A Hot New Diet and One Food Resolution for 2016

People often ask me which diet I follow. Vegetarian? Paleo? Raw? Gluten-free? Pescatarian? Omnivore? Vegan?

I don’t actually adhere to any specific diet. I simply eat food. I do stick to some strict rules when choosing the food I eat, however. I buy:

  • Local
  • Seasonal
  • Organic
  • Pastured (eggs, dairy and the small amount of meat we eat)
  • Unprocessed
  • Unpackaged

Judging by my most popular posts on Instagram for 2015, people prefer this type of food (or at least enjoy looking at pictures of it). On social media, I generally get more likes for pics of my farmer’s market hauls than anything else I post.

best 9 of 2015 on IG
My most popular posts on Instagram for 2015 consist mostly of my weekly farmer’s market hauls

So what do I eat?

If you really feel the need to pigeonhole my diet, you could call it one of the following:

  • The eat-whatever-you-want-as-long-as-you-cook-it-yourself diet
  • The real-food diet
  • The food diet
  • The unpackaged diet
  • The unprocessed diet
  • The Michael Pollan diet: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
  • Dinner

Speaking of Michael Pollan, if you missed In Defense of Food on PBS Wednesday night, you can watch it online here. It’s fabulous of course. I’ve lifted the synopsis from the PBS website:

‘Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.’ With that seven-word maxim, US-based journalist Michael Pollan distills a career’s worth of reporting into a prescription for reversing the damage being done to people’s health by today’s industrially driven Western diet. Pollan offers an answer to one of the most urgent questions of our time: What should I eat to be healthy?

One Food Resolution for 2016

If you want to improve your diet and health—and lose weight in 2016—stick to this one resolution:

Cut out processed food 

This simple guideline forced me to eat better. When I went plastic-free in 2011, I merely wanted to cut my consumption of plastic and my contribution to the five plastic gyres wreaking havoc on our oceans. I hadn’t intended to change my diet.

By going plastic-free, I cut all processed food (what processed food doesn’t come in a plastic package?). I stopped buying cereal. I stopped buying snacks. I stopped buying juice. (In other words, I stopped buying all the bad stuff.) I started eating more fruits and vegetables, less meat—and more fermented food. Since 2011, I have suffered one short-lived cold. I used to catch everything! My younger daughter who won’t touch my “weird” fermented food still does get sick but I never do. I basically have a super gut. I can’t guarantee you will never catch a cold or come down with the flu again if you eat as I do, but I can tell you my un-diet works for me.

Here’s to a happy and healthy 2016!

22 Comment

  1. I feel like you are the Vanguard and I admire you so much. Happy New Year!

    1. Awww, thanks Annie. I’m really honored you would say that. The feeling is mutual 🙂 Happy 2016 to you too. xoxo

  2. Thank you for the PBS link – will watch if from the other side of the Atlantic. Happy New Year!

    1. You’re welcome Kathryn. It’s a great show and I have loved everything Michael Pollan has done. Happy new year to you and yours 🙂

  3. I’m impressed with all you do! I hope to get closer to zero waste in 2016. Could you comment again on how you freeze things? Is it all in mason jars? Do you freeze say casseroles/dinners? What do you use? Thanks so much for the inspiration. May your New Year be merry and bright!

    1. Thank you Dena 🙂 I freeze several things in wide-mouth glass jars: roasted tomatoes (so I’ll have some in the winter, although we’re eating them up quickly this year…), beans I’ve cooked in my crockpot (either with or without the liquid…always leave headspace for when freezing liquid), soup and broth (again, leave headspace), leftover whey (I usually freeze in an ice-cube tray and then transfer to glass jars once frozen), fruit like grapes and prepped strawberries and cherries, vegetable scraps for making broth once I have a pile, bones for making broth once I have a pile and probably other things I can’t think of right now. I haven’t frozen whole casseroles though. I don’t have any large containers for that. Thanks for asking me about this. I get asked regularly and I should actually write a blog post on this, which I hadn’t thought to do until I started writing my (long) response. Happy new year to you too 🙂

  4. Happy New Year Anne Marie! I love you food philosophy (because it mimics my own and like-minded people tend to cluster toward each other). Out of curiosity–why no canned legumes? Looking forward to another year of great posts.

    1. Happy new year to you too Karen. We do have similar food philosophies…and are both big Michael Pollan fans 🙂 So, I don’t buy canned food. When I went plastic-free, I learned that cans are lined with plastic, which usually contains BPA or something just as bad. I’m looking forward to your posts this year also 🙂

  5. You’re an inspiration- if I could be half as virtuous as you in zero wasting I’d be happy! Thanks for all the advice and happy new year!

    1. Thanks so much Ms W. Well it turns out that I eat more delicious food this way, so you could say I’m actually hedonistic not virtuous ;p Happy new year to you too!

  6. Hi Anne Marie! It’s wonderful that you have been virtually cold-free since incorporating fermented foods into your diet. I also eat an excellent wholefoods diet, but with somewhat less fermented foods. I’m wondering if you think increasing fermented foods could also help one tolerate good quality dairy products more? I love dairy but get awful sinus headaches if I have more than just a little – I would love to think that by eating more fermented foods and making my own yogurt, sour cream etc… I could get over this. Have you had any issues/successes in this area yourself?

    And an unrelated question – back in 2014 you were washing your hair with bi carb and doing an ACV rinse (if I’m remembering correctly). I wonder if you’re still finding this works for you? I’ve experimented with various shampoo bars that come wrapped in paper, but am finding that long-term my scalp can start to feel bad and my hair looks awful! I then feel wracked with guilt about the plastic bottle of shampoo I end up using.

