My Answers to some Common Nutritarian Questions

Shelby!  Congratulations to Shelby on winning ANK's first ever giveaway for Chef AJ's book, Unprocessed!  (Shelby, contact me at amysnutritariankitchen@gmail.com to send me your shipping information)  To get the winner I used a random number generator and had the list numbered below.  Remember that you got entered twice for commenting AND following my nutritarian/health Pinterest boards.

The questions I asked so you could be entered into the giveaway were: What are some common questions you get asked about your nutritarian/plant-strong lifestyle? OR What are some questions you have about a nutritarian/plant-strong lifestyle?  I have to say, I got a great response to these questions!  Here are some of the questions I was asked, or that others ask my readers about the nutritarian lifestyle and my responses to them.

What about protein?  How do you get your protein if you don't eat meat?
This is a question that all vegetarians/vegans/nutritarians, etc. have been asked since the beginning of time!  Ok, well maybe only since Americans started being brain-washed that you NEED to get your protein from meat sources, and that only meat sources can provide that macro-nutrient.  When asked this question, I like to ask the person to think about some of the largest land animals on earth: elephants, gorillas, and ruminants like cows.  How do you think they got so large with only eating plant foods?  Are they closet meat eaters and none of us have noticed!  Of course not!  They eat the diets they have evolved to eat: plants.  Sure, humans can get their protein from meat or plants, but lets compare some plant foods to some steak (from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live, page.71).

Nutrients Oresent in 100-Calorie Portions of Selected Foods
Nutrient Units Broccoli Steak Romaine Kale
Protein grams (g) 11 6 7 7
Calcium miligrams (mg) 118 2 194 257
Iron miligrams (mg) 2.2 0.8 5.7 3.2
Magnesium miligrams (mg) 46 6 82 64
Potassium miligrams (mg) 507 74 1453 814
Fiber grams (g) 11 0 12 7.1
Phytochemicals relative very high 0 very high very high
Antioxidants relative very high 0 very high very high
Folate microgrs (mcg) 200 2 800 46
Riboflavin miligrams (mg) 0.29 0.06 0.40 0.25
Miacin miligrams (mg) 1.6 1.1 1.8 1.8
Zinc miligrams (mg) 1.0 1.2 1.4 0.9
Vitamin C miligrams (mg) 143 0 141 146
Vitammin A IU 3,609 0 51,232 48,641
Beta-carotene microgrs (mcg) 2,131 0 30,739 29,186
Vitamin E miligrs (mg) 4.7 0.07 0.76 3.0
Choloesterol miligrs (mg) 0 22 0 0
Saturated fat grams (g) 0 3.1 0 0
Weight of food grams (g) 357 29 588 357
(12.6 oz) (1 oz) (20.7 oz) (12.6 oz)

I have put in bold the items you should pay close attention to.  As you can see, per 100 calorie portions of each of these foods, the meat has less protein than the plant foods.  The steak also has NO fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants!  Along with being devoid of micronutrients, steak is also ladened with disease promoting cholesterol and saturated fat.  Knowing these quantities, it's a wonder why plant-strong eaters are the ones asked if or how we are getting enough protein.  The simple fact of it actually is, if you are consuming enough calories per day (whether that be plant foods or animal products) you will not be protein deficient.  As for me, I would prefer to receive my protein from plant sources that are high in micronutrients and that give me disease and cancer prevention!

Where do you get your calcium if you don't consume dairy products?  (How can you live without cheese?)
This is another issue that we have been led astray on in America in order to have us consume more dairy products.  It is true that products like cow's milk does contain calcium(~190 mg per 100 calories).  However, dairy products, along with other aspects of the Standard American Diet (SAD) actually increase the amount of calcium that is excreted through your urine, making your overall calcium in your body decrease when you consume these products.

