It’s a jungle out there. Learning what to eat and what to avoid in it, and how and when and why is what The Plant Paradox, by Dr Steven Gundry, is all about. In Part 1 of this 4-part blog series, I explain why I trust Dr Gundry as an authority on this topic and summarize his message. In Part 2, I summarized the 7 disturbing changes in the past 50 years which have exacerbated the need to take action in changing our diets.
There are two keys to Dr Gundry’s program: the first is to avoid what is bad for your body, primarily lectins, the plant proteins which cause trouble for many people and of which as a rule, we in the modern Western world tend to eat way too many. Second is to feed the good bacteria, the troops in our gut that work for us, what is good for them so they can succeed in the war for our health.
Dr Gundry’s plan begins with Phase 1, a 3-day detox to clear the gut and prep it for what is to come next. Phase 2 is his 6-week eating program, which is really a “forever” eating program, with the exception that, you may want to test your body’s tolerance for adding back in certain other foods if prepared properly, aka Phase 3.
But before that, he sets forth his 4 golden rules of eating,and my summary of the program would not be complete without noting them.
THE 4 GOLDEN RULES OF EATING
- What you stop eating has far more impact on your health than what you start eating. In essence, the Just Say No foods, which I have not yet shared, are key.
- Pay attention to the care and feeding of your gut bugs, and they will handle the care and feeding of you. After all you are their home.
- Fruit might as well be candy. Dr Gundry says you may as well eat a bowl of Skittles as a bowl of mango. Wait…really? This rule is currently shaking up my household.
- You are what the thing you are eating ate. Makes total sense.
And now, without further adieu, here are the Yes Please foods, followed by a bit of description.
THE YES PLEASE FOOD LIST
Oils: Algae oil, Olive oil, Coconut oil, Macadamia oil, MCT oil, Avocado oil, Perilla oil, Walnut oil, Red palm oil, Rice bran oil, Sasame oil, Flavored cod liver oil.
Sweeteners: Stevia, Inulin, Yacon, Monk Fruit, Luo han guo, Erythritol, Xylitol
Nuts and Seeds (1/2 c per day): Macadamia nuts, Walnuts, Pistachios, Pecans, Coconut (not coconut ater), Coconut Milk, Hazelnuts, Chestnuts, Brazil nuts, Pine nuts, Flaxseeds, Hemp seeds, Hemp protein powder, Psyllium
Olives: All (Yea!)
Dark Chocolate (1 oz / day): 72% or greater (1 oz per day)- I love dark chocolate, and will try to be grateful it is included in the Yes Please list rather than focus on the daily quantity limit.
Vinegars: All (without added sugar)
Herbs and seasonings: All except chili pepper flakes, miso
Flours: Coconut, Almond, Hazelnut, Sesame (and seeds), Chestnut, Cassava, Green banana, Sweet potato, Tiger nut, Grape seed, Arrowroot
Dairy Products (1 oz cheese or 4 oz yogurt / day): Real parmesan (Parmesiano-Reggiano), French / Italian butter, Buffalo butter, Ghee, Goat yogurt (plain), Goat milk as creamer, Goat cheese, Sheep cheese and yogurt (plain), Coconut yogurt, French / Italian cheese, Switzerland cheese, Buffalo mozzarella (Italy), Whey protein powder, Casein A-2 milk (as creamer only), Organic heavy cream, Organic sour cream, Organic cream cheese.
Wine or Spirits (6 oz./day): red (Yea!)
Spirits (1 oz./day)
Fish (any wild-caught – 4 oz./ day): Whitefish, Freshwater bass, Alaskan halibut, Hawaiian fish, Shrimp, Crab, Lobster, Scallops, Calamari /Squid, Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Sardines, Anchovies.
Fruits (limit all but avocado): Blueberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, Cherries, Crispy pears (Anjou, Bosc, Comice), Pomegranates, Kiwis, Apples, Citrus (no juices), Nectarines, Peaches, Plums, Apricots, Figs, Dates.
Vegetables: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Bok choy, Napa cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, Arugula, Watercress, Collards, Kohlrabi, Kale, Green and red cabbage, Radicchio, Raw sauerkraut, Kimchi, Nopales cactus, Celery, Onions Leeks, Chives, Scallions, Leeks, Carrots (raw), Carrot greens, Artichokes, Beets Radishes, Daikon Radish, Jerusalem artichokes/sunchokes, Hearts of palm, Cilantro, Okra, Asparagus, Garlic, Mushrooms, Romaine, Red and green leaf lettuce, Mesclun, Spinach, endive, dandelion greens, Butter lettuce, Fennel, Escarole, Mustard greens, Mizuna, parsley, Basil, Mint, Purslane, Perilla, Algae, Seaweed, Sea Veggies.
Resistant Starches: Green plaintans, Green bananas, Baobab fruit, Cassava, Sweet potatoes or yams, Rutabaga, Parsnips, Yucca, Celery root (celeriac), Glucomannan (kojac root), Persimmon, Jicama, Taro root, Turnips, Tiger nuts, Green mango, Millet, Sorghum, Green papaya.
Pastured Poultry (not free-range – 4 oz / day): Chicken, Turkey, Ostrich, Pastured or Omega-3 eggs (up to 4 daily), Duck, Goose, Pheasant, Grouse, Dove, Quail.
Meat (grass-fed and grass-finished – 4 oz /day): Bospn Wild game, Venison, Boar, Elk, Pork (humanely raised), Lamb, Beef, Prosciutto
Commercial Resistant Starches, Energy bars, Frozen desserts, Substitute noodles, and Plant-based “Meats”: I have left out the brand specific items he mentions since they are difficult to source here in Bangkok, and also because they will change quickly. I think it’s noteworthy though that there are some convenience and alternative foods included in this list. Reading labels goes a long ways.
So, there it is – what we should eat. In his book, Dr Gundry, goes into detail to explain why we need to eat these foods and avoid others. In my last and final post on this book, I will set out the Just Say No foods.
IMMEDIATE CHANGES I MADE BASED ON THIS LIST
I was so impressed with the information and lessons in this book that I began dabbling with the principles immediately.
It was easy to give some of these foods a higher priority than others while shopping, cooking and eating. For example, I now regularly consume okra and sweet potatoes, which prior to reading this book never interested me much. Both grow well in Thailand (and the Foodland grocery store near me sells steamed Japanese sweet potatoes in handy 2-potato packages, so that’s a no-brainer). Dr Gundry’s suggestion to roast okra “chips” in the oven was new to me, and something my household, 16-year-old included, took to immediately. Like other roasted veggies, okra is delicious prepared this way. And roasting eliminates the slime factor.
Switch to French butter for health reasons? Uhm, twist my arm. Yes Please, indeed. This is another item easy to find in grocery stores in Bangkok. I also found avocado oil fairy easily, for higher heat cooking when I do not want to impart in the dish the distinctive flavor of coconut oil.
Noted the green mango and green papaya – star ingredients in two of my favorite Thai salads, yum mao muang and som tom, are on the list. I’m looking forward to experimenting with Plant Paradox variations of each in the future. Green bananas are ubiquitous in this country as well, but I’m clueless as to how to cook with them (apparently they work in smoothies).
It’s funny – we have so many choices in what to eat these days. My feeling is that in some ways, a set of food rules as is presented in this book is refreshing. There still seems to be a lot of variety in the Yes Please list, and having such a list makes choosing easier by reducing decision fatigue. I will always demand that my food taste good. But if two equally tempting dishes are on offer, and only one is on the Yes Please list, I’m pretty sure I’ll choose that one most every time.
Stay tuned for the “Just Say No” list, and more musings.