by Catherine M. Haug, January 2007; updated February 2007, August 2007, July 2008, and April and May, 2019
I grew up in the 1950s-60s, when everyone in my rural community either grew/raised most of their food, or bought them from other local farers/ranchers. It was a very balanced diet of quality foods, moderately high in fats and low in starchy/sugary carbs. I was a healthy child.
But for me, all that changed after I graduated from college in 1970. I worked as a Kelly Girl, and had to make do on a meager wage. My diet was primarily inexpensive white flour foods because that was all I could afford. I became hypoglycemic and had other health issues because I ate very little protein and fats, and a lot of sweets.
Fortunately, I finally got a good paying job as a telephone engineer, and could afford a good diet. Despite the popularity of a high-carb, low fat diet that my doctors tried to get me to follow, I went back to eating as I had as a child – most of the time – and my health improved, though my craving for sweet things that developed in the early 70s, continued.
When I retired in the early 2000s, I could spend more time cooking my own meals and also researching the internet for a diet that would be best for me, to curb my sweet cravings and stop the progression from hypo- to hyper-glycemia associated with type-2 diabetes. What follows is the result of that research.
- Includes: 1. Compare Food Pyramids; 2. Recommendations by Meal (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, Snacks); 3. Other Considerations; 4. Daily diet Example
- See also: 1. Diet and Health Menu; 2. Ketogenic Diet
- More about Whole Foods: 1. Whole Foods: What they Are, Which Are Not; 2. Whole Foods Signatures; 3. Whole Foods: Local vs Organic; Procuring Healthful Foods; 4. Storage of Whole Foods.
Cat’s Diet History, Continued
I originally wrote this article in 2007, when I was eating a balanced moderate fat, moderate protein and moderate but good-carbs diet, with occasional sweet treats. I had gained weight around my middle and was diagnosed with “insulin resistance.” I continued my research for the best diet for me, and in 2014, found an amazing article by Dr. Mercola (1D): Beginners Guide to Ketogenic Diet, a type of low-carb, high-fat plan designed to reset your metabolism to burn fat instead of sugar for energy.
That article inspired me to give the keto plan a try. This change has had such a remarkable positive change to my health, that I plan to continue with it for the remainder of my life. I’ve add a short keto-summary to the original post. The main things I eliminated from my diet were grains, potatoes and dried legumes, which are very hi-carb foods. The first positive effect – after just 2 days – was that I no longer craved sugar. I could look at sugary foods in the bakery case, and note how pretty they were, but I didn’t want them.
Some hi-carb foods are primarily hi-fiber, which are better choices (“good carbs”) than those that are hi-starch (“bad carbs”). Hi-fiber carbs include root vegetables like beets, carrots, turnips; winter squash. After initially eliminating these when I started the new eating plan, I found I wasn’t getting enough fiber, so added these hi-fiber foods back to my diet, and also increased nuts.
Then, with time, my life took on new meaning, and my happiness level increased significantly. I was hoping that I would regain insulin sensitivity, and I would lose weight, but that didn’t happen, at least not over the next 4 years. However, that negative did not change the overall happiness I felt. I added a summary of my keto plan to this posting.
In late 2018, I modified my keto plan to a Cyclic Keto plan (see Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) and Metabolic Mitochondrial Therapy (MMT) for more detail, but I have not added a pyramid or plate; instead I just added a summary of that modified plan.
Compare Food Pyramids/Plates
In this section, I compare three dietary plans:
- The original USDA Food Pyramid and Plate (high carb, low fat, moderate protein);
- My pre-2014 Food Pyramid and Circle (moderate fat, moderate protein and moderate but good-carbs diet, with occasional sweet treats); and
- My Keto Pyramid (2014) and Keto-circle (2019) for my current high fat, moderate protein and low-carb diet.
The USDA version
[This was originally a pdf article saved in HEALTH-NUTRITION > DIET / FoodPyramids-RecomDiet.pdf. However, it has been updated in the text that follows.]
Image, below, of the food pyramid introduced in 1992, from USDA (8A).
I’ve spent a fair amount of time studying the USDA Food Pyramid, and find that I do not agree with it in several instances. It has more recently been replaced in 2005 with a newer version, and then with a ”My Plate” version in 2011. But the basic recommendations are much the same through these changes. In my opinion, this Pyramid is:
- Too heavy on grains, comprising 37% of the daily diet calories. Grains are quite controversial, being relatively new to the human diet. Ancient hunter-gatherers rarely ate grains, if ever. Many experts believe that grains are behind the problems caused by a modern diet (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.). I don’t go that far, but I certainly don’t believe it should be the major part of the daily diet. And when you do consume grains, they should be sprouted whole grains or baked goods from soaked or fermented (sourdough) flour, to maximize the nutrition and minimize allergenicity.
