Eat More, Not Less

Monday May 4 | BY |
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Harvest or Thanksgiving cornucopia filled with vegetables on a white background

In the realm of diets, usually the advice is in the form of a “do not eat” list. A raw food diet forbids cooked foods. A Paleo diet may forbid grains. A vegan diet, of course, forbids animal products. It’s easy to follow a diet of restrictions.

With time, I’m finding that diets based on restrictions are actually much more difficult to follow because it’s not clear what you should eat. It’s not clear what recipes you can make, what the quantities are, and more importantly how to become satisfied on this diet.

Even after I stopped being 100% raw foodist, I still clung to the raw food ideal.

I would eat a mostly raw diet but become overwhelmed with incredible cravings; those cravings would lead me to consume foods that may appear innocuous but would make me feel sick, like hummus with bread or potatoes with cheese.

When you go by a “do not eat” list, you’re obsessed with what you shouldn’t eat.

The alternative to this is to create a minimum quantities list. The two things can go together. The minimum quantities list is a list of foods you should eat a minimum of every day.

I created such a list for my mom after she fell back to her old habits. After having lost an incredible amount of weight over the last few years she regained a lot of it back.

It’s a fact that when you fill your stomach with nutrient-dense foods you feel more satisfied and less hungry (and less likely to eat the other stuff). That’s the rationale behind the minimum quantities list.

A study found that when participants ate an entire orange before a meal, they’d consume fewer calories in the meal; approximately what was contained in the orange. If they consumed orange juice instead of an actual orange, they’d consume the calories from the orange juice and eat the entire calories worth of the meal. The same thing has been found with salads and soups.

Foods that fill us with fiber and nutrients make us less hungry and less likely to eat. Also, certain foods are extremely important for health and we don’t eat enough of them, like greens. Why are our green smoothies popular? Because people don’t eat enough greens in general, so we had to invent other ways to consume our greens because people are just not eating them.

What would be a good minimum quantities list? Let me suggest one for you:

  1. Cooked greens, minimum quantity: one bunch a day or 300g raw. Take an entire bunch of spinach, charred, kale or floret of broccoli. This is what Dr. Furman recommends his patients eat every day, and the benefits are tremendous. Cooked greens are probably the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. They contain more nutrients per calorie than any other food. The research done by Dr. Esselstyne shows that eating greens can put the brakes on heart disease in just a few weeks. It rejuvenates the endothelial cells that are the lining to your blood vessels.
  2. Fruit, minimum quantity: three pieces. Some people put a cap on fruit because it tends to lead to elevated triglyceride levels because of the sugar content and can make people gain weight. As the study I mentioned previously proved, fruit curbs hunger if it’s eaten before a meal because of the fiber, natural sugar and vitamins it contains. Make it a habit to eat fruit before a meal and not after, and it will help you eat less during the meal itself.
  3. Chia, hemp, flax seeds, minimum quantity: one or two ground tablespoons a day. This is to get your omega 3s for the day.
  4. Beans, minimum quantity: one cup a day, cooked. Beans are extremely important because they’re rich in fiber. Dr. Fuhrman calls them a super food for that reason. They’re packed with nutrients and they’re one of the best foods you can eat to keep your blood sugar stable.
  5. Raw vegetables or salads, minimum quantity: one large salad per day. Eating a salad takes time and it’s not very calorie-dense, but it can help make us full as long as we don’t drench it in dressing. I like to eat a salad composed of the following ingredients: half to an entire head of lettuce, tomatoes and one or two other vegetables, half an avocado, and a few cubes of tofu that have been previously soaked in a little soy sauce, nutritional yeast and a little balsamic vinegar. This is a very simple, low fat salad dressing. I often top it off with beans.
  6. A large green smoothie. This is where you can throw in your flax seeds and whatnot, and it will also constitute a fruit meal. It’s a meal replacement. We have lots of green smoothie recipes on the website. For more information on the green smoothie program, please check out

I said before that your health is determined by what you remove from your diet rather than just what you add, but I’m starting to change my mind here because practically speaking, there’s no way someone can eat all of the foods in the amounts I recommended without removing a lot from their existing diet.

This is a positive way to start and then as you want to keep making improvements, you can take out some of the other stuff in your diet.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.


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  1. Susanne says:

    Thank you, this is inspiring and helps us focus on what we need to focus on! Staying abundantly fed.

  2. Julia says:

    By cooking our greens, are we destroying most of the enzymes, vitamins and micro nutrients in them?

  3. Larkspur says:

    It’s 18. 05 here in UK. Interestingly, this has mainly been my meal input for today. Always start the day with a large salad – and as I am self employed, can arrange my own work schedule – as it does take some munching through in the mornings.

    Re your post Julia, I very lightly cook vegetables if not eating raw, and save the liquid for soup. Also cooking unlocks the full nutrient content in carrots and tomatoes I believe.

  4. Katie says:

    Combined with good exercise I think the Paleo diet is great and I recommend it to anyone. I am seeing and feeling the benefits of the diet for a long time now. Not only have I lost weight, but I feel much more energised, and much better in myself. I think the reason is that whilst the paleo diet may be a diet, I do actually eat much much varied food than I did previously. All I’ve done is taken out the stodge that my body finds hard to digest, and added more types of fruit, veg, and indeed meat.

    I’ve now actually taken an interest in cooking paleo meals, which I can guarentee is 100% better than throwing some ready meals in the oven like I used to.

    I’m just reviewed a cookbook that shows exactly this:

  5. Carol says:

    Chard, not charred. I think charring the greens would not be a good idea. 😉

  6. This article partly or wholly is the food I eat. I am not surprise I am now one year short to be an octogenarian. Nice article and good suggestions for what food intake is preferable for good health. Thanks.

  7. I love a diet that tells me what I can eat, rather than all the things I can’t because otherwise I feel as if I am missing out on something. I am always a little wary of eating a lot of fruit though because it is full of sugar, natural or not, so I tend to be more of a veggies snacker.

  8. Sophie says:

    Everyone has a different metabolism, constitution and a more or less strong digestive system, so there is no one diet for all. Most of us, definitely do not eat enough raw (especially vegetables), however, if you do not have a strong “digestive fire”, raw is very difficult to digest….
    Everything in moderation and in balance, the least processed food, and good eating habits for optimal digestion (not eating on the run, not eating when too stressed or angry, etc…) are the MUST…..and enjoy the food you are eating!!!!
    This is an Ayurvedic point of view from a yogi:
    Bon appetit 🙂

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