I don’t pay attention to fat, protein or carbs. I just eat real food.

It’s been 3 and a half years since I started changing how much and what I ate.  The process has been an evolution as I learned new things, unlearned others, and adjusted accordingly.  I will always continue to do that, because I’m not crazy enough to think I know all the answers, or dogmatic enough about the way I eat to be above questioning and adjusting.

I don’t often write about what I eat or what exercise I do anymore because I don’t want people to think I’m saying this is what they should eat or do.  I think everyone should go on their own journey and learn for themselves what works and why.  You should definitely question everything when it comes to choices, on the one hand, because there is so much contradictory advice and evidence out there.  On the other hand, to become obsessed with the nutritional make-up of your diet is for the most part pointless, and possibly destructive if it interferes with other portions of your life.  There is actually a term for this: orthorexia.

If you’re like me, and you’re not an athlete or a bikini model, you’re just a pretty average person with a mostly sedentary life sitting at a desk and working out 5-6 times a week for about an hour each time, and you’re not ill or allergic to anything, it’s probably not necessary to be that concerned about your Macro-Nutrient Ratios, or the percentage of your diet that comes from protein, fat or carbohydrates.  Eating real food will take care of this naturally.  It took me a long time to arrive at that conclusion and believe me, I’ve been down most of the paths.  I did the whole low fat thing because I thought that was what you had to do to lose weight.  I did the whole high protein thing, because I thought that was what you had to do to gain muscle.

What I learned in the end was to trust myself.  If I eat what I want to eat, without concerning myself with those numbers, I end up with about 40-45% carbohydrates, 40-45% fats, and 10-15% protein.  I used to get concerned that it wasn’t enough protein because protein is so talked about and hyped.    I used to get concerned it was too much fat because that’s another thing you hear.  But at some point, I just let it all go.

It started when I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food.

In Defense of Food

In it, he talks about how different cultures have very different diets.  Some eat a lot of fish and little else.  Some eat no meat and a lot of white rice.  Some have a higher fat diet, some lower.   But the diseases we know are often caused by eating habits; like obesity, diabetes and heart disease; are only tied to one culture’s diet: the Standard American Diet.  Also referred to as the Western Diet, this consists of lots of processed food, a ton of refined carbs, an abundance of factory-farmed meat, eggs and dairy, refined sugars and refined flours, all kinds of chemical ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, and too much of everything available in abundance extremely cheaply.

He argues that it isn’t fat or carbs that are making us sick, it’s our nutrition-less diet of processed food-like substances.  Ironically, Americans think about nutrition more than anyone in the world.  And we are the sickest.  I believe this is because we’re so caught up in minimizing the amount of fat or sugar or evil nutrient of the moment in our diets that we forget to read the ingredient list, the most important part of any label.  We end up eating things that aren’t really food.

I’m vegetarian and I eat in a way that some people are now calling “clean”.  Whatever you want to call it, I just call it common sense.  I eat a ton of vegetables and fruits, mostly from my local farmer’s market.  The packaged products I do buy are carefully chosen.  I try to choose products that are organic and have a short ingredient list.  For example, I buy cottage cheese that contains milk and cultures.  Nothing else.  If I don’t know what it is, I don’t buy it.  Other than veggies and fruits, the rest of my diet is mostly nuts, beans including soy, and grains.  I also eat dairy and occasionally eggs.

When I cook, I am not thinking about numbers.  I am thinking about making something beautiful, fresh and delicious.  This is absolutely the most enjoyable and rewarding way to eat for me.  I eat what sounds good to me at the moment and what is in season.  Every time I’ve done any other type of eating, such as trying to get protein with every meal like when I tried Jamie Eason’s LiveFit Trainer, it takes some of the joy out of the way I eat.

My diet has evolved from not thinking about it at all and eating a lot of junk, to thinking about it a lot and scrutinizing numbers, to not thinking about it too much and eating a lot of produce.  I searched for, and found, a way of eating that is satisfying and meaningful to me.  It enhances my life.  It does not interfere with my life.  If I go out to eat, I just let it go.  Other than making sure there’s no meat in what I order, I relinquish control.  It’s okay to relinquish control.

People really like to tell you what they think you should be eating.  Don’t let them.  Do your own learning and make your own choices.  Don’t do what works for me.  Do what works for you.  And I’ll do what works for me, and we can all just let each other be.

I didn’t think about carbs or protein or fats when I  made my dinner last night.

Roast cauliflower, avocado, lettuce, heirloom tomato, balsamic vinegar, olive oil.

A lot of people look at a plate of vegetables and think it can’t possibly be enough food for a meal.  You may be surprised to learn that this picture shows about 500 calories, with 50 g carbohydrates, 26 g fat, and 18 g protein.  That is, if you care about things like that.

22 thoughts on “I don’t pay attention to fat, protein or carbs. I just eat real food.

