Choosing foods that work for you -- not against you -- is what Pritikin eating is all about.
Making optimal food choices is an integral part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. An optimal plan emphasizes unrefined, minimally-processed plant foods. This is the Pritikin Eating Plan. Its focus is vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, peas, and starchy vegetables like potatoes and yams, along with modest amounts of nonfat dairy (or soy) products and fish. These foods, combined with regular exercise and effective management of stress, should help you live a healthier and longer life.
The typical Western diet is too high in cholesterol, fat, saturated and trans fats, and salt (sodium), and too low in fiber and many important nutrients. The typical Western diet also includes an excess of nutrient-poor and calorie-dense foods such as sugar and other refined sweeteners, refined grains, refined fats and oils, and alcohol. The Pritikin® Eating Plan, on the other hand, is low in total fat (especially hydrogenated and saturated fat) and sodium, and rich in natural unprocessed foods that are loaded with vitamins, minerals, beneficial phytonutrients, antioxidants, and dietary fiber with adequate amounts of protein and essential fatty acids.
Food choices for a lifetime of good health
GO - Recommended Foods
Choose at least five servings of unrefined complex carbohydrates per day
Five or more servings daily of whole grains (wheat, oats, rye, brown rice, barley, quinoa, millet), starchy vegetables (like potatoes, yams, and winter squashes), chestnuts, beans, and peas. A ½-cup serving is about 80 calories. Limit refined grains (such as white bread, white rice, white pasta) as much as possible.
Choose at least five vegetable servings per day
Five (preferably more) servings of raw or cooked vegetables daily. A serving (1 cup raw or 1/2 cup cooked) is about 25 calories. Include dark green, yellow, red, or orange vegetables daily.
Choose at least four fruit servings per day
Four or more servings of whole fruit daily. For most fruits, a serving fits in your hand and is about 60 calories.
Choose two calcium-rich foods per day
Two servings daily (90 to 100 calories each). Choose from: nonfat milk (1 cup), nonfat yogurt (3/4 cup), nonfat ricotta (1/2 cup), or nonfat or low-fat soy milk (1 cup).
Choose no more than one serving of animal protein per day
Fish or shellfish are preferable over lean white meat poultry, and choose lean poultry over lean red meat. A serving is about 3-1/2 ounces cooked or the size of the palm of your hand and the thickness of a deck of cards.
Optimally, limit poultry to no more than one serving per week and red meat to no more than one serving per month. If you prefer red meat weekly, substitute free-range, grass-fed bison in place of poultry.
Vegetarian options: For maximal cholesterol reduction, choose on most days legumes like beans, peas, and lentils or soy products like tofu instead of lean meat, fish, or poultry.
Culinary herbs are rich sources of many beneficial phytonutrients, and are a good way to add flavor without extra calories, fats, or salt. Include at least 1 to 2 teapoons of dried herbs or 1 to 2 tablespoons of fresh herbs each day.
GO - In Moderation
Water (plain, bottled, low-sodium, mineral), hot grain beverages (coffee substitutes), and non-medicinal herbal teas (such as peppermint, rosehips, or chamomile), and cocoa powder – up to 2 tablespoons per day (use non-alkali processed).
If you choose to drink caffeinated beverages, we recommend no more than 3 caffeinated cups of tea a day OR no more than 1 caffeinated cup of coffee a day (1 cup = 8 ounces).
Limit to 1 to 2 egg whites per day.
If your weight is fine
Celebrate! Eat as many whole grains, vegetables, legumes (such as beans and peas), and fruits as you want. Enjoy more calorie-dense foods such as avocados and nuts, but limit them to keep your weight under control. Limit avocado intake to no more than 2 ounces per day. Limit walnuts, flaxseeds, almonds, pumpkin seeds, pecans, pistachios, sunflower seeds, filberts (hazelnuts), peanuts, cashews, and macadamia nuts to no more than 1 ounce per day.
If you want to lose weight
Go wild on vegetables. The more vegetables, including dark green, yellow, red, or orange vegetables, the better!
Limit calorie-dense foods such as dried grains (breads, crackers, cold cereals), dried fruits, nuts, and seeds. Avoid refined or concentrated sweeteners. They all pack a lot of calories into very small amounts of food. You’ll find it much easier to feel full and satisfied – and curb hunger – if you focus instead on high-water, high-fiber foods like cooked grains (oatmeal and brown rice), vegetables, and whole fruits. You’ll eat more – and weigh less.
Go easy on fruit and vegetable juices because they provide less satiety than whole fruits and vegetables.
While artificial sweeteners have not been proven to aid weight loss, they may be of benefit to people with diabetes, elevated triglycerides, and those following the Pritikin Eating Plan to lose weight. Limit intake to 3 to 6 packets per day. Sucralose (Splenda) appears to be the safest choice.
CAUTION - The Less the Better
While “Caution” foods are not recommended, this list provides direction when food choices are limited.
Refined fats and oils: Limit the consumption of ALL oils to no more than 1 teaspoon per 1000 calories consumed, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, because all refined oils have the highest calorie density of any food or ingredient.
Use in moderation or not at all. For women, up to 4 drinks per week, with no more than 1/2 to 1 drink per day. For men, up to 7 drinks per week, with no more than 1 to 2 drinks per day. A drink is approximately 5 ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1-1/2 ounces of 80 proof liquor. Choose red wine over white wine, wine over beer, and either over liquor.
Refined or Concentrated Sweeteners
For healthy individuals who choose to use sweeteners, a suggested rule of thumb is a maximum of 2 tablespoons of fruit juice concentrate or 1 tablespoon of other refined sweeteners (such as barley malt, corn syrup, rice syrup) per 1000 calories consumed. None is optimal. Avoid fructose and high fructose corn syrup.
Salt and High-Sodium Foods, Condiments
Avoid added salt, and highly salted, pickled, and smoked foods. Limit foods that have more than 1 mg of sodium per calorie so as not to exceed 1200 to 1500 mg of sodium per day, depending on age.
Limit as much as possible foods containing refined grains (such as white pasta, white bread, and white rice).
STOP - Think About It First
When faced with foods in the “Stop” category, search for choices in the “Go,” and, if necessary, “Caution” foods. “Stop” foods, due to their high content of saturated fat, hydrogenated fat, cholesterol, and/or sodium, may significantly compromise your personal health goals.
Limit the following choices to less than once per month. None is optimal.
Animal Fats, Tropical Oils, and Processed Refined Oils
Such as butter, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, lard, chicken fat, palm oil, cocoa butter, chocolate, margarine, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and shortenings.
Such as fatty meats, organ meats, and processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, and bologna).
Whole and Low-Fat Dairy
All cheese, cream, cream cheese, half-and-half, ice cream, milk, sour cream, and yogurt, unless fat-free and low in sodium.
Egg yolks, deep-fried foods, non-dairy whipped toppings, rich desserts and pastries, and salty snack foods.