The Produce Diet
“Dieting” has become its own industry. Hundreds of books, DVDs, magazines, and other media are published every year devoted to different styles of dieting. Low-carb, low-fat, paleo, ketogenic, metabolic typing, etc., etc. With so many options, all of which claim to be the optimal solution for the world’s health & weight problems, it’s no wonder that people get so confused and mislead when it comes to what they should be putting in their bodies.
Before we go any further, I want to make something clear. The word “diet” is a reference to what you are eating, regardless of what it is. If you eat pizza & ice cream all the time (don’t do that), you’re on a diet of pizza & ice cream. The social context of the word has molded it to be something people feel they start & stop (i.e. “I’m going on a diet.”). Usually the use of the word as such is in accordance with an idea of restriction in some way, shape, or form. As far as I’m concerned, the only thing that should be restricted is junk food, if not eliminated entirely.
“If man made it, don’t eat it.” – Jack LaLanne
The fact is, a diet is something you have as long as you are eating. To be successful in achieving your health goals long term, you need to throw away the ideas of temporary fixes (“dieting” being one of them). Instead, you want to focus on making high-quality decisions consistently for years on end. For all the confusion the dieting conundrum has caused, it has revolved around one concept that has been proven true over & over again: EAT MORE FRUITS & VEGETABLES.
I encourage consumption of both at each & every meal, before you commit to eating anything else, regardless of what it is. With that in mind, allow me to introduce you to “The Produce Diet”. More accurately, I should introduce the produce lifestyle. Here’s the simple rule to follow: consume at least 75% of your calories from goods found in the produce section with emphasis on fresh, organic fruits & vegetables. Nuts, seeds, & dried fruit, being other items commonly found in produce, are acceptable as well; organic is preferred, and make the effort to stay away from any added sugar, salt, & oils. If fresh fruits & veggies are inconvenient, frozen is the next best option; once again, organic if possible, no added sugar, salt, oil, or animal fat (i.e. butter, lard, etc.).
Water should be your staple drink. Drink enough so that you’re urine is clear, and that you’re going to the bathroom once between every 1-2 hours. Juices are ok, so long as you follow the no added sugar rule, but hydration should come from water & calories should come from whole fruit. Caffeinated beverages are not recommended.
These are the foods that promote health, happiness, performance, & longevity the most, so the goal is to get as many of them into your body on a daily basis as possible. Eat until you are well satiated every time you sit down to a meal. Caloric restriction doesn’t apply to fruits & veggies.
You’re free to spend the other 25% of your calories as you please, but for optimal health, you should make the effort to stay away from junk food. If you don’t know what junk food is, here’s a common list: burgers, pizza, french fries, onion rings, doughnuts, pastries, cookies, candy, ice cream, soda (pop, cola), “energy drinks”, breakfast cereals, nachos, hot dogs, popcorn, chips, etc. In addition, make the effort to move away from animal foods & ingredients (beef, poultry, pork, fish, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, lard, honey, & products derived from them).
Over time, strive to increase the amount of calories you’re getting on a daily basis from 75% to 80%, 85%, 90%, until you’re getting all of your calories from produce foods, if you’re comfortable. When eating out, just choose your meals based on whether its ingredients are found in the produce section or not.
However healthy your dietary intake may be, it’s always best to couple it with an all-around healthy lifestyle. Get adequate sleep every night (at least 7 hours, preferably 8-10) and engage in regular physical activity. The activity doesn’t matter so much as the fact that you just do it (and do it well). If you’re into running, go run. Cycling, go ride. Weight lifting, go lift. Having sex, have sex (consensually and in a good, monogamous relationship). If nothing else, go for a 1 mile walk to start your day. Whatever you do, just make sure to put quality before quantity so you get best results with the least effort & chance of injury. Along with that, cut unnecessary sources of stress out of your life (bad relationships).
Welcome to the produce lifestyle.
Until next time…
Keep it strong, keep it vegan.