I’ve had many friends over the last year ask for specific details about what I do and do not eat. Here’s the skinny on what I ate to lose the weight.
First of all, I referred in an earlier post to modifying Dr. Hyman’s 10 Day Diet Detox plan, for my longer-term use. I strongly recommend reading the book because he provides a lot of valuable information about how the body responds to various foods, and why even “a little” of certain foods can sabotage your success, when you’re correcting a metabolism gone south.
Another reason to read the book, is that you may not wish to make the modifications I did, or you may wish to make others. Hyman explains the principles that will be more helpful than any food list, as you navigate the sometimes complicated terrain of preparing food for yourself and your family, eating out and eating on the go.
Regarding those principles, you’ll want to focus on foods that are low glycemic and low carbohydrate. When you’re looking for recipes, you’ll find many Paleo recipes will either do the trick, or can be easily altered to suit your needs.
That said, here are two lists. First a fast list, and then a longer detailed (but not exhaustive) one.
The Fast List
- Unlimited Organic Vegetables (Above the ground & Allium)
- Limited Organic “Sour” Fruits
- Limited Organic Nuts & Seeds
- Limited Organic Healthy Oils & Fats
- Limited Organic Grass-Fed, Pasture-Raised Meats & Poultry, Clean Fish and Cage-Free Eggs
- Sparing Use of Organic Goats Milk & Goats Cheese
- Limited Dry Red Wine
- No Sugars or Sweeteners (excepting Stevia alone and then only occasional and sparing use)
- No Grains (including gluten-free, oats, rice, etc)
- No Legumes
- No Root Vegetables (Potatoes, Beets, Parsnips, Carrots …) or Corn
- No “Sweet” Fruits (Bananas, Pineapple, Melon, Oranges, Apples …)
- No Dairy (except as noted above)
- No Alcoholic beverages (except as noted above)
- No MSG
The Big Butt
You might argue that some of the foods listed above are healthy. What about carrot, amaranth and garbanzos? Why not the salubrious green apple?! For a physician’s explanation I must refer you again to the book. My layman’s explanation is this: I had to abstain from all of those foods, including the healthy ones, until I reset my metabolism and the way my body was processing my food. I also had to reset other factors such as my taste-buds, my sense of what foods were satisfying, and my habits in cooking and serving myself. After my weight had returned to a healthy range, and my appetite was working properly again, I carefully began to incorporate *some* of the healthy exclusions back into my diet, paying close attention to quantities and how those foods affected me.
I Can’t Afford Organics
I’ll talk about the case for organics in some future post, but I’d like to make brief mention of the issue of affordability. I chose organic (and still do) whenever I could. When I couldn’t, (mostly with meats as I was cooking for three hungry boys in addition to myself), I just bought the best alternative I could manage, but always within my list of allowed choices.
The Inviolable Rule
I did not “mess around” when it came to sugar and grains. I scrutinized every label. I sighed over nut mixes with sweetened cranberries in them and did not purchase. I asked restaurants if they used sugar in their seasonings or salad dressings and often chose olive oil and lemon instead of the zesty but sweetened house recipe. I made Paleo Zucchini Bread but omitted the maple syrup, and crafted my own raspberry sweetened chocolate truffles when faced with my first holiday celebration. I took the stance on these particular substances that someone might take if they were told there was only a “little” arsenic in it. No thank you.
The Detailed List
Unlimited Organic Over-the-Ground Vegetables (raw or cooked)
- Allium (Onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, shallots, chives)
- Artichokes (steamed) and Artichoke hearts
- Brussels Sprouts, Cabbages, Bok Choi, Sauerkraut
- Cactus Leaves (Nopales)
- Cauliflower, Broccoli and Broccoli Rabe
- Celery & Fennel
- Greens (Lettuces, Endive, Radicchio, Spinach, Kale, Collard, Mustard, Turnip Greens)
- Green Beans, Yellow Wax Beans, String Beans
- Herbs (Basil, Dill, Mint, Oregano, Parsley …)
- Peppers (Bell Peppers and Hot Peppers)
- Snow Peas
- Sprouts (Alfalfa & Bean)
- Summer Squash (Zucchini, Yellow Squash)
- Tomatoes, tomatillo
Limited Organic Vegetables (once a day or less, about 1/2 Cup)
- Winter squash (acorn, butternut, pumpkin, spaghetti)
- Carrots as a minor ingredient (shavings in salad, or a small amount dispersed in a soup)
Limited “Sour” Fresh Fruits (once a day, about 1/2 cup)
- Berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries)
- Concord Grapes (Not table grapes)
- Currants & Gooseberries
- Lemons & Limes
- Pomegranate seeds
- Sour Cherries
- Stone Fruits (plums,nectarines)
- Watermelon Rind (only the pale or dark green parts)
Limited Nuts & Seeds (use as a garnish, as you would a “dessert” or sparingly in recipes)
- Almonds, Walnuts, Pecans, Macadamia …
- Coconut and Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
- Raw Cacao beans or powder
- Nut Flours
- Sunflower Seeds
- Chia and Hemp Seeds
- Unsweetened Nut Milks
- Unsweetened Almond Butter
Limited Organic Healthy Oils & Fats
- Unrefined Coconut Oil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Red Palm Oil
- Ghee, Pasture Butter
Limited Organic Meats, Poultry, Fish and Eggs (1 or 2 servings a day)
My “Exceptions” – Goat’s Milk, Wine & Popcorn
- Goat’s milk (in my coffee only)
- Goat’s milk cheese (a little on an occasional salad)
- Dry red wine (Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot have the lowest sugar content)
- Air-popped organic popcorn with nutritional brewer’s yeast and coconut oil (seldom but sometimes)
So those are the details about what I did and didn’t eat in order to lose 35 pounds in 6 months, and for the most part, what I’m still eating today.
If you missed my post on what motivated me to start this diet, read “When Tiny Changes Don’t Work.”
And coming soon, I’ll share some special rules that helped me stick with it until the job was done.