What Erin and I eat comes under a lot of scrutiny.
I especially have this paranoid fantasy/nightmare that I’ll be carrying a pizza from the car to the house and people will jump out from behind a bush and shout “I knew you didn’t eat healthy!”
I walk a little faster with my pizza than I used to so I can avoid awkward situations like those. Because they’re so common.
Food scrutiny is pretty obvious territory for real food bloggers – we expect it and we’re mostly ok with it.
My favorite example of someone being curious about what we eat came from my brother. We were cooking up a batch of kombucha on the stove and he asked what it was.
“It’s fermented tea,” I replied.
For about a second, he couldn’t hide his “that’s soooo weird” look on his face. He quickly composed himself, but it wasn’t lost on me.
I thought it was hilarious, because it is weird. I would’ve made fun of someone fermenting tea just a couple years ago.
Anyway, we talk a lot about small parts of our diet, like kombucha or sourdough or even fats. I’m starting to realize that most “regular people” (as in people who don’t research dorky food things for fun… like us) are more interested in the big picture.
What does our overall diet look like?
How do we put together our meals and decide how much of each thing we eat?
Our Food Pyramid
I think pretty much everyone knows the USDA’s Food Pyramid is a joke.
11 servings of carbs a day? More like per week!
Um, let’s just say that following that advice is why Americans spend more on healthcare than any other country in the world.
We’re supposed to be the gold standard for education, technology and health. But we have the 8th lowest life expectancy in the world – and it’s because of crappy nutrition education.
Anyway, a healthy real food diet doesn’t remotely resemble the USDA’s.
Here’s our food pyramid:
Whoops, that’s my food pyramid when I get to heaven.
Here’s the real deal:
The Logic Behind Our Food Pyramid
The healthiest populations on the planet are indigenous people who still hunt and forage for their food.
Back in the early 1900’s, Dr. Weston Price noted that Native Americans who still lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle had no cavities and no tooth decay (he was a dentist, so that’s the kind of stuff he focused on).
He also noticed no arthritis, bone deformities, and very few or no examples of heart attacks, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic or debilitating diseases.
Most indigenous cultures consume tons of fat – with Northern Indians eating about 80% of their calories from fat.
Yet they were virtually illness free.
For that reason, and from the overwhelming evidence that processed carbohydrates are responsible for almost all the health problems we experience, I’ve put meat as the base of the pyramid.
We probably could’ve swapped fruits and veggies for the base, but I think veggies are bit overrated. Clearly they provide excellent health benefits, but you can usually find better sources of the vitamins they offer in meat sources.
If I had to break down our ideal caloric intake, it would look like this:
- 40% fat
- 35% protein
- 25% carbs
And if I’m trying to drop a few pounds, I’ll bump the fat up to over 50% and the carbs down a notch.
Of course, I still believe that properly prepared grains and healthy sources of carbs (like organic potatoes, rice, and oatmeal) can give you needed nutrients.
But they don’t really provide anything super essential. I think Paleo diets (where carbs are virtually nonexistent) are a bit extreme, but people who stick to it are pretty darn healthy. I think that shows carbs can be superfluous.
So What Do Our Meals Look Like?
Breakfast: During the week, we have smoothies every morning. The liquid is a mixture of kombucha and kefir. We throw in frozen organic berries, a banana, gelatin, coconut oil, and a bunch of organic spinach.
I’m not great at making salads, or even a big batch of steamed broccoli or baked asparagus. I don’t often snack on an apple or an orange, so these smoothies help fill in the nutritional gaps.
Coconut oil starts me off with some healthy fat and kicks my metabolism into gear.
Starting our day off with a grain-free breakfast helps keep the carbs in check and close to our 25% goal mentioned above.
Lunch: Almost all my lunches are leftovers from dinners because I work in an office. When I don’t have leftovers, it’s usually peanut butter toast, an apple with peanut butter, oatmeal, or I eat out.
That’s why every Monday I cook a ton of leftovers – so I’m not left with those options.
Dinner: My favorite healthy meals, in reverse order:
5. Burgers on sourdough buns with fries cooked in coconut oil – also with grass-fed cheese, homemade ketchup, homemade barbecue sauce, avocado, and tomato.
4. Omelets – 3 pastured eggs, with pastured and uncured bacon, grass-fed cheese, organic cream cheese, cooked in butter.
3. Pizza on sourdough crust with homemade barbecue sauce, grass-fed mozzarella, and chopped chicken fried with onions and garlic in butter for toppings.
All those meals are primarily meat (I count eggs because I’m focusing on fat and protein here). They also all require healthy fats to cook, helping us reach our 40% goal of calories from fat.
Unfortunately, they also come with serious potential for carbs, except the omelets.
We’ve been working to cut back on the carb parts of those meals, like serving less rice with the sweet and sour and less potatoes with the burgers and mushroom chicken.
When people want quick tips about eating healthy, I tell them two things:
- Cut out the fake foods.
- Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat.
That’s probably the easiest way to sum up what we eat.
Yeah, it might be annoying to figure out if you’re eating 40% of your calories from fat.
Honestly though, I never actually count calories.
As long as you’re trying to swap out some carbs for fats, you’re doing better than most people. You’ll be able to lose and keep the weight off easier. You’ll avoid most diseases, like indigenous people do.
Hope this all helps make it easier to switch to a healthier lifestyle!