.

This question boggles my mind the most, because I find after eating mostly fruit for the last 5 months that all I want to do is keep eating, well, more fruit. I don’t even get bored eating the same fruits day after day.

But wait, really, how can you eat that much fruit? It’s a common question. Most people like fruit all right, so they might eat one apple or a single banana in a day. But eating fruit as a meal is hard for most people to get their minds around.

It truly is easy and pleasurable to eat that much fruit…but the kicker is you have to avoid some common mistakes.  The produce section of your local store can be like walking into an Apple store, never having owned a Mac. It’s confusing and intimidating at the same time.  So here are some (hopefully) helpful tips for how to eat more fruit:

Eat only ripe fruit – if you’ve ever eaten a banana and struggled to get the peel off, then you’ve eaten fruit that isn’t ripe. If you’ve ever been disappointed by a tasteless dry cantaloupe or a pink instead of red watermelon, you’re probably eating unripe fruit.

Determining the ripeness of fruit depends on the fruit, or course. You’ll need to use all of your senses by smelling, touching, examining and even listening to the fruit.  Picking ripe fruit is part art form and part luck.

A ripe avocado will have some give when pressed and the Hass variety will be a darker green or black.  Cantaloupes and honeydews should have a strong smell and feel heavy for their size.  Berries should look and smell good.  Watermelon should be free of cuts or abrasions and have a nice solid sound when tapped with your thumb.

Fruit selection prowess will take time and patience. You’ll get to know which stores carry the best fruit, which brands are consistently good, and which fruits you prefer over others, regardless of ripeness.

There is nothing quite like eating fruit that is fresh, in season and fully ripe.

Eat fruit in season – duh, you might be thinking. Of course you only eat fruit that’s in season. But too many people make the mistake that if it’s at their local grocery store it must be in season. Not so true.

Supermarket chains try and appease their customers by making blueberries available in February. The problem with that is more than twofold, but we’ll talk about two. One, the fruit generally is generally transported from a distant location ( i.e. Chile, Mexico) when it’s not in season. You’re not exactly eating local.

Two, if you’re eating fruit that isn’t in season, it’s likely not going to taste great and it will usually cost you dearly. Which makes sense, really. You’re paying for it to be brought from a long way away and for growing a crop that isn’t in season.

However, eating fruit out of it’s natural growing season will generally result in fruit that doesn’t taste good. It’s double disappointing to open up a watermelon in December that you paid a lot of money for and discover it tastes more like water than melon.

You can research which fruits are in season and when, but a good way to tell is just to buy the fruit that your local grocery store or farmer’s market has on sale or on display. Right now my local Trader Joe’s has organic mini watermelon and the sweet smelling cantaloupe on display as soon as you walk in the store. This is a good sign that these fruits are in season.

Properly store your fruit – not keeping your fruit and even vegetables at proper temperatures will not only affect the taste, but often the ripening process. Nothing drives me more crazy than seeing people store their tomatoes and avocados in the refrigerator. Argggghh! Tomatoes that are too cold taste terrible! Ditto for avocado.

A good way to remember is to take note of your local Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods. Where are they storing their produce? You hopefully never see refrigerated avocados and tomatoes.

Same goes for bananas, apples and oranges. Room temperature is the perfect way to consume these foods. Though you can sometimes slow the ripening process, there are no benefits to making your fruit colder than it needs to be.

I don’t even like my lettuce super cold so I’ll often take it out of the fridge an hour or so before I plan to make a giant salad.

Don’t give up on fruit – I’ve never been a fan of honeydew. What a tasteless waste of time!  Cantaloupe and watermelon are far superior in taste and texture than that pathetic, boring excuse for a melon called honeydew.  Or so I thought.

I was forced to reluctantly try a honeydew recently when my local Trader Joe’s ran out of organic mini watermelons.  In their place were these unassuming white melons. I grudgingly placed a few in my cart.

I was shocked to discover it was really, really good! The same consistency and flavor as a cantaloupe, but with much lighter notes. All these years I missed out on eating such a satisfying fruit because I most likely hadn’t eaten one ripe, or had a few bad ones, or eaten ones that weren’t in season.

Don’t shy away from fruit or vegetables you haven’t liked in the past.  Your taste buds may have changed, or you may have just had an unripe one.

Just eat it! – now that you’ve selected some ripe fruit and stored it properly, it’s all ready to eat.  Wait, why are you slinking off to your neighborhood restaurant?  You have fruit to eat!  Get to it!

Some 40% of food produced in this country is thrown away.  Food waste is a tremendous drain on our resources and silly, if you think about it, as John Oliver did recently on his not-to-be-missed show.

Food in general, and fruit specifically, is too precious to waste.  Eat your fruit and save the restaurants for special occasions.

Good Luck!

EatPlantsLiveWell!

Going Raw Until the 2017 Boston Marathon

In December of 2016 I decided to go raw vegan until the Boston Marathon on April 17th. I completed my goal last week and crossed the finish line at Boston having eaten only raw food (and vegan, or course) for the last 109 or so days.

Going raw for me isn’t a huge adjustment from my regular vegan diet.  I typically always eat my first meal of the day as just fruit, and then dinner is a big salad. Mostly it means eliminating rice, potatoes, bread and other cooked items I may have on a somewhat regular basis.

