Eat to Live

I (try) to eat a Nutritarian diet, which is primarily a nutrient rich, whole foods, plant-based diet based on ‘Eat to Live’ (ETL) by Joel Fuhrman M.D. and ‘The China Study’ by T. Colin Campbell.

ETL = Eat to Live ; SAD = Standard American Diet

From the book "Eat to Live": The Revolutionary Formula for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.

Following a diet based on green vegetables, fruits and legumes (with a few nuts for omega-3 fats) has been proven in many studies to reverse the effects of heart disease. It has also been shown to control diabetes without using any drugs. This diet has been designed to do just that. Dr. Oz advocates this diet with a foreward in the book written by him.

I highly recommend purchasing the book as it includes health information and some recipes. It's a good read and helps with resolve.

I've had very good luck with this diet. So far, from Feb 16th, 2011 to March 19th, 2011, I've lost 14 pounds. It is simple and easy to follow, no complicated weighing or points counting. I'm rarely hungry - there's just so much food to eat at each meal. It does require a certain amount of prep and cooking work. I had a few little slip ups, including a hamburger and fries once, but didn't let that discourage me - I just got right back at it.

It has gotten a bit harder to keep the resolve but I think I've been being a bit too strict. The key to sticking on it is to eat all three meals at regular times. Don't skip lunch just because you had a late breakfast. When I get super hungry from meal skipping is when I am most likely to cheat - chips are too enticing, the cookies call out to me... That being said, between Feb 16th, 2011 to April 9th, 2011, I'm down 19 pounds.

Add exercise. Even just a walk every day is good. Park farther away from the door when you go shopping. Climb that flight of stairs. Move around the house instead of sitting at the computer. Every little bit counts.

[update - June 8, 2011 - it's been 16 weeks since I started the diet and I'm now down 25 pounds - we haven't been following it as strickly, so the weight loss has been slower. We are keeping to the principals for the most part, but circumstances don't always cooperate so we are more on maintenance mode rather than fast weight loss mode].

[update - Nov 1, 2011 - today is day one back on the diet. Over the summer I gained 8 pounds back, obviously my maintenance ideas weren't working - far too many desserts and other treats.]

[update - October 19, 2013 - I gained 13 pounds over last winter and this spring & summer; time to get serious again. For the most part I stuck with it over that time, but we started eating out more, and having more pasta and other grain dishes, so the weight crept on.]

[update - Nov 10, 2013 - down 6 pounds from when I started getting serious. It has been easier this time as my thinking about food has changed. I am no longer tempted by that hamburger and fries (easy to say now!), and don't crave sweets. I feel good!]

Here's an overview:

Eat to Live 6-Week Plan

UNLIMITED (eat as much as you want):

  • all raw vegetables, including raw carrots (goal: 1 lb. daily)
  • cooked green vegetables (goal 1 lb. daily)
  • beans, legumes, bean sprouts, and tofu (minimum 1 cup daily) *Beans should be eaten daily; tofu should be eaten less frequently
  • fresh fruit (as many as you like with a minimum of 4 daily) *Have a fruit as dessert at lunch and supper)
  • eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomato and other non-starchy vegetables, cooked and raw (unlimited)
LIMITED (not more than one serving):

  • cooked starchy vegetables OR whole grains Maximum 1 cup per day (butternut or acorn squash, corn, sweet potato, brown rice, cooked carrots, whole grain breads & whole grain cereals) *Avoid breads and cereals as much as possible
  • raw nuts and seeds (1 oz. or 28.5 grams a day) or 2 ounces avocado *Nuts like walnuts, almonds, there are more listed in the book
  • ground flaxseed (1 tablespoon a day) *Add to fruit smoothie or in salad dressing
  • soymilk, low-sugar preferred Maximum 1 cup a day (I use unsweetened almond milk)
  • (if you have difficulty losing weight avoid the soymilk, avocado and the starchy vegetables/whole grains.)

