Simple Till Six: An Eating Plan for Busy People

The anti-girth, pro-Earth eating plan for busy, real people.

By Mark Bittman from Reader's Digest | January 2009

Within four months, I’d lost more than 35 pounds and was below 180, less than I’d weighed in 30 years. In fact, of all my diet-related ailments, only my knees didn’t respond. (Oh well. One does age.) My weight has stabilized, and — perhaps more important — I’m at home with this way of eating. My doctor was happy with my progress. (Check with yours first.)

Today I eat about one third as much meat, dairy, and even fish as I did a few years ago. (Farmed fish has many of the same issues as farmed land animals, including antibiotic use and environmental damage.) I eat few refined carbs. But if there’s good white bread at dinner, I attack it, and I still have pasta a couple of times a week. I eat almost no junk food. I eat about three or four times as many plant foods (like green leafy vegetables) as before; probably 50 percent or more of my calories come from nonanimal sources.

For some people, a shift of 10 percent of calories from animal to plant may feel significant, though I doubt it; it would be the equivalent of maybe not having chicken on a Caesar salad at lunch. A person making that kind of shift, along with cutting way back on junk food and carbohydrates, might still see positive health changes. But a shift of 50 percent — replacing half your animal calories with plant calories — would be significant and need a conscious effort.

The goal of eating sanely is not to cut calories; it will happen naturally. Nor is the goal to cut protein, though again, you’ll wind up eating less. The goal is not to cut fat, either; in fact, you’ll eat more of it, though different fat (the same is true of carbohydrates). And the goal isn’t to save money, though you probably will; think of the cost of rolled oats ($1 a pound) and, say, Honey Bunches of Oats (about $5 a pound). Rather, the goal is to eat less of certain foods and more of others — specifically, plants, as close to their natural state as possible. Above all, this is a shift in perspective, one that means better eating for both your body and the planet.

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail