As a long-time reader of Environmental Nutrition,
I was very excited to receive an email from Sharon Palmer's PR agent who asked if I would like to receive a free copy of her new book. I will be honest in saying that it's been many, many years since I have picked up a "nutrition" book as much of my time (and money) has been used educating myself on topics of nutrition and sport nutrition thanks to lectures from professors, school, conferences, journals, research and real-world experience. Hands down, there's no better truth in understanding the relationship between food and exercise than training for and participating in an Ironman event (140.6 miles). Additionally, as much as I love reading credible research, it isn't until I step foot in the hospital and see trends among patients, that I begin to understand the beautiful relationship between the body and lifestyle choices.
I took advantage of this opportunity to read a book that encourages individuals to eat more whole, plant-strong foods, in order to achieve optimal health.
As you have learned to realize, I am not one for fad diets. I don't do extreme, even though it's desired by the public. I don't quick fixes because I believe that hard work and patience bring the best outcomes. I also believe that we are all individuals and every body should be respected.
As a lacto-ovo vegetarian, I will be celebrating my 19th turkey-free Thanksgiving next week. Almost twenty years of no meat or fish all because at the tender age of 11ish, I decided I didn't want to "kill animals". My mom, dad, brother and Karel all eat meat - that's ok. All my relatives eat meat. What we all share in common is an appreciation for keeping our bodies in good health. It's funny because I don't consider myself "different" than anyone else (well, I may be a bit different in that I train for events that last for 10+ hours of swim, bike, run - kinda extreme) because there is no nutrition-related research study to match the genetic code and lifestyle for everyone in this universe. However, there is a common theme that we can all learn to love.....eat more fruits and veggies and stay active for the rest of your life.
When it comes to radical shifts in dietary habits, many people have mentioned that Forks Over Knives
changed the way they eat. I'll agree that it was a very powerful documentary encouraging people to eat a more plant strong diet but it did not mention that this "diet" was a vegan low
, no oil
, no nuts
, no seeds
, no fish "diet".
The results were significant when the patients started following this "diet" but certainly, a lifestyle of eating a large amount of processed, refined, high sugar, high fat, high salt foods will put your body at risk for health problems that will need to be reversed or minimized if you want to live a quality life.
So the question is....is it the diet itself that should be followed by the public to "be healthy" or would it be more practical for us all to take a more proactive approach with our lifestyle choices in order to live a more quality of life? Certainly, I think most people would agree that that they need to work on their relationship and their body and not just start making a list of off-limit foods. In my opinion, I would rather take a more balanced approach to diet and exercise since I am not a fan of rules when it comes to how I choose to eat and live.
Here are a few other approaches (some extreme) to a plant-based diet but with a few similar trends:
Barnard Diet (by Neal Barnard, MD, founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine): Based on starches, vegetables and fruits. Diet is low-fat. Emphasis is on no animal foods, ever.
Biblical Daniel Diet: More than 2500 years ago a diet of vegetables and water was found to improve the health of men in 10 days, compared to men eating meat (the king’s food).
China Study Diet (by T. Colin Campbell, PhD): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. Animal foods may account for 10% or fewer of foods consumed.
CHIP Program (The Complete Health Improvement Program by Dr. Hans Diehl): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. Emphasis is on eating low-fat.
Esselstyn Diet (by Caldwell Esselstyn, MD): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. No nuts, seeds, avocados, or other fatty plant foods are allowed. Emphasis is on eating very low-fat.
Engine 2 Diet (by Rip Esselstyn): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. Emphasis is on eating very low-fat.
Fuhrman Diet (by Joel Fuhrman, MD): Based on
green and yellow vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. Not always low in fat.
Small amounts of animal foods allowed. Emphasis is on eating “nutrient-dense”
Hallelujah Diet (by Rev. George Malkmus):
Consists of 85% raw, uncooked, and unprocessed plant-based food, and 15% cooked,
Kempner Rice Diet (by Walter Kempner, MD): Based
on rice and fruits. More plant foods and a few animal foods are allowed after
recovery. Emphasis is on eating very low sodium.
Macrobiotic Diet: Based on grains (rice) and
vegetables. Fish, seafood, seeds, and nuts may be eaten occasionally.
McDougall Diet (by John McDougall, MD): Based on
starches, vegetables, and fruits. Healthy, trim people can eat some nuts, seeds,
and avocados. Animal foods for holidays, at most. Emphasis is on eating
Natural Hygiene Diet (by Herbert M. Shelton, ND):
Advocates a raw food diet of vegetables, fruits, and nuts; and also periodic
fasting and food combining.
Ornish Diet (by Dean Ornish, MD): Based on
starches, vegetables and fruits. Low-fat dairy, some fish, and fish oils are
used at times. Emphasis is on eating very low-fat.
Popper Diet (by Pam Popper, PhD): Based on
starches, vegetables, and fruits. Emphasis is on eating very low-fat.
Pritikin Diet (by Nathan Pritikin): The original
diet was based on starches, vegetables and fruits. Small amounts of meat,
poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy are allowed. Emphasis is on eating very
I have a long way to go in the book so this is not yet a book "review" but rather a teaser as I feel I can already recommend this book to individuals who desire to eat a more plant-powered diet.
There are no pre-reqs as to what kind of diet you have to follow before reading this book or what you are suppose to "not eat" when you are finished with this book. The book is simply a step-by-step approach to understanding how you can incorporate more plants into an omnivorous diet or why you should continue to enjoy your current plant-based style of eating. With a 14-day meal plan and 75 delicious recipes, this book keeps "balance" in mind and will likely leave you excited to live a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. David L. Katz (Director of Yale University Prevention Research Center) wrote the forward to this book. After I reach his forward, I was moved beyond words as to how he describes his views on food. Considering the many diets out there and the desire that you may have to follow the masses, please enjoy the following two paragraphs as you consider changing your views about food and your body, aiming for a more enjoyable and positive approach to "healthful" living.
The theme of healthful eating consistently emphasizes the same basic constellation of foods: vegetables, fruit, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. There are several legitimate variations on the themes: some include low- and nonfat dairy and eggs, others do not. Some include fish and seafood, others do not. Some include lean meats, others do not. All banish to the realm of rare indulgence those highly processed foods that deliver concentrated doses of refined starch, sugar, trans fat, certain saturated fats and sodium. All start with the building blocks of actual foods that are recognizable and pronounceable, especially plant foods, and the portion control that tends to occur all but automatically when eating these foods.
That we can assert a theme of healthful eating with a confidence we lack for any specific variant is arguably a good thing. An allowance for variations on a theme is an allowance for customization. Food is a source of important pleasure in our lives, and while we should not mortgage our health for that pleasure, neither should we mortgage that pleasure for our health. The dietary sweet spot, as it were, is loving food that loves us back! Variations on the theme of healthful eating allow us each to get there in our own particular way. Several of these dietary variations have been investigated regarding their potential for health promotion.