    Thanks in advance,

    Madeleine.x

    PS Happy new year to you 🙂

    1. Hi Madeleine. Happy 2016!

      I’m pretty thrilled to be cold-free! I was around sick people at Christmas but didn’t catch it.

      I haven’t had any trouble with dairy myself, fermented or otherwise. The microbes that ferment milk eat the lactose, which is good news for lactose-intolerant people. But I have no idea if lactose has anything to do with sinus problems. Do you have this problem when you eat yogurt or kefir? Or just milk (i.e., non-fermented dairy)? I’m one of those people that all fermented foods agree with. Several people have told me they can’t eat certain fermented foods (such as my German neighbor who can’t tolerate sauerkraut, which just seems so wrong!).

      I stopped washing my hair with bi carb and vinegar a few months ago. My hairdresser said my hair had changed and I thought that was probably why (I didn’t tell her what I had been doing). I had been buying bulk shampoo for my daughter (she won’t use bi carb, simply not going to happen) and so started using that. But I don’t like using it 🙁 I have tried shampoo bars but don’t like them. Someone from Facebook sent me dry shampoo beads months and months ago but I haven’t tried them yet. I have to dig them out and try them out. Shampoo seems like the holy grail. Maybe I will try alternating bi carb/vinegar and shampoo. I do wash my hair less frequently than I used to. At one point I washed it almost every day. Now it’s more like every four days.
      ~ Anne Marie

      1. Hi again Anne Marie,

        no, it’s not the lactose that causes the sinusitis, it’s a histamine response to the milk. This is why I’m wondering if upping my fermented food intake may improve my immune system enough to make dairy a regular option for me. I can get away with one serve of yogurt a few times a week – more than that and I get the headaches.

        Re shampoo, Ariana over at paris-to-go.com has done a lot of experimenting and she said that the bi-carb routine really damaged her hair over the long term – the photos are very telling! It was interesting to read about her trials, and she is now a massage and water only girl – her hair looks great. I’ve also seen some women are experimenting with raw honey – one part honey to three parts warm water. I will probably give this a go.

        The best shampoo bar I’ve used is Liggets, but as I live in a hard water area I can only wash so many times before my hair starts to look tragic!

        Madeleine.x

      2. Oh now that sounds familiar, Madeleine. Someone else commented on my blog a few months ago that they love fermented food but had to stop eating it because of the high levels of histamine. I guess I would try small amounts of something like sauerkraut or real pickles and see how they affect you. If that goes well, I would then try some dairy.

        Thanks for the info about paris-to-go. I follow that blog on Instagram and probably Twitter (?) as well. I’ll check it out. Thanks for the tips on raw honey and Liggets too. I hope the honey works for you. I always have it on hand for making mead so I’ll have to give it a try too. ~ Anne Marie

  7. Hi Anne Marie! Your diet makes a whole lot of sense. We try to eat seasonally and local, as much as we can, but it’s a challenge. No farmers markets in the winter and many vegetables in the local supermarkets are bathed in plastic, which we are really, really trying to avoid. So, for us here in Ontario, it’s turnips, onions, carrots, beets, squash, parsnips, mushrooms and cabbage. Actually, the seasonal veggies taste a whole lot better than imported cardboard tomatoes and flavorless lettuce, anyway. Next summer I plan to plant a whole lot more swiss chard and spinach so we can get more variety in our diet – maybe corn, if I can find some good organic stuff. (Yikes, my mouth is watering as I write this). I’m enjoying your blogs and recipes. All the best for a very Happy New Year!

    1. Hi Maureen. When I wrote the draft for this post, I had mentioned that I am spoiled living in California where I can get fresh produce year round. I tend to cut a lot when I write and that bit that didn’t make it… What part of Ontario are you from? I was born in Belleville and lived in Hamilton before moving here in ’98. I agree, the imported stuff has no flavor! Even a bit of the local stuff… I can buy tomatoes here in winter but don’t bother. They are hothouse and not very good. I hold out until summer for the delicious ones. Do you make sauerkraut? Cabbage, carrots and beets taste good together. I like to add some cayenne pepper, ginger and garlic too. Good luck with your garden. Your plans make my mouth water too. Thank you for reading my blog and I wish you a wonderful 2016 as well 🙂

  8. Very well summarized! We get so many competing messages on food since there are big bucks at stake but I also (finally) came to this same conclusion a few years back. The follow-up–and the harder part–is getting us all back into the kitchen (but what a great excuse for a party, right???!) Happy New Year, Anne Marie, and very happy eating!

    1. It took me a while to figure this out and I wish I had sooner but better late than never! We ate lots of junk growing up–canned vegetables, processed everything, pasty white bread… You’re right about the hard part–convincing people to go back into the kitchen. I do spend a lot of time in there, but none in the doctor’s office 😉 Happy new year and happy eating to you and yours Lori!

  9. Good post! I come from the opposite direction. I have been tempted to buy less and less processed food, and find I have equally less packaging. By the way, I made your recent toothpaste and love it. Happy New Year!

    1. Ahhh, that makes sense Hilda. I think many people are buying less and less processed stuff. I’m so glad you like the toothpaste. Happy 2016 to you too 🙂

  10. I really love and appreciate home-grown food and I have a vegetable garden myself. I believe that this is a great advantage that me and my family have, because we all know how artificial the vegetables in the store look and taste like. I also don’t like creating any food waste and try to use everything from the vegetables I produce. I have a bunny and he is really helpful when it comes to using all the vegetable waste leftovers. Thanks for sharing!

    1. That’s wonderful you have a vegetable garden Amelia. You can’t beat the taste of home-grown veggies. I have so much shade in my yard but I can grow some herbs there. I love that your bunny gets the scraps. That’s the way to do it 🙂

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