I thought long and hard if I should write about this. It’s a complicated topic, and there are just too many so-called experts. Also, people are very very passionate about food. VERY VERY PASSIONATE.
So let me tell you right away: I am no expert, I just happened to read a lot about nutrition. If you happen to die while adopting my diet, don’t sue me.
Let's talk about my diet.
First, you need to know something. The thing with nutrition is that nobody really knows what they are talking about. There is this thing called a double-blind study, which is a study in which neither the participants nor the experimenters know what is going on. It’s probably the best type of research because there’s no bias and there is no faking. But it’s close to impossible to study nutrition this way. You can’t tell thousands of people to adopt a vegan diet. Try it for yourself, ask your friends to have a meatless Monday and watch them going bonkers.
On the other side, you have the food industry, a fucking colossal lobbying power that finances a shitload of studies. And they all tell the same story: "Eat more of our products, they are good for you." And yet, independent organisations often tell you something completely different. Weird, isn't it?
It is challenging to know what is right. There could be a new study saying that you have to eat Opossum to stay healthy and suddenly every newspaper will write about it, and food bloggers will create courses on how to correctly prepare opossum. It‘s this insane.
I am no expert and thus can't recommend you follow what I do. Talk to a couple of nutritionists, read books on the subject (By scientists please, not by food bloggers or health coaches. I link some below.), read the studies. Do your research and in the end, do what you (and your nutritionist) think is best for you.
But, finally, here is what I1 do:
- Hara Hachi Bun Me (腹八分目): I can't remember where I got this from. It's a Confucian teaching saying that you should stop eating after you are eight out of ten parts full. It is very popular in Okinawa, a so-called blue-zone.2
- Two meals per day (and one snack): I got this from Dr Valter Longo. As I don't need to gain weight, I only need to eat twice a day with a snack in the afternoon. I have breakfast and lunch and occasionally a bite around 3-4pm. This goes hand in hand with:
- Eat in a twelve-hour time-frame: I think this counts as intermittent fasting. I skip dinner altogether. Except when socialising. Then I skip lunch. But:
- Don’t eat three to four hours before going to sleep: You probably heard this one before. It mostly affects your sleep, because your body is all busy digesting food.
- Healthy fats and oils: No, oil is not the number one vegan killer like a stupid Youtube video wants us to believe3. There are all these healthy fats found in (extra virgin) olive oil, avocados, nuts and even coconuts. I, however, avoid vegetable oils. To get my healthy fats, I try to eat a handful of nuts every day. I also like avocado in my salads, and as an Italian, I swim in olive oil. Jamie Oliver is a joke compared to me.
- Eat a rainbow of vegetables: You heard this as a child. Eat your vegetables. But no one ever told you why. So let me give you a reason. There are these things called phytonutrients found in vegetables (and fruits and so on). Different coloured vegetables contain different types of phytonutrients, e.g., beta-carotene in orange vegetables, lutein in kale and spinach, folic acids in broccoli and so on. Your microbiome loves them, so you should too.
- Even more legumes: I love beans, peas, and lentils. I mostly buy them in cans and rinse them to get rid of the water (because of flatulence). Legumes are high in folate, potassium, iron, and magnesium.
- Whole grain, whole wheat, whole everything: I don't eat white pasta, bread, pitas, wraps, rice or whatsoever anymore, except when I go to a restaurant or visit my family. White flour is stripped of everything that makes it healthy and contains more sugar. That simple.
- Fast regularly: I frankly only fasted once, and it wasn't even a fast in the traditional sense. It was based on a program created by Dr Valter Longo. I am still unsure if I can recommend it to anybody from a health-point but it showed me how broken my relationship with food used to be.4
- No processed food: Here is my golden rule. I don't buy any processed food that contains more than five ingredients.5 I don't buy veggie-sausages or veggie-cheese or veggie-whatsoever. I do them myself. However, I buy things like Hummus (the high-quality type).
- Don't drink your calories: You heard this one. Don't drink your calories. All I drink is coffee, water, tea, and a glass of beer and wine from time to time. And whisky. Stop judging me!
- Eat low on the food chain: I am vegan. So I eat the food your food eats6. I eat as low on the food chain as possible.
- Take supplements if you have to: I take two types of supplements every second day if I remember. A multivitamin for vegetarians with Vitamin D, B12, and some other stuff I am too lazy to type and one with Omega 3 based on micro-algae.
Now to answer some frequently asked questions that I get frequently asked:
What about proteins?
Fuck you with your proteins. What’s this sudden interest in proteins if I tell you I’m vegan. You probably didn’t give more than two shits about proteins before. Well, let me say this: What do you think you know about proteins is wrong, you do not need as much protein as you think you need and you do not need animal proteins. Except, if you are old and your body starts to decompose.
But I thought carbs are bad for you?
No, they are not. Vast quantities are harmful to you. Carbohydrates are essential for your body. So fuck all these low-carbs-diets. The problem is that most junk foods are high on carbs. So fuck junk food too.
Wheat?! But gluten is the incarnation of Lucifer, the anti-christ, Mephisto, Hitler, Stalin?
Look, do me and, above all, yourself a favour and go to your doctor to get checked for celiac disease, a medical condition that requires a gluten-free diet. If you don‘t, well, my poor soul, you‘ve been fooled by an industry worth several billion US-Dollars. A gluten-free diet is (mostly) a wheat-free diet. A wheat-free and I talk about whole wheat, is a diet free of fibre, iron, zinc, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, calcium, vitamin B12 and other things I googled and never heard of before.
People that eat a wheat-free diet have a higher risk of having a heart disease according to some studies. And if you think you feel better without gluten, maybe you feel better because you stopped eating all that crap. You won‘t believe how much sugar is in a loaf of bread nowadays if you buy the prepackaged stuff.7
But my doctor tells me to eat a steak every day
The thing with doctors is that they are not nutritionists. Most of the time they don‘t even really know what they are talking about and repeat what is thought to be known as common knowledge. As in pretending shit like cow milk is good for you. Ask a nutritionist. Seriously. And if they tell you to drink cow milk because calcium, change your nutritionist.
Do you know what you're talking about?
But what are the benefits?
Now, this is a question I can answer without fact-checking. Since going plant-based, I lost over ten kilograms without even trying. I used to suffer from acid reflux after eating which is gone. I feel better, my skin is way cleaner, I sleep better, and I am way less tired than I used to be. I don't feel like shit anymore, because my body is not fighting all this junk the whole time.
- One side-note: I am what people call a vegan. Though I am not your typical kind of vegan, I won’t slap your steak out of your hands while going all hippie on you. I think „plant-based“ would be way more accurate. ↩
- Blue-zone are areas where a lot of old people live. ↩
- I will not link to it, because fuck that video and fuck that guy! ↩
- I often ate food because I was bored, not because I was hungry. I also ate way more than my body ever needed. That fast made this very clear. ↩
- Yes, I stole this rule from Dr Chatterjee ↩
- Yeah, I get this joke a lot ↩
- There are however some people that suffer from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) because of fructans which can also be found in asparagus, leek, onions, garlic and so on. They are thus not gluten-intolerant but should still pay attention to what they eat. ↩