At the same time, even though I don’t eat cooked foods very often, I do enjoy them and of course, you know how what happens when you tell yourself you can’t have a certain food…suddenly that’s all you can think about.  There is no doubt that cooked foods release more dopamine than raw foods and often cause me to overeat.  Thus the battle I fight to continue eating the food that I feel best eating (raw) and eliminating the food that doesn’t feel as good (cooked).

Why exactly do I want to eat raw? What were the benefits I experienced from eating only raw vegetables and fruit in preparation for the marathon? I get these questions a lot, and I love answering them.

However, since I don’t weigh myself and I didn’t test my body fat levels pre and post, so much of what I describe here will be subjective. Nonetheless, the benefits of eating raw are pretty substantial and I hope you’ll find some value in my experience, whether or not it’s easily quantifiable.

More Energy – it’s listed first because it’s the most significant change in switching to raw. My energy level was already pretty amazing since going vegan all those years ago, but the switch to raw exponentially increased it. Perhaps it’s all that energy that went into digesting cooked foods, and is now available, but whatever it is, I’m a big fan. This spike in energy is part of the reason I gave up drinking coffee over 3 years ago. Don’t need it. Don’t need the caffeine.

When I’m getting all my energy from the raw food I eat, it would seem strange to even need caffeine, right? I wake up in the morning feeling great, and at the end of the day I never feel as tired as I used to. Sure, I still feel tired, especially during a 20 week training build up to Boston, but it’s not an overwhelming exhaustion as it had been previously.

More Chill – eating raw food relaxes me. I’m not sure of any other way to describe it, but events that would’ve normally bothered me or caused a negative reaction simply don’t anymore. It’s as if I’ve already counted to ten and any annoyance has dissipated.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like eating raw magically erases anger and frustration from your life (wouldn’t that be great?), but I certainly deal with challenges in a much more relaxed and confident manner.

Part of being more chill comes from feeling so great eating raw that much less bothers me than normally would. When you don’t have to worry about your health, when your default setting is that you generally feel pretty damn good, it certainly overflows into all the other aspects of your life. Everything becomes that much easier when you live in a strong, healthy body.

Weight Loss – this is one I can’t quantify with a measurement of pounds simply because I don’t weigh myself. But I can tell my clothes fit looser and that I’m lighter. Eating raw food naturally results in less calories consumed, simply because the calories per pound of raw vegetables and fruit is much lower than cooked foods.

The interesting part is that even though I’m consuming less calories I feel like I’m eating plenty and that I’m never having to restrict calories or control my portions. I simply eat until I’m satisfied, and even occasionally past that point (oops), but I still don’t gain weight.

As a runner I’ve always been conscious of my weight, since it directly affects my running performance. Before I tried raw foods I would gain and lose depending on how strict I was with portion sizes and limiting the amount I ate, but it was always a battle to stay in my desired weight range. With eating raw, I find it liberating not to have to limit portion sizes or worry about how much I’m eating.

Fat Loss – there’s no doubt that eating cooked foods always means eating a higher percentage of fat than eating raw does. Even if you actively avoid fats like nuts, seeds avocados and oil, it’s nearly impossible to avoid oil if you’re eating out or eating any sort of processed cooked foods.

Foods like hummus, bread and most processed vegan “faux” meats have olive, corn or safflower oil. Any stir fry or cooked foods like veggie burritos or even pasta you order at a restaurant are liberally coated with oil during the cooking process. Reading ingredient labels on your favorite foods can be quite an eye opener as to how much fat you might be consuming without knowing.

At 4000 calories per pound and no nutritional value whatsoever, all oils are unhealthy. With a raw diet, it’s much less likely that you’re taking in oils, though you do have to be careful with the amount of raw nuts, nut butter and seeds you consume.

I tend towards a whole, unprocessed type of raw diet, so I can easily avoid these high fat foods. Other than half an avocado in my epic salads, I hardly ever take in high fat foods.

I try and keep my fat percentage to about 10-15%, of my calories, because I agree with Dr John McDougall (disclaimer: he is not a fan of eating all raw) that the “fat you eat is the fat you wear.”  However, I don’t actively count calories, fat grams or other macronutrients.  I just eat whole, unprocessed fruits and vegetables.

Food Preparation is a Breeze – people often ask me if it’s hard to be raw. From a food preparation standpoint, eating raw is the opposite of hard. I spend very little time in food preparation. I may cut up some oranges, a cantaloupe or watermelon, which usually takes at most 5 minutes of my time. I have no pots and pans to clean, because I don’t cook anything. A snack is as easy as opening a banana or biting into an apple. What could be easier than that? I dirty one plate per meal, that generally involves only a quick rinse.

At night I eat a giant salad, which involves cutting up some lettuce, half an avocado and chopping some mushrooms and peppers. It takes about 10 minutes at the most, and my clean up is rinsing my salad bowl and washing my knife and fork.

Simplicity – eating raw can be as simple or as complicated as you like, just as with anything. I know raw foodist that spend hours and hours preparing complicated meals that involve dehydrating things for 12 hours and sprouting beans and legumes for 10.

I have no interest in such endeavors, since one of the biggest advantages to eating raw is that it’s so simple. A meal can be five or six bananas and a couple of apples. It can be a medium size watermelon or a couple of small cantaloupes.

