Why and How I “Eat to Live”

March 6, 2012

I’ve had several e-mails lately from people who are just embarking on Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live plan. I love getting these types of messages and I always try to answer questions or provide support whenever possible. I realize that not everyone is convinced about the need to follow a vegetable-based plan such as Dr. Fuhrman’s, though, and some may also not understand my motivations.

I found this quote on Dr. Fuhrman’s site (link is here) where he describes why he eats this way: “I Eat To Live. Why? Because I enjoy eating lots of great tasting food that guarantees my favorable low cholesterol, freedom from heart disease, protection from cancer, and maintain my youthful vitality into my later years. I have learned that good health is your greatest wealth. That is why you should Eat To Live, too.”

That pretty much sums it up, don’t you think? Eat good food that supports disease prevention and quality of life as we age. Period.

For those of you who are wondering what “good food” encompasses on a plan that doesn’t use salt, oils or added sugars, here are some of my favorites.

I just updated my Anti-Cancer Green Breakfast Smoothie recipe (it can be found here) with a reduced number of dates and expanded instructions for preparation. I drink this every morning:

Lunch is generally a very large salad using romaine lettuce with lots of chopped, raw vegetables on top. I also add a small handful of raw nuts or seeds, some avocado and sometimes some microwaved frozen asparagus. The key is finding a dressing that is not oil-based because oils are fats with no micronutrients. Fat in the diet is certainly important, but I choose to use whole-food fats like avocados, nuts and seeds. I make sure that I always have an avocado or cashew-based dressing for my daily salads. One of my favorites is my Creamy Avocado Dressing which is just blended avocados with vinegar, garlic and onions.

As I said, I use this dressing on my lunch salad nearly every day. Sometimes I get all crazy and make a dressing with beans and tahini. My Protein-Packed Lemony Salad Dressing recipe is a good example (link is here). This photo is a good example of the size of my lunch salad.

I need to have “dessert” after lunch and dinner which is almost always fruit-based. My favorite after-lunch treat is to blend one-half of a frozen banana with homemade almond milk, another half cup of frozen fruit like strawberries or peaches, one serving of leafy greens like raw kale and a dash of vanilla extract. It is surprisingly satisfying.

Dinner in my household varies. I try to make a bean and vegetable blended soup at least once a week. Last week, you’ll recall I made a beet-based version (recipe is here) that I really enjoyed:

I also love to make bean or tofu burgers or other types of stews with leafy greens. My after-dinner dessert is almost always fresh fruit of some kind. I try to eat dinner around 6 p.m. so I stop eating a good three hours before bedtime.

So that’s it, an outline of how I eat. I’ve been following Dr. Fuhrman’s plan for about a year and a half now and it’s provided me with a very easy way to lose excess weight, maintain a healthy weight and feel nourished, healthy and satisfied.

Check out my recipe page (found here) for my complete list of recipes categorized by meal. I also wanted to note that while Dr. Fuhrman’s plan allows for up to 10% of the diet to include animal-based foods, I am 100% plant-based. I recently updated my FAQ page as well with answers to some miscellaneous questions about gluten and other stuff, too (see it here).

Got more questions? Shoot me an e-mail at carrie on vegan@gmail.com or leave a comment. I love hearing from people who read my blog, it is the most rewarding aspect of what I do here.

P.S. You can also find me on Facebook here, Twitter here or Pinterest here.

 

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

melissa March 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

Thanks for a great post! I too am starting to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s plan and it is very helpful to see a typical day’s menu laid out in the way you did here. I love your blog and my partner and I have enjoyed many of the recipes you’ve shared. I don’t know how you find the time to blog as often as you do WHILE going to school. I’m impressed :-)

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Carrie March 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm

Thanks Melissa! You might want to check out my post tomorrow (Wednesday) because I’ll be posting a photo diary of my actual meals over a 24-hour period. Thanks for the compliment on my blog. It takes a LOT of effort to post daily, but it’s so rewarding that I make time for it. Take care!

