Disclaimer: Although I’m wildly interested in science and the mechanics of nutrition, I also believe that—at the individual level—personal experience trumps theory. My diet is an ongoing n=1 experiment, based more on the results I achieve than on scientific rationale, and influenced by factors in my life that probably don’t apply to most people (like multiple food allergies and “Too Lazy to Cook My Food So I Eat It Raw” Syndrome). I don’t believe the diet I landed on is universally optimal; what works for me could easily send someone else straight to the 9th circle of blood-sugar hell—so this post is in no way intended as a framework for others to follow. I’m only writing about my personal diet at all because I get so many questions about it.
The gist of my eating plan, which has been pretty similar for the past eight years. You can assume that whatever’s on this page is current, since I update it when anything changes. (Latest edit: 7/12/2012.)
Basically, I eat a sort of raw food, plant-based, paleo-ish, Weston-A-Price style fusion. The stuff I eat the most of (from the biggest proportion volume-wise to the smallest):
- raw fruit (fresh; never dried)
- raw vegetables
- fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, snapper, yellowtail, oysters, mussels, clams; the fish typically raw), usually daily
- raw eggs or soft-boiled eggs, a few times per week
- home-made bone broth, more frequently in the winter
- coconut water
- fermented vegetables
- occasional organ meats (raw or lightly cooked; maybe once or twice per month)
- vegetable juice
- very rarely, root vegetables like sweet potato or jicama
That’s pretty much what I stick to when I’m home making food for myself. If I’m out to eat or at someone’s house, I’m more flexible about whether things are raw or cooked and will eat other meats, but I stick to the same basic food groups (meat/eggs, fruit, and vegetables). I personally feel better using fruit rather than cooked starches as fuel, but your mileage may vary. My fruit consumption also changes wildly day-to-day and seasonally—I eat a lot more of it in the summer, and have some days where it’s not on the menu at all.
Here are two example menus from the past week—the first one being a “high fruit” day, the second being a sushi-feast day—with vitamin and mineral totals beneath each food list. My food intake usually falls somewhere between these two extremes.
High fruit day: Lots of strawberries for breakfast (I do mean lots); mango-spinach-egg-coconut water smoothie for lunch; giant salad plus oysters for dinner; blueberries for dessert.
Sushi-feast day: Papaya for breakfast, salad with eggs for lunch, mega sashimi and miso soup for dinner.
Although I believe at least some portion of raw foods are valuable in a person’s diet (not just fruits and vegetables, but also raw fats and lacto-fermented “living” foods), from a scientific standpoint, I have no reason to believe a 100% raw diet is superior to a well-planned mixed cooked/raw diet. I choose raw for myself based on personal experience and relentless self-guinea-pigging: compared to a cooked diet based on the same foods, I just feel a heck of a lot better on the raw end of the spectrum—needing less sleep, having a stronger desire to move and exercise, brighter eyes, better immunity, a greater ratio of happy-happy-joy-joy moods to bluer ones, and other little perks that make the social hassles worth it. I have no scientific explanation for this, though it’s something I’d like to eventually explore on a more objective level.
I’m also kind of accident prone, so it’s probably for the best that I’m not near hot stovetops.
I’m a strong believer in getting nutrition from food rather than pills. That said, there are three things I take religiously and that I believe the majority of people can benefit from (whether vegan or omnivore): vitamin K2, vitamin D3, and cod liver oil. This is a particularly fantastic trio for anyone trying to recover from dental issues. (A few folks have asked which brand of K2 to use. I’ve had great success using Carlson Labs, and get the big bottle for the best value. Green Pasture also makes an awesome fermented cod liver oil. Decent vitamin D is easier to find, but make sure the brand uses D3 and not D2.)
I guess this doesn’t really qualify as diet, but a few people have asked and I don’t know where else to stick it. I engage in regular strength training and bodyweight exercises—usually at kiddie playgrounds, where I end up hijacking the monkeybars to do pull-ups. I also do yoga, some gymnastics, and (weather and geography permitting) outdoorsy things like hiking and mountain biking. I favor high intensity interval training (HIIT) over sustained cardio like running, but I do trail run sometimes during the summer. I also walk or bike at least a few miles every day because I don’t have a car. I figure I ought to be in good fighting shape in case PETA ever tracks down my address.