Food/diet is one of those topics that everyone has some kind of opinion about. And whatever opinion they have, they typically feel pretty strongly about it.
I’ve always had a hard time with labeling my diet… and the pressure to proclaim which category I fit into. To be honest, I've rarely ever fit into any category of eating, and have always thought that labeling one’s diet shouldn’t feel like a such a requirement.
I often to try to describe my diet by saying that I am mostly plant-based... then I get cut off and the person will say “oh yeah so, you are vegan.” … well no, I’m not vegan because honey is my favorite food. And I will eat fish, but only when I go out to eat … Then they will nod their head knowingly, and say “oh, ok so you are pescatarian.”… But not exactly, because I don’t eat fish that often. So the pescatarian label feels like a stretch.
So I struggled, and often felt that I had to put my diet into some kind of terminology just to help people feel more settled.
And here’s the kicker … I do still eat meat on very rare occasion (and oh, I usually didn’t even try to describe that). If it is a very high quality and local source, I will sometimes go for it.
I grew up eating & loving meat. My favorite food as a kid was lamb chops, and my favorite childhood picture is of my 2-year-old face covered in BBQ sauce while eating chicken.
Unfortunately, meat is not always readily available to us in a way that is healthy ... nor is it healthy for the environment … and it's pretty damn cruel to the animals. And these sad truths are what led me to become a mainly-plant-based-plus-honey-occasional-pescatarian.
Gosh, what can I say?
I just really care about eating healthily & respecting the environment.
So my diet looks like this:
I DON’T eat: Foods with artificial, processed, or fake ingredients...foods grown or raised with herbicides, pesticides, or hormones ... or anything else that is toxic to humans, animals, or the Earth (I know. I set my bar pretty high).
I DO eat: A variety of organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, & seeds on a regular basis...If I choose to eat an animal product (which is rare), I choose one that was properly caught, or properly farmed-raised & fed... and local if possible.
My new favorite way to describe my diet is 'Nutritarian,' a term I learned from Dr. Furhman. This actually defines my diet perfectly. It basically means that the nutrient density of the foods I eat is most important to me. 'Nutrient density' refers to the amount of nutrients per calorie.
And hey, it turns out that
plant-based foods are the most nutrient-dense.
And spoiler alert: processed and artificial ingredients provide the lowest amount of nutrients. They also create a whole platter of health problems. Meat and dairy fall lower on the nutrient density chart as well, and often create or contribute to major health problems (most notably because of their saturated fat content and improper farming methods).
“The nutrient density in your body’s tissues is proportional to the nutrient density of your diet. Micronutrients fuel proper functioning of the immune system and enable the detoxification and cellular repair mechanisms that protect us from chronic diseases. Dr. Fuhrman coined the term Nutritarian to define a diet style which provides a high ratio of micronutrients per calorie and a high level of micronutrient variety” (Furhman, 2017).
So there ya go. I am a Nutritarian.
I made this change to nutritarian long before I knew the term. For a long time, I saw my diet as whole-food-plant-based (plus honey, of course). This is the dietary change that kicked my struggles with stress eating for good. It also improved my sleep and overall health, and I noticed that I looked and felt younger than I had in years.
This experience is what led me to becoming a heath coach. I grew very passionate about the changes it made in my life, and wanted to help others to discover their own capacity for better health. This is why incorporating whole-food-plant-based foods into one’s diet is one of the key ingredients in how I help women to overcome stress/emotional eating.
There are countless health benefits to this nutritarian approach to eating, and to incorporating more plant-based foods into one’s life. Eating more plant-based foods can reduce the speed and reverse signs of aging, allow for a healthier BMI, reduce the body's toxic load, and reduce the risk for chronic disease (just to name a few).
If you feel inspired to try out healthier ways of eating, remember that it does not have to be all or nothing. Experiment with how much nutrient-density you can integrate throughout your day, week, and month.
If you are looking for the support of a health coach, visit my website to learn more about my coaching style. Or contact me for a free consultation.
Furhman, Joel, MD (2017). ‘ANDI Food Scores: Rating the Nutrient Density of Foods,’ Dr.Furhman.com, 16, March. Available at: https://www.drfuhrman.com/elearning/blog/128/andi-food-scores-rating-the-nutrient-density-of-foods (Accessed January 15, 2021).