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
- 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.
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.