Simply put, a nutrivore mindfully eats towards maximizing the amount of nutrients per calorie based on their needs.
When we fuel our bodies with a wide variety of high-nutrient foods, we eat a better mix of vitamins and minerals—not to mention creating and maintaining a healthy gut environment.
Let me pause right here and state, there is no one-size-fits-all diet. Everyone has different needs.
However, I do believe one thing is true for everyone: Our bodies respond to the food we give it. This can be both good and bad, depending on the person. This is why we hear of athletes “carb loading” for fuel, or people having terrible allergic reactions to peanuts and shellfish.
Think about it: when people get sick, they go to their local pharmacy and buy over-the-counter items that contain vitamin C and zinc—a vitamin and mineral most people don’t get enough of in a standard American diet. If that’s the case, what might we eat to make our bodies thrive, to have a strong immune system, and to not get depleted in nutrients?
I’m convinced that all calories are not created equal. If someone is eating 2,000 calories a day and those calories are comprised of a coffee and muffin for breakfast, a fast-food lunch, and pizza and wine for dinner, that is not going to be as nutritious as someone who is eating a whole-food smoothie for breakfast, a hearty salad for lunch, and quality protein, sweet potato, and broccoli for dinner. I’m sorry—it’s just not the same.
Wait. I’m not saying that people should never eat muffins, fast-food, or pizza (unless you have a known health reason). But, can we agree that most people eat too much processed junk food full of calories but low in nutrients?
I am saying that we should be more conscious of what we eat to fuel our bodies. Isn’t it just common sense that eating a real vegetable or piece of fruit is better for us than something processed out of a box or bag?
So, what might eating like a nutrivore look like? More often than not, I strive to fuel my body with organic vegetables, fruit, nuts, high-quality protein, select grains and legumes properly prepared, and some dairy. My goal is to follow this eating plan at least 80% of the time, leaving the other 20% flexible.
You know what happened? I now sometimes go out for that occasional treat with friends, and foods that I thought I loved don’t taste that great to me anymore. I find myself craving food that is actually good for me. I would rather have miso-glazed sea bass instead of beer battered fish and chips. I now prefer a hamburger patty on a salad rather than a bun. If I have pizza, I would prefer it to taste like the wood-fired pizza I had the privilege of tasting in Rome, and happily, there are more wood-fired gourmet pizza places around.
We’ve all heard “it’s not a diet—it’s a lifestyle.” I used to roll my eyes. I hated that phrase. But now I understand the freedom behind it. My “diet” is not defined by what I can’t eat but by what I do eat. It’s important to enjoy our food—real food, whole food, properly prepared. Your body will thank you for it. After all, our bodies were designed to run on the food God created for it.
What shifts could you make to eat like a nutrivore?
For more information on what a healthy nutrivore diet looks like listen to this podcast from The Whole View and read this article from Chris Kresser.