We’ve been taught that a variety of food is preferable to one food at a meal. But is eating so many different food items at one meal necessary, or even good for you? I would argue it is neither. When you combine so many different flavors and foods into one dish, it begins to taste like none of those flavors.

In going raw, I appreciate the flavor of foods so much more now. I don’t wish to combine things because I love the flavor of the food I’m eating.  When you limit ingredients to 5 or 6 at most you’ll actually taste the flavor in each individual food.

One of my favorite meals is watermelon, or ten or so organic navel oranges cut up and arranged beautifully on a plate. I don’t need to blend the oranges, or juice them and combine them with other things to make a smoothie. They are so good on their own, in their natural state. Of course that’s not to say I don’t combine items when I eat out, or occasionally when I’m entertaining. But for the most part, I enjoy simply eating fresh, ripe, in season, organic fruit.

Resist the temptation to complicate eating raw. Sure, you can go buy a book or find some great websites with raw food recipes when you’re first starting out if you feel compelled to do so. But find a handful of fruits that you love and that are in season and make that your first meal of the day. I think you might be surprised how deeply fulfilling it is to simplify your diet and how much you really don’t need variety.

So there you have it. Six benefits to eating raw that I’ve experienced over the last 100+ days. Though I didn’t nail a PR in Boston, I had a great race and an even better experience. After a couple of days eating cooked foods, I’m back to eating raw again for the remainder of 2017. I’m excited to see what I can elevate my fitness levels to with an even longer period of time eating only raw vegetables and fruit.

If you’re considering trying out a raw diet, don’t become overwhelmed by recipes, exotic ingredients and food preparation.

Go simple to start, with meals of fresh, ripe fruit or a giant salad with just a few ingredients.

Good Luck!

EatPlantsLiveWell!

Why going to extremes might just work.

All things in moderation.  Balance. Small changes over time add up to big improvements.  These are all commonly accepted bits wisdom. But do incremental changes really work?

I recently read Penn Jillette’s book Presto! How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear.  He’s the Vegas magician that is half the duo known as Penn and Teller.  Well he was really more than half the duo…more like three quarters.

Penn was packing around some spare lbs in 2014. He estimated his weight at 330 at his highest, which was when he found himself in the hospital while his doctor told him one of the arteries surrounding his heart was 80% blocked.

He needed to lose weight yesterday.  Not a cosmetic amount, more like 50lbs.  100 would be better. Heck, if you can lose 100 you won’t even need any of the medication you’re currently taking, he was shocked to hear his doctor say.

That was when Penn realized he wasn’t taking 5 different medications, as he thought, because he was a big loser in the genetic lottery, but because he was a self-described “fat fuck.” The realization that he was where he was because he ate whatever the hell he wanted didn’t sit well with him.  He was disgusted with himself.

It wasn’t as if he hadn’t tried to lose weight in the past.  Just as many of  us do, he tried limiting portions, cutting back on carbs, fats and sugar.  He tried exercising.  But any weight lost always came back, and brought friends that led to his continued and consistent weight gain throughout the years.

So Penn tried something different.  He tried something drastic that most people would never even entertain.  He consciously chose to lose weight not as an adult would, as he put it, but as someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.  More like as a crazy person would.

So he ate only potatoes for 2 entire weeks.

“It’s much easier for me to make a major change than a minor change.” he hypothesized at a recent Google Talks.

What makes a major change easier?  Progress.  It is often immediate when you make a major change.  For example, in Penn’s situation, eating only potatoes for 2 weeks made him lose weight like a crack addict.  Going from eating a standard American diet of cheeseburgers and chocolate cake to plain potatoes tends to do that.

Stepping on the scale to a new lower number every day certainly makes whatever method you choose easier to stick to.  Positive reinforcement is a lot more encouraging on a daily basis with extreme change than it would be on a weekly or monthly basis with moderation.

While we don’t know if Penn’s weight loss is a permanent one at this point, we do know extreme measures worked much better for him than all his previous attempts at moderation.

Should you go cold turkey?  Extreme or gradual change, which is for you?  While I don’t exactly endorse eating potatoes for 2 weeks, I do understand and have experienced the benefits of extreme changes.  I became vegetarian overnight and then vegan, and also gave up coffee cold.  I had been drinking coffee for 30 years every single day, multiple cups.  I decided back in 2013 that I wanted to part ways with coffee, an amicable divorce if you will.  So I left coffee, walked right out on it.

Sure, I could have weaned myself off, slowly decreasing the amount I drank and then switching to decaf.  My thought at the time was this – I knew leaving coffee was going to be a horrible, terrible, no-good experience.  I might as well just walk out and be done with it.

So I did.  I won’t lie.  Giving up coffee (and caffeine) meant that I suffered tremendously for 3 weeks straight. Head-splitting migraines were my constant companion and sloth like energy levels plagued my every day.

As soon as I began to think it would never get better, everything changed. Headaches vanished, energy level came roaring back, and my life returned as if nothing had ever happened.  It’s been over 3 years now and I have never once wanted for a cup of coffee or a jolt of caffeine.  I wouldn’t change anything about what I did, though it remains one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.

The point is…and there is a point.  Extreme measures can work.  They’re not popular because, well,  they’re pretty damn hard.  Moderation is a much easier sell.  Most people simply cannot get their heads around the idea that they suddenly can’t have something.

The upside though, is that if you can handle extreme measures, you’re that much more likely to succeed.  Giving up caffeine completely or eating only potatoes for two weeks means most of the hard work is over and done quickly.