- Not specific on quality of protein foods; proteins (meat, dried beans/peas, eggs and nuts) comprise 20% of the daily diet calories. However more detail about the source of the protein. Meats should be raised and finished in pasture, dried beans/peas should be sprouted before cooking, and nuts should be sprouted then dried before eating.
- Too light on fats.Indeed, they are not even represented in the food pyramid (the advice is “use sparingly”). Yet certain fats are considered essential for health, and a lack of them can lead to diseased states. Fatty whole foods also contain the essential fat soluble vitamins (A, D and E); indeed, they are the major food source of these vitamins and so should not be avoided. See my articles on dietary fats (on Diet & Health Menu) for more info.
- Too light on vegetables. The USDA recommendations clearly rely on whole grains to provide adequate fiber in the diet. While it is admirable that they even considered fiber, it is a wonder that they don’t give more credit to the fiber in vegetables and fruits. Because I would prefer a lower grain requirement, I increase veggie servings to make up the difference. I find that veggies fill me up better and longer than grains.
- Fruits could be increased, but they should be whole (not juiced) to avoid too much sugar.
Similarly, I have issues with the Food Plate, introduced in 2011 as illustrated, right (from USDA (8B):
- Fats are not even shown;
- Protein is too high;
- Fruits and vegetables are too low (they should take up a larger portion of the plate);
- Grains should be “sprouted or fermented grains;”
- Portion occupied by “dairy” is not clear; neither does it indicate dairy should be raw or simply pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized). Also, does it include cheese and other cultured dairy?
Cat’s Food Pyramid/Circle, 2007-2013
For all the reasons above (USDA Food Pyramid/Plate section), I prefer to use my own version of the food pyramid. I show two different ways to present the concept:
- a pyramid.
- a circle or pie-chart (roughly what your lunch or dinner plate should look like) ;
Either way, it’s based on a daily diet of 2100 calories (the same as the USDA pyramid). The % amounts are % of total calories. Images, below-left and below-right are by Cat. NOTE: this was before I changed to ketogenic plan.
- Fats include added fats for cooking, using on bread or veggies, etc. It does not include those naturally present in other foods.
- “Protein” includes both animal and plant protein foods: meats, eggs, legumes (should be sprouted), nuts (should be sprouted or at least joked then dried before eating very many of them). Note: I no longer include nuts in protein category, as they provide more fat than protein; they also provide good carbs.
- “Dairy” includes milk, cream, and cultured dairy like yogurt, kefir and cheeses. Cheeses can also be in the protein category. Butter is counted in the Added Fats category.
- “Good Carbs:” Vegetables and whole fruits are the low-carb carbohydrates, including fruits and most veggies, plus high-fiber carbs such as winter squash, sweet potatoes/yams, and whole grains (sprouted or fermented). It excludes juiced fruits and starchy veggies because of the released sugars. This group doesn’t provide many calories. This group also includes nuts, but in the pyramid, they are included with protein foods.
- “Bad Carbs” includes juiced fruits, potatoes, and processed grains such as white flour. This group is excluded from the pyramid altogether.
Here’s Cat’s Food Circle:
- 3 servings of dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese), 150 calories per serving;
- 3 servings of protein foods (meat, eggs, legumes), 190 calories per serving;
- 4 servings of fruit (100 calories each) and 8 servings of veggies (10 calories per serving);
- 6 servings of cereal grains (for example, oatmeal, bread, corn), 72 calories per serving;
- 3 Tbsp added fats (for example, cod liver or fish oil, flax oil, cooking oil, butter), 45 calories per Tbsp.
This includes the following examples of serving sizes:
- Added Fat: 2 Tbsp per day, preferably This does not include the fat that naturally occurs in meats, eggs, nuts and dairy.
- Grains: ½ cup cooked oatmeal or other porridge, or 1 slice of sprouted whole grain bread per serving.
- Veggies: 1 cup salad greens or raw leafy veggies, or ½ cup chopped raw or braised veggies per serving.
- Fruit: 1 medium raw fruit, or ½ cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit per serving. NOTE: Regarding fruit: the earlier in the day the better. Eating sweet treats at night puts a strain on your system that may keep you from sleeping well, and cause low blood sugar in the morning.
- Protein: 4 – 6 oz meat/fish or ⅔ cup cooked dried beans, 3 eggs, or 2½ Tbsp nut butter per serving;
- Dairy: 1 cup milk or yogurt, or 2 oz cheese per serving (NOTE: all dairy should be raw or simply pasteurized – NOT ultra-pasteurized).