  1. It’s really interesting, they always try to categorise people with new desorders… When I am done with losing weight and reach the maintenance journey I would like to stop worrying about calories after a while. I like making things from scratch so I will keep on that path. :-)

  2. This is so funny to me as I just deduced about the same thing, or at least have started paying more attention. I do eat protein bars, as it’s one of few things that bounce me back after a workout but I’m particular about which ones I’ll eat. All protein bars are not the same. This morning, before reading your blog, I realized how much my eating has changed. How much I read labels when shopping now and as you put it, if I don’t know what it is (or if the first few ingrediants aren’t something usual), I don’t want it. I didn’t used to care but now, I care a lot more. I buy fresh fruits and vegetables because at least I know what they are and I purchase my meats, fish, poultry, etc., from our local farmer’s market. I agree that the more natural the food I eat, the more natural/better I feel. Thumbs up!

  3. Pingback: My first day of no packaged foods (pictures) « This is Not a Diet

  4. You are right to not concern yourself with fat or carbs vs protein etc. However we should always concern our selves with nutrients and nutrients that are damaged – something Michael pollen has never discussed and knows little of.
    The damage we do to our nutrients each day is outstanding. You may feel fine, limiting your bacon intake can do that, but eventually damaged nutrients from food processing, food prep, and cooking will render you very sick in the long run.
    The effects of malnutrition will rear their heads eventually and your golden years won’t be so lustrous as the idea of gold implies.

      • Define raw food – apples? Bananas, coconuts, sashemi, salads, nuts, pumpkin seeds? I love bacon on my cheeseburgers as much as the next guy. If you want your nutrient molecules intact however you can only get them from the above mentioned items, and not the cheeseburger (the greatest sandwich of all time!)
        Supplements can’t provide the intact nutrient molecules that the above mentioned items can. Minerals however can’t get damaged when being removed from the place of their origin. Salt and iron for instance are molecules of themselves – iron can only break down to iron and so on and so forth with most minerals.
        I am speaking from a chemists point of view – not selling anything here. U don’t see any links or website names etc.
        Ollie

  5. Vegetarian and vegan is all good and well and a far better choice than mickey dees. My point, is simply if you only eat fruits and veggies and no meat and or dairy etc. it is still important not to damage the nutrient molecules in one’s foods.
    Squeezing lemon juice into a salad for instance will damage other nutrient molecules that exist in the other ingredients in the salad. The vitamin C in lettuce or spinach can be damaged by the simple addition of vinegar.
    Hummus, beans, rice, pasta, bread, soy (yes soy), has little nutrient value because they were all prepared, as in cooked, well above heat destroy levels. Most protein molecules (with the exception of some extremophiles), will be damaged at these temperature. Protein molecules can be damaged in a number of ways including light, UV rays (sun exposure), Ph(acidity), heat, pressure, time, and decay dynamics (which is the first thing that will effect the nutrient molecules in your freshly picked garden items).
    You know how lemons can essentially “cook” your fish or meat. This is actually a chemical reaction from the PH levels in lemons, impacting negatively, the proteins – tastes good, but the protein is damaged.
    PDMBA Ollie

    • Prefer to enjoy my diet- of which cooking is a large part. I’m not going to waste time worrying about the minuscule details. Life is too short! If that works for you, great. I am happy for you. What works for me has been well described in this blog. Thanks for the comments. Good day.

      • You are echoing my sentiments exactly; If what you’re doing works for you, then have at it. Ciao

  6. Reblogged this on and commented:
    While I do enjoying eating a meat-filled diet, I can appreciate the points made in this article – I think they apply to anyone, vegan or not. What do YOU think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below :)

    • Where does one learn about the chemical reactions which take place in foods? I thought lemon and vinegar were always good. Never heard of them negatively affecting nutrients in other foods before.

      • It is actually hard to find out about chemical reactions because they are infininte and studies are costly as a result. All nutrient molecules and regualr molecules react with other molecules and they change (are no longer that original molecule). Air is a molecule that interacts with your food molecules that is why we have air tight sealing. So too with light,water, oil, salt, heat, UV rays, acids – anything you name, it can alter another molecule.
        The copper your pan may be made of can alter molecules. Zinc as well. Lemons are not good or bad, they are what they are – naturally. Vinegar simply has a high acidic level (low in pH terms), and can also effect proteins and amino acids etc.
        Most of the labeling on the foods we buy or eat are inacurate as a result of this. Oliver

  7. K8 this is oliver – I just wanted to apologize for the harsh, mean words the other day. It was wrong of me to take it to that level. You can delete this after reading – i just wanted to post to you

    • I knew it was you and you are quite persistent, buddy! Thank you for the apology. You are welcome to keep posting if you like, on topic and polite of course :) I appreciate you stopping by to clear the air.

  8. Reblogged this on Chloe T Model and commented:
    Since starting my new nutritional plan I’ve had to really think about ingredients. I was shocked at some of the things I was eating! Going gluten and dairy free has made me listen to my body and cook more of my own food.
    This blog just clarifies how I feel about society and our obsession in the western culture of calories and diets. Just listen to your body and don’t eat processed rubbish!

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