Change happens quickly with extreme measures. You body is forced to adapt because it doesn’t really have a choice.

Whatever it is you’re looking to do, whether its becoming vegan, raw vegan, or losing weight, consider making an extreme change rather than moderation.  It will be hard, you will suffer, but you’ll also see some immediate progress that might make the changes that much easier to stick to.

EatPlantsLiveWell!

 

All raw vegan 2016: Fail!

It’s official, I’ve failed in going all Raw Vegan for 2016.  In addition to the handful of times I’ve failed to go all raw in the past, I’ve now been spectacularly unsuccessful in 2016.

It was the blessed baked potato that brought me down.  That and some hummus.

Far from being upset about my failure, I’m looking forward to potentially failing again.  Wait, what?

Okay, maybe looking forward to failing isn’t correct.  But I am back at it again, eating mostly fruit and some leafy greens.  Certainly, the possibility of failing again is there.  After all, only 8% of New Year’s Resolutions are successful, and heck, if it’s a resolution to go all raw vegan than it might even be lower than 8%.

So what’s the difference for me this time?  What makes me think I’ll be successful this time when I haven’t in the past?

I’m getting a coach – that’s right…it’s a bold move for me but one I feel confident about.  I’m hiring a successful fruitarian to guide me through this process.  I’m planning on a once a week meeting for 30 minutes.  This will provide accountability, something I’ve been lacking in every single previous attempt.

The problem with adopting a fruitarian diet is the same problem a lot of people have when they go vegan.  They don’t know any vegans.  They have no support.  If they cave and eat a cheeseburger, there probably isn’t anyone around that can provide a much-needed gut check. Do you really want to do that?  Why don’t you just eat a Garden Burger instead?

This is what I’m looking for.  Support.  Encouragement.  Accountability.  That’s it.  Not much, but it’s something I really don’t have right now.  Though I know of a handful of fruitarians, I have none that I can call on when I need any of those.  Hiring a coach will solve that.

I’m okay with failing, so follow my progress as I begin anew with eating what I believe to be is the healthiest possible diet.  Though I don’t enjoy failing, I do believe that failing at something a few times is no reason to throw in the towel.

I know, it’s a bit of a cliche now to fail more.  Many books and blog posts abound that we need to fail our way to success.  This book  by Dilbert creator Scott Adams is particularly good at demonstrating the writer’s personal connection between success and failing often.

I’m guilty of not failing enough.  I’m impatient.  I want success RIGHT NOW.  When I fail, I tend to question everything.  No matter how solid the plan appears to be, I’ll punch giant holes in it.  Then I’ll quit.

However, this time is different. Giving up on eating all raw vegan for 2016 after a bit of a stumble makes about as much a sense as a Sarah Palin endorsement.

While I can’t report success with my original plan, I can adapt a different goal and continue on with that.

What’s different this time is that I remain steadfast in my conviction that eating this way is optimal.  Though many will disagree, including friends and family, along with respected physicians like Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. McDougall, I still feel my absolute best when eating fruit.

Fruitarianism is called impractical, illogical and impossible for people to adhere to on a long-term basis.

I’m willing to find out for myself.

EatPlantsLiveWell!

 

 

Is a fruitarian diet safe?

is a fruitarian diet safe

In 2016 I’m going an entire year eating nothing cooked.  I will eat mostly fresh, whole fruit and some raw veggies, in the form of tender leafy greens as part of my favorite giant salad.  But is a fruitarian diet safe? Will eating just fruit and greens provide all the nutrients I need?

Truthfully, I have no idea.  Nor, it seems, does anyone else.  There just aren’t any long term studies completed with people that only eat fruit.  Even the amazing Dr Michael Greger at nutritionfacts.org hasn’t yet documented a study involving only fruit consumption.  Though he does have a video showing the benefits of eating up to 20 servings of fruit a day and 44 servings of vegetable.  Most notable? A 38 point drop in LDL cholesterol.  How’s that for results?

I’m guessing the reason for a lack of long term studies is that not many subjects could stick to a diet of only fruit and leafy greens for an extended period of time.  This isn’t a lifestyle for the faint of heart, and certainly study subjects would not only be hard to find but nearly impossible to keep.

There are a few people in the raw vegan community that show success eating a fruitarian diet.  The original fruitarian himself, Michael Arnstein, as well as Ted Carr are both successful endurance athletes and aesthetically pleasing.  What I’m saying is they look pretty dang fit and healthy.

But for every successful fruitarian there are famous failures.  Ashton Kutcher reportedly wound up in the hospital after trying a fruitarian diet.  Allegedly, Steve Jobs followed a fruitarian diet preceding and during his pancreatic cancer diagnosis and passed away at age 56.

So which is it?  Will fruitarianism send me straight to the hospital or to the podium?

At this point, I don’t know.  Nor do I really care.  I am following this lifestyle not to lose weight, win races or to cure cancer.  I don’t have high LDL cholesterol, blood pressure or any other health issues. I’m following the lifestyle because it makes me feel my best.

I simply don’t know if it’s the healthiest.  I don’t know if it provides all the nutrients I need.  All I know is that eating fresh, ripe, raw, whole fruit and leafy greens makes me feel really good.  I have more energy, I sleep better, and it just feels right.   Like sliding on a shoe that forms perfectly to your feet or putting in that very last puzzle piece, a lifestyle of mostly fruit just suits me.