NOTES on Each Category
- Added fats: 3 servings, about 95 calories each. Good fats include: krill or fish oil, butter from grass-fed cows, pure olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, lard from pastured hogs, and fat from ducks or geese. 2013 update: I now believe that, at least for protein types like me, total dietary fat should be greater than 50%, perhaps as high as 70%. See About Fats, an Introduction, Good Fats for Cooking, and Good (Healthful) vs Bad (Not-Healthful) Fats and Oils (infographic).
- Nuts and Seeds: These are generally included in the protein category, but they are also high in fat and good carbs. 1 serving per day is a good place to start. For example:
- 1 oz sunflower seeds contains 14 grams fat, 6 grams protein and 5 grams carbohydrate, and 125 total calories. This translates to 99% of calories from fat and 1% from protein and carbs combined.
- 2.5 Tbsp nut butter is also considered a protein serving, providing about 12 grams protein. It also provides about 24 grams of fat.
- Cereal Grains: (for example, oatmeal, bread, corn), 6 servings, 72 calories each. Example servings are ½ cup cooked oatmeal or 1 slice of whole grain bread. Grains should be sprouted before eating, and flours should be pre-soaked or fermented (sourdough).
- Veggies:(greens, green beans or peas, winter and summer squash, beets, carrots, onions, potatoes, yams, onion, garlic, etc.), 8 servings, about 10 calories each. Example servings are 1 cup salad greens or raw leafy veggies, or ½ cup chopped raw veggies. NOTE: Starchy veggies have much higher calorie count; for example, potatoes are about 100 calories per half-cup serving and winter squash is about 40 calories per half-cup serving.
- Fruit: 4 servings, 100 calories each. Example servings are 1 medium raw fruit, or ½ cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit.
- Dairy: (milk, yogurt, cheese), 3 servings, 100 – 150 calories each. Example servings are 1 cup whole milk or yogurt, or 1 oz cheese. All dairy should be raw, or at least cultured (yogurt, etc.). If pasteurization is important for you, choose simple pasteurization (vat or HTST), as ultra-pasteurization is harmful to milk’s fats and proteins. Culturing partially-digests the fats and proteins in milk, and restores some of the enzymes, which helps.
- Protein foods: (meats such as chicken, fish, pork and beef; eggs; and legumes), 3 servings, 190 calories each. Each serving should provide about 18 – 24 grams protein. Example servings are 3 oz beef or lamb, 3.5 oz chicken or salmon, ⅔ cup cooked dry beans, or 3 eggs.
Cat’s Keto Food Circle, 2013-present
July 2015 Update: For the last year I’ve been experimenting with a ketogenic eating plan, which is low carb, high fat, and moderate protein. This has been very good for my health – I no longer crave sugary foods, for example. The following is a summary; see Ketogenic Diet article for more detail.
The calorie breakdown for my Keto plan is 75% good fats, 20% Protein, 5% good carbs, and no grains (as pictured in image, right), although when I started, it was probably more like 65% fats, 25% protein and 10% good carbs.
Based on above %’s, assuming by calories, for 2000 calories/day, as illustrated in Cat’s Keto Circle, right:
- 75% Fat – 1500 calories (167 grams, at 9 calories per gram);
- 20% protein = 400 calories (100 grams, at 4 calories per gram);
- 5% carb = 100 calories (25 grams, at 4 calories per gram).
NOTE: When figuring calories, remember that fats have higher calorie count per gram than protein and carbs. Fat: 9 cal/g; Protein: 4 cal/g; Carb: 4 cal/g
My typical daily meals, 2014-2015:
- Breakfast: 8 oz fat-rich smoothie that includes ¼ cup raw whole milk, 1 Tbsp cream, 2 Tbsp coconut oil, 2 ml cod liver oil, 2 Tbsp whole-fat plain yogurt, 2 Tbsp whole-fat cottage cheese, 1 coddled egg; ½ fresh avocado, 2 oz green banana, ¼ whole apple, ¼ tsp fermented orange (flesh and peel), fresh parsley, and various powdered supplements. (I make twice this amount and save the other half for dinner’s dessert);
- Lunch: typically a salad (with chicken or salmon, nuts and homemade salad dressing that includes real olive oil or avo-mayo), and a dessert of fresh apple and brie cheese;
- Dinner: typically 2-3 oz of meat (bison, chicken, pork or fish), braised broccoli, kale or green beans, steamed beet-root, and a greens salad with basil-balsamic dressing, followed by leftover smoothie and small handful of sprouted almonds, cashews or pecans for dessert.
Cyclic ketogenic (CKD) plan
In 2016 I altered my keto plan to a cyclic keto (CKD) plan (see Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD) and Metabolic Mitochondrial Therapy (MMT) for more detail), eating:
- keto as above for 4-5 days a week, and
- lower fat/higher-carb for the remaining 2-3 days in the week.
[Note for protein types: grains should not be consumed for first 60 days of the diet. After that, they can be consumed in small quantities and ONLY if sprouted or pre-soaked whole grains – no white flour. Thus: do not switch from keto to CK until after 60 days, if you plan to add grains.]
