Today I have a great interview to share with you with Katie Mae, who’s a nutritionist based in Northern California, and a plant-based diet specialist.
In this interview, we discuss everything about the SOS-free diet. That is, a plant based diet that is free of salt, oil and sugar. Katie shared her experience with me of using this diet with incredible results. We also talked about her work with the True North Health Center, a fasting center in Santa Rosa that recommends this diet.
You will find something useful in this interview!
NOTE: To find out more about Katie’s online coaching program, click here.
Reading food labels can be a tricky thing. From the bright packaging to the bold claims right on the box that try to reel you in, we’re bombarded with information and [false] claims right from the beginning.
For many people, learning how to find out what’s really in their food is a major step towards reclaiming their health. So many people on a daily basis eat ingredients in their foods that even the most astute English major would have difficulty deciphering.
So today I present to you a clip from a presentation given by Jeff Novick on how to properly read food labels to find out what’s really in your food. Considering how many claims don’t hold up when you read the fine print, it’s always good to look a little closer and see for yourself.
• How food manufacturers can mislead you in their marketing claims and how you can find the truth for yourself.
• Understand why food marketers make it difficult for you to decipher what you’re really eating.
• How manufacturers actually make “low fat” and “fat free” foods. And no, it’s not just putting in less fat!
• Why it’s a good idea to read food labels carefully and not just taking the packaging claims at face value.
Food manufacturers have been dubious in their practices over the years as they try to sell more product at a cheaper cost. Unfortunately, this usually results in a serious compromise in the health of the food for you.
I certainly don’t recommend you stand in the grocery isles with a calculator to test the authenticity of the label claims of the food you buy, but I do recommend you learn to be aware of what is in the foods that you eat.
Every single macro-nutrient (carbs, fats, and proteins) has been demonized or ostracized by different people for different reasons, but none among them have taken a beating more so than sugar, a carbohydrate. Whether it is crystalline in a glass jar on a café tabletop or cooked into candies and lollipops, refined sugar is everywhere, and people are eating a lot of it.
Check out this video by Dr. Michael Klaper to hear his findings on excess sugar in the diet:
- Take a look at why your arteries are so vitally important to your overall health, and why you are “only as young as your arteries”.
- How the insides of your body (including your arteries) can become “glycogated”, or sticky, as a result of excess refined sugar in the diet.
- When looking at a loaf of bread can give you insight into what actually happens in our body when we eat excess amounts of sugar and protein.
- Understand the significance of “Advanced Glycation End products” in your diet and how they can actually age you faster.
Most people will unanimously agree that refined sugar isn’t good for us and we should probably eat be eating less of it, but still not everyone agrees that only refined sugar is the issue. Some people may include fruit sugar in this “Sugar = Bad” category, but I haven’t seen any convincing information that fruit sugar eaten in healthy quantities is really an issue. Weaving out the refined, processed sugars in your diet and replacing them with whole fruits and vegetables is always a good idea!
There always has, and possibly always will be, debate within even the health community itself regarding diet.
Person A says that the program that they created and wrote about in their book is infinitely better than Person B’s similar-yet-different program they wrote about in their book. The theories and ideas proposed vary immensely.
Even niches within the health food world you will find disagreements and passionate debates. The interesting thing is that each party is completely convinced that they are correct.
Check out this video featuring a short debate between several plant-based doctors, including Caldwell Esselstyn, John McDougall, and Joel Fuhrman. You’ll discover:
• Why all successful populations of peoples since the beginning of civilization have lived on starch-based diets.
• When it may be appropriate to consciously limit the amount of starch you eat.
• How including more raw fruits and vegetables into your diet really makes you healthier.
• What you can learn by traveling and seeing what people eat around the world and how this can relate to your own health.
• How eating from and avoiding certain food categories can ultimately lead to a simpler, and healthier diet and lifestyle.
Despite all the disagreements and what we could even call “bickering” amongst people in the health field, most people can agree on at least a few things. Being active on a regular basis, emotional poise, fresh fruits and vegetables and foods in their natural form are all good for you.
Whether or not you eat 100% raw vegan or 100% organic and GMO-free really isn’t the biggest determining factor in your health. The whole totality of you as a whole human being is what determines your overall health. Try stepping back from all the disagreements and work on finding your own truth!
