Do You Eat to Live, or Live to Eat?

Eat to Live, don’t Live to Eat!

This is a wonderfully ubiquitous phrase. So many people offer it up as diet advice – “You just have to eat to live, not live to eat”…that’s akin to telling a kid “do better at math”.

It’s a nice sound bite, and when you understand the foundations of nutrition  and the psychology behind eating, it’s a nice phrase to give you a boost when you need it. To continue our analogy, it’s like telling someone who understands complex differential equations that they’ve gotten lazy and need to do better next time – the phrase is more helpful in that context.

So why am I spewing out these wildly entertaining analogies? Because I have begun eating to live. For the longest time, I lived to eat. I was a cook – often I say I am a chef, but technically that would be incorrect – since the age of 13. Many would say I was destined to be a chef, though.

  • I was accepted to culinary school with a scholarship
  • I cooked for all of my parents special occasions
  • I mastered truly difficult concepts and cuisines with little more than the food network to guide me (we’re talking chocolate truffles, smoked barbecue, homemade pastas, homemade breads/pizzas, Mexican  Indian  Italian, French, English, German, pastries. I nailed it all!)
  • I was even featured on a 30 minute episode on the Food Network
To say that my life revolved around food would be an understatement. When I was in college (not for culinary school), I used to cook my own food in the cafeteria with the crude instruments they made available for us instead of eating the pre-made stuff, and I even had friends asking me to make their food as well, because what I made was so much tastier.

Eating to Live – Enter the Nutritarian

I kind of understand what it means to Eat to Live now, though I’m not going to spoil it for you – you’ll all have epiphany’s at some point and realize what it really means to Eat to Live (hint: first, you must understand what it really means to live)
I have begun a new way of eating in the past couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to keep my enthusiasm tempered, but it is difficult to do so. I have more energy than I have had in a long time. I’m able to focus as well as I could in High School – I was one of the kids who could actually focus in high school. In 13 days since I started eating this way, I have lost 29 pounds of weight. It just seems to melt off.
I have been doing this by following a nutritarian style of eating. 
What does that mean? It means that I choose the foods I eat based on their nutrient density. I have not limited myself, and I am not following portion controls – those two guidelines are the tenets of *diets* which fail all the time.
You can read all about this lifestyle in a couple of books from Joel Fuhrman:

Fair Disclosure: I get a cut if you click on one of these links and buy something, though it won’t cost you any extra.

Now, I’m not a Doctor, but Dr. Fuhrman is. He’s been a family physician for 20 years. He has guided thousands of patients on this journey, and he has reviewed over 20,000 medical and nutritional papers while developing this program. He knows his stuff.

Eat for Health? I Just Want to Lose Weight

Don’t worry, you will absolutely lose weight. But consider that if you are old enough to read this blog, you are old enough to have the early stages of Atherosclerosis, which basically means you have heart disease, and will probably die younger than you need to. We’re seeing this medical issue in 8 year olds now, and nearly everyone develops it as they get older (if you’re 30, and are not a true health freak…I promise you have developed Atherosclerosis)
The good news is, you can reverse this disease. You can reverse heart disease, you can prevent cancer, you can reverse Type II Diabetes, you can fix your Rheumatoid Arthritis. These aren’t crackpot claims, they are researched, and have been proven to be part of the results of a nutritarian eating plan. 
Let’s take a quick poll:
If you could choose only one, which would it be?
  1. Start getting sick in your 50’s, with major medical issues in your 60’s. Die in your 70’s…maybe 80’s if you are lucky, and don’t die of heart disease or cancer first
  2. Feel vibrant at 50, strong at 60, healthy at 70, still strong at 80, and be able to do your own yard work and work on your house in your 90’s
Easy decision, right? Well guess what, the two scenarios above are based on the two diets below
  1. Scenario 1 (painful, early death) is tied to the Standard American Diet (SAD) and even the diet of many Mediteranean countries now
  2. Scenario 2 is related to a diet that is focused on whole, nutrient dense plant foods.

Healthy Food Tastes Like Cardboard Though!

It’s true. If you eat the “diet” foods out there, the stuff that is labeled as “healthy”, then it usually tastes like crap (but, ironically, is nearly as bad for you as the unhealthy stuff it is replacing)
The key is that you don’t buy food that has to tell you it’s healthy. You buy the actual healthy foods. I’m talking mostly fruits and vegetables. Some nuts and seeds. Legumes (that’s a fancy word for beans). 
Then, you put them together in delicious ways, and voila! You have a method for eating healthy, and putting food in your body that you body will thrive on. 
But won’t you get hungry? You’re not eating anything substantial, right?
Wrong. You’ll actually feel more full than you ever have, because you’ll be properly nourished. You’ll lose your toxic hunger, eventually, and you’ll only feel true hunger. Let me be clear that eating what one co-worker deemed “rabbit food” has made me feel more satisfied than I ever have felt before.

Let me repeat that. Eating whole, nutrient-dense foods has made me feel more full, and more satisfied, than ever before.

Please ignore the gimmicky, Ron Popeil style. The information is good

How can YOU Eat to Live?

