The distinctions between these three levels of eating are significant. We refer to them as “levels,” because within each level there is more than one way to eat. They are not necessarily fixed styles of eating even though there are certain patterns of eating that define them. Yet, of course, the minute you label anything it becomes a style, like the Nutritarian, healthy-eating style.
That said because a Nutritarian eating style is based on the consumption of whole foods, that are nutrient-rich, (meaning largely, micronutrient-rich, plant foods; it, by definition is a diet style based on the worlds best foods. And that, by definition, means there is, in fact, more than one way to eat Nutritarian, even though there are guidelines and patterns of eating, just as there are for the SAD (standard American diet), a low-carb / high-protein diet, paleo, Mediterranean, vegetarian, and vegan eating styles.
In reality, with common guidelines in any and every eating style, there are always multiple ways to eat within those guidelines and usually lots of flexibility.
But there is something more to a Nutritarian diet that is emphasized beyond eating a diet of whole, nutrient-rich foods that many completely miss. For one, it’s not just what you eat, (whole nutrient-rich foods,) it’s how and when you eat nutrient-rich foods that make a huge difference in the results you experience and the quality of your experience itself.
You see, there is one seemingly major drawback to eating a diet that is “nutrient-rich” and it’s ironically it is it’s key feature; it’s dense in nutrients! As a protege of Dr. Fuhrman, of nutritional wisdom, and a Performance Lifestyle Coach and practitioner where we develop skills in all the essential aspects of lifestyle, including but not limited to nutrition; there are a few areas that I have struggled with, nonetheless, and one of them has been overeating an otherwise super healthy diet.
Many ingrained eating patterns, based largely on a healthier version of the SAD growing up, combined with growing stress in my life as an entrepreneur, father and family man, amateur athlete etc, resulted in my eating when I was not hungry, as a coping mechanism. I was thinking I was eating like a nutritarian, but was really just eating healthy.
What’s so bad about that? Well, for starters, if you had been eating the Standard American Diet, like most of us did, or a healthier diet, but not a diet that’s comprised of up to 90% or more, whole, nutrient-rich foods, then you are used to eating multiple times per day. Not, just 1-3 times per day, but virtually all day long as your body strives to meet its nutrient needs from what are largely nutrient-poor foods. By calorie, we grew up eating largely animal products and refined foods, with limited vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and intact whole grains.
On top of eating to cope with stress and feel better, add to that, the drive to eat that’s created by toxic withdrawal symptoms (headaches from not eating frequently) in the early days of a dietary transition (dieters know a lot about this) from micronutrient-poor to nutrient-rich foods, plus the market and social influences that affect people of any dietary persuasion, which has us eating at every event and opportunity throughout a given day; and you can see, that it’s easy to overeat.
But when you are eating whole, nutrient-rich foods on a regular basis, over time the more your body becomes nutrient-rich; and that means you have a highly nourished, detoxified, stabilized and strengthened body that only needs to eat when it’s truly hungry. The challenge comes in when you are eating for the wrong reasons, like coping with stress, or for strictly social reasons and even eating the worlds best foods, and you can gain weight because you’re overfueling the body.
For the exact opposite reasons a typical person may overeat, even eating the healthiest diet in the world, you can easily over-eat if you don’t learn how and when to fuel the body as part of a whole lifestyle that is optimized to limit excess stress and eat for the right reasons.
So when you are eating like Nutritarian, you are also paying attention to the physiology of nutrition, translating the what to the how and when you eat for the best energy, health, performance and longevity results. That’s a lifestyle approach.
What that means is that you train to regularly allow your body to participate in the “fat-burning” catabolic (break down and utilization) stage of digestion.
Most people live in an anabolic (eating and assimilation) stage of digestion, throughout the day, constantly eating food, on top of food, on top of food, but never quite meeting all their nutrient needs. This creates a series of vicious cycles; not the least of which is a constant nutritional drive to eat even when you are full due to micronutrient needs not getting met, and the toxic symptoms most of us were taught were a signal to eat again.
And that’s where “dieting” comes in; people spend the majority of their lives manipulating the macronutrient (calorie) content of their diets, trying to lose weight from constant consumption by eating less of the very foods that cause the problem, and dealing with crazy endogenous (from inside the body) drives to eat from the bodies detoxification systems, on top of (exogenous) external drives to eat. Yet, they never really learn how to eat healthy foods, in energy, health, performance, and longevity supporting ways.
And that is the difference, it’s understanding the digestive cycle. Knowing what to eat, how and when to eat and why is core to a healthy eating style; that is part of a healthy, high-performance lifestyle.