There’s a myth spread in some raw food circles, that says it’s better to consume fruit one at a time, rather than mixing them together. Proponents of this idea think that each fruit is better digested when it’s consumed “mono style,” one at a time, and ideally one type of fruit per meal.
They will make giant meals containing only watermelon, or papayas, or mangoes, or bananas.
I’ve got nothing against this practice, but it’s false to say that it’s healthier to do it.
Ripe fruits of all kinds are easy to digest, and have an almost identical chemical nutritional composition, consisting of mostly carbohydrates, some fiber, and low levels of protein and fat (around 5% each by calories). Your body will have absolutely no problems digesting them together, when mixed in a fruit salad, for example.
Other people are afraid of consuming certain fruits, like melons, along with other fruits, like oranges, fearing that this combination will lead to fermentation and gas.
Many of these ideas come from Dr. Herbert Shelton, in his book “Food Combining Made Easy.” Shelton gave a lot of rules with no reasoning at all behind them.
Also, a lot of people have misinterpreted that book. Because Shelton said “eat melons on their own”, some people think they should never eat melons with other fruits (such as peaches), when in fact Shelton clearly stated you could do so.
Essentially, his rule was meant to avoid the common combination/abomination in those days of a big slice of watermelon after of rich meal of meat and pasta.
There is absolutely no problems combining ALL kinds of fruit together, including bananas with melons, oranges with figs, or any combination you fancy. If you find that a certain combination gives you problems, avoid it in the future.
Also, by combining certain fruits together, you can avoid the problems of consuming a great quantity of any one fruit.
For example, pineapple and oranges are very acidic, and can hurt the enamel if you eat too much of it. But combining them with other, less acidic fruits buffers this extra acidity.
Eating great quantities of grapes or melons can give people a stomachache. Again, by eating a combination of different fruits, you avoid the problems.
If you’re used to eating your fruit “mono style,” you may not understand the appeal of having a big fruit salad ready, but once you try it, you’ll be converted!
It tastes amazing. When you use high quality fruit, the flavors not only blend and become more intense after just a few hours of marinating. A great homemade fruit salad doesn’t taste anything like the low quality stuff that’s sold in restaurants and in convenience store.
In addition to making a giant fruit salad, you might also want to prepare some other fruit and store it in containers, having it pre-cut and ready to eat.
Ingredients for the Fruit Salad
Any fruit you fancy can be thrown in a fruit salad, but I don’t personally add bananas. That’s my personal preference, because I don’t like the texture of bananas after it marinates in a fruit salad. But if you enjoy this combination, there’s no reason to avoid it.
My favorite fruits to add to a fruit salad are:
- Pineapple, especially when ripe and extra-sweet
- Melons, including watermelon. I’ll generally use only one type of melon
- Berries, I always try to include some type of berries in the salad, often strawberries and raspberries
- Mangoes, they add extra sweetness and creaminess
- Citrus, a few oranges or tangerines are excellent.
- Apples, I’ll throw in an apple or two for crunch
- Grapes: As long as good grapes are in season, I use them in fruit salad, generally slicing them in half.
- Papayas — in cubes, they’re my favorite in fruit salads!
Apricots — Deseed and slice in quarters.
Bananas – Slice them, if you enjoy the taste in fruit salads.
Cantaloupe and other Melons — Deseed, peel, and cut in cubes.
Cherry — Remove seed, ideally using a cherry pitter. I love the Cherry-It cherry pitter by Progressive. Cut in half.
Figs — Add fresh figs to salads, sliced.
Grapes — Use seedless grapes and slice them in half, or more if they are really big.
Kiwi — Gold kiwis are best. Peel and slice.
Watermelon — Use seedless and cut them in cubes.
Nectarines and peaches— Use good quality ones. Slice the flesh.
Berries — Throw them whole. Slice strawberries.
Oranges and citrus fruits — Slice the orange quarters in half.
Papayas — You may use them slightly (but not too) hard. Peel and cube.
Pears — Use the bosc varieties. Other varities are too soft.
Pineapple — Use fruits that smell the fruitiest. Do not use the inner core.
Pomegranates — Add seeds to the salad.
Star Fruit — It may add a visual element to the salad, when sliced in “stars.”
Fresh Herbs — Fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, parsley, etc. — all go great in a fruit salad!