Well, I don’t want to rush you into things. If you rush in without understanding the underlying basis behind these recommendations, then you’ll likely starve yourself, and end up with another failed “diet” on your hands.
I highly recommend you read one or both of the books above. They give a fantastic background on nutrition (even if you think you know nutrition, you will learn something, I promise) and Eat to Live is only like $6.
If you want the recommendations right now, then I’ll give them to you, but I’m telling you – read the book. You will be glad that you have the nutritional background. At the very least, start reading the book at the same time as you start the eating plan.

The Nutritarian lifestyle (aka the Eat to Live plan by Dr. Joel Fuhrman)

There are 3 categories of food that we look at. The foods that are Unlimited, those which are limited, and those that are off limits. After 6 weeks, you can start to introduce some of the off limits food (though everyone I have talked to who has done this has said the same thing: “I didn’t even like the foods I used to eat when I tried them again”)


  • All raw vegetables, with an emphasis on greens (goal: 1 lb. daily)
  • Cooked green vegetables and non-green nutrient dense vegetables (goal: 1 lb. daily)
    • The non-green nutrient vegetables are: Eggplant, Mushroom, Peppers, Onions, Tomato, and other non-starchy vegetables
  • Fresh Fruit (at least 4 daily)
  • Beans, Legumes, Bean Sprouts (minimum 1 cup daily total)


  • Cooked starchy vegetables OR whole grains – (MAX: 1 cup daily)
    • This includes: butternut or acorn squash, corn, sweet potato, brown rice, cooked carrots, whole grain breads, whole grain cereals (avoid the bread and cereals as much as possible)
  • Raw nuts and seeds (1 oz daily) or 2 ounces avocado
  • Ground Flaxseed (1 tablespoon daily – you should strive for this)
  • Soymilk, low-sugar preferred (MAX: 1 cup daily)
    • I try not to eat or drink anything soy, because I feel the jury is still out on the safety of soy in large doses

OFF LIMITS (That means NONE)

  • Dairy Products
  • Animal Products
  • Between Meal Snacks
  • Fruit Juice, dried fruits
  • Salt, Sugar
  • Oils
It sounds intense, doesn’t it? It sounds extreme, doesn’t it? Well then read the book – every single suggestion here is backed up by incredible amounts of medical research. I will not list it all here – that would be superfluous.
If you want to dive in, again, read the book as you go, or, ideally, read the book first. 
I will keep you posted along the way, will continue to give tips, and would love to hear from all of you on how you are doing!

I thought Fruit was Bad – It has Sugar

It’s true that fruit has sugar. It’s also true that Fruit has antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and likely hundreds of other compounds we have not even discovered yet which will protect you from cancer and other diseases. Fruit is an important part of your diet, so don’t let one macro nutrient keep you from eating the hundreds of other compounds that you body desperately needs.
While we’re at it, Olive Oil is not good for you either. All oil is detrimental to health. The study (notice the singular form, one single study) that showed olive oil reduced cholesterol was misguided. In follow-up studies, those with a diet high in Olive Oil did reduce cholesterol. The problem is that Cholesterol doesn’t cause Heart Disease – it’s a marker for heart disease, a measurement for heart disease. Those who ate the olive oil had reduced Cholesterol, but had the exact same risk of heart disease as those who ate the diet rich in saturated fat.
This is Dr. Caldwell Eccleston – one of the world leaders in preventing and reversing Heart Disease
He is in his 70’s. Wouldn’t you like to look that good in your 70’s?

100 Calories of Broccoli has more Protein than 100 Calories of Steak

I have heard so many people tell me “You won’t get enough Protein!”

Excuse my french, but bullshit. There have been countless studies that have shown that not only is a vegan diet rich in protein, but that animal protein in the quantities most people consume it is actually detrimental to your health in a big way. 

And don’t feed me the “but our ancestors ate meat” argument. You know what our ancestors ate? They ate mostly greens, fruits, and other vegetables, as well as nuts and seeds. Sometimes, they would get lucky and get some meat. They ate what they needed to survive, and our bodies are adapted to be adaptable, but they are not designed to be meat processing machines.
100 calories of Broccoli has more protein than 100 calories of steak.

The largest animals on the planet are vegetarian (Whales, horses, rhinoceroses, elephants, giraffes, cows…all vegetarian.)

I don’t think I can do it

Yeah, you can. Trust me. When you are properly nourished, you lose your cravings and addictions to the bad food. Your body was likely living in a state of malnourishment for many years. This eating plan will enable your body to heal itself, and will enable you to live!

When I was home for the weekend, I cooked a few meals based on this lifestyle. My parents ate it, and loved it. Here’s what my dad told me the next week.

“You know, I ate the vegetable heavy foods you made last weekend, and I felt really great. It’s not like I even stopped eating the other stuff, but I felt so different – in a good way. I wasn’t hungry after eating that veggie lasagna until the next day at lunch! 

A couple of days later, after eating the junk again, I could feel it slowing me down”

I’m hoping my parents will join me on this food journey – I’d certainly like to see them live vibrantly into their 90’s. So join us on this journey. Read the book – at the very least, you’ll learn something, and in the best case, you’ll change your life forever.

So why not give it a shot. What do you have to lose? 29 pounds in 12 days sounds pretty sweet, right? 

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