dressed up like a lady: What I Eat

Jun 7, 2013

What I Eat

Okay so last week, I posted this on Instagram:

"Unabashed mirror ab selfie!!! I may not work out, but I work HARD to make and eat a kickass plant based diet. So I can still be proud, right?"

And the ensuing conversation on Facebook reminded me that I've been promising to post about my diet for MONTHS now. So I guess it's time to accept that there will never be a perfect time for it, when I'll have the opportunity to photograph all my meals looking super awesome in kickass light, and when I'll magically find myself at my most articulate. So why don't I just post about it right now and get it over with.

Let me first just say this though: This is what I eat. I do counsel clients as a nutritionist, but that involves looking into an individual person's diet and lifestyle, and seeing what gradual changes and replacements will make the most sense for that person to meet their own needs and goals. So don't go thinking that by posting this, I'm telling you what you should do. I'm telling you what I do. Except I do like to explain things emphatically, so if it sounds like I am telling you what to do...well, I guess it's on you to suss out whether you're up to it.

This is going to be a series of a least a couple of posts, so I can explain some of the science behind my choices. But for starters, I'll tell you what I do eat in a typical day, what I don't eat at all, and what I eat a little bit of sometimes.

1) I eat a lot of greens. When you feel hungry, that's partly your body telling you that it needs energy. But it's also your body telling you that it needs nutrients, and the vitamins and minerals that the average Western eater is in the most hardcore need of come in their most bioavailable forms in green leaves like chard, kale, spinach, collards, dark lettuce, and arugula. Say whatever you want about the nutritional content on the back of a box of anything (and I'll talk about this more in a later post), but remember (especially in the US) that the nutrients listed on a package are based on what vitamins or minerals the food tests for in the lab, and tells you nothing about what the human body is actually capable of absorbing from that particular food. There's a reason that osteoporosis is highest in countries that consume the most dairy. There's a lot of calcium in dairy, but it's too difficult for the body to disassemble and reassemble it from milk on a molecular level, so you never actually absorb most of it. You poop it out. Greens, as long as they're chopped finely or chewed well, are the best and easiest to digest form of vitamins and minerals you can get.

So when it comes to dinner time, we start with a big green-centric salad (MC and I like to do it family style), or a green smoothie. Once we've given our bodies a strong dose of the minerals and b-vitamins they're probably asking for, we can follow our hunger knowing our bodies aren't just craving nutrients. It's also worth noting that with the foods I eat now, I never, ever stop myself from eating in order to keep calories down or whatever. I eat until I'm satisfied and I don't stop until I am. I can trust my body's responses because I'm not confusing it with the crap in processed foods designed to make it want, want, want all the time.

Additionally: nutrients, especially minerals, like sulfur, copper, and silicon (to name a few) make you beautiful. Again, I'll get more into the scientific specifics in the next post, but the nutrients your body needs to increase your cellular turnover and give you glowing skin can be found in easy-to-assimilate abundance in dark greens, as well as celery, cucumber (as long as you leave the skin on. DON'T PEEL IT, YOU'RE NOT A BABY), radishes, and tons of other yummy salad ingredients. 

2) I eat a lot of sprouted grain toast with raw almond butter that I salt myself, virgin coconut oil, and a little raw honey or jam. Hmm, I guess I'm listing these foods out of order -- because this is what I usually eat for breakfast. I guess I'm loosely numbering these in order of importance. Anyway, refining a grain into flour basically means taking a plant that was once high in lots of nutrients, and turning it into what your body sees as table sugar. That's it. It proportionately balloons your body's glycemic response, which makes you feel shitty, and can contribute to making you fat. AWESOME, THANKS BAKERY. For real though, your body didn't evolve to eat things that were ground into dust. You think ancient peoples were grinding their grains down that finely? Hell no! Refining grain into flour is taking something that could  be good for you and making into something nutritionally mediocre, not to mention that refined carbs make you bloat. HA! Go buy some Ezekiel sprouted grain bread. They take those wheat grains and instead of pulverizing then irradiating them (that's how flour is made), they use the process most of human history used to make grains more digestible: sprouting. They then refine those sprouted grains coarsely, not enough to make it into flour, just enough to make it, you know, delicious. And it is! My parents' Brownberry whole wheat bread tastes like chewing gum to me now. Ezekiel also has 5 mg of protein per slice.