Here is a quick hypothetical breakdown of this daily process of loosing calcium: (information taken from Eat to Live, by Dr. Fuhrman, pages 103-104)

  • you consume 1000mg of calcium from milk, of which only a third of the calcium gets absorbed, the rest is excreted through your bowels, so only ~300 mg of calcium is absorbed into your body
  • in the same day, because dairy products create an acidic environment in your body, 350 mg of calcium needed to help neutralize your body, then is excreted through your urine
  • because you only absorbed 300 mg through your digestive tract, the extra 50 mg of calcium must be taken from somewhere in your body (your bones)
  • over time, you can imagine how much calcium is leached from your bones to help neutralize your body
In thinking of the way our body uses calcium, it certainly doesn't make sense to get calcium from a food product that creates an overall calcium deficiency in the first place!  With the leaching of calcium from our bones, and other factors (that I frankly wouldn't know how to explain), Americans have some of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world.  The data graphed below was also taken from Eat to Live page 105.  The trends are very clear that the more animal protein you ingest (including dairy) the higher the risk for developing osteoporosis (which can often result in hip fractures, especially in the elderly).

How do you make sure to get enough calcium and to avoid over excreting too much calcium?  Here's a basic lists of the things to avoid and the foods to consume: (Eat to Live, page 104 & 106)

Avoid (because they increase body's acidity and your need for calcium to neutralize your body):

  • animal protein
  • salt
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • nicotine
  • aluminum-containing antacids
  • drugs such as antibiotics, steroids, thyroid hormone
  • vitamin A supplements

GO FOR vegetables and fruits, but especially:
  • green vegetables
  • beans
  • tofu
  • sesame seeds
  • oranges
Is this diet (nutritarian/plant-strong) sustainable for life?
This was probably one of my favorite questions that was asked out of all of the comments, because it gives me a chance to brag about how wonderful it really is!  Personally, I would never go back to the Standard American Diet (SAD) after feeling so wonderful on this nutrient-rich, disease preventing diet. Not only do I have the assurance that I will not develop heart disease, diabetes, or become obese, I also am giving myself the best protection from developing cancer that I can have, while strengthening my immune system from common colds, viruses, and infections.  On top of that, I get to eat the most food I have ever had in my life!  Unlike other diets where you restrict your calorie intake (and usually food volume intake), I get to eat as much as I want of the right things and never gain weight (I actually am gradually losing weight over time).  To others, this way of eating may seem extreme from the SAD way of eating, but when you think of our biological needs, it makes the most sense!  When you switch to eating the nutritarian way, your taste buds adjust from being "tongue-washed" on foods that are over salted with too much sugar and fat, to a sensation in your mouth when you eat whole plant foods to where you can taste and appreciate the subtle differences between types of lettuces, or enjoy the natural sweetness of fresh fruits!  I guarantee that when your body learns to love the foods that truly make you flourish, you will not want to go back to the "fake" foods you used to eat.

Another question related to this one that was left by a reader was: "Is it expensive eating this way?"
My response was that eating this way can be as expensive as you would like it to be.  Overall, nutritarian food is less expensive than SAD foods.  For example, per pound, beans weigh cost less than animal protein.  Also, fruits and vegetables cost less than most processed foods.  There are certain things that can be more expensive, but are not necessarily needed, such as organic produce or harder to find produce, such as mangos or kale.  I would suggest buying in season when certain produce will be at its cheapest, and to buy in bulk when you do find inexpensive produce.  I do this most often with corn or broccoli, so that I can freeze what I can't use in time.  Once you learn your way around the grocery store, and what prices are good for certain items, shopping becomes a breeze!  I also find that I spend a lot less time per trip to the grocery store because I only need the produce, canned goods, and frozen foods isles, rather than every department.

Another question that readers said that they get asked a lot is: "What made you decide to eat this way?"
I can only answer this for myself, but I would LOVE to hear stories from my readers of how you came to make the wonderful change to eat the nutritarian/plant-strong way.

My story:  My journey starts with a very sad Amy.  All my life, I have always felt I was a bit or quite a bit overweight.  My heavy times were always after Christmas holidays of being home (from college) and sneaking into the kitchen to devour Christmas treat after Christmas treat.  Looking back on it now, I have realized that I had an addiction to the sugar and fat, and most importantly, I was addicted to the instant pleasure that decadent foods gave me.  