Now when people hear the term, “high-fat” or “fatty”, they almost inherently associate that food with the word “fattening” as well. We hear all about good fats, bad fats, and even really bad fats, but most people are used to either fully embracing or completely eschewing fatty foods.
Low-fat foods and overall lower-fat diets do tend to allow people to live longer, healthier lives. But one thing that most people fail to recognize is that even though you may eat an overall low-fat diet, that doesn’t mean you can’t include fatty foods and get all the benefits from them.
Although I recommend avoiding oils and eating a low-fat diet in general, it doesn’t mean the total exclusion of high-fat foods such as avocados, nuts and seeds. I eat those foods on a regular basis and recommend including them in most people’s diet.
Check out this video by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of, “Eat to Live”, and you’ll discover:
• Why a one-size-fits-all diet approach doesn’t necessarily work for everybody
• How in some cases a diet too low in fat can actually cause health issues
• Why we should start considering our MICRO-nutrients (vitamins and minerals, enzymes, antioxidants) just as much as our MACRO-nutrients (carbs, fats, proteins)
• In what instances taking individual supplement pills may actually increase your risk of getting sick
• How different types of fat impact your health in radically different ways
My answer to the question of “how much fat?” is: it depends. For most people on a plant-based diet, especially if weight loss is a goal, lowering fat content to 15% is a good target. And just like Dr. Fuhrman mentioned, more fat may be appropriate for active people who need more calories. If you’re an endurance athlete, it will be difficult to get all the calories you need from a 10% fat diet.
In practical terms, for many people it will mean restricting total fat intake to about half an avocado a day plus one ounce of nuts. More active people can have several ounces of nuts, or an entire avocado.
Filed under Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition by Frederic Patenaude
How to Live 100 Years: the Blue Zones Revealed!
An interesting book to read, now almost a classic, is called “The Blue Zones” which researched areas of the world that have an unusual concentration of centenarians (people reaching the age of 100).
I first became aware of this research when I was living in Costa Rica and a group of researchers came to the Nicoya Peninsula to discover that this area of the world was one of those coveted “Blue Zones” where there’s a very high percentage of centenarians compared to the United States.
What I really liked about the book was the fact that it was based on actual, verifiable research.
In the past, many people have claimed that certain cultures have lived a very long time, such as the Hunzas in Pakistan or the Vilcabamba residents in Ecuador. The problem is that the record keeping in those areas was very poor and there was no way to verify the ages of the alleged centenarians. Someone could claim to be 110 years old and in fact be only 90. In fact, this kind of exaggeration was very common.
With The Blue Zones, the researchers had new scientific techniques that could verify someone’s age, and using DNA data they could also trace back the ancestry of the people they met. Combined with verifiable birth certificates, they have located five areas of the world where people have managed to outlive Americans by often a decade or more.
A lot of people who are proponents of specific diets, such as the paleo diet, like to refer to some unproven, anecdotal advice on the “good health” of certain tribes, such as the Inuits. When in fact there are many other people who lived far longer and healthier than this example.
The Blue Zones is the first set of data that looks at populations that have an unusually high number of centenarians. Often these areas have been overtaken by fast food and the health of new generations is poor. But those people that managed to live 100 years or more are from a different era, and have kept the same lifestyle practices that they had in their youth.
These five Blue Zones are:
- The island of Sardinia, in Italy
- The tropical islands of Okinawa, in Japan
- The Nicoya peninsula, in Costa Rica
- The religious group of the 7th Day Adventists, living in Loma Linda, California
Those four groups are covered in the book. But last year the group of researchers also uncovered another Blue Zone, on the island of Ikaria in Greece, where nearly 1 out of every 3 people make it to their 90s (Which is very unusual).
Before I go into the characteristics of these people, I want to point out one important point for all those people out there on low-carb, paleo, meat-eating, “hunter-gatherer” diets (or whatever you want to call them).
All of the longest live people in the world — without exception — live on a high-carb, plant-based diet!
You will not find anywhere in the world a group of people — with documented evidence — living that long and that well on a high-fat, high protein, animal-based, low carb diet.
Also, the research done on the 7th Day Adventists debunks the myth that there are no long-lived populations on a vegan diet (more on that later).
What did these people eat?
