Nutrition can seem terribly complicated, and when people shift from the Standard American Diet to a plant-based diet, they can be worried about “doing it right.” In fact, there are entire websites designed to make you worry! It can seem so complicated that it hardly seems worth the effort.
Today, I’m going to boil it all down to the 1% that you really need to know, and then you can explore the other 99% when you get around to it.
First, I just want to say I’ve invested a lot of time learning nutrition, and I don’t want to downplay the value of learning the details. However, knowing these details isn’t terribly important in terms of choosing your food on a daily basis. In fact, it’s often a case of losing sight of the forest for the trees — or should I say losing sight of the garden for the kale.
Okay . . . enough of the preamble. Are you ready? Here comes the 1 percent!
Eat plants. Eat only plants. Eat a variety of different plants. Eat them raw and cooked. And eat them as close to how they came out of the garden (or orchard) as possible. (And supplement with Vitamin B12.) * (see note below)
Could it really be that simple?
That’s all you need to know to choose a healthy, life-supporting diet.
The other 99% is just about explaining why that’s all you need to do. But it can sound so complicated that we lose the simple message — eat plants!
Here’s a very quick summary of the other 99 percent, just to help you feel reassured about the 1 percent.
Plants contain ALL the nutrients our bodies need, in a form that supports great health. They have protein (yes, they do!), fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fiber. The largest land animals get all the nutrition they need from eating plants, and so can we.
You can study which plants are higher in which nutrients, and how these nutrients protect your health is which ways, but the bottom line is, we do best when we eat a variety of plants because we get the whole symphony of nutrients. Do you need to know how an oboe is made to enjoy hearing the orchestra?
Animal products do NOT have all the nutrients we need, and, in fact, animal products are very damaging to our health. There is a lot of research describing the type and extent of this damage. However, you can understand the importance of not stepping in front of a speeding truck without knowing exactly which organ is first to die because of the impact.
Processed foods have most of their nutrients removed (not good) and lots of other, unhealthy things added (not good). You can study the research showing how chemical additives wreak havoc with our health, and which ones are worst. But do yout really need to know whether Drano or ammonia is worse for you to understand that they should NOT be consumed?
So, I actually recommend that you learn a few things to support your awareness that the 1 percent is all you need to know to choose a healthy diet. One place to start is at www.nutritionfacts.org. Dr. Greger provides a short, entertaining, daily video about the latest nutrition research that supports the wisdom of the 1 percent.
You can also get a very good grasp of the scope of great plant-based nutrition in my online course, The Yes to Life Nutrition & Cooking Course or if you prefer a live class check out, The Yes to Life Solution to Get Slim & Healthy.
But PLEASE, in all the fascinating details you’ll learn, don’t lose sight of the simplicity of eating a plant-based diet. It really does boil down to:
Eat plants. Eat only plants. Eat a variety of different plants. Eat them raw and cooked. And eat them as close to how they came out of the garden (or orchard) as possible. (And supplement with Vitamin B12.)*
[*Vitamin B12 is not made by plants or animals — it is made by bacteria. In the “old days” we consumed this bacteria while eating wild plants. Now that we wash our food, we need to take a B12 supplement.]
I’m curious — does getting clarity about this 1% help you know what to eat and feel comfortable with it?
Please share in the comments section below.
Delisa is a plant-based nutrition and cooking instructor in Alaska. She believes that we are designed to be slim and healthy.