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Nutritarian – A High Nutrient Way Of Eating

{image inspired by Dr. Joel Furhman’s Food Pyrimad}
I have been on a journey of health since my cancer diagnosis in 2010.  I big part of pursing health has been in what I choose to eat.  I strongly believe what we choose to put into our bodies can play a big part in our overall health.  After much reading and many small changes in my diet, I have embraced Nutritarianism.
What is a Nutritarian?
nutritarian is a person who has a preference for foods that are high in micronutrients.
The term “nutritarian” was coined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. In his book, Eat to Live, he offers this health equation while describing the nutritarian approach to health:
Health = Nutrients/Calories (or H= N/C for short).
In other words: the more nutrients you consume per calorie, the healthier you will be.
Nutrients in the numerator (top part of the equation) include vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Since these are found in small quantities in food, they are considered to be micronutrients. Caloric sources in the denominator include the macronutrients: fat, carbohydrate, and protein. We need to meet our caloric needs without consuming excessive calories.
A high N/C diet is also called “nutrient-dense” or “nutrient-rich.”
In the Standard American Diet (SAD), about 6% of the total caloric intake comes from nutrient-rich foods.
Nutritarians eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, onions, mushrooms, whole grains, beans, and berries, and particularly consume leafy greens, which are the most nutrient-dense foods. A nutritarian strives to consume at least 90% of their diet from these foods.
A nutritarian diet will lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and even such conditions as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Nutritarians do not necessarily exclude animal products. Many nutritarians do choose to be vegan (excluding all animal products). Many vegetarians, however, are not nutritarian, if they frequently consume products containing processed grains, oils, sugars, or salt.
It takes a bit of education to become a nutritarian. One must learn the relative nutrient density of various foods. For instance, many people are surprised to learn that bok choy has more calcium per calorie than whole milk, and even than “2% fat” milk. The same is true for many other leaf greens.


{Dr. Fuhrman’s Website}

I love the idea of getting “more nutrient bang for caloric buck.”  I love thinking about food in terms of nutrients, and it feels good to know I am doing something positibe for my health by simply being mindful of the nutrients my food contains.

I have been eating this way for almost 3 years now.  It was a gradual change, but especially over the last 2 years, I have been pretty close to being a vegetarian/vegan.  I never knew what to call myself until reading Dr. Fuhrman’s Book– Eat To Live.  I HIGHLY recommend this book.  Dr. Fuhrman has so much knowledge and his words are easy to read and absorb.

Most of the recipes I now feature at the blog reflect the change in our eating habits.  My whole family is now eating this way, which happened slowly and over time.  With my kids, it truly was educating them as to why I eat the way I do, and they have slowly adapted the changes themselves.  When we are home, we eat Nutritarian.  When we go to others homes or out to eat as a family we eat more “normal.”  When Todd and I go out on dates, we prefer places that allow us to eat Nutritarian.  It it crazy how tastes buds change– we have found that we prefer whole, natural, high-nutrient foods.

Other resources that have highly influenced my way of eating:

Forks Over Knives by Gene Stone
The China Study by T. Colin Campbell
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn
The Engine2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn

So…again…what is a Nutritarian?
~They eat lots of high-nutrient, natural plan foods.  Vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts & seeds.
~They eat fewer animal products and choose healthier versions of these foods.
~They eat much less or almost no foods that are empty of nutrients: sugar, sweeteners, white flour, processed foods & greasy fast foods.


Got questions for me regarding the Nutritarian lifestyle?  Ask away!  It may spur on more posts in this series.