Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Nutritarian Diet

January 31, 2017

This past Saturday I went to hear Dr. Joel Fuhrman speak.  Have you heard of him?  He is a medical doctor who advocates what he termed a Nutritarian Diet, which is a diet rich in micronutrients. (Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.)

For those of you have been following my blog for some time, you know that I am obsessed with vegetables and getting enough into our diets – and that is the Nutritarian way as well – vegetables should be the largest amount of food you eat and sugars and processed foods should be the least.  But that is a no brainer, right?  MOST diets advocate this.

Nutritarian Diet pyramid of nutrition:

As you can see above, the majority of the calories from your diet needs to come from vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, seeds, nuts and avocados.

And as you can also see, the food you should rarely be eating is commercially raised meats, sweets, cheese and processed food. And less than 10% of calories should come from eggs, oil, fish, wild or naturally raised animal products, and dairy.  THIS is where the controversy usually comes in – whether or not meat and dairy are OK to eat for good health.

Dr. Fuhrman doesn’t eliminate meat or dairy completely.  During his talk he said that ideally it is best not to consume meat more than 3 times per week, although interestingly, when I got my book signed by him, I asked him if he ate meat and he said very little.  When I asked what he meant by ‘very little’, he responded with about twice per month. So although 3 times per week of meat is PERMITTED, the Dr. himself does NOT eat that much.  He didn’t specify anything about how much cheese is acceptable, but according to his food pyramid, it is very little.

I love vegetables and fruit and all of the healthy stuff and eat a lot of it.  However, I also love meat and cheese.  If they were deemed health foods I would have them every day.  Twice a day! Heck – every meal!!

But unfortunately they aren’t.  However I couldn’t be happier that the Nutritarian Diet allows for some type of meat up to 3 times per week.  (Meat includes fish and poultry.)  You actually need a little animal protein if you don’t want to be deficient in vitamin B12, but you really don’t need a lot.  Alternatively, he supports getting plant based protein instead.

I think for many of us, eating meat only 3 times per week per his recommendation is a big challenge and I get it.  Meat is delicious!  And it’s also easier to center a meal around meat. Cooking vegetarian (or vegan) meals when you are used to cooking meals centered around meat takes a lot more thought and imagination.

In my heart of hearts I believe that a plant based diet is ideal.  But being that I LOVE cheese and meat, I have always been looking for that magic number of how many times one should eat them per week.

And after hearing Dr. Fuhrman speak, I’ve decided to go the Nutritarian way and strive to only have meat (and cheese) 3 times per week.

That’s my New Year’s resolution, 30 days late.

It shouldn’t be too hard because I don’t eat meat on a daily basis, but I can’t say the same for cheese.  And my kids also eat a lot more meat and cheese than I do, so I am also going to strive to serve them less.

I currently follow a certain eating protocol that I know will help:  I eat vegan until dinner time every day.  I got this idea from a book I read called Eat Vegan Before 6:00 and I think it’s brilliant.   So basically I am a vegan for breakfast, lunch, and snacks and am NOT a vegan for dinner (most of the time).

I feel like this is the best way (for me) to have my meat and cheese and eat it too!! (Pun completely intended.)

So for breakfast I mostly have green smoothies and use almond milk instead of regular milk. Sometimes I have oatmeal with fresh berries.

For lunch I either have either a big salad, veggie burger, leftover vegetarian dinner from the night before, sweet potato with pecans, or I will break out my Veggetti and heat up some zucchini spaghetti and add one of a variety of sauces and plant based proteins to it (edamame, tofu, beans, nuts).

And then for dinner it’s up to me!  I could decide to continue on the vegan path or enjoy some meat or cheese.

So my resolution is to STAY vegan before 6 but to only have meat or cheese three times per week at dinner.   I am going to have my cheese nights differ from my meat nights which means 6 nights per week I can enjoy one or the other and really have something to look forward to.   And the 7th night all I need to do is make a homemade easy, delicious, peanut butter Thai sauce and have it with roasted vegetables over quinoa or brown rice and I’m happy.

Here is my dinner menu for this week:

Sunday  – cheese night
  • Me & Hubby – tomato, mozzarella, & pesto sandwich
  • Kids – rice & beans, homemade cheese quesadillas on whole wheat tortilla, raw veggies cut up (carrots, cucumbers, peppers)
Monday – 100% vegan
  • Me & Hubby – brown rice or quinoa, roasted veggies, homemade peanut butter Thai sauce
  • Kids – brown rice, roasted veggies, edamame, baked sweet potato
Tuesday – 90% vegan*
  • Whole family – mushroom burgers topped with tomato and avocado,  broccoli  (*I say 90% vegan because the entire recipe which makes 6 to 7 burgers only has 1/2 cup of cheese and 1 egg so the amount in each burger is minimal.)
Wednesday – meat and cheese night
  • Me:  I go out to eat with my mom most Wednesdays and I usually make it a fish night and sometimes cheese will make it’s way into the meal in some way, shape or form as well.
  • Hubby & Kids:  This is their night to be with my dad and order in from Titos Burritos, this amazing Mexican joint in town, and the usual order is chicken burritos with cheese.
Thursday – meat night
  • Me & Hubby – meat sauce (made with ground turkey) with zucchini spaghetti, roasted cauliflower
  • Kids – meat sauce, whole wheat pasta, and roasted cauliflower
Friday – meat night
  • Whole family – We eat with my parents most Fridays and have chicken or meat.
Saturday  – cheese night
  • Me & Hubs:  We are going out so I will try not to have meat since I already had it three times but will allow myself cheese.
  • Kids – pizza and raw veggies cut up

And there you have it.  Vegan before 6:00 every day, meat 3 times for dinner, and cheese 3 times with dinner.

The Nutritarian Diet.  I’m diggin’ it.

Me & Dr. Joel Fuhrman


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