I’m a Nutritarian

For the past year or so I’ve been eating about 80% vegan.  I hate the word “vegan” because it has political/ideological connotations I don’t ascribe to, and also because by definition that’s not what I am.  I think Dr. Fuhrman’s neologism, nutritarian sums up my position on food choices:

A person who [eats for health] is called a nutritarian, and understands that food has powerful disease–protecting and therapeutic effects and seeks to consume a broad array of micronutrients via their food choices. It is not sufficient to merely avoid fats. It is not sufficient for the diet to have a low glycemic index. It is not sufficient for the diet to be low in animal products. It is not sufficient for the diet to be mostly raw food. A truly healthy diet must be micronutrient rich and the micronutrient richness must be adjusted to meet individual needs. The foods with the highest micronutrient per calorie scores are green vegetables, colorful vegetables, and fresh fruits. For optimal health and to combat disease, it is necessary to consume enough of these foods.

  • Tiltmom

    I’m 10% veganer than thou, but I too identify as a nutritarian. When I describe my way of eating to people, I tell them that I focus more on what I *do* eat, rather than what I don’t eat.

    My goal is to eat a pound of raw vegetables (hello green smoothie!) and a pound of cooked vegetables every day, as well as several servings of fruit. I also make it a point to eat an ounce of nuts and seeds. On occasion, that’s enough food to satisfy me for the day, and I simply don’t eat anymore. But on the days that I’m still hungry, I’ll add beans to a salad or soup, and have some whole grains.

    I eat fish weekly, and steak once a month. [Dairy is no longer a part of my diet, but that’s due to a casein intolerance. Otherwise, I would celebrate birthdays, etc. with the traditional cakes, rather than my vegan versions.]

    My desserts are calorie rich and tasty (ask me about my bluevado pie!) and no longer leave me craving the empty calories. I’m not saying I don’t understand the appeal of cheesecake anymore, but it’s not visceral for me now. My body gets what it needs nutritionally, and my cues to eat are usually hunger-driven, not emotional.

    It took time for my body to adapt to this new way of eating, but now that I’m here, it’s hard to imagine eating any other way.

  • TheQuickBrownFox

    I am a nutritarian but far from vegan. I avoid processed foods and go for foods rich in macronutrients but this includes lots of meat and fats. It is a myth that these things are bad for your health. In fact they are necessary for optimal health. Not that your way of eating is bad for you. It is probably much better than what I will call “conventional”.

    Here is a good place to start: http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/07/magazine/what-if-it-s-all-been-a-big-fat-lie.html


    • Alex Golubev

      I think you bring up an important issue here. I may want to be a nutritarian, but it seems that there is a wide variety of opinion of what IS nutritious. Taking supplements may be a good idea until we discover that 300% of vitamin J can 10x your chances of gene mutations if you don’t balance it with some other nutrient. So while I agree with the goal of nutritarians, I am a bit lax on what should constitute a nutritarian’s diet. So I am a member of the “weak” version of the nutritarians (no pop and more cheerios than cinamon toast crunch) :)

    • Rafe Furst

      The NYT article is from 2002 and while good for that time, a lot of solid data has come out since that suggests eating lots of meat and fats is not great for your long-term health. One issue is that most of the meat, foul and fish supply is corn-fed and also contaminated toxins in the U.S. in a way that was not so 30 years ago. But that aside, there is large-scale epidemiological data that shows animal protein consumption is correlated with higher mortality and morbidity. There are exceptions to this “rule of thumb” and pockets of communities where it’s not clear why their high animal protein/fat diet isn’t worse, but from everything I’ve read, it would be hard to recommend to a modern-day American that they shouldn’t decrease their animal product consumption.