==> In Sardinia, Italy, the traditional diet was based on whole wheat bread, vegetables, a little goat cheese and wine. Meat was not consumed on a daily basis.
From the book: “Shepherds and peasants in Sardinia have an exceptionally simple diet, which is extraordinarily lean even by mediterranean standards”, a 1941 survey reported. “Bread is by far the main food. Peasants leave early in the morning to the fields with a kilogram of bread in their saddlebag… At noon their meal consists only of bread, with some cheese among wealthier families, while the majority of the workers are satisfied with an onion, a little fennel, or a bunch of radishes. At dinner, the reunited family eats a single meal consisting of a vegetable soup (minestrone) to which the richest add some pasta. In most areas, families ate meat only once a week, on Sunday (…). Interestingly for a Mediterranean culture, fish did not figure prominently into the diet”
Also, the Sardinians consumed goat’s milk and not cow’s milk.
It doesn’t take much nutritional knowledge to see that the diet described above is plant-based and very low in fat, and high in carbohydrates.
===> On Okinawa, the diet was based on sweet potatoes, traditional soy products, rice and vegetables.
When a 102-year old woman (who apparently looks like she’s in her 70’s) describes her routine, she says:
“I wake up at about 6 a.m. and make a pot of jasmine tea and eat my breakfast, usually miso soup with vegetables. (…) At noon, Kamada said, she wanders into the kitchen garden behind her house to harvest some herbs and vegetables for her lunch. “I’ll use mugwork to give my rice flavor or tumeric to spice my soup, she said. “I don’t eat much any more. Usually just stir-fried vegetables and maybe some tofu.” And meat, I asked. “Oh yes, I like meat, but not always. When I was a girl, I ate it only during the New Year festivals. I’m not in the habit of eating it every day.”
She eats a very light dinner before 6 p.m. that might include some fish soup, whatever vegetables are in season, some spring onions, salad and rice. She’s usually in bed by 9 p.m.
When the researcher asks her daughter if she ever drank a Coke, we find out she never once did that in her life, and when she first saw a hamburger she had asked “What do you do with that?”
The typical diet of these Okinawan centenarian was again very simple: vegetables from the garden, green tea, and maybe a little fish, with some rice and tofu.
They also have the interesting habit of saying hara hachi bu, before each meal. It’s a Confucian adage that these elders say before they eat to remind them to eat until they are 80 percent full.
===> The 7th Day Adventists’s diet is more aligned with your typical health-food store enthusiast rather than a traditional diet forced by circumstances. Things like fresh fruit, oatmeal, salads and vegetarian foods are part of the menu. Interestingly enough, not all 7th Day Adventists are vegetarians or vegan. But the vegetarians lived longer than the meat eaters (on average two years longer), and the vegans lived even longer than the vegetarians.
“(…) Adventists who are what we call lacto-ovo vegetarians, meaning they eat eggs and other dairy products, still are an average of 16 pounds lighter than Adventists of the same height who are non-vegetarian. And Adventists who are strictly vegan, which is only 4 percent, are 30 to 32 pounds lighter than non-vegetarian Adventists of the same height. That has a huge impact on cardiovascular disease, on blood pressure, on blood cholesterol, on inflammation related to hormones and the way it stimulates cells in the body.”
For those who think there are no documented populations of vegans in the world who live a long life, they are wrong. The 7th Day Adventists prove exactly that.
===> The Nicoyans in Costa Rica ate mostly corn tortillas, beans, some animal protein such as eggs and some amount of pork or chicken. They ate more animal foods than other long-lived populations, but also ate the most fruit out of all long-lived populations.
From the book: “They asked centenarians what they ate and heard “beans, rice, tortillas and fruit” over and over. (…) A few characteristics of the Nicoya’s diet stood out. Like the people in most other Blue Zones, Nicoyans ate the emblematic low-calorie, low-fat, plant-based diet, rich in legumes. But unlike other Blue Zones, the Nicoyan diet featured portions of corn tortillas at almost every meal and huge quantities of tropical fruit. Sweet lemon, orange, and a banana variety are the most common fruits throughout most of the year in Nicoya.”
An interesting fact of the Nicoyan diet is that Nicoya have the lowest stomach cancer rate out of the country of Costa Rica. For some reason, Costa Ricans have one of the highest stomach cancer rates in the world. The conclusion by the researchers was that the high amount of fruit consumed in Nicoya helped prevent stomach cancer.
