The Perfect Diet
What is the perfect diet? This is the billion dollar question today that everyone is googling, and everyone has their own (often strong) opinion. Is it ketogenic? Is it vegetarian? Is it paleo? Is it low carb? Is it six small meals/day? Should I fast?
What if the the answer is - YES!
I don’t subscribe to any one dietary “camp”, I think many different diets have great benefits, and I think that dietary variety is incredibly important. Our ancestors didn’t eat the same things every day, or every season, and they certainly didn’t eat bananas in the winter! This podcast episode talks about the pros and cons of all of these dietary shifts and how you can combine them to create what I consider - The Perfect Diet.
Three Necessary Steps Towards a Perfect Diet
I talk about these 3 steps in further detail in the podcast, but here is an overview:
Step #1 - Eat Real Food
I talk about this all the time, for most people it does not matter which diet plan you intend on following, JUST EAT REAL FOOD FIRST. This means no:
- Processed Foods - nothing from a box or bag
- Additives - Real Food often doesn’t have an ingredients list (what goes into a tomato?)
- Food Dyes
- Trans fats (vegetable oils)
- Added sugar, salt, etc. Read your food labels closely, or buy food with no labels!
Step #2 - Make your Real Food Diet ANTI-INFLAMMATORY
Some “real foods” aren’t that great, so that is just step #1. Next you need to avoid the real foods that can be inflaming your body and creating a leaky gut. This includes:
- Gluten / Grains (corn, etc)
- Dairy (esp. Conventional dairy)
- Vegetable Oils (Canola, corn, cottonseed, soybean, safflower)
- Conventional Meat or Animal Products (feedlot cattle beef, caged chickens)
Step #3 - Eat the Highest Quality Available
Quality matters. This food is going to become you! In the podcast I mention how this is often the hardest step - buying the more expensive option. Our brains fight against this very hard, but I do recommend buying the highest quality, which often means it costs more. A COUPLE DOLLARS MORE. Look up the cost of chronic disease and it’s in the 6-figure range, that could buy a heck of a lot of organic produce and grass-fed meat!
- Organic is Best (Check www.ewg.org to see the 2018 Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen)
- Canned is good (cans do have BPA linings!), frozen is better, fresh is best
- Local food will have a higher nutrient density than food that traveled 100s of miles
- Wild-caught Fish (cold-water is best, salmon, anchovies, sardines are best options)
- Grass-fed Beef
- Free-Range or Pastured Chicken or Eggs
WHAT TO EAT:
So, what does that leave me to eat? Tons of options! No matter the season or your health goals you always want a high variety for a broad spectrum of antioxidants, phytonutrients, and prebiotics. Try to eat every color of the rainbow every day, and focus on bright colors and strong flavors (garlic, ginger, onion, cinnamon, cayenne, curcumin, etc).
High Fiber Vegetables - I give a more extensive list on the podcast episode, but below are some examples. This part of the diet should have a robust amount and variety of dark, green, leafy veggies.
- Bell Peppers (if nightshades aren’t an issue)
- Brussels Sprouts
- Collard Greens
- Eggplant (if nightshades aren’t an issue)
- Ginger Root
- Snow Peas
- Spaghetti Squash
Healthy Fats - This is where the majority of your calories should come from. Fat is the most energy dense food, and good healthy fats are essential for healthy hormones, healthy cells, healthy blood sugar, and a healthy life.
- Nuts (almonds, macadamia, pecans, walnuts, cashews - raw, unsalted, soaked is best!)
- Seeds (flax, hemp, chia, sunflower, sesame)
- Avocados/avocado oil
- Olives/olive oil
- Coconut Products (oil, flakes, MCT oil)
- Grass-fed butter or ghee
- High-Quality Meat (grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, wild-caught fish)
- General Rule: 20g/meal for men, 15g/meal for women, can vary depending on size and exercise level but most people. This rule is very general. Someone lean and exercising hard would require a whole lot more than that for daily intake, this is for the general American.
- You are what you eat, and what it has eaten! Only buy high quality protein. Low quality protein is one of the most inflammatory foods, high quality protein is a superfood.
Higher Carb Foods in Moderation
- Squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, beans
- Low glycemic fruits like berries (raspberry, strawberry, blueberry) and Granny Smith apples
WHEN TO EAT:
Variation is incredibly important with diet. Daily, weekly, and seasonal variations are very important! Think about the way your food grows and what would be available to your ancestors. For example, they wouldn’t eat a banana in the winter time. Our ancestors varied their diet with the seasons based on what was growing. This means that during periods of time they followed more a low-carb diet (winter, when the light cycles are shorter and carbs don’t grow as much) and they would be in ketosis.
WHEN TO NOT EAT:
I’m a huge fan of fasting, and I think it’s an incredibly important part of The Perfect Diet. The most common method which I discuss in the podcast is intermittent fasting, which essentially means going longer in between meals. Most people do this by skipping breakfast and keeping their food intake within a 8-10 hour window, which means the remainder of the day they are fasting (14-16 hours). There are many ways to do intermittent fasting which I discuss in the podcast.
Periodically I think it’s a great idea to fast for longer. We often encourage going 4 days, sometimes we encourage bone broth fasting for gut healing, sometimes we encourage strict fasting for blood sugar healing, but fasting heals. Our ancestors would periodically fast too in between meals or when food wasn’t available. I have a past podcast episode interviewing a patient who has done two 28-day water only fasts, check it out!