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Gina March 6, 2012 at 8:58 am

GREAT summary of how an ‘Eat to Live’ person eats, Carrie! 3 months in, I am always so appreciative of all your recipes, ideas, and tips on how to make this work in everyday life. Keep up the awesome work! You are an inspiration. :)

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Carrie March 6, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Thanks Gina, I really appreciate the kind words. :)

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Amanda @ Hungry Vegan Traveler March 6, 2012 at 10:46 am

Have you ever tried roasting or grilling asparagus? That’s my favorite way to eat asparagus and I think that would add a little extra deliciousness to your salads. :)

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Carrie March 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Thanks for the suggestion, Amanda! I like the frozen asparagus because it’s cheap. :) The version I buy is grilled before it’s frozen so it does seem to have some extra flavor as opposed to just plain.

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Paula March 6, 2012 at 5:51 pm

I really need to get to the library to see if this book is available. It sounds like a plan I would love to try although I am not a fan of smoothies or consuming nuts. Does this plan offer alternatives? With this eating plan, could I do away with the food scale and calorie counting? Sorry about all the questions. I guess I should just try to find a copy of the book huh? Thanks for sharing the recipes. They are so helpful.

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Carrie March 7, 2012 at 6:24 am

Hi Paula! Yes, you absolutely must get away from calorie counting…life is too short for that!!! That’s one of the basic tenants of Dr. Fuhrman’s philosophy is that we should never have to calorie count or go hungry. If we fill our stomachs with low-calorie dense foods, then we can get optimal nutrition without having to worry about eating too much. Trying to eat less of calorie-dense foods like animal products, oils, refined grains and sugars is never going to work because it’s against our nature to restrict ourselves. Rather, let’s fill our plates with leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, avocados, nuts, seeds and some whole grains and leave the table satisfied and nourished. Have I convinced you yet? :)

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Paula March 7, 2012 at 5:32 pm

My real aim is to feel well. I have stopped eating meat, refined grains, and oils. I am working on dairy. I still will have a pancake when out to breakfast & occasionally a cheese pizza but that is becoming less frequent. My next goal is to eliminate both sugar and dairy completely.

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Carrie March 7, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Hi Paula! I think feeling better and having more energy is a great motivator for change. Rather than trying to cut out foods from your diet, why don’t you try making sure you eat plenty of vegetables (A LOT!) and fresh fruits and then see how much room you have for other, less healthy, items? That way, you won’t feel deprived. You can have your long-term goal to eliminate those items like sugar and dairy, but it might be easier if you take baby steps while drastically increasing your consumption of whole, plant foods. Just a thought. :)

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Prathiba @ Vehemently Vegan March 6, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Awesome post, Carrie! Could you do a post on how you eliminated salt from your diet? I’d be interested to know how you worked on that. I’m sure your taste buds have changed by now and you are used to it! I’ve been doing pretty well on ETL but have a hard time with salt. Sometimes, I crave it! I don’t use it in dressings or on steamed veggies but sometimes want it on beans and in soups. (esp the beans!)

Also, your applesauce has helped me with my sweet tooth! I have the second batch cooking away right now! :)

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Carrie March 7, 2012 at 6:20 am

Hi Prathiba! My husband said that I should talk about this, too! It was a huge transition for both of us to get off salt, so I know what you are going through. I will see if I can incorporate it into a post, but my best advice is to use a splash of vinegar (or fresh lemon juice) on your food, it makes all the difference and really compensates for the lack of salt. Let me know if that helps…

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melissa March 7, 2012 at 8:47 am

I’ve started using sea veggies and/or nutritional yeast in place of salt in some dishes. The sea veggies especially taste salty, but are really low in sodium. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables is a good source (http://www.seaveg.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=18&zenid=88abb23fd8c119e0a72d6128e4c6cbd3) or some natural food stores carry dulse and kelp in bulk, which is probably cheaper.

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Carrie March 7, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Hi Melissa, thanks for the link! I have seen these products in the health food store, but I try to stay away from too much iodine and, if I remember correctly, that has been my concern in the past. I think in moderation these items are probably okay, I will take a closer look at them the next time I’m at the store. Thanks again for pointing them out as an option to salt!

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melissa March 8, 2012 at 9:41 am

Hmm, iodine was the other reason I purchased the seasoning. I thought I read in “Eat to Live” that vegans who don’t use iodized salt may not be getting enough iodine, so I thought this was a good way to up my intake (when we use salt in my house, it’s non-iodized sea salt). I could be wrong, I don’t have a copy of the book right now, so I can’t double check. I don’t know about dulse, but the kelp granules are VERY high in iodine (2260% RDA according to the packaging). Thanks for pointing that out Carrie.

