Assay: People keep emailing to ask me what I eat, so here’s the answer.
But before I respond, I want to say a few things.
First, I do indeed eat a very low-carb diet. If you want to know why and how I came to do that, I describe it in my book Better Than Before and in episode 33 of the podcast. Nutshell version: more than three years ago, while on vacation with my family, I read Gary Taubes‘s book Why We Get Fat. I experienced a “Lightning Bolt,” and all my eating habits changed — overnight, effortlessly, and permanently.
Not everyone would want to eat this very-low-carb way, and even people who more or less eat this way (like my father) might not want to be as strict as I am. I prefer to be super-strict. Hey, everyone needs a hobby!
Second, I want to say that after thinking and learning about nutrition for several years, I’ve concluded this: what we don’t eat is more important than what we do eat. People can be healthy and vigorous eating wildly different things. We can argue about whether it’s a good idea to eat burgers or brown rice. But as far as I can tell, no one argues that a healthy diet features sugar or refined carbs. And if you don’t eat (or drink) sugar or refined carbs, you’re likely to get a big boost in health. So that’s a place to start.
For me, cutting out carbs all together has been enormously freeing. No more sweet tooth! No more inner debate–one, two, three? now, later? does this count? All that noise has gone away. I’m much less hungry, and much happier with the way that I eat. But what works for me isn’t the best choice for everyone.
For one thing, I’m a hardcore Abstainer. For me, bright-line rules are easy to follow, while moderation is too demanding. Again, not true for everyone! Not everyone is an Abstainer! For more about Abstainers vs. Moderators, read here or listen here.
So I’m not saying that everyone should adopt my eating habits. But many people are curious, so here’s what I eat:
- eggs — lots of eggs, often scrambled with butter, or in other forms, like frittatas
- hamburger, bacon, turkey, tuna, salmon, chicken, steak, pepperoni (yes, I saw the article about processed meats causing cancer, but I’m not worried by that study, for reasons explained here)
- cheese — I eat cheese as an ingredient (in a salad, on a burger if I’m very hungry) but I usually don’t eat a piece of cheese on its own
- broccoli, cauliflower, string beans, lettuce
- Greek yogurt — occasionally
- almonds — great snack
- Nick’s Sticks — One reason that eating low-carb is healthy is that just about all processed foods are eliminated, and you’re stuck with the kind of food that needs to be cooked, eaten at a table with cutlery, and goes bad quickly. Which is the healthiest kind of food. I do keep a few Nick’s Sticks in my backpack and in my suitcase when I travel, in case I get hungry.
- coffee, tea, diet soda — I use almond milk, when I can get it, or cream when I can’t, or half-and-half when I can’t get cream
- avocados — I keep meaning to eat more avocados. Also olives.
Also I eat items that are a mix of those things. For instance, I love quiche (no crust) or a Cobb salad.
As you’ll notice, there’s not a lot of variety here. My whole life, I’ve tended to eat the same foods every day. Again, that’s not true for everyone, but it’s true for me.
There are items that I’ll eat in small amounts, if they’re served to me, say, at a restaurant. For instance, I might eat some berries, some peppers, etc., but I don’t generally go out of my way to eat them.
I’m a huge zealot for this way of eating, because it has been such a happy change for me. My father, too. And it has been thrilling to hear from so many people, since Better Than Before was published, who have told me how much better off they are eating this way.
And I understand why people might disagree, and why they might make different choices. Absolutely. The way that we eat raises all kind of complex scientific issues, as well as ethically- and morally-charged choices — such as whether or not to eat meat.
Which brings us back to the importance of the Strategy of Clarity for changing habits. No matter what our beliefs might be, if we want to change our eating habits, the more clear we are about why we want to eat a certain way, and the habits that we want to adopt, the easier we’ll find it to follow through.
I have my reasons. Others will have their own reasons. But for most of us, it’s possible to do better than before, according to our own lights.