Okay so next is the almond butter. I don't actually have to explain to you guys why almonds are good for you, do I? Well suffice it to say, they're high in minerals and the fats in them are GOOD for you. Their fatty acid chains are of a short enough length that your body can easily break them down and reassemble them, which means that unlike lots of other fats (Read: animal fats, highly refined oils, etc), your body is easily able to burn it as fuel, instead of store it in your gut (or ass). They're also high in similarly bioavailable protein. This shit is not true for peanuts. Peanuts are low in vitamins and minerals, the fat in them is bullshit for your butt and bad for your heart, and they're high in aflatoxins, a mold that causes effing shock if you're allergic, but guess what? Even if you're not allergic, it still causes general internal inflammation. So eff that noise. I get the raw kind because the roasted kind has a weird texture, and also, that much heat depletes the nutrients in anything.

Anyway, coconut oil is also made up of even shorter chain fatty acids, so it's even easier for your body to burn as energy, but it also contains lauric acid, which supports your thyroid -- which supports your metabolism. Ding ding! 

Local, raw honey from some folks we know with a farm is awesome for you, though in small doses, because it's highly glycemic (i.e., can spike your blood sugar if you don't eat it in little bits, with fat or protein). It's full of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that help you break down and absorb nutrients. 

I used to count calories. I don't anymore, but I still know how, and my breakfast is around 700 calories. But we often eat just a piece of fruit first thing in the morning, then eat this insanity toast at more of a "brunch" time.

3) I eat a lot of homemade veggie burgers and a lot of hummus. Sometimes together. Store bought veggie burgers are bullshit. All the processed ingredients in there -- the soy protein isolate, the sodium and MSG, they all make you retain water, while conveniently never quite feeling satisfied, because they were made in a lab to trick your brain into going "UHHH TASTE GOOD" without providing your body what it actually wants from a meal, let alone feeling full. So I make my own veggie burgers every couple of weeks and freeze them. They're made from all whole ingredients: a grain of some kind, a nut of some kind, a bean of some kind, some sweet potatoes, some spices, and all bound with flax meal. I usually use walnuts because they're so high in Omega 6's, and all of these ingredients are jam packed full of readily-digestible nutrients and protein. I bake them a little before I freeze them, then when I want to eat one, I just stick it in the toaster oven, but you could probably fry them or something if you wanted.

I'm not going to explain hummus though. You know about hummus.

4) I eat a lot of avocados. I usually put one on our salad, which means I eat about a half of one per day. I have already taken so much space here repeating the phrases "short chain fatty acid" and "high in nutrients," but the idea, as always, is that if you give your body a form of food (even fat) that it can easily turn into fuel, AND that gives you vitamins and minerals and nutritional fats (hooray Omegas) at the same time, you'll win.

5) I use high quality Celtic sea salt. The kind that comes in a jar and feels a little moist, like brown sugar. Sodium is a crazy thing -- refine the minerals out of it and it still tastes like salt, but it makes you piss out all your body's stores of vitamins and minerals and tells your body to retain water because holy shit, we seem to be peeing a lot. Get the kind that's not refined like that, and you not only need less because the flavor is higher quality, but it doesn't deplete your mineral stores, or make you puffy. This is helpful, in the pursuit of prettiness.

6) I don't eat soy. At least not on any kind of daily basis. It's WAY too high in estrogen. I used to know all these chicks in college who did a ton of yoga and ate a ton of tofu. I always quietly wondered why they were so relatively small in dress size, but retained a subcutaneous layer of fat that made them all generally squishy. I later learned, in my nutritional educational adventures, that this was probably because the average woman in America is pretty over estrogenized, with all the extra hormones in meat and dairy products, plus the prevalence of soy -- which is just staggeringly, insanely high in phytoestrogens. Incidentally, the hormones in meat, dairy and soy are also linked to girls getting their periods earlier and earlier. Anyway, I cut out the soy in my diet and no lie, a layer of fat right under my skin disappeared, and I looked more toned within a few months despite not ever working out. Which isn't to applaud me for being lazy and not working out, but to point out that this shit is for real. And anyway, it's not that hard to stay away from soy these days.  I use Almond Breeze or So Delicious Coconut Milk, and we've already established that I'm not buying bullshit veggie burgers.

