“Don’t eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” -Michael Pollan
The Wellness Menu is comprised of foods congruent with the innate omnivorous hunter-gatherer diet we are genetically designed to consume. In a simpler form, this includes fresh vegetables, naturally-raised or wild animal meats, fruits with an emphasis on berries, eggs, some starchy tubers, and some nuts and seeds. Eating exactly like a hunter-gatherer is obviously impossible unless you are actually living as a hunter-gatherer, and hunter-gatherer diets can vary widely in their composition. However, they all have one thing in common. They are always exclusive to foods that can be either hunted or gathered, and can be safely consumed without extensive processing. It is this basic principle which guides the Wellness Menu.
What is the Wellness Menu?
Looking above you may have noticed that a few of the contemporary “food groups” are absent. These would be grains, dairy, and legumes. These foods became part of the human diet when we decided to take up agriculture and animal husbandry. Believe it or not, humans did exist before John Deer, and at one point in our history we lived only as hunter-gatherer societies. This fact alone is not reason enough to avoid these food groups, but a significant portion of the human population will have adverse health consequences because of their consumption. Agreement exists in the scientific community on the fact that our health suffers when regularly consuming the processed and packaged products, which are heavily grain and dairy-based, filling our shelves today. Some of you will do just fine with a small to moderate amount of minimally processed dairy from naturally raised cows. Properly preparing and cooking legumes and grains are essential if they are to be eaten, and their consumption should be few and far between.
What About the Other Food Groups?
Eating from the Wellness Menu ensures that you are accomplishing what most nutritional authorities (including the USDA) espouse as the most important nutritional goals. Moving away from processed calorie-dense foods and towards nutrient-dense foods is best accomplished using the ancestral health model for nutrition. A hunter-gatherer diet provides sufficient and appropriate nutrition1, as well as avoids the toxic elements in our modern diet (like excessive sugar), like no other. Research studies show that a hunter-gatherer diet also outperforms others in improving biomarkers associated with diabetes, and also results in a natural reduction in calorie consumption without having to consciously restrict them.2
The Right Principles as a Guide.
The Wellness Menu
(Wild-caught fish, pastured grass-fed beef, pastured chicken/pork/etc.)
-Raw Fruits (especially berries)
-Eggs (preferably from pastured chickens)
-Some Nuts and Seeds
-Some Starchy Tubers
Not On The Menu
-Industrial seed oils (Vegetable, Canola, Soybean, Sunflower, Safflower, Rapeseed, etc.)
-Sugary drinks (including more than 6-8 ounces of fruit juices per day)
-Grains (breads, pastas, etc)
-Most legumes (beans, peanuts)
-Fast Food and most Restaurant Food.
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You may be asking if something that seems so restrictive is really necessary to live a wellness lifestyle and prevent chronic illness. First of all, few things are harder than living with and dying from a chronic illness, and a wellness and prevention dietary strategy is well worth the “sacrifice.” However, at first glance the Wellness Menu does seem restrictive, but I can tell you from personal experience that nothing could be farther from the truth! After fully embracing an ancestral diet my family’s meals are more varied and delicious than ever. The only thing I feel like I’m restricting related to my diet is the energy swings, bloated gut, and food cravings that I was happy to part with.
1. Cordain, L. JANA 2002, 5:3. 2. Jonsson T et al. Cardiovascular Diabetology 2009, 8:35.
The Wellness Menu seems hard and restrictive.