My Current Diet

Disclaimer: This post is in no way intended as a framework for others to follow; I only put this up because I get so many questions about what I eat. 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; not an eating plan I deem universally optimal. What works for me could easily send someone else straight to the 9th circle of blood-sugar hell.

So here’s the gist of my eating plan, which has been pretty similar for the past nine years. You can assume that whatever’s on this page is current, since I update it when anything changes. (Latest edit: February 2015; I eat less liver these days.)

Basically, I eat a sort of raw food, plant-based, paleo-ish, Weston-A-Price style fusion. From largest proportion of my diet to the smallest:

  • Raw fruit and raw vegetables—collectively, these are probably at least 80% of my diet
  • Raw fish and cooked or raw shellfish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, oysters, mussels, clams, roe); usually daily
  • Coconut water; usually daily
  • Cooked organ meats, usually chicken liver or chicken hearts; a few times per month
  • Raw eggs or sunny-side-up eggs, usually from ducks; a few times per week
  • Raw vegetable juice; a few times per week
  • Cooked tubers; once or twice per week
  • Cooked vegetables; once or twice per week
  • Sushi rice
  • Cooked gelatinous animal foods like tendons; a few times per month
  • Home-made bone broth; more frequently in the winter
  • Seaweeds
  • Kimchi and sauerkraut
  • Occasionally: avocados, olives, nuts, seeds

I eat red meat once every few years (not a typo!) and don’t typically use isolated animal fats like butter or lard, unless they’re in a dish someone else made and I’ve been cajoled into eating. The only oils I use are a very small amount of olive oil when cooking organ meats or eggs. I don’t eat any dairy due to massive congestion and skin-breaky-outy episodes that ensue.

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 much more flexible, but always avoid wheat and dairy because of the acute effects they have on me (i.e. I become a runny-nosed, phlegm-hacking zombie monster).

Here are two example menus from my stomach’s archives—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 is usually closer to the first one, with fat kept relatively low (10 – 20% of calories).

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.

Why raw?

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.

Supplements:

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.)

Exercise:

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.

111 comments

  1. Where do you get your iron from if you don’t mind me asking. I see you eat shellfish 3x a week and liver/organs 2x a month or so, but that can’t supply you enough iron to function on, right? I mean I eat red meat and other animal meats daily, and I ended up anemic. Granted I was still eating dairy with it at the time, which apparently blocks iron absorption, but I would think I’d still have enough from all the meat I eat.

    Also, do you find your blood sugar gets unstable from all the fruit? If I eat more than a few pieces a day, I seem to get the shakes.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Ashely,

      Thanks for the comment! I just updated this page with some better info, and added some sample menus/nutrient breakdowns of what I eat in a day — some of the seafood, like oysters, supplies quite a bit of iron. I developed anemia as a vegan, but haven’t had any iron issues since adding back some animal products.

      My blood sugar stays rock-steady as long as I eat fruit on an empty stomach (preferably in the morning, before eating anything else) and don’t combine it with fat or eat it after a heavy meal. I find fruit much, much easier to handle in the context of a generally lowish-fat diet, whereas adding fruit to a fat-based diet seems to cause more issues. That said, I think I have an abnormal capacity to handle high volumes of fruit without much issue, and I don’t expect that everyone else would share this experience. :) Hope that helps!

      1. Thank you so much for the update! That was exactly what I was looking for! :)

        And I appreciate the eating fruit on an empty stomach tip because that may be my problem…I usually eat it with or after a meal. I will definitely give the empty stomach thing a try and see if that helps.

        But I love the daily food examples….I’m just so curious about your way of eating! Like I was wondering about how you eat raw veggies, and it looks like you mostly do salad raw veggies not those strange concoctions I see on a lot of a raw recipe websites or people that I see eating a whole head of broccoli raw….I just couldn’t do that. I can definitely do salads tho!

        Thanks again!

      2. That’s really interesting. When I was vegan, I found that eating fruit (especially in blended form) was, after awhile, giving me these huge blood sugar spikes where I’d crash before lunch and feel terrible most of the rest of the day. The worst was eating fruit for breakfast. It was always fine if I ate fruit with something else.

        I thought something was “wrong” with me because, hey, it’s fruit and it’s healthy! I’ve since come to realize that there’s a ton of sugar in fruit, and at least for me, it’s probably best not to overdo it. I find eating fruit with other food is much, much better.

        I also find my current, high fat diet has helped my body and my brain to feel much better than it has in a long time. As you and others have often said here–everyone is different.

  2. Hi Denise!
    The new update is great, answers heaps of questions. Just one thing I wanted to ask, you said that the high fruit day and the sushi feast day were extremes. What would a regular day be like? Can you give us an example of a more usual day?
    Thank you so much, I love your articles!

  3. Hi Denise!

    Your blog is amazing. I wish I’d found it earlier. I started eating raw in an effort to overcome severe, chronic constipation and bloating. Eating 80/10/10 was the closest I’ve ever come to relief, but it doesn’t help enough… and as I do more research I’m worried about nutritional deficiencies. Furthermore I’m trying to put some muscle on (I’m female, 5′ 5″, 115 lbs.) and have been having trouble doing that.