7) I don't eat highly refined sugar or flour, but I do make my own treats. I make them with whole wheat flour (King Arthur makes a "white whole wheat" from a strain of wheat that has a more neutral flavor -- it's awesome), coconut oil or occasionally Earth Balance, and sweetened with either Stevia or Truvia, which is a blend of Stevia extract and ethyratol. Sugar and white flour are basically the same thing to your body, and there is absolutely nothing about human biology that prepares it for processing this stuff. Humans did not evolve to account for recreational, let alone daily eating that violently maximizes and then depletes the glucose levels in your blood. It's a deeply, intensely harmful process for your organs, and I'm not hyperbolically fucking around when I say that. This spike and crash sends a confused chemical message to your brain that says "EAT MORE!," leading to a legit addiction cycle, and has extremely taxing effects on your immune system, eyes, kidneys, nerves, muscles, and more.  This process also breaks down collagen. Sorry, face.

While you can't really look to even whole wheat flour for real nutrition (see no. 2 above), whole wheat flour does have enough whole grain matter still present to offer far more fiber and protein than white flour, so it doesn't spike and then plummet your glucose response -- your body absorbs it over a sustained period. And obviously, Stevia and/or Truvia don't provoke such a glucose response either (or contain empty calories, as long as we're talking about it). So by the end of the day, when I've already eaten everything you've read above, and I've given my body all the vitamins, minerals, protein, and good fat that it wants, I can make some cookies or muffins or cake using this more healthful approach, and my body doesn't get hooked into a freaky cycle of never feeling satisfied, wanting to eat treats forever. What a shitty way to live. I can't bring myself to participate in that, let alone enroll MC or Gbear in that fucked process. Making sweets this way, I can have a couple and happily stop eating only when I feel like it, not endlessly wishing for more candies and sweets all the time.

However, I should mention that I don't see sugar as cyanide -- if you eat a truly tiny amount of it, it won't matter. I roll certain cookies in demerara sugar, I put 1/4 cup of molasses in the batter for some cookies, and the chocolate chips I use do contain cane juice. But the amounts of these that I use even in these recipes come out to 1 mg or less of sugar per serving, which is little enough for the body to handle without the nasty effects above coming into play. Also: if I've had a special request and it's a special occasion, like, couple-times-a-year style, I go balls to the walls and use real sugar to make frosting or something -- though I do make plenty of sugar free frostings. But once or twice a year, you could probably eat chunk of a Buick ground onto your cereal and live to tell the tale.  

Okay, that's it for now. Feel free to hit me with any questions, I'll get digging on the next post in this series, which will include the ingredients for our salad dressing, plus lots more science and swearing.

Have a kickass weekend!  


  1. THANK YOU!!!! I am going to be re-reading this many times.

  2. YES. Thank you so much for this. Linking it over on my own blog, because damn this is a lot to think about and I want others to think about it, too!

  3. What kind of dressing do you put on your dinner salads?

    1. We make our own out of lemon juice, ACV, miso paste, nutritional yeast, raw honey, raw garlic, a shallot, and some dulse flakes. But I'll list all that out in recipe format with pictures in my next food post. :)

  4. Thank you for starting this series, Cammila. I appreciate the matter-of-fact language and the sound science joining forces to explain such an important topic. Lots to think about!

  5. For the record, all the food Cammila mentions here taste great! Her baked goods especially taste delicious and never have that flavorless, cardboard quality many "healthy" sweets do.

  6. Thank you! I've been waiting so long for this post :) Hope to hear more and more about your diet as your knowledge of nutrition is impressive ^^

  7. You are amazing & I want the recipe to your homemade veggie burgers!! PS: the party you through for Gbear was too cute :)

    1. Thanks for the sweetness and positivity!! I will totally provide a recipe for my veggie burgers in the next post. :)

  8. thank you for the post. you have actually explained some parts of my diet I didn't know that much about.
    are you a nutritionist, or have I understood it wrong?

    1. This might be a little bit confusing, but in America, there is no governing body or professional association that provides official credentials to you as a nutritionist. Literally any institution (including one you make up yourself, in your basement), can claim to provide a "Nutritionist Certification," but there are no rules as to what that must entail -- you could teach fairy tales at your "Nutritionist Certification" training and there would be no law stopping you from granting a "Nutritionist Certification" at the end. Similarly, there is no governing body that decides what credentials you need to call yourself a nutritionist, or to practice as one professionally.