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Carrie March 8, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Hi Melissa! You are right, vegans can become deficient in iodine and need a reliable source. I get it through Dr. Fuhrman’s Gentle Care supplement. The goal is to have a daily intake between 150-300 mcg. My concern with using the product you suggested (assuming one used it regularly) is that it would put my iodine intake over his maximum recommendation. The risk with over supplementing with iodine is that it can depress thyroid function. Hope this helps.

Rachael April 22, 2014 at 7:33 pm

Best way to not miss salt I’ve found is to break out your spice rack & start experimenting! Onion & garlic powder have replaced the salt shaker on our dinner table to add a similar zest to finished dishes. I highly recommend utilizing garlic & onion powders throughout all cooking, too(just be sure they are not garlic salt or onion salt)!

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Wendy (Healthy GIrl's Kitchen) March 7, 2012 at 3:26 am

Congrats for getting on Pinterest! See you there!

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Carrie March 7, 2012 at 6:25 am

I struggled against adding on another social media outlet, but I’m liking Pinterest so far! You have such gorgeous photos that I’m sure I’ll be pinning lots of your images! :)

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Angela (www.genxgemini.com) March 7, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Hi Carrie – I applaud your healthy take on veganism. I’ve seen a lot of vegan and raw vegan recipes that rely on concentrated sugars, salts and oils; and that’s one of the reasons why I like your blog and recipes.

I love what you wrote here: “Trying to eat less of calorie-dense foods like animal products, oils, refined grains and sugars is never going to work because it’s against our nature to restrict ourselves. Rather, let’s fill our plates with leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, avocados, nuts, seeds and some whole grains and leave the table satisfied and nourished.” I was like, “YES!”

Question for you: Do you soak your grains, nuts, seeds and beans before eating?

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Carrie March 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Hi Angela! Thanks for the comment, I appreciate your kind words. In regards to your question about soaking grains, nuts, seeds and beans, I am just starting to do more soaking. I always soak and rinse my beans before cooking and I’ve started soaking and rinsing raw nuts as well (I try not to eat any roasted nuts). As far as grains go, I don’t consume a lot of them, maybe just some brown rice a few times a week. However, I have read about the benefits of soaking rice and so I’m soaking some right now for the first time! What are your thoughts on this subject?

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Angela (www.genxgemini.com) March 9, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Carrie – I think it is very important to soak all nuts, seeds, beans and grains before eating. And I also agree with you on the roasted nuts. I only eat raw nuts and seeds! (Although truly raw almonds are very difficult to find as most are pastuerized because of laws requiring it – even if they say “raw” on the package.)

Here is a link to a great article on the importance of soaking!
http://www.healthbeyondhype.com/hidden-dangers-your-whole-grains-beans-nuts-seeds-ezp-138.html

And here is a great article on instructions for soaking: http://www.healthbeyondhype.com/instructions-soaking-grains-nuts-seeds-legumes-ezp-87.html

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Carrie March 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Hi again! I have also heard about the issue with almonds not really being raw, so I just started buying them from a grower in California where they don’t pasteurize them at all. I spent $100 on 10 pounds and I’m storing them in the freezer and just keeping small amounts in the fridge to use. Thanks so much for the links!!!

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Hawley August 6, 2012 at 11:20 am

Thanks for sharing your recipes and reflection on Eat to Live. We did his extreme 6 week plan almost 2 years ago and it, paired with other influences, has led us to being committed vegans – though with a recent move to the south, we’ve had to make that vegetarian when out of the house, occasionally, for graciousness and hospitality’s sake. We’re re-committing to doing the extreme 6 week diet again, for the same reason as the first time we did it. We want to renew our health and ditch our bad habits that we’ve at least somewhat reacquired… and most of all, I want to lose pregnancy weight! Though fortunately, this time around I really seem to have gained it almost exclusively in my mid-section :)

Anyways, I thought it was funny to come across your blog in my search for fuhrman friendly dressings and realize I already follow you on Instagram. So happy for you in your pursuit of health and grateful that you share it, unpretentiously, with others :)

Cheers!