If you want the full story, you can read the book, but let me outline a few important points about diet that stood out for me.
- All long-lived people live on a high-carb, low-fat, plant-based diet
- All long-lived people eat a lot of vegetables, including greens.
- Whenever they can get it, long-lived populations eat a lot of fruit and it seems to contribute to their longevity
- When animal products are consumed, it’s occasionally and in small amounts only. But the 7th Day Adventist study also showed that vegans live longer than vegetarians or meat eaters, so the ideal is to avoid all animal products. If you do eat animal products, it shouldn’t be more than a few times a month (paleo eaters take note).
- All long-lived people had periods in their life when a lot less food was available and they had to survive on a very sparse, limited diet. For example, the centenarians in the book in Okinawa describe a time during World War II when they lived on sweet potatoes for three meals a day. When discussing the centenarians in Italy: “When their family was young, in the 1950s, they were very poor. They ate what they produced on their land — mostly bread, cheese and vegetables (zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and most significantly, fava beans). Meat was at best a weekly affair, boiled on Sunday with pasta and roasted during the festivals.” This reinforces my concept of periodic fasting. Because we live in a society of such abundance, we have to force ourselves to go through periods of restrictions with periodic cleanses and fasting.
- All long-lived people live in a sunny, warm climate — but not necessarily tropical. They got plenty of vitamin D from natural sunshine. The warmer climate probably also contributes to less stress and a more relaxed lifestyle.
- All long-lived people consume beans in some form or another.
- Nuts appear to be good for health. The 7th Day Adventists who ate a small serving of nuts several times a week had about half the risk of heart disease of those who didn’t.
- The typical centenarian diet is very simple. If you analyze all these diets from long-lived people around the world, they essentially eat the same simple foods every day. It appears that you do not need a wide variety of foods in your diet to be healthy. Quality food over variety is more important. Also, rich foods like meat and cheese are reserved for special occasions, and eaten at the most a few times a month if at all.
- They did not constantly change their diet or jump on the latest superfood fad. They ate the same seasonal things every day of the year.
Of course, diet is only part of the answer. Other important points outlined in the Blue Zones include:
- Exercise. The biggest insight in the book besides the diet points I have outlined is how much long-lived people exercise. It actually shocked me to realize that I’m not getting nearly as much exercise as I should.It seems that in the prime of their lives, these centenarians were probably getting something like 5 or 6 hours of moderate exercise per day (such as walking and working outdoors). And as they get older, they keep on walking and being active.Thus, the concept of exercising a few times a week to stay in shape seems seriously flawed. None of these centenarians “worked out”. They simply had an active lifestyle and walked a lot.An hour a day of walking or running, combined with weight training exercises and other outdoor activities you enjoy (golfing, swimming, etc.) should be the goal for anyone wanting to live a long and healthy life.
- An Active Life — Another stunning realization is that all of the long-lived people in the book loved to work. In fact, some of them could be considered to have been “workaholics” in the prime of their life, and many of them never actually “retired”. They maintained an active lifestyle throughout their life.This blows out the concept that working hard is bad for you, or that staying home doing nothing is the best way to relax, or that the goal in life should be to save enough to retire at age 55 or 60 and then enjoy the good life.
- A sense of purpose — All long-lived people had a strong sense of purpose. They had a reason to get up in the morning and do something. The Nicoyans called it “A plan de vida” which means a “life plan”. They were also engaged socially in their communities.
- Family — This is a tough one for many of us, but it seems pretty obvious that in order to live a long life you can’t go it alone. All centenarians had big families that they supported and who supported them until the end.
- Obvious things — Of course, the obvious factors are there as well. None of them smoked (no kidding) or ate massive quantities of food. However, from reading between the lines, I also understood that these centenarians progressively reduced the quantities of food they ate as they got older. One lady in Okinawa said ‘I don’t eat much anymore”.
Obviously, if you’re 35 you can’t follow the diet of a 102 year old lady. But as we get older, we must progressively reduce the amount of food we eat if we want to live a long life.
The big question everybody will ask is obviously this one: how come none of the long-lived people on the planet eat a raw-food diet?
You have to keep in mind that except for the 7th Day Adventists, none of these long-lived people actually consciously chose their diet and lifestyle. It was something that evolved naturally and that they did due to the environment of where they lived.