      So it's mostly is a matter of what you personally seek to learn, understand, and can provide to people -- and there are truly great programs out there. I took all my classes from one such program, where they grant you your "certification" at the end of your studies -- but I never actually got my certificate, because I used the payment for it (you pay the first half before you begin classes, and the second half at the end, in exchange for the degree), to put down money for our house. I'd taken the money out of savings to use for my second payment, but when our house popped back onto the market, I decided the house was a better use of our funds. So now, I have a hard time motivating myself to save up that money again and spend it to get a piece of paper, when that paper isn't very meaningful in this field.

      So I do practice as a nutritionist, but nobody in the US can claim that being a nutritionist implies that they had to attend specific classes, like with a medical degree. There are more rigorous standards regarding the title of Dietitian -- which is why I'm thinking of enrolling in a dietetics program next. :)

  9. You've inspired me to make my own veggie burgers (I usually eat the Dr. Praeger ones from Trader Joe's). Have you posted your veg burger recipe on this blog?

    Though, I'm going to have to part ways with you when it comes to peanut butter... perhaps I'll just add almond butter to the mix, without giving up my love for delicious peanuts :)

    1. That's awesome! I have not yet posted the recipe for the veggie burgers -- I'll put it in the next food post, I promise! I have had the Dr. Praeger ones, and there's one other brand I've seen at Whole Foods that uses whole ingredients. They're definitely a BIG step up from Boca or whatever, but I'm so put off by how overpriced they are. I'm not usually cheap (far from it), but it just drives me crazy that they sell a 4 pack of those for like 7 bucks, when making them, at home would come out to something like 25 cents a burger. :)

  10. Thank you for this post! Is it possible to make a list of the "good" stuff? It is easier to make the right choice if you can remember the stuff..

    How can you make veggieburgers without nuts? My boyfriend is allergic to nuts..
    He is a "real" man - meat and bacon are the best.. I would love to introduce him to more green food/healthy food but need inspiration to change his mind and inspiration to make yummi food!!

    Im from Denmark where we eat rye-bread/schwarz bread in german. What do you think about that nutrition wise?

    /Thit from Denmark who loves your blog :)

    1. Hi Thit! Thank you SO much for reading -- I'm glad that anybody is interested in hearing me babble about food. I will try to work on a basic shopping list for my next post. And yes, I believe you can easily make these burgers without nuts! The nuts are not what I would call a vital ingredient in them, and I'd bet if I think about it, I could come up with some possible substitutes. I will specifically talk about that in the next post. :)

  11. "This process also breaks down collagen. Sorry face." I laughed so hard. I've been waiting for this forever! This post has put my shit into high gear, plus I literally have been making my own veggie burgers for about a month now, so I hope you share your recipes :)

  12. Wow! This is exciting, I eat a plant based diet (plus occasional meat) and am always looking for new inspiration to make better choices! When I look at the average american diet, I thank my Mom for training my taste buds early to love and appreciate whole natural fruits and vegetables, now I am teaching her about green smoothies and the beauty of kale and looking beyond the traditional vegetables.

    PS, did you read this NYTImes article? http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/19/magazine/say-hello-to-the-100-trillion-bacteria-that-make-up-your-microbiome.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    SO SO fascinating, science and microbs FOR THE WIN!


    1. BAM! I haven't seen that article but I'm familiar with the subject matter. For realz, there's so much chlorine in our water (and uh, possible traces of antibiotics), the good bacteria in your gut totally need a boost these days. And seriously, science girls for the win! Your mom is clearly the shit. Though I could have determined that based on your awesomeness already.

  13. Cammila, this post was amazing! I have incorporated many of your suggestions into my diet and while I haven't lost any weight, I definitely feel much better. Cutting out soy has been harder than I thought -- in part, because given my job and my commute, I don't have time to pack a lunch and so I eat whatever is in the work cafeteria... I'm hoping to start making homemade veggie burgers and hummus again (I used to do this) and I look forward to your recipe. (Mine aren't vegan, though.) I should also mention that I really appreciate you taking the time to share your research, which must have been significant. It's nice to read this advice from someone who has actually found ways to incorporate their research into a very reasonable diet. In your next post, could you also weigh in on flax, hemp, chia and other various superfoods we hear about? Thanks!


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