Part of what makes eating primarily a fruit diet so appealing is that there is no need to use added salt, sugar or fat in preparation of my food.  I simply eat fruit.  I’m not cooking anything or adding condiments with super high levels of sodium or sugar.  I’m simply eating fruit as it is picked off the tree or the vine.

Also, I really enjoy eating fruit and salads.  Believe me, it will happen to you too if you give this lifestyle a try.  Changing your tastebuds is possible and takes remarkably little time. I look forward to meal times almost more now that I eat super simple meals of oranges and bananas and large but simple salads of romaine, avocado, tomato and lime juice.

Sure, I miss eating cooked foods occasionally.  I miss vegan pizza, rice and potatoes.  But what I don’t miss is how these foods made me feel.  Bloated, full, sluggish and gross is how I used to feel after eating these foods.  After fruit meals I’m energized, satiated and happy.

Isn’t this how food is supposed to make us feel?

EatPlantsLiveWell.

Going all raw vegan for 2016: Day 11 update

all raw vegan 2016

I’m through day 11 of going all raw vegan for 2016.  Though my minimum time period for eating all raw is the 2016 calendar year, my ultimate hope is that after 365 days of eating this way I will continue to eat all raw.  Assuming, of course, that I still feel best eating this way.

The first 11 days have been super easy.  Right now I’m eating mostly bananas, mandarins, apples during the day and then eating a simple salad at night of romaine or butter lettuce with avocado, tomatoes, dates and lime.  I then also usually have a snack of mandarins in the evening.

Food combining and mono meals

Clearly, I’m not following the rules of food combining and I’m also not having as many mono meals as I’d like.  I’ll continue to work on that, probably by making my salad even simpler and maybe just eating mandarins for my breakfast/lunch.

For now, I don’t feel bad combining these foods so I don’t have a lot of incentive to stop eating this way.  This may change, of course, but I’ll continue to look for ways to improve on both of these in the future.

Calories

I haven’t been using Cronometer to log my calories lately but my guess would be I’m in the range of 2500 calories or so per day.  While I have a high level of activity, this is probably still too high.  I am working on eating a bit less.  I tend to eat more than I should, sometimes past the point where I feel full.  This is a work in progress and I’ll continue to work on being aware of my natural satiety signals.

I also tend to eat too fast.  This happens mostly because I love, love, love eating this way.  When I eat I look like the Tasmanian Devil, annihilating everything edible (and raw) in my path.  I’m working on eating slower.  Making baby steps.

Intermittent fasting

Though I have made some videos on this subject I don’t even really like to call what I do intermittent fasting.  What I do is try and follow a pretty simple idea for when I eat.  It’s pretty crazy, so get ready.  Here goes:  I eat when I’m hungry.  Crazy, right?

This means that I typically don’t eat until 11 am or even later.  Today I ate around noon. Yesterday I ate around 10:30 am.  I don’t want food early in the morning.  I work out in a fasted state, and I don’t feel the need to eat until at least late morning.

I know, I know.  Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right?  Perhaps it is, or perhaps not.  Depends on if you’re hungry when you get up in the morning.  If you are, eat.  But one thing I will never recommend is eating when you’re not hungry.  Doesn’t the idea of eating when you’re simply not hungry seem kind of crazy?

I hear people say “you’ve got to eat,” or “aren’t you going to eat?”  As if going for a few hours without eating is going to kill me.  Well, it’s not.

What might kill people, though, is a habit of eating when not hungry. It’s silly and a dangerous and extremely unhealthy rabbit hole to fall down.  Make a point of listening to your body.  If it wants to eat, you’ll get the signals loud and clear.

Dr Joel Fuhrman labels those false hunger signals as Toxic Hunger.  This hunger is the only type many people feel, and is triggered by many situations, including food availability, unhealthy foods and even boredom.  Let’s face it – we’ve all fallen victim to eating when we’re not truly hungry. The key is recognizing it and training yourself to only eat when you’re body signals you that it needs food.

Summary

Overall, I feel great so far going all raw vegan for 2016.  I’m experiencing more energy, better and more consistent digestion and just an overall good feeling.  I’ve even had a few social situations and meals at restaurants where I’ve managed to find awesome raw options.

So far so good!

EatPlantsLiveWell!

I’m going all raw vegan for 2016

Typically, my diet alternates between eating raw and eating some cooked foods.  Though I’m always (and forever) vegan, I’ve struggled lately with trying to stick to an a completely raw, low fat diet.  So why am I going all raw vegan for 2016?  Have I lost a bet?  Or my mind?

I’m going all raw, low fat vegan for 2016 for one reason and one reason only: eating this way makes me feel better than I’ve ever felt.  It’s not about weight loss, deprivation, or some sort of masochistic desire to torture myself.

When I eat all raw, fresh ripe fruit and vegetables, I feel absolutely amazing.  When I add in cooked foods, as I’ve done in 2015, I don’t feel nearly as good.  Even seemingly benign foods such as boiled potatoes, rice and steamed veggies draw down my energy levels and slow my digestion.  I even had a cold recently.  What?  I haven’t been sick in years.

Perhaps part of the reason for this is that I go back and forth with an all raw diet and cooked foods.  Perhaps this means my body is less able to digest these foods as I don’t eat them very often.  This makes sense to me, though I have nothing besides my personal experience to base it on.