But the 7th Day Adventist study showed that when a group of people consciously decides to improve their diet as a whole, that they can significantly increase their lifespan and the quality of their lives.
The 7th Day Adventists did not have particularly good genes. They just were part of a religious group that had the particular feature of discouraging bad habits such as eating meat or drinking caffeine.
The 7th Day Adventists who ate a vegetarian diets lived longer than those who still ate meat, and those who were vegans lived even longer. Who knows what would have happened if some of them also ate a mostly-raw or all raw diet?
We actually don’t know what would happen if a population of people ate a raw food diet because it’s never been done and documented before.
However, based on the current studies done on long-lived people with the Blue Zones, we know that:
- All long-lived people eat a high-carb, low fat diet
- All long-lived people eat a plant-based diet
- All long-lived people ate a lot of vegetables
So if you wanted to try a raw-food diet for longevity, it would have to at least meet those requirements.
Which means potentially the best diet in the world would be a diet of fruits and vegetables, with some nuts and seeds, where most of the calories come from fruit.
How many of you are ready to live 100 years or more?
White potatoes are a food that seems to get picked on a lot in many health circles. Some will say they simply lack the color and phytonutrients of other starchy vegetables, while others insist they are nothing but a giant wad of starch who’s sole purpose is to make you fat and sick.
Of course, there are parts of the world like the mountains of Peru and parts of Europe where people eat a diet based on potatoes and other starchy vegetables, and have done so in good health for hundreds of years.
Some people have taken this idea to the extreme and adopted potato-only diets for extended periods of time. Check out this short presentation from Dr. John McDougall and you’ll discover:
• Why some people can actually lose weight and get healthier doing a “crazy” potato-only diet
• How the absence of unhealthy foods is the critical component behind getting healthier on these mono diets
• Understand why many plant foods are nutritionally complete by themselves
• Why all large populations of healthy people on the planet get most of their calories from plants and starch
Now I don’t recommend you go out and adopt an all-potato diet. You might do fine for a while, but to be truly healthy we need to eat a variety of plant foods.
And as long as you’re not frying or drowning your potatoes in butter and cheese it is perfectly fine to include potatoes in your diet, be it white, red, yellow, purple, or sweet. Also read my article on this topic.
The Recipe eBook special is back!
You can get my six best recipe books along with my complete DVD series at the ridiculous price of $29.95 for everything.
Buying everything separately will cost you over $200. So this is a real deal.
This special ends by today.
Caloric density is something that I’ve discussed before, and one of the best tools you can use to either gain or lose weight at will.
One of my favorite examples is to show the caloric density of certain gourmet raw food items and the caloric density of the foods they are trying to imitate. In most cases, the raw food has over twice the amount of calories and several times the amount of fat.
Of course there are other things to consider besides just fat and calories when it comes to food, but this does point out the significance of calorie density when it comes to our health and waistlines.
Check out this great clip of Jeff Novick explaining all about calorie density and you’ll learn:
• The difference between caloric density and caloric volume, and how this affects your health
• Why some foods are so easy to overeat on
• How the volume and total weight of the food you eat plays a role in feeling satisfied
• What causes a food to be more or less calorie dense
• How you can eat more and weight less
Learning about calorie density is an eye-opener for many people, especially when they understand why two plates of foods can look the same in volume but be dramatically different nutritionally.
That doesn’t mean you have to completely avoid calorie-dense foods. Nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts are all very concentrated foods, but they can still be included in smaller amounts in a healthy diet.
If you wish to lose weight:
Eat ONLY caloric dense foods.
Caloric Density Per Pound
|Fresh raw or cooked veggies||100|
|Fresh raw fruit||250-300|
|Cooked Starchy Vegetables, Intact Whole Grains||450-500|
|Legumes and Beans||550-600|
|Processed grains and Flours (even if made from whole grains)||1200-1500|
|Nuts and Seeds||2800|
Keep in mind that this is an average across a category. For example, we know that bananas contain more calories per weight than apples, but overall fruits have a similar caloric density.
Looking at this table, you’d be tempted to only eat vegetables, as they contain only 100 calories per pound. It’s important to note that nobody can live on just vegetables, and that you’d get so hungry on a diet of just vegetables that you’d eventually break down and eat something else! However, you want your diet to contain plenty of raw vegetables by weight.
