Saturday, October 25, 2008

What I Eat

By Diana Hsieh

As I've blogged before, I began eating a substantially different diet over the past few months. I thought some more details might be of interest.

Basically, I eat whatever I damn well please of real, whole foods. I particularly avoid three kinds of highly processed foods: grains, sugars, and modern vegetable oils. My eating is never really regular. Sometimes I eat heartily, sometimes I eat lightly, and sometimes I skip meals altogether. Sometimes I snack between meals, and sometimes I don't.

One of my major goals in eating is not to spike my blood sugar. So I have been running a series of tests on the foods that I typically eat with my blood glucose meter, sometimes with surprising results. I'll post those in a few weeks, when I have more data.

To give a better sense of my day-to-day diet, here's a list of what I eat and don't eat for various meals, plus some various comments below.


I don't eat pastries, muffins, pancakes, waffles, cold cereals, bread, meat substitutes, or sweetened coffee drinks.

I eat...

  • Eggs, prepared any way
  • Bacon, sausage, and canadian bacon (uncured only)
  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Yogurt, or better yet, greek yogurt
  • Nuts
  • Crustless quiche
My standard breakfast consists of about 1/2 cup of homemade raw milk greek yogurt, some fruit, and raw walnuts. It takes about five minutes to prepare, and it's delicious. For a heartier breakfast, I'll eat uncured meat, eggs, and vegetables. That takes about five to ten minutes to prepare.


I don't eat deli meats, sandwiches, pizza, pasta, or french fries.

I eat...
  • Leftovers
  • Vegetables
  • Uncured bacon or dry salami
  • Cheese
  • Fruit
  • Nuts
Leftovers are my favorite option for lunch. If I don't have those, I'll often make myself a "medley" lunch with dry salami, cheese, fruit, and nuts. It takes mere moments to throw the stuff on my plate, and it's very satisfying.


I don't eat chips, pretzels, cookies, crackers, granola bars, or candy bars.

I eat...
  • Yogurt, fruit, and nuts
  • Fruit, cheese, often with (uncured) dry salami
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Milk
  • Cultured buttermilk
  • Leftovers
Yes, I have been known to eat a spoonful or two of almond butter, straight from the jar, often with a glass of milk. it's very satisfying!


I don't eat pasta, bread, deep-fried anything, tofu, potatoes, or rice.

I eat...
  • Meat: Beef, Pork, Chicken, Lamb
  • Fish and Shellfish
  • Vegetables
My dinners consist of meat and vegetables. My favorite kind of dinner is grilled meat or fish, with grilled vegetables. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare and cook: 15 minutes of preparation while the grill heats up, then 15 minutes of cooking time. However, that will be hard to pull off in the cold and dark of winter, so I plan to make more hearty stews and roasts.


I don't eat most desserts.

I eat...
  • Fruit, often with cream
  • A square of dark chocolate
I don't feel the urge for dessert like I used to. The fruit and cream is very decadent, however.


I don't drink soda (diet or regular) or fruit juice.

I drink...
  • Water
  • Raw milk
  • Cultured buttermilk
  • Tea (with milk or cream but no sugar)
  • Wine (on occasion)
I probably would drink coffee on occasion, but I can't tolerate its bitter taste without a lot of sugar.

Some Random Notes
  • I recommend only uncured breakfast meats (i.e. bacon, sausage, and canadian bacon). They taste much better, and I don't wish to infuse my body with preservatives. (My mother developed preservative-induced migraines late in life, and I get stomach aches from the preservatives in cured meats.) Whole Foods carries uncured meats. Uncured canadian bacon -- at least from Applegate Farms -- is particularly fantastic. Paul and I have tried a few varieties of uncured bacon from Whole Foods; we most like their "365" brand in the square (rather than flat) package. Cooking bacon in the oven -- as per the recommendation of Cook's Illustrated -- is an easy way to make a large batch.

  • When needed, I save the fat from cooking uncured bacon, strain it, then store it in a small glass jar in the fridge. It adds great flavor in cooking canadian bacon, eggs, pork chops, frizzled cabbage, and more. I haven't tried lard yet, but that sounds promising.

