- I don’t eat meat and I’m not a big fan of salads and smoothies, so I always felt unhealthy.
- Blue Zone diets are mostly plant-based and include plenty of beans and whole grains.
- Learning about the diets of the world’s seniors has validated my eating habits.
Growing up, I was always ashamed of not liking foods that were good for you, like salads and smoothies. Try as I might, I never ate iceberg lettuce or acai bowls, and I convinced myself I was doomed to live an unhealthy lifestyle.
This feeling doubled when I decided to stop eating meat six years ago and started getting lectures and questions about my protein intake.
At the same time, I was exercising more than ever and had no problems during my annual checkups. If something happens, Reducing meat intake has resulted in lower blood cholesterol levels. However, I came to terms with the fact that I was probably compromising my health, even though I felt physically better than ever.
But when I watched… A new Netflix documentary about the Five Blue Zones – Places in the world where people live longer than average – I realized I had been on a Blue Zone diet the whole time. One takeaway was that people mostly eat Vegetarian diets And that One of my favorite sources of protein, beans are a superfoods.
Learning more about blue zones helped me finally embrace the diet I’d been on for years, while also showing me that the things I could improve on (like cutting out processed foods) were more accessible.
I get most of my protein from beans, tofu, and nuts
My partner is vegan, so when I meal prep for the week, I make something vegan that we can eat together. To get enough protein, I cook with lots of beans, lentils, and tofu, and I add peanut butter, chia seeds, and hemp seeds to my morning oats. Because we lift weights, we also drink plant-based protein powder as a supplement.
I end up eating vegan about 80% of the time, and only consume fish, eggs, and dairy when I order takeout or go out to eat.
It turns out that this is similar to a high-protein diet Blue area Residents follow. They eat mostly beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, including fish, cheese, and eggs sometimes, but not often.
When I tried to eat like a resident of the Blue Zone from… Nicoya, Costa RicaI was thrilled to learn that the meals consisted of squash, beans, and corn—all foods I love.
I prefer stir-fries and grain bowls over store-bought salads
The problem with salads is that I usually don’t feel full unless I add more protein. Plus, I’m picky: I hate the idea of store-bought dressing or unseasoned raw vegetables.
It turns out I just want my fruits and vegetables to take a different shape. People in Okinawa, Japan eat Nutrient-packed stir-fries with tofu and squash, plus plenty of seaweed, all of which I could eat in a heartbeat. The main advice for Okinawans in the Netflix series is to remember that no one food carries all the nutrients, so it’s important to change things up.
Many Blue Zone residents also harvest and cook their own food. When I make my own salads or grain bowls at home, I usually add this Lots of grilled vegetables And I make my own clothesWhich helps me know exactly what I’m eating.
I’ve learned not to stress so much about my diet and eat what I love
I don’t follow the ideal blue zone diet. I still eat processed snacks and sugary sweets, both of which I try to limit. Dr. Heidi Teesenbaum, professor of molecular, cell and cancer biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, previously told Insider: Reducing added sugars promotes longevity.
But knowing that the diet that made me feel good is actually good for me removes the shame-filled voice in my head that I’ve had for years. I no longer wonder why I can run a half marathon and deadlift without eating piles of chicken breasts, or if I would live 10 years longer if I forced myself to eat raw kale more often.
Knowing that I am getting enough vitamins and protein from my diet? I never did beans better.
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