Mindful Eating: Eat To Live

Mindful Eating: Eat To Live

This week I started following Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat To Live” program, in order to clean up my diet, shed a few pounds before summer but more importantly; increase my energy as I’ve got a lot on my plate these next few months with setting up my new business, studying for continuing education courses and wanting to feel better all around.  The concept of Dr.  Fuhrman’s ‘diet’ (I hate using that word) is in essence, that when the ratio of nutrients to calories in the food you eat is high, you lose weight. The more nutrient dense food you eat, the less you will crave fat, sweets and high calorie (and less nutrient dense) foods.  It’s essentially about maximizing the macronutrients per calorie.  His formula goes like this: health = nutrients / calories.


I love this way of eating because there is no need to weigh or measure the food. You get a list of foods you can eat as much as you want of (basically all raw vegetables, leafy greens, crucifierous vegetables, beans, legumes and all fruits), some to eat in moderation (raw nuts and seeds, avocado, plant based milks, and starchy vegetables such as butternut squash and sweet potatoes, brown rice and whole grain breads), and foods that are OFF limits include dairy, all animal products, in between meal snacks, fruit juice and dried fruit as well as all oils, salt and sugar.  Now I will tell you I am not perfect, and will still be salting my food! It’s the last “vice” I have from my chef’ing days, I still think vegetables taste bland if not salted. I managed to compete in bodybuilding and get shredded and down to below 10% body fat while still eating salt, and although I am not as heavy handed with the salt shaker anymore – I am picking my battles here…

The five “rules” are:

  1. Consume a large green salad every day, and put some raw onion and shredded cruciferous veggies on top.
  2. Eat at least a 1/2 cup of beans or lentils each day, in a soup, stew, or top of a salad or in another dish.
  3. Eat at least 3 fresh fruits a day, especially berries, pomegranate, cherries, plums, and oranges.
  4. Eat at least 1 ounce of raw seeds and nuts daily, utilizing some chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts. Limit to 1 oz if you are trying to lose weight.
  5. Consume a double-sized serving of steamed greens daily, and utilize mushrooms and onions in your dishes.

There are endless ways of preparing these foods, while you might think the list looks restrictive, it certainly isn’t – just think of how many varieties of green vegetables there are out there! As a chef, I am challenged to come up with different ways of eating my food, and how to enjoy them. I am using my spice rack frequently and utilizing herbs and spices I haven’t in a while, which have been delighting my taste buds.  I’ve had not felt hungry all week and have had surprisingly few cravings, with the exception of last night, when I was craving something sweet (I ended up chewing on a date and going to bed). I am sure there will be days when I want to run to the store and buy the entire shelf of chocolate, breads and crackers, but will then take a moment to reflect on my goal and why I want to do this.  Eating crappy foods always make me feel crappy – it only gives me pleasure for a couple of minutes.  Mindful eating is about paying attention to every bite, reflecting on how it nourishes your body and how you will feel eating it as a result. Try it!

I will continue to post about my experience with this way of eating. I’ve added some photos below of meals I’ve prepared this week… If you are curious about the Eat To Live program or have any questions at all about plant based eating, as always- please don’t hesitate to ask me anything, I love to hear from you! Wishing you all a happy and healthy weekend filled with delicious, mindful eating! 🙂

Breakfast 1: Oatmeal with cinnamon, currants, blueberries, strawberries, 1/2 a mashed banana sprinkled with 1 tbsp of walnuts:



Breakfast 2: Green smoothie with lots of kale, 1/2 banana, 2 dates, water and ice:






Dr. Fuhrman’s Anti-Cancer Veggie Soup, with lentils, chickpeas and adzuki beans sprinkled with some nutritional yeast:


My daily green salad for lunch with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and some type of beans will go on top. Dressing is always oil free, sometimes with some nut butter (cashews) to make it creamy:



A flax roll up (which is awesome, low calories- around 135 cal, and 12 grams of protein, only 24g of carbs, 9 grams of fiber) spread with a ginger-garlic-tahini sauce, stuffed with grilled portobello mushrooms, roasted peppers, arugula and cucumbers, SO good!:



