|Yes, kale - just one of the many vegetables I'm eating a lot of these days|
Previous: Need vs. want
Series index: How to change your life
Ever since I decided to improve my health and change my life, I have gotten one question more than any other from friends, family, and even strangers.
What do you eat?
The short answer: I eat anything I believe will help me get healthier and stay that way.
I want to share with you the basic low-carb guidelines I try to follow 95% of the time.
I want to stress that this is the approach I decided to take for my body and my health. I am not saying this is what you should do. This is what has worked for me, period.
What I eat daily: protein, vegetables, and fat
Protein includes beef, lamb, bison, pork, chicken, turkey, fish, shellfish, eggs, some tofu, and probably a few more animals I'm forgetting. I eat protein at every meal — sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.
Vegetables includes everything green and most things orange, red, yellow and purple. I eat lettuce, kale, chard, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, onions, eggplant and zucchini. I eat more vegetables than anything else.
Fat includes butter, olive oil, avocado oil, avocados, nuts, nut butter, coconut, coconut oil and cheese. I don't skimp on fat.
What I eat occasionally: fruit, legumes, chocolate
Fruit includes strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and occasionally other summer fruits like nectarines, melons, peaches and cherries. By "occasionally" I mean once or twice a week. In the winter I hardly ate any fruit at all; now that it's summer I'll probably have one serving of fruit 3-4 times per week. Why the seasonal difference? I like summer fruit more than winter fruit.
Legumes includes black beans, garbanzo beans or other incidental legumes that show up in restaurant dishes. I don't seek legumes out, but if they're in something I've ordered I won't pick them out.
Chocolate includes dark chocolate, usually 85%. I also like the stevia-sweetened chocolate from Lily's Sweets. I eat a few squares each week. A girl needs her antioxidants.
What I choose to avoid: grains, starchy vegetables, sugar
Grains includes wheat, barley, rye, corn, millet, oats...the whole category. The one exception I make sometimes are these low-carb tortillas by La Tortilla Factory. I eat 3-4 of these per week.
Starchy vegetables include potatoes, sweet potatoes, yucca, plantains and butternut squash.
Sugar includes anything containing sugar, honey, molasses, coconut sugar, agave, or any other sweetener.
No, I don't feel deprived
I settled on this way of eating because I thought it was well-suited for my tastes, my body and my life.
- I am apple-shaped and thus more likely to suffer from the cluster of challenges associated with metabolic syndrome. Some studies have recommended a low-carb diet for people with metabolic syndrome.
- I like low-carb foods.
- I wanted to focus on eating more vegetables.
- I don't have a sweet tooth.
- I had never tried eating low-carb and know people who find it satisfying and helpful.
- I tend to overdo it on starchy foods, so for now it's easier to eliminate them entirely. (This may not always be the case. Or it may. I don't actually miss them.)
- It felt like something I might be able to do every single day for the rest of my life. I was looking for a lifestyle, not a diet. This has to last.
Got questions? I'd love to hear them, so leave me a comment. Just know that some of the answers are going to be along the lines of "because that's what felt right to me" instead of having any scientific foundation.