nutrition

I Made a Book

When I was little, I wanted to be a cat when I grew up. I used to meow in response to questions and decapitate Barbies so that I could bat around their heads with my paw-hands. When Cat stopped seeming like a viable career goal, I decided I wanted to be an author instead.* I could think of nothing more magical than making words happen. And if I was stuck with my opposable human thumbs, I might as well put them to use.

*This is actually kind of a lie. In preschool, I learned the words “author” and “pilot” around the same time. Neither one made much sense (does an author “auth”? Does a pilot “pile”? What kind of convoluted language is this?), and I spent a while confusing the two. The worst was when a local news channel came in to interview my preschool and ask all the students what they wanted to be when they grew up. I was going to say “cat,” but my mom told me she would give me all my Hanukkah presents early if I didn’t say “cat,” so I decided to say “pilot,” which I thought was the word for a person who writes books. People kept giving me toy airplanes after that, which I tried to flush down the toilet. I never got my early Hanukkah presents, and it was the last time my mother succeeded at gift-bribery (hi Mom I love you!).

Anyway, I thought I’d open with that anecdote to distract you from the fact that I haven’t updated this blog in seventeen months and I disappeared without warning and it was weird and horrible. I’m sorry. But let’s not think about it that way. The real issue here is that I was a really messed up kid, and there’s nothing to be done about it now.

That said, I have some news! The reason I dropped off the face of the earth was this:

dbfp_cover

This is a book. Some of you know about it; some of you don’t. I started writing it in March of 2011. I thought I’d be done by September of that year. To which my now-older-and-wiser self responds, (more…)

A Closer Look at the China Study: Meat and Disease

As promised, it’s time to unveil all this China Study business. Grab a raw, nonalcoholic drink and make yourself comfy!

Let me start by saying that this isn’t an attempt at “debunking” the China Study or discrediting T. Colin Campbell. Quite the contrary. “The China Study” book is excellent in many ways, if only to underscore the role of nutrition in health. If I ever met Mr. Campbell in person, I’d give him a jubilant high-five and thank him for fightin’ the good fight—for exposing the reality of Big Pharma, for emphasizing the lack of nutritional education most doctors receive, for censuring the use of scientific reductionism, for underlining the importance of diet in disease prevention. Campbell and I are on the same page in many ways. His scroll of accomplishments is impressive and I sincerely believe his heart is in the right place, even if I don’t agree with all of his conclusions. (more…)

What is the “Optimal” Diet for Humans? (Part 1)

Does this fella offer us nutritional clues?

Part of what first led me to raw foods was a curiosity about our “optimal diet.” It seemed like such a simple concept: a combination of foods that our bodies are best adapted to, that we could easily discern by looking at our anatomy, that evolutionary history supported, and that would lead to the best health possible. It shouldn’t be rocket science, right?

Unfortunately, it kind of is. (more…)

Raw Gone Wrong: When the Honeymoon is Over

Paradise no more

It starts like a good relationship.

You meet someone new. Sparks are flying. You both like Hitchcock films and that obscure reggae band from Norway; clearly, it’s meant to be. After a string of perfect dates, all-night phone calls, and butterfly-inducing smooches, you’re sure that they’re “the one.”

Then a month later, you wake up and realize the other person has some pretty freaky nose hairs. And they burp without apologizing. And they snore. Oh, do they snore!

So it is with raw. Almost without fail, the beginning of the diet yields a brilliant honeymoon phase—filled with surging energy, renewed vigor, and zest for your lively cuisine.

But somewhere down the line—months for some people, years for others—the wonder starts to wane. Maybe you start feeling like something is inexplicably missing. Maybe your energy takes a dive and noontime naps become the norm. Maybe your weight loss plateaus. Maybe your last dentist visit wasn’t so pretty. Maybe those niggly health problems you had prior to raw—aches and pains, lethargy, allergies, arthritis, skin conditions—start resurfacing out of nowhere. Whatever the reason, raw just doesn’t seem to be working as well as it did in the beginning. Your enthusiasm diminishes, and in its place comes doubt, discontentment, and a plethora of questions.

In other words, you start seeing raw foods’ freaky nose hairs and you begin to wonder: what did I get myself into? (more…)

What You May Not Know About Avocados

There’s often a division in the raw food world (and other health spheres) when it comes to fat versus fruit. Cultivated fruit gets plenty of flack for being sweeter and less nutritious than its wild counterparts—changes attributed to human intervention and centuries of selective breeding. And the issue of ‘man-made’ modern fruit sometimes becomes an argument for limiting its consumption and eating low-sugar fruits instead, like avocados and tomatoes.

I’ll be writing about the wild/cultivated fruit issue in a later post. In the meantime, I find it interesting that avocados—one of the most popular fat sources on a raw food diet, and the staple of many low-sugar raw cuisines—have managed to dodge criticism about their humongous size. I guess it’s hard to picture avocados being anything other than the plump, fleshy fruits we see in common cultivars like the Hass. But what most people don’t realize (even fruit-and-vegetable-savvy raw foodists) is that commercial avocados are a far cry from what they were originally. In fact, without deliberate cultivation by humans, avocados are small, fibrous, large-pitted, and yield only a tiny layer of that creamy green flesh we all know and love. It’d easily take ten wild avocados to get the equivalent flesh of one Hass, if not more.

That isn’t to say we should avoid avocados or that they’re bad for you—certainly not! But for folks interested in eating foods that are close to their natural state, it’s helpful to understand that these so-called “alligator pears” have been bred specifically for their size, fat content, and copious edible flesh. They aren’t quite so luxuriant in the wild.

Curious what these uncultivated avos look like? Check out the pictures below, and click ’em for a larger view. (more…)

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.)

(more…)