Don’t believe the hype

As a relative”newbie” in the fitness world, I still take pride in the fact that I’m a maniac when it comes to researching, studying and testing out whatever I take an interest in – whether it’s about food, wine or health and fitness.  Some people call it obsession, I just call it a desire to get to the bottom of things, and a huge passion for life!  I simply don’t just take somebody’s word for anything unless it’s scientifically proven or, perhaps if the person who is explaining his or her theory, is a true testament to what they are arguing.  Am I going to argue with Dana Linn Bailey for instance (she was my coach during my last contest prep) when she tells me that what she does and implements, works for her? Of course not.  The proof is in the pudding. May or may not work for me, but the truth is she works her ass off.  She doesn’t get all high and mighty about it – she just goes and does it.  I completely respect that and to this day she is my biggest inspiration. On the other spectrum, you have all these “experts” who, typically tend to be quite mouthy, and with perhaps not the most ideal physique, will spew out all these “theories” on what you should and should not do to reach your goals. “Work out on an empty stomach in the morning, it’s the only way to burn fat” (lie), “take x, y, z supplement -this brand is superior” (another lie) and “salt is bad for you” (my favorite lie)… or don’t eat fruit, etc. etc.. I could go on for ages. What has been hyped up in the fitness circles, are spread around like “bro-science” as the term goes, and nobody really bothers to go in depth to find out the whys, hows, and whats.  You can still be lazy if you go to the gym…


Of course, by being in a caloric deficit, you are going to lose weight no matter what (plain science) and by adding in a ton of cardio, things are (often) sped up.  So if somebody believes you shouldn’t have starch at night and looks great, while another says she or he has a ton of carbs at night and also looks fabulous – then what is true??  As a dear friend told me years ago “There’s a million ways to do the dishes”. True that.


The problem I have with all these methods and theories out there, is that some people will just blindly follow anything, and start must have been focused and determined and worked really hard to achieve that particular look (that part I admire), but little do we know if it was done in a responsible way, or whether or not that person can maintain an admirable physique year round.  I’m not going to sit here and say that to get a ripped physique like you see most people possess on stage, is close to “healthy”.  Far from it – but I think that prepping for a show can be done in a much less extreme way than most out there have been thought to do.  Being so lean that you can see striations and ab squares versus living a healthy wholesome life with lots of energy are sometimes two hugely different things. Much like the fitness models you see on the cover of magazines – most of them have admitted to go through pure torture those last few days to get that look.

Diet Concept

The most intense I ever got during contest prep was eating little to no carbs for about 5 days (with the exception of a healthy helping of oatmeal for breakfast) prior to my show.  Regardless, I don’t think I ever was below 2,000 calories per day, I did very little cardio and I still got super lean. This time around, I’m going to go easier on myself, include more carbs and be more patient to get the results I want. I don’t want to go to the gym twice a day, and I don’t want to eat cold fish in tupper ware. My body has been very good to me, and I refuse to be mean to it in return. Does it mean that I will be chugging back vodka and eating Frito Lays every weekend? Of course not – I am going to eat wholesome meals of lean protein, lots of fresh vegetables and a good source of healthy carbs at each meal, drink lots of water and be sure to take my vitamins and fish oil and of course, supplement with whey protein and some creatine for my workouts. That’s it. I don’t want to waste money on a ton of supplements -I believe some can definitely assist you (Especially those who are on a strict diet and lift heavy, they can be a great ADDITION – not replacement! to your diet). I  have tried them all, and I didn’t see or feel any significant difference from most of them. I like to CHEW my food, thank you. Of course, athletes who are sponsored by supplement companies or own a store, will tell you a completely different story… 😉


So what’s my point of this rambling? I just feel a relief in the sense that I am getting more secure in my own choices, what works for my body and what I need to help me get that optimal physique. Despite the million messages and know- it- all personalities out there, it’s all about trial and error in the end.  I am more confident today that I can achieve what I want, the way I want to do it with continuous research on my own, and as long as I stay focused and dedicated.  Luckily I am extremely self motivated as I keep in mind, the only person I’m trying to impress is me.  I am happy that I can combine my love for fitness, food and wine and still look pretty damn good!

And lastly – I did one legged squats today at the gym, supersetted with weighted step ups, and I can tell you the work – that is NO HYPE!  I am going to have the best a** this summer!! 🙂

With that – check out my FB page that I just started, where I’ll post daily and hopefully entertain some of you and sometimes push you to go to the gym or even give you suggestions for a wine worth the calories! And if you can only have one glass, make sure you find the right glass! Just kidding!! 🙂