After going back to school in January of 2011, I found that I had gained nearly 10 lbs over Christmas break.  I groaned at the thought of having to get back into dieting and feeling hungry and deprived all of the time.  I had tried to do Weight Watchers several times before this time with little success.  I was terrible about counting points, and often under-exaggerated how many points a food item was worth just so I could feel like I wasn't starving.  I was not a person meant to have the will-power to eat little portions.  

I went on the search one evening online to find a diet book that would work for me.  I passed by the "high-protein" diets because I was never a fan of beef, and frankly didn't know how to cook a steak to save my life.  I also passed by the "low-carb" diets because I didn't know how anyone could live without bread (and it always made me think of Julia Roberts in America's Sweethearts where she never has bread, then goes nuts on an extremely stressful day and eats tons of pancakes and other bad foods).  I finally stumbled across Dr. Furman's book Eat to Live.  It had a claim on the front cover in bold saying "LOSE 20 LBS. OR MORE IN 6 WEEKS".  I immediately thought, that would be great, but how drastic and crazy is this?

I took a leap of random faith and bought the book on my ipod touch Kindle and finished reading the book by morning.  I took a good week to mentally process through what it had taught me, all while changing my eating habits to follow Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations.  I cleaned out my studio apartment of the bad foods I had been eating, and went full boar into eating the Nutritarian way.  I ate this way for 5 weeks straight, not budging an inch (with only the occasional drink, I was in college at the time).  Here was my basic daily diet:
  • 1 lb. raw vegetables
  • 1 lb. cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup beans or legumes
  • at least 4 fresh fruits
  • up to 1 cup starchy vegetables and whole grains
  • up to 1 oz of nuts or seeds
For the first time in my life, I felt completely full and satisfied without feeling guilty about what I ate.  It was a wonderful feeling!  It was around this time that I was having issues with my long-term (less than worthy) boyfriend at the time.  Sometimes it takes moments in your life to understand and appreciate yourself before you realize that some people close to you don't understand or appreciate you.  I broke up with that boyfriend and opened myself up to spending more time with friends and out socializing. 

That is when I met Kevin.  Kevin made me laugh and enjoy life like I never thought, or just forgot, that I could!  He made me re-realize my adventurous and fun side that had secluded itself after years of a relationship with someone who was selfish and jealous.  I finally felt like I was living!  Over a year later, Kevin and I are engaged and will be married this year in September.  I feel like the happiest person to be marrying my best friend and to be physically and mentally healthy after years of food addiction and a bad self image.

Today, I still have some problems with food addiction, but, in getting to understand them better, I feel more motivation to continue eating the nutritarian way.  Because not only my body was healed with eating this way, but also my self opinion and worth, I will forever attribute the nutritarian lifestyle to changing my life in so many ways.  That is why I write this blog and want to share my successes and struggles with all of you.  It is a way not only to make myself accountable, but a way to get encouragement and encourage others.  I just thank God that I stumbled upon Dr. Fuhrman's book nearly a year and a half ago, because it really was the start of everything great in my life.  I also want to thank my readers who give me an audience and the motivation to keep going.

What is your story?  Why did you decide to eat the plant-strong way?


  1. You have very astute responses to the nutritarian's FAQ's, and I loved hearing your story. It's always validating to re-visit the journey and recognize the truth in it for all of us

    1. Thank you Hailey. It's definitely nice to remind yourself where you've been and why you're trying to get where you're going. :)

  2. I am having a really rough time. I am a type 2 diabetic. I cut out all white sugar white flour,all processed food the last two months. I am eating fruit, unsweetened almond milk and flax and Chia seeds for breakfast,usually skip lunch as I am just not hungry. Doing the beans,vegetables and romaine for dinner. Apple for dessert and my fasting blood sugar is higher some days than when I was eating all the junk I wanted to. I had a cortisone shot about 2 months ago.Help! I have lost 17 lbs,in two months, so must be doing something right,but not exercising much duse to oppressive heat outside. Any ideas would be helpful.