  • dairy products
  • animal products
  • between meal snacks
  • fruit juice, dried fruits
  • salt, sugar (I cheat on the salt one, since I don't have high blood pressure I eat a small amount of salt, it also keeps my lithium levels in control).
  • oils (use chicken stock or water to saute, I have used 1 teaspoon of oil when roasting vegetables - once every week or two).

The idea of this diet is to eat as many nutrient rich vegetables and fruits as possible. Dr. Fuhrman claims that it is that lack of nutrients in our diets that cause us to eat so much. This is not just a weight loss diet, it's one for people with diabetes or high blood sugar, high colesteral, heart disease and other illnesses. He talks about how the different foods react with our body and references plenty of studies to back up his claims.

The salad is the main dish. Eat as much leafy greens as you can. Include lettuce's and mixed greens, cucumber, green pepper, raw peas, etc. Have a salad with lunch and supper (I don't usually have one with supper, but do try to have some raw green vegetables - a salad would probably help me to lose weight faster, but we have a hard time getting reasonably priced salad fixings here - a weekly trip to Costco gets us 2 or 3 of the mixed baby greens containers - each one lasts us 2 lunches.)

I add chopped bok choy to as many dishes as I can - it is chock full of nutrients and also a very good source of calcium. Animal products leach calcium from your body, so topping up on vegetables rich with it is a good way to avoid a deficiency. Since this is a vegan diet we are eating very little animal products.

I was skipping the nut allowance (source of omega-3s), hoping to speed up my weight loss, but I started having mood fluctuations so added them back in - the mood fluctuations have resolved. I will start adding some steamed salmon though, as omega-3 from fatty fish is suspected to help even more with depression and bi-polar.
When you are at your ideal weight, simply start adding starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.) and whole grain food products as required. A teaspoon of olive oil sometimes is also allowed.

At your ideal weight you can have up to 10% of your calories from "cheat" foods. If you want a cookie, then count that as your cheat, a plate of pasta, that might be a cheat for a week. Try not to cheat often, and keep to the basic principals of the diet as much as you can.

A good place for more information and especially recipes, is

Dr. Fuhrman's site is

If you are entertaining, start with a small green salad, then a soup and finally the main course - guests won't realize they are eating a healthy meal. Finish off with mixed fruit for dessert.

Some sample menu ideas:

  • 1/2 mango, 1 kiwi, handful of blueberries, 1/2 banana, 1 oz walnuts
    • or
    • 1 cup oatmeal with a few raisons
    • or
    • green smoothie with as many leafy greens as you can stuff in

  • huge green salad with cucumber, baby carrots, green pepper, mushrooms, etc (as many green vegetables as you want - the more the better).
  • lentil or bean soup (fat-free)

  • green leafy salad
  • stir fry's (use chicken stock instead of oil, limit amount of soy sauce, use spices and lemon for flavourings) ;
  • bean or lentil stews with green vegetables included ;
  • roasted vegetables served on lentils ;
  • limit to one serving during weight loss phase (1 cup) Rice, Quinoa, other whole grains ; or one starchy vegetable (e.g. small potato, sweet potato, cooked carrots, butternut squash) or other whole grain (whole wheat bread).

I have found recipes in regular cookbooks that just need a bit of tweaking to make them "Eat to Live" friendly. Often you can remove the fat with little change in the end product. Certainly you don't need fat to sautee things, once you have the hang of it you can use stock or water (hint: use a spritzer or squirt bottle).

I plan to add a small piece of salmon once a week. Omega 3's from fish are important for people with depression or bipolar disorder - they are good for the brain!
There are some recipes that I have added to my blog and will add more over time (search for recipes). The fatfreevegan site listed above is also a great resource for recipes.
  • Lemony Lentil Soup
  • Mexican Blackbean Soup
  • Canneli Minestrone
  • Roasted Red Pepper Lentil Soup
  • Lemon Dijon Salad Dressing
  • Gingery Chickpeas with Spicy Tomato Sauce
  • Garlicy Canneli Bean Stew
  • Lentils with Sauteed Onion, Garlic, Mushoom and Zucchini
  • Stirfry's