    I was raw vegan (mostly 80/10/10 style) from the age of 17 to 22. I’m 23 now, and have started adding in sashimi (doing well on it) and trying to add raw egg yolk (made me very queasy for a long time, I’ll keep working on it.) I’m also adding salt (unrefined) and fermented veggies back in, and I supplement b12 and d3. I think I’m really sensitive to starch and fiber, (even carrots and super-ripe bananas can mess with me, and flax seeds are a disaster.) My basic diet: vast green smoothie (fruit + greens) fresh dates, and more fruit or a salad w/ avocado or sashimi.

    My plan is to keep the majority of my calories from fruit, but add in generous amounts of raw seafood, and up the raw egg yolks. I’d like to try raw red meat, but I’m not sure how to do it safely.

    Could you give me any pointers?

  4. Hi Denise – What is the nutrition tracking program that you use (i.e., on this About page, the one you have screenshots of)? Thanks! P.S. Love your site! My body 100% agrees with your take on the capital-H-healthy benefits of raw + paleo. It’s wonderful to see the science articulated so well!

  5. Hi Denise,

    since your critique on the Fish section of the China Study i’ve been wary of molluscs (esp. mussels and oysters), as they are esp. high in the toxic metal cadmium. I was therefore quire surprised to see the large amount of oysters, and fish in general, you consume. Do you know something new about cadmium intake that you would like to share with the rest of us fish eaters? :)

  6. Hey Denise, Just went over your site. FASCINATING. Thanks for all the good work. I especially love the ‘For Vegans’ page, as well as this one that gives us an idea of what your current diet is. I’ve experimented with vegan, raw vegan/superfoods, fruitarian, paleo, perfect health diet and primal/MDA (all STRICTLY) and it’s funny how I’ve ended up eating very similarly to what you put on this page. The Oysters, in particular, were VERY beneficial for getting my energy back. I ended up with big time Iron and b12 deficiencies (from doing massive heavy metal detox and also 100% raw for a long time) and was doing some searching on the internet and it led me to your site!

    I have a question if you get the chance to answer it…. I was wondering what your thoughts were on dairy? Do you consume it at all? I seem to do okay with small amounts of Raw grass-fed cheese and butter, but milk or any pasteurized dairy does NOT work for some reason. Gives me breathing problems. I’ve been doing the cheese for the k2 and calcium.

  7. @neisy, no disrespect but you remind me of bisexual girl that is simply confused.

    I wish I could fast forward and read this blog 25-35years from now and truly find out what choice of food you’ll be making then. I’m 99.8% sure different.

    For I have a feeling your going to flip-flop a few dozen times till then.

    1. My feelings too. Strawberries?? lots of them?? unless they are organic, they are absolutely loaded with pesticides. I miss the biochemistry in this story

  8. This is a good read. I’m just not too sure about giving up everything yet because I do love eating. Veggies is not a problem as I eat that a lot but raw food is a big no for me.

  9. Hi there! I just wanted to say that I am SO darn happy that I found your site. I’ve been slowly dipping my toes into a higher-percentage raw diet and a lot of raw vegan sites have been helpful, BUT I’ve found them to also be one-sided and not very forgiving for those not 100 percent raw or vegan.
    I personally agree with your moderate stance. I’ve been vegetarian most of my life (since birth with the occasional fish–and by occasional I mean 3 or 4 times a year max) but I do eat eggs. Unfortunately dairy and wheat don’t agree with me so I have been thinking of increasing fish slightly…anyway I just don’t think my views would be accepted in any raw foodist vegan chat forum :/

    I was wondering how do you eat your eggs raw? How do you know you won’t get sick from salmonella?

    Also have you posted about your raw-vegan story? (how you entered and left) Very curioius :)

    1. Based on my experience, salmonella is a huge myth. Never had it, been eating raw meats for awhile. And if you do get it, you’ll be find with little pro-biotics until you feel better. Salmonella is not a threat to a healthy persons life. If you’d die from a cold, then salmonella would be dangerous.

      I also recall something stating that most people that die from “salmonella”, actually die from an allergic reaction caused by the anti-biotics or other medication they’re given, as the medical records usually state that they died from allergic reaction rather than food poisoning.

      Also, there was a study where 50 households were tested for salmonella and 38% of them had it all throughout the houses, yet the people were unaffected.

  10. Hi, Denise,
    former vegetarian, paleo, vegan, to mostly-vegetarian here. I’ve had IBS for many years and recently developed a kidney stone. Ridiculous amount of oxalates + calcium supplements seem to be the cause. I love vegetables, but have been scared of eating them lately because of the oxalate issue. What are your thoughts? Thanks :)

  11. Fantastic post!! Your diet is almost identical to my own, save for different proportions. So glad I stumbled upon your blog! :)

  12. My first thought looking at your diet description is that it looks really expensive, especially the fresh fruit and fish fit to eat raw part. Would you be willing to say anything about the cost of your diet?