Of course most people think I’m crazy to eat mostly fruit and some vegetables exclusively and no cooked foods like beans, lentils, bread or potatoes.  Where will I get my protein? What about calcium?  Will I grow dangerously thin and float away like a sad birthday ballon?

I’ve gone for 4 months in the past eating only raw, though I did still drink coffee then and I had much more fat in the form of nuts and avocados in my diet than I do now.  I’ve since given up coffee (yay!) and I don’t eat nearly as much fat now.

But worry not, I will not waste away in 2016 eating only high carb low fat raw vegan.  I have plenty of reserves in the form of body fat to draw on.  In fact, the average person has plenty of reserves to fast for weeks.

As far as protein, of course I’ll still be getting plenty with just the fruits and vegetables I eat.  Ditto for calcium.

Though I’m very much looking forward to the challenge, the hard part of going all raw vegan in 2016 will be eating out and maintaining a social life.

Eating out has obvious challenges.  Few restaurants cater to someone who eats a few bananas and 4 lbs of clementines for a meal.  Though I dine out as infrequently as possible because I hate eating out, I still occasionally do.

Eating out means eating lots of salads…and typically very bad salads. Salads aren’t usually the focus of a restaurant.  After all, when is the last time someone said, “hey, let’s go check out that new restaurant! I heard their dinner salads are the bomb!”  I’ll be ordering dry salads with tomatoes that taste like wet cotton balls and lettuce coated in noxious pesticides.  Please bring me another.

Social situations are another issue altogether.  Though my husband is vegan and some friends are vegan, most of the people I hang out with are meat-eaters.   They invite us places.  We go to dinner at their homes.  Eating vegan is one thing, but eating raw vegan will rattle even the hippest host.

So I’ll avoid eating out as much as possible or choose Whole Foods.  I’ll also bring an epic raw salad to gatherings.  Most people love my salads (or at least that’s what they tell me) and they provide some nice color amongst all the gray and brown animal-based foods.

What I’m really getting down to here is if something means enough, there’s always a way.  There is absolutely no excuse for me to not to succeed going all raw for 2016.  Sometimes, things are as difficult as you make them.  If it’s important to me, I’ll make it work.

If I’m committed to feeling my absolute best and creating the most efficient and healthy body possible, I’ll make it through 365 days of eating fresh, ripe, whole, organic raw fruit and vegetables.  If I’m not committed and it’s not important enough to me, I’ll falter at some point.

My hope is that after a full year of eating raw, the cravings for cooked foods go away, just as the cravings for vegan processed junk food went away when I stopped eating them for a long enough period of time.  Or I may just go insane.  But hopefully not.

The truth is, I want this to be a permanent change in my lifestyle.  I want to go high carb, low fat raw vegan forever.  Or at least as long as it makes me feel so good.  Which I’m assuming is forever.

At day 365 of going all raw vegan for 2016, when I see the finish line I’m going to high five everyone and keep on running.  And running.

EatPlantsLiveWell!

What are your excuses for not going vegan?

excuses for not going vegan

As a vegan and a fitness freak, I’ve heard all kinds of excuses as to why people aren’t eating healthy.  So what are your excuses for not going vegan?

In addition to my favorite and most common quote…”well, we don’t eat a lot of meat,” which of course means they do eat a lot of meat, I often hear the craziest rationale as to why people aren’t able to adopt a healthy vegan lifestyle.

By far the most cited reason as to why someone is can’t go vegan, isn’t eating healthy, not exercising or even not taking out the recycling is because of their spouse or significant other.

I hear this excuse all the time and it goes something like this:  “well, I would eat healthy but Tom loves to eat chicken wings and so eating vegan totally wouldn’t work for us.”  Or, “I would go vegan but my husband loves to order pizza.” ” I would eat healthier but my partner just loves his junk food.”  “I would work out but she doesn’t like to run.”

The funny part about all this bizarre excuse-making is that it completely removes the burden of responsibility and places it on someone else.  In other words, it’s not me, it’s them.

They are the ones keeping me from adopting a totally plant-based, kick ass healthy diet or a consistent exercise program.  If it wasn’t for them I would be in the best shape of my life, with the perfect diet and the most disciplined of exercise routines.

Of course, this is total bullshit.  Just because everyone else is doing something or wants things a certain way doesn’t mean that you have to do it or that you have no choice in the matter.  Your lifestyle choices don’t have to be the same as everyone else’s.  In fact, if your lifestyle choices are identical to everyone else, chances are you’re making some pretty poor choices.

Sure, in an ideal world, your whole family would see the errors of their ways and adopt an active, healthy vegan lifestyle at the exact same moment that you do.  But that isn’t likely to happen.  Very few couples, and even fewer entire families, adopt a vegan diet at the same time.  I’m sure it happens, but it’s just not likely.

So what will you do?  Will you shelf your plans to become healthy and happy by adopting a vegan diet and saving the environment and preventing animal suffering because everyone in the world isn’t doing it at the exact time you are?  That seems silly, but judging by the excuses I’ve heard I sometimes wonder if that’s what people are expecting to have happen.

The bad news is you likely won’t have company on your journey to adopt a healthy diet.  If you’re plan is to wait until that happens then you might as well not even do it.