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Carrie August 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Thank you so much for your comment, Hawley! It’s great to hear from other “Fuhrmanites” as I like to call us. :) Good luck with your 6-week program, I’m doing a modified version of it myself. Are you by chance going to Dr. Fuhrman’s Getaway coming up in a few weeks? I’ll be there!

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queene January 1, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Great blog and excellent suggestions. You are living proof it works and it works for working/studying busy women. Thanks so much. The comments are also great, no nastiness! Love it.

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Tara Chavez January 21, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Carrie, are you sure you listed the right amount of vinegar in the Creamy Avocado Dressing?
“2 – 2 1/2 cups of white balsamic vinegar”

I was really hesitant about using that many CUPS, so I did one cup and it was still way too vinegary. Should it have been tablespoons? Any other liquid need to be added?

Thank you.

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Carrie January 21, 2013 at 5:13 pm

Hi Tara! Great question. I have adapted this recipe over time and include at least half of the liquid as non-dairy milk. I’m sorry I haven’t updated it. To be honest, I don’t use avocados that much in my dressings anymore, I find they are too fattening for me. Instead, I like to use a mixture of frozen berries, walnuts, dates, vinegar, onion and garlic.

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Liz January 23, 2013 at 11:55 am

I started on the Eat to Live plan about 10 days ago, and the first things I noticed were
1. the constant nasal congestion and post nasal drip stopped almost immediately. I now fall asleep very easily because I’m not struggling to breathe;
2. My constant indigestion, stomach cramps, gas have almost totally stopped, except for the day I ate a whole can of pinto beans!
3.I’m hungry, but the shakiness and dizziness that I always experienced before when I wasn’t eating constantly has also disppeared.
At age 69, I’m looking forward to many other health benefits on this food plan.

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Carrie January 24, 2013 at 9:01 am

Thanks for the note, Liz! I’m so, so happy to hear that you are feeling better. It is so amazing that it only took 10 days to resolve the symptoms you described. Watch out for those beans, though! :) Keep up the good work!!!

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Sarah February 6, 2013 at 8:54 am

Hi,
I was wondering if you’re still eating tofu? From what I’ve read it isn’t very healthy, plus it’s processed, so just curious if you’ve cut that out of your diet as well.

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Carrie February 8, 2013 at 6:17 am

Hi Sarah! From what I’ve heard, tofu can be considered a minimally processed food (compared with some of the other vegan Frankenfoods out there), but I have cut back on my tofu consumption in recent months. I probably eat one serving a week on average. I don’t have any soy sensitivities so I still consume edamame and tempeh a few times a week as well. How about you?

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Redd February 20, 2013 at 2:17 pm

I’m new to the website and the idea of Vegan … even though I have always embraced the “Eat to Live” motto…. I too would like to adopt a plant based diet.. my first step is to incorporate Meatless Monday’s into my regime on a more permanent basis and then work my way up to a complete elimination of meat.
Catchng up on the blog posts to date; can’t wait to read more.

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Carrie February 21, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Thanks, Redd and very happy to have you joining the Challenge. :)

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kim @ vegan mama May 23, 2013 at 1:41 pm

So happy to have found your blog, Carrie (though I think I’ve stopped by before at some point?).

I’m embarking on the ‘Eat to Live’ lifestyle, though I am already vegan. I would love to do the strict 6 week program, but I’m still breastfeeding my toddler, so I don’t want to be too restrictive. I couldn’t find any specific guidelines for nursing moms, but I’m just winging it by adding an extra serving of nuts or avocado and an extra serving of grains or starch veggie to start out with.

I’m looking forward to browsing around and finding more tips & recipes on your site!

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Sarah Rea July 31, 2013 at 8:58 pm

I really enjoyed reading this. I just started and my diet seems a little plain and this is what I needed. thank you very much for your post!

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MicheleH August 3, 2013 at 12:22 am

I just finished following the ETL 6 week plan very strictly. I have loved it, and have experienced all of the promised benefits. Today, since it says you can have a small cookie on the Life Plan, I had one small shortbread cookie (about 70 cal) from a box I received as a gift and froze during the 6 week plan. It was OK, and I could pretty much take it or leave it, but I found that I was absolutely without energy for the rest of the day and evening. Repeatedly fell asleep in the recliner, etc. I did have kind of a short night sleep last night, but it seemed like more than that. Do you think that a small cookie after eating so healthy for 6 weeks could affect me like that?

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