The concept of caloric density is to look at the overall caloric density of your meals.
If the caloric density of your food is below 400 calories per pound, you will lose weight no matter what you do!
If you wish to gain weight: increase the caloric density of your food by eating fewer water-rich foods and more concentrated, caloric-dense foods.
THIS WEEKS SPECIAL:
You may have heard of the French Paradox.
This is mysterious statistical fact that although French people eat a diet rich in saturated fat, they have relatively low levels of cardiovascular disease, compared to Americans.
Is it the wine that’s protecting them?
Are fatty foods actually bad for us?
Before I get into that, I must first say that I’m not French, even though it is my first language. I’m French Canadian. Big difference in culture and food. However, I have been half a dozen times to France and have spent enough time there, along with French expats in Montreal, to have a good idea.
Why French People Stay Thin
It is true, French people are much slimmer than Americans overall, even in 2014.
And yes, they eat some of the most decadent, fatty foods known to mankind, and they do that on a regular basis.
I’m talking about butter in everything: sauces, croissants, meat… everything contains a ridiculous amount of fat, that would make any nutritionist cringe.
They have hundreds of types of cheese, and they love to talk about them too.
Wine is popular, although much less so, in recent years.
80% of French people eat baguette with every meal.
With all that fattening food, you’d expect the French to be at least fatter than Americans, but the contrary is quite true. Obesity rates are at around 10% here, compared to 33% in the US.
France is the 128th fattest country in the world.
And also rates of heart rate disease (by number of deaths every year) is almost a third of what it is in the US.
Cancer rates are also a little lower, but not dramatically so.
So…. qu’est-ce qu’il se passe!? (What is going on!?)
Some have said that the reason French people stay relatively healthier is that they drink so much wine, and wine somehow protects them and “cleans their arteries”.
However, further research disproved this theory.
What is clear now is that French people stay slimmer and have less heart disease because they eat less in general, and they care more about what they eat.
One of the main factors is QUANTITY.
In French, the word for lunch literally means “breakfast” because it was the first meal of the day.
However, when people started eating a little something in the morning, they called that meal “little breakfast” (petit déjeuner).
The average breakfast in France is still pretty light. Maybe a croissant with some coffee, but many people skip it entirely.
Lunch is a big thing. They take their lunches seriously, often taking 2 hours or more to eat and chat.
Dinner is traditionally simple, and many smart French people eat almost nothing for dinner — maybe some fruit and yogurt. However, it’s becoming popular to have bigger dinners nowadays.
Another important fact: French people rarely eat in between meals. You will rarely see people snacking on the bus, train or metro.
My other theory on the French Paradox is the love of food that people have here.
People still like to shop like in the old days, buying their bread at the boulangerie (baker), their produce at the fruit shop or the market, their meat at the butcher, and so on.
Food is a big topic of conversation, and don’t be surprised if you get caught in a conversation with a French person where they’ll literally spend half an hour to describe their particular method for picking the best wild mushrooms, or making a particular recipe.
Because of this obsession for food, they also tend to care a lot more about food quality, by buying local products they can trust, and even harvesting and growing produce themselves as much as possible.
Also, the SOCIAL aspect of life is extremely important.
People tend to spend more time together. When they eat, it’s not the same rushed experience you would get at a fast-food restaurant.
Taking two hours to enjoy your lunch with your friends will certainly enhance your digestion, as opposed to angrily and quickly eating a burger alone.
In the end, it’s nothing magical that makes French people slimmer and a bit healthier, in spite of all that fattening food. It’s a combination of:
- Reasonable portions
- Food quality
- Social context
Are French People Truly Healthy?
In spite of everything I have said, we should not conclude that French people have found the secret to good life and good health by eating this way.
Cancer rates are still very high — almost as high as they are in North America.
And of course, French traditions are changing, as they are everywhere else.
Here are some final points of advice, translating everything to the raw food world:
* Spend more time to enjoy your meals in good company.
* Don’t eat between meals. (On a raw food diet, that may be a bit difficult to follow).
* Make your meals look beautiful, in order to enhance the appreciation of the whole experience, and even improve digestion.
* Care about what you eat. Discover new foods.
* Grow your own food if you can, or buy from local farmers that you know personally.