Seriously, stop waiting for that rarest of rare occasions to happen.  Solar eclipses are more frequent than two people deciding to adopt a massive lifestyle change at the same time, not to mention a whole family.

Instead, get committed to your own healthy lifestyle and make it happen.  Set an example for your family or your spouse by doing it regardless of their timeline.  You can’t control their actions and you’ll frustrate the heck out of yourself and everyone else by trying.  Not to mention you’ll fail every time.

Focus on what you can control.  You can control the food that goes into your mouth.  You really can.  You don’t have to ask permission to give up unhealthy food that makes you feel terrible.  You can be a wolf pack of one.

You might feel a little like Will Ferrel in the movie Old School, where he finds himself streaking through the streets.  By himself.   Like streaking, making bold lifestyle changes is tough to make by yourself.  You may feel lonely and naked.

That is, unless you really don’t want to adopt a healthy lifestyle and you’re just using this as an excuse.  That’s undoubtedly the case for many people that shift the responsibility to someone else.  They never intended to do it anyway.  Probably, many other things they’re not doing in their life are also the result of bullshit excuses.  It’s a pattern.

Take some time to think about the things you aren’t happy with in your life and what’s preventing you from making that change.  Are you taking responsibility for why these changes aren’t happening?  Or are you blaming someone or something else for why you’re not doing what you need to do to live the healthiest life you can?

You need to.  No waiting for someone else to approve of what you’re doing or to even be okay with it.  That can come later.  Or never.

Whatever the case, take responsibility for your life and every single choice you make.

EatPlantsLiveWell!

 

 

How to be a confident vegan

confident cat

It’s not easy being a confident vegan.  Often, you’re a wolf pack of one.  At parties and family gatherings you’re often singled out as “the vegan” and forced to sit in the corner staring at the wall.

Okay, that last part doesn’t really happen.  But sometimes it feels just as bad.  It can feel lonely to be the only one that gives a damn about what they eat.  Sometimes it feels like you’re swimming upstream and everyone else is coasting along on the strength of the current.

But it’s upstream you must swim.  Fight against that current.  Embrace the feeling of being your very own wolf pack.  The best way to do that is to become a confident vegan.

Don’t worry about being different…

You may have noticed a little thing called an obesity epidemic happening lately, with 69% of adult Americans considered overweight.  Apparently, following the standard American diet like everyone else is not such a great idea.

So many other habits and lifestyle choices that are widely practiced are worth avoiding.  Excessive TV watching, lack of daily exercise and eating out for nearly every meal are all examples of what most people choose to do that you would do well to avoid.

Giving proper thought not just to what you eat, but how you spend your time and money will lead to less and less “fitting in” and even more feeling different.  But whoever said being different was a bad thing?

Embrace the feeling of not fitting in.  In fact, fitting in might just be a red flag of sorts.  Oh, I’m doing what everyone else is doing?  Uh oh.  Something needs to change.

Not fitting in and being comfortable with that takes some practice.  Don’t expect to be good with it right away.  Eventually, though, you should start feeling comfortable and confident that the choices you’re making are based on your values, not on the fact that everyone else is doing it.

Don’t be so sensitive…

I realize this is asking a lot from us sensitive vegans.  After all, much of the reason we became or stay vegan is based on our sensitivity to animal suffering and perhaps even environmental destruction.  But I’m amazed how many stories I hear of vegans being upset by random, insensitive comments made by those mean and hateful meat eaters.   Bullies, they are!

Of course, I’m not defending those comments, but as a vegan of a dozen years or so, I’ve realized the last thing I want to do is let any of this nonsense upset me.  I’m not in control of what people think of my lifestyle choices, so I don’t let it bother me.  Ultimately, their issues with veganism are more about them and their experiences than anything to do with me.

So you shouldn’t let it bother you when you’re annoying brother-in-law waves a greasy turkey leg in front of you and asks if it offends you.  Nor should you go ballistic when once again this year you get asked to explain why you’re vegan over the turkey carcass at Thanksgiving dinner.  Also, don’t you dare get all annoyed when you have to explain for the millionth time that you get plenty of protein from eating plants.

I know I’m asking a lot.  Not being sensitive takes a tremendous amount of discipline.  I assure you it took time for me to arrive at my zen-like acceptance of dumb comments.  Like about ten years.  So give it some time.  But then let it go.  It does get easier.

Harden the f*** up…

Yep, I said it.  Related to being too sensitive, you just have to harden the f*** up.  Because I don’t see the insensitive comments going away anytime soon.  So now’s the time for you to learn the subtle art of not giving a fuck.  Learning that will come in handy, not just for becoming a vegan badass, but for life in general.

Stop worrying about being liked and accepted by everyone.  Sometimes, people aren’t going to like you.  They might not even accept you.  But this Tim guy seems to have it all figured out.

tim

Let me give you an example.  I attended the Portland Vegfest this last weekend.  I listened to the always wonderful and often hilarious Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (buy her amazing new book, or any of her books) speak.  She fielded questions like a professional short stop from the audience during the last half of her talk.

The questions were not coming from confident vegans.  Most sounded a bit whiny and were focused on one central theme:  no one appreciates or respects their decision to go vegan.  Questions like this are somewhat typical of vegans, and notably more prevalent around the awkward food-centered holiday season.

Of course we all want people to like and accept us.  It’s a natural human instinct.  However, expecting everyone to like and accept you (and your lifestyle choices) is, well, crazy.

