QUESTION: Right now we are all bombarded with every kind of vegan or plant-based diet in the world. How would you capsulize Jeff Novick’s recommendations?
I have really been thinking about that lately and how best to describe the principles of a healthy diet, and I think, plant-centered, minimally processed, calorie dilute, low SOS & variety, really sums it all up. It’s not just vegan, vegetarian or plant-based because one could have a pretty bad vegan, vegetarian or plant-based diet. So I like to say “plant- centered” but I also add that it should be minimally processed. I don’t say “whole” or “unprocessed” as not all processing is bad. Processing per se isn’t what’s hurtful, it’s processing that either detracts from the value of the food (i.e., refining) or adds something that is potentially harmful, (i.e., salt, sugar, etc.). So plant-centered, minimally processed, and then calorie dilute, because so much food has become so calorie dense which is a major contributing factor for obesity and many other diseases. The fourth principle is a diet low in SOS, which is salt, oil/fat and sugar. Even if you have a plant-centered, minimally processed, calorie-dilute diet and you cover it with salt, sugar, and oil, it is not healthy. I’m not going to say none, but low, as it isn’t all or nothing. Last but not least, variety. We want a variety of foods, over time, from each food group. It does not have to be at every meal. People get caught up in the Super-Food concept and the only vegetable they will eat is kale, or the only fruit they will eat is blueberries, etc., etc. However, the best way to insure nutritional adequacy is to consume a variety of foods in each of the food groups.