  13. Gosh, I generally feel bad for Americans not being able to discuss anything without going into extremes, so I think you’re on a right path here! However, I would like to mention that, sometimes, your writing teeters a little bit into the same territory of rhetoric that puts off a lot of people who are sometimes talked down upon by those who swear by whatever labeled diet they are on. I think it’s easier to provide objective information and let people decide for themselves without the sarcastic puns and other emotion-driven commentary. While passion for a subject is commendable, too much of it in writing may discredit your own point. Other than that – good luck on your book and stay healthy!

  14. Geez! Your writing and approach to all this is amazing. After reading and researching and experimenting for a long time now based on the more extreme ends of the spectrum, your blog really helps to give me a much better sense of direction. Please keep it up! I will be looking for the “donate” button or something. You are amazing. Thank you!

  15. I am slowly reading your book, which is a little overwhelming for the average older person. One question, well, two. Do you supplement with K2 because there isn’t enough in High Vitamin Butter Oil – which comes in this nice blend with Cod Liver Oil? And two – you don’t mention fats and oils. Do you consume much coconut oil? Thanks!

  16. Ah, ha. A Shaminet fan. Well, he is a scientist. The only thing I took away from his diet is the bone broth. I try to make it every week and throw my veg, beans, etc. into it. Not many cals in a broth and you get all the B vits., etc. of a meat-based diet. IDK, I agree with you. I like to experiment and have hit on what I think is right for me. I just feel so good when I follow the basic diet of Dr. Fuhrman. I do eat more protein, at times. I’m very low fat though. It just suits me better. Food is so subjective and it’s really important that people find what makes their psyche and their body feel and work its best. Exercise is my biggest problem. I need those carbs to do that. I tend to do a lot of it, when I do it, so some protein and carbs are absolutely necessary. If I just want to lose weight, I chuck the exercise and just follow Fuhrman until I’m at the weight I want to be. Then I up the cals. and exercise as I like.

    1. I’ve started consuming a lot of bone broth. How much do you think can be eaten beside it? Ever since I started eating cooked vegetables and meat again I’ve gained a lot of weight. Not sure it’s that much fat but all I know is I have a sensitive stomach and I want the bone broth to help fix this. Any advice on how much to eat?

  17. Hi there!
    I was just curious about your opinion on cacao. Not the powder but pure, raw cacao. I’ve seen it in both brown and white. Is one the seeds and one the flesh/butter? What are you thoughts about consuming it?

  18. I hope this isn’t rude. I came across your website after trying to find scientific evidence to prove to myself that 80/10/10 (particularly the 30 bananas a day/rawtill4) approach was healthy. I was brought here and realized, okay, this seems right, as much as I wish it wasn’t (I hate the idea of eating animals, and love the idea of eating only fruit!).
    As I look at your intake, I can’t help but wonder about your calories. It seems you don’t eat many calories! Me, I could easily eat 3000 calories every day. Does this have to do with maybe your body doesn’t need as many “calories” as the average person because you’re eating food high in nutrients? Just a question I’m not sure even you have the answer to!
    Thanks for writing, and being brave enough to think critically. I am amazed at your findings/writing/truths.

  19. Hi Denise,
    I love your blog, I appreciate all this information in one place! I tried a high raw diet for about 4 months and it completely destroyed my libido; however my skin was clear, I was at an ideal weight, and I had abundant energy for everything else! I like your take on hybrid meat and raw- but I’m wondering if you’re concerned about the high levels of radioactivity in seafood and seaweed since Fukushima? Studies have already shown presence if radioactive isotopes in pacific salmon and seaweed, and it’s likely that the plant will continue to leak for years. The mainstream media will continue to downplay its impact in human and environmental health, so it’s hard to know the real risk. Have you researched this?
    Thanks!
    Gen

  20. Hey Denise :)
    I’ve started consuming a lot of bone broth in the hopes that it’ll help my stomach issues. Do you have any advice concerning how much to eat of bone broth and what to eat beside it? I don’t know how many calories are in it. And how about lead toxicity?
    I hope you respond :)

  21. Denise, I see you responded to an earlier comment where someone was surprised by how much you ate. To me, it seems very little! I’m surprised with the amount of activity you do that 2000 calories will sustain you. Is it because you’re eating more greens than a typical raw foodist? I find myself very hungry eating this amount of cooked food, let alone raw food. Especially after much conditioning done by other raw food gurus/leaders, etc. about how you need to eat X amount of calories to sustain yourself on such a diet, and admittedly, this has also been my experience with raw.

  22. Hi Denis,

    The spiritual practice I practice, Falun Dafa, teaches that is is pretty awful for people to eat live animal flesh of any kind (be it fish or meat), because through cooking the soul of the animal leaves from each cell, but when eaten raw, it stay and remains in the human body as it is a small universe. Because it can’t exit and reincarnate, it starts to hate the person and it cause gastric problems, stomach ulcer or cancer. So never eat raw flesh. Sushimi is not a cultural cuisine, it is a modern invention. People in the past always cooked fish.

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