Guest Author - Gretchen Goel
Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Furhman is a must read for anyone interested in improving their health with a diet scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease. Eat To Live and The China Study were two of the most influential books I read when I made the decision to transition to a plant based diet. The evidence is overwhelming that this is the way humans should eat if they want to enjoy a long and healthy life.
Dr. Furhman’s plan is based on the concept that “Your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by your intake of calories. Or, Health = Nutrients/Calories, meaning you can achieve optimum health and permanent weight loss only when you consistently consume foods of high nutrient value.
Some of the highlights of the Eat To Live plan include:
1. Make raw fruit or vegetables the main dish at every meal. For example at breakfast you would consume two or more whole pieces of fruit until you felt satisfied. At lunch and dinner you would consume a large salad of romaine lettuce or mixed greens (preferably organic) along with other chopped raw vegetables and non fat dressing made with something like vinegar and lemon. You might have a bowl of his delicious and easy to prepare “Anti Cancer Soup”, a low fat cooked vegetarian dish or a small portion of cooked wild caught fish or organic poultry (only two or three days a week).
Making raw fruits and vegetables the main part of the meal and eating them first helps you stick to a low fat diet and control portion sizes of cooked food. There is no way you can eat a large plate of cooked food after eating several pieces of fruit or a large salad. Your stomach will sometimes feel so full after eating the fruit or salad that you may not want the cooked portion of your meal.
2. Eat low fat- make fat 20% or less of calories daily. This is easily achieved if you follow the first rule of making raw fruits and vegetables the first thing you consume at each meal. Fruits and vegetables contain very little fat. Our body does not need fats from oils, not even olive oil. Olive oil is fine to use occasionally as a flavor enhancer but it should never be used to cook with as its properties change when it is heated. Better sources of fats are whole sources like avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds like flax. Dr. Furhman recommends taking 1 tbsp of flax daily.
3. Eat a wide variety of plant foods, especially greens. We need a wide variety of nutrients for optimal health, so we need to eat a wide variety of plant foods. Vitamin supplements are not necessary when you take care to eat a wide variety of raw fruits and vegetables.
4. Eliminate or greatly reduce dairy foods in the diet. He plainly states that Dairy foods do not protect us from osteoporosis, they actually contribute to it. There are several dietary and lifestyle habits that drain calcium from bones. Those include the consumption of animal protein (including cow’s milk and cheese), salt, caffeine, refined sugar, alcohol, nicotine, aluminum containing antacids, drugs like steroid, antibiotics, thyroid hormones, and supplements containing large amounts of Vitamin A.
5. Keep your meal planning simple by following a framework every day so you can stay with the plan long term.
Breakfast: unlimited fresh fruit
Lunch: salad, beans, and more fruit
Dinner: salad and two cooked vegetables (1 lb.), fruit for dessert
I have to say for digestive purposes, you would be better off consuming fruit first at every meal since it digests quickly. When you make fruit a dessert it tends to sit and ferment inside your stomach and intestines while the rest of your meal is digesting. This can create undesirable gas and is often the reason people don’t consume fruit.
I highly recommend reading this book as basic nutrition primer from a scientific perspective. It is an enjoyable read and will get you started on the right track if you have been struggling with weight loss.