I found myself wondering if these people were a little more confident in their manner that they would then get more support from friends and family.

Regardless, being a confident vegan takes some time and practice.  There are still frustrations, even for long time vegans.

However, being a confident vegan sure beats the alternative.

Good luck!

EatPlantsLiveWell!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Using common sense to answer the question, what should I eat?

complicated

I believe, deep down, people know what they should and shouldn’t be eating.  Despite the sometimes selective media coverage and questionable interpretation of nutritional studies, most people know intuitively that butter in your coffee isn’t healthy.

But, if you’re really not sure about what to eat, it might help to realize that all you really have to do is use a little common sense.

In fact, I feel common sense is the most powerful tool one can employ when considering not only food choices, but also when evaluating specific diets and even nutrition advice in general.  I know, common sense is boring and obvious.  But here’s the thing: it works.

For example, a friend recently asked me what I thought about the Eat Right 4 Your Type diet or some such nonsense.  I had heard of it before but never really took it seriously.  Apparently, it is based on making food choices according to your blood type.  What?  How in the world does this even exist?

Now, in all fairness, I know very little about this diet and haven’t read this particular book.  However, there’s a reason for this.  I don’t waste time reading books that don’t make sense.

No, I don’t believe that a person should determine what they eat by their blood type.  Sure, some people may do better with certain foods than others, but to say that blood type has anything to do with the foods you should be eating is, well, ridiculous, and certainly not founded on actual, you know,  scientific principles.  I know, that pesky science and data and actual supporting studies (not paid for by interested parties) can be annoying, but important if you want to make health claims.

If we can bring out our common sense for just one moment, we would naturally look to animals in nature and see if that is true for them. Do we feed dogs different food because of their blood types?  Do our closest primate relatives require different food because of their blood type?  No animal in nature has to find out their blood type before they eat something. It’s a stupid and complicated idea that somehow sells a lot of books but doesn’t pass the common sense test.

We could also look to the longest lived people to see if they’re eating for their blood type.  Nope, the Adventists of Loma Linda featured in The Blue Zones were largely vegetarian and ate nuts, but didn’t limit their consumption of nightshade vegetables because they were type O.

Supplements also fail when it comes to the common sense test.  Protein powders are at best a terrific waste of your money, at worst a serious health hazard.  Calcium supplementation is also controversial, as Dr. Michael Greger points out on his fabulous site nutrition facts.org :

In 12 short years, government panels have gone from suggesting widespread calcium supplementation may be necessary to protect our bones to “Do Not Supplement,” based in part on studies suggesting calcium supplements increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Common sense will tell us to get our protein and calcium directly from plants, not from powder or pills that not only haven’t been shown to work, but may even be hurting us.

We don’t see horses hanging out in the pasture, pulling out their plastic tub of protein powder from Costco and blending up a giant whey protein smoothie, do we?   Ever see a cow taking his daily calcium pills?  So where do they get their nutrients?  Could it be from the plants they eat? Couldn’t we just do the same?

Superfoods are another ridiculous question I often get and wonder how in the heck people get conned into believing certain foods have some magical nutrient power.  There is no real “definition” of super foods.  I suspect it may have to do with what particular food is experiencing lagging sales and hired the best PR firm to orchestrate a massive advertising campaign.

I’ve heard everything from blueberries to eggs to turkey breast listed as a super food.  What??  First, yes, blueberries are super and they are a food.  But do we really need to call them a superfood?  No, they are plants and they are healthy and you should definitely eat lots of them when they are in season and organic, if you can.

But eggs?  Turkey breast?  No and no.  Eggs are full of artery clogging cholesterol.  Even better, the American Heart Association advises  restricting egg consumption in adults in order to prevent diabetes and heart disease.  That’s a super food, when even the AHA is recommending you restrict consumption?

Even without all the cholesterol, let’s use our common sense to determine if we should be eating eggs.. Most people don’t realize what eggs truly are. When I ate eggs, I didn’t spend a moment thinking about what I was eating. But eggs are chicken periods. It’s true. I read it on the internet. No really. Does that sound like something you should eat? I’m guessing no.

Turkey breast a super food?  Well I guess so, if you’re feeling lucky.  A recent study showed 9 out of 10 turkey samples were contamined with fecal bacteria. I don’t like those odds at all.  Doesn’t sound super to eat poop with my turkey breast.

Not to mention…should you be eating a breast? Of anything? Probably not. Not only is it gross to eat an animal’s breast, but the cruel practices of the poultry industry are certainly not something you would ever want to support by purchasing their products. Remember that you’re always voting with your purchases. Every time you purchase something, you’re asking for more of that item to be produced. Voting for cruelty of any kind doesn’t make sense.

Oh, and don’t forget the salmonella that could very well be present in your turkey, and even more so likely in your chicken.  Yes, everyone thinks chicken is a GD health food compared to beef.  Not really. I suppose if you survive eating a piece of turkey or chicken, you could consider yourself super.

Diets based on your blood type, superfoods and supplements are not worthy of a moment of your consideration.  Always evaluate dietary advice through the lens of common sense.  The simple fact is this:  The healthiest diet isn’t complicated.  It doesn’t involve blood tests or the latest and greatest superfood.  It’s just a matter of eating your fruits and vegetables.

EatPlantsLiveWell!