  • On occasion, I eat a slice of sprouted grain toast slathered in raw butter. I keep a loaf in the freezer.

  • Vegetables are fabulous for breakfast and lunch. If you don't have leftovers, you can easily sautée some fresh ones in butter, coconut oil, or bacon fat in about ten minutes.

  • Beware the carb content of the fruits you eat. Berries are a good choice, but bananas, apples, and pears are full of sugar.

  • Crustless quiche is delicious. You can use your favorite recipe for quiche, just omit the crust: bake the filling in an 8x8 pan, then cut it into squares. You can make it, then eat it for breakfast for a few days. It can also be frozen. Mark has a good recipe for individual crustless quiches and other breakfast ideas for people on the go.

  • Beware rancid nuts. They're not just icky tasting; apparently the oils contain free radicals. So avoid the nuts from the baking section of your grocery store; they're always rancid. Paul and I have found that Whole Foods carries the best nuts. Their walnuts (my favorite) and cashews (Paul's favorite) are a few steps above what's available in our local grocery stores.

  • I only buy nut butters containing nothing but nuts and salt. Conventional peanut butter, for example, is loaded with sugar. Plus, the peanut isn't a nut but a legume. I love almond butter.

  • If I didn't make my own yogurt, I would buy only full-fat, plain yogurt. Dairy fat is delicious and nutritious, and flavored yogurts are way too sweet. But check what's in plain yogurt: you'll often find a slew of ingredients that you might not wish to eat. If I weren't making my own yogurt, my choice would be Mountain High, but that's not available everywhere.

  • Similarly, if you drink milk, I'd recommend only whole milk, preferably organic if not raw. Before I switched to raw milk, I found that whole organic milk tasted significantly better than conventional whole milk.

  • Greek yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt to remove much of the whey. It's thicker, richer, and less bitter than regular yogurt; it's also lower in carbohydrates. You can strain yogurt with cheesecloth and a strainer, but if you find that you really like greek yogurt, I'd recommend buying this handy strainer. It makes the job easy.

  • Beware restaurant and store-bought salad dressing. I've checked dozens of bottles in the store, and the first ingredient on every single one is one of the new-fangled vegetables oils high in polyunsaturated fats. Even the "olive oil and vinegar" consists mostly of canola oil. Instead, you can make your own salad dressings in just a few minutes at home: just mix olive oil with something acidic (like a vinegar or citrus juice) and maybe add some spices.

  • I'm highly skeptical of soy products, except when fermented.

  • I prefer my meats without antibiotics and hormones -- and preferably grass-fed. They taste significantly better than conventional meats, and they contain more good fats, from what I've read. (I recently made the best hamburgers ever with ground beef from Whole Foods. Yummy!) I recently bought a quarter of a cow from Colorado's Best Beef Company. The cow is grass-fed, not given any hormones or antibiotics, and humanely treated. (Yes, that last is important to me; I'll say why in another post.) I'll be saving money over buying beef at Whole Foods. Also, I prefer my fish wild rather than farm-raised -- for reasons of taste and health.

  • Beware of corn. It is a grain, and it's high in carbohydrates. Personally, I've found that even a single ear spikes my blood sugar well beyond my ordinary range. A medium-sized sweet potato was even more of a disaster for my blood sugar.

  • I'm not categorically opposed to rice and potatoes. I have no problem eating sushi on occasion, for example. And I have a few dishes that go really well with buttermilk mashed potatoes. However, they're not a part of my daily diet. I do plan to do some blood sugar testing with them to see what kind of effect they have on me in moderation.

  • I'm not fanatical about my diet -- in the sense that, if I feel like eating a potato chip, I'll eat a potato chip. However, I don't eat more than a bite or two of such off-diet foods, except on rare occasion. Eating more will make me feel icky, and I'm usually just wanting a taste. (However, if I had cravings for some unhealthy food, I would strictly avoid it.)
Happily, I feel absolutely no sense of deprivation with this diet. The good fats are plentiful -- and very, very satisfying. I've also lost ten pounds on it -- without much effort -- even while building significant muscle.

Life is good!

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