I have not yet created a Food Circle/Plate for the CK Diet. Daily menu for:
- Keto days: as above for Ketogenic diet
- High-carb days: as follows (differences from keto plan are in violet):
My typical meals for high-carb days:
- Breakfast: 8 oz fat-rich smoothie that includes ¼ cup raw whole milk, 1 tsp cream, 2 tsp coconut oil, 2 ml cod liver oil, 2 Tbsp whole-fat plain yogurt, 2 Tbsp whole-fat cottage cheese, 1 coddled egg; ¼ fresh avocado, 2 oz yellow banana, ¼ whole apple, ¼ tsp fermented orange (flesh and peel), fresh parsley, and various powdered supplements (I make twice this amount and save the other half for dinner’s dessert);
- Lunch: meaty sandwich on sprouted whole wheat bread with lettuce, tomato and butter or avo-mayo, plus a small greens salad with orange sesame dressing, and dessert of apple and brie cheese;
- Dinner: typically 2-3 oz of meat (bison, chicken, pork or fish), baked winter squash/sweet potato, or slice of sprouted whole wheat bread with butter), steamed beet-root, and a greens salad with basil-balsamic dressing, followed by leftover smoothie and 2 – 3 sprouted almonds, cashews or pecans for dessert.
Note that the hi-carb foods are higher in both starches and fiber, and that added fats are cut roughly in half.
Glycemic Index Info
Don’t be afraid of foods with a high glycemic index, just consume them occasionally and with moderation. It helps to eat them with fat and protein, to slow down their absorption and thus minimize insulin spiking.
For Glycemic Index Tables, refer to the following web sites:
- Diabetes Mall (12)
- Glycemic Edge (13)
- Herbal Vitality (my favorite) (14)
- South Beach Diet (15)
- Unrefined sea salt, such as Celtic sea salt, Himalayan Salt) are preferred, instead of regular salt whenever possible, as they provide the full spectrum of trace minerals. If you cannot find this kind of salt, try Kosher salt, or at least avoid iodized salt (get your iodine from kelp – I add powdered kelp to my morning smoothie). Also try adding a small amount of unrefined sea salt to your drinking water (about ⅛ tsp per cup of filtered water), to avoid dehydration.
- High-vitamin Fats: Because our modern diet is lacking in sources of high-vitamin fats, consider adding the following to your daily regime:
- High vitamin cod liver oil (rich in vitamins A and D), such as Dr Ron’s (10) or Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil (11)
- High vitamin butter or butter oil from grass-fed dairy animals (rich in vitamins A, D and K); for example, Lifeline brand (from Montana) or Kerrygold brand of butter or cheeses (from Ireland (9A, 9B)).
- Spices: Cook and bake with spices frequently, as they provide many health benefits. I add cinnamon to my morning smoothie; I used to add turmeric as well, but it stained my teeth orange, so now I take it in capsules.
I have not added the sections on “Recommendations by Meal,” and “Daily Diet Example” from my old iWeb site (Health-Diet section) to this posting. I may provide them as pdf files.
For parts 1 and 3 of this series on diet, go to:
- (2)mercola.com/2001/jul/14/insulin.htm.for Dr. Ron Rosedale article
- (7) articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/08/18/eating-blueberries-slashes-colon-cancer-risk.aspx
- (9) articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2007/11/06/the-real-reasons-you-want-to-avoid-genetically-modified-foods.aspx
- Beginner’s Guide to Ketogenic Diet: articles.mercola.com/ketogenic-diet.aspx
- (1) westonaprice.org/modernfood/codliver-manufacture.html
- (3) womentowomen.com/digestionandgihealth/acidalkalinefoodchart.asp#alkalizing
- (4) blcwebcafe.org/urinaryph.asp
- (5) rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm
- (6) caloriecountercharts.com/
- (8) Mother Earth News October/November 2007
- nal.usda.gov/fnic/Fpyr/pmap.htm; link no longer valid. See choosemyplate.gov/brief-history-usda-food-guides for brief history of the food guide images.
- Butter: kerrygold.com/usa/irishbut.html
- Cheeses: kerrygold.com/products/?type=cheese
- Dr Ron’s Cod Liver Oil: drrons.com/cod-liver-oil.htm
- Green Pastures Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil (on Amazon, search ASIN B004QCMGTG)
- Diabetes Mall (12): diabetesnet.com/diabetes_food_diet/glycemic_index.php
- Glycemic Edge (13): glycemicedge.com/glycemicindextable.html
- Herbal Vitality (my favorite) (14): herbalvitality.info/aw/glycemic_index.htm
- South Beach Diet (15): southbeach-diet-plan.com/glycemicfoodchart.htm