“In the United States and most Western countries, diet-related chronic diseases represent the single largest cause of morbidity and mortality.” – Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet
In other words, food is now the single largest cause of death in America. I remember the day I came across the above quote in a research paper. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. How is it possible that food — the stuff that keeps us alive and gives our bodies the nourishment we need to thrive — could become the most deadly weapon in the Western world?
The answer is simple: over the last 100 years, processed chemical-laden foods have come to replace the whole, natural ingredients that our bodies need to stay healthy. As real food fell into decline, so did our health.
It all started with a banana pepper…
Clearly, food (processed food) is behind this health epidemic, but why? What, specifically, is wrong with our food system? That answer came to me one afternoon after I stopped by a local sandwich shop to pick up a “fresh” and “healthy” veggie sub. As I sat at my desk back home and took the first bite, one of the banana pepper rings caught my eye. Something was off. It was just too… bright. Literally, it was almost glowing.
To find out what was going on, I navigated to this restaurant’s website where they publish the ingredient list for all their meals. It was horrific. The 10+ page document loaded and I was staring at an endless list of ingredients that looked like they belonged in a chemistry lab instead of a kitchen. Azodicarbonamide, disodium guanylate, and even a dash of silicon dioxide. The worst part of all, my suspicions about the banana peppers turned out to be correct. They were not “one ingredient” on this list, oh no, banana peppers occupied an entire section of the list with a total of 10 different ingredients to their name:
Banana peppers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate, sodium metabisulfite, yellow #5, natural flavors, polysorbate 80. One pepper. Ten Ingredients.
I spent the rest of that afternoon dissecting the ingredient list. In total, the sandwich I was eating contained 114 different ingredients in every bite. One hundred fourteen! Looking at this list, it suddenly made sense to me how “food” could have become so deadly. Our bodies were simply not designed to ingest these types of chemicals that have replaced real food.
“Could that actually work?”
I began to wonder how I could solve this crisis for myself and anyone who would listen. But there was a problem – processed foods were so prolific that you couldn’t simply go to a restaurant and pick up a meal with only unprocessed ingredients. I mean, if a banana pepper could no longer be just a banana pepper, but is now a concoction of 10 chemicals, what hope do we have?
It became clear to me that there was only one solution: stop eating anything that is not in its natural state. That’s when I got the idea for The One Ingredient Diet: Eat plant-based foods that start out as one whole ingredient you can hold in your hand.
Cut out the ingredients and you cut out the processing. It’s that simple.
You see, if you eat only whole foods – by definition – you remove the processing, the industrialization, and the dangerous food additives. When you hold an apple in your hand, it is obviously a whole unprocessed food. There’s no processed sugars or additives. You don’t even have to think about it. An apple is just an apple. Imagine that.
“Could eating only whole foods actually work over the long-term?” I wondered. It sounded too simplistic and too crazy. But as my experiments over the next few months proved, it absolutely works. The nutrition, the cooking, and the taste all come together in perfect harmony. Even more, the recipes on this website show how eating “One Ingredient” can make your diet healthier and more delicious at the same time.
This one simple idea changed my life for the better and I believe it can work for you too.
The One Ingredient Diet: Explained
The One Ingredient Diet’s only guideline is to eat plant-based foods that start out as one whole ingredient. This is basic enough for a first-grader to understand, but powerful enough to save lives. Let’s break it down…
Eat plant-based foods…
For the average meat eater, this might sound like treason. But the fact is, a “vegan” diet without any animal products (i.e. meat, fish, dairy, butter, and eggs) is extremely good for your health, and as my recipes show on this website, you don’t have to sacrifice taste or quality to eat plants. This type of diet has been shown to reverse heart disease, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancers, reverse obesity, and improve health in so many ways. The evidence advocating a plant-based diet is mounting year-by-year and it is one of the smartest decisions you can make to improve your health and vitality.
…that start out as…
As I first got started experimenting with “one ingredient” eating, I imagined myself downing handfuls of whole spinach, or entire bags of blueberries. Then, I realized that these foods needed only to start out as one ingredient that I could hold in my hand. What I did with them after that was up to me. That’s when I discovered the power of this diet. By combining real, fresh, whole ingredients, I was able to create some of the most delicious meals of my life that just happened to be the healthiest as well.
…one whole ingredient.
While a vegan diet is a great step, it’s simply not enough. I had been eating a vegan diet long before I developed The One Ingredient Diet and I knew all the loopholes – there are many products (cookies, microwavable & packaged foods, chips, refined sugars, fast food, etc.) that are technically vegan, but still dangerous to our health. That’s why the “one ingredient” guideline is so important. The idea is that nearly everything you eat will start out as one whole ingredient that you can hold in your hand. Tomatoes, carrots, apples, brown rice, spinach, avocado, whole wheat, coconuts, etc.
This is so simple it doesn’t even need a description. Just read the package and if it says, “ingredients: brown rice” go for it. But if it has a list of 300 mono-sodium-whatevers, forget it.
There are several clarifications. The diet does allow two-ingredient items if the other ingredient is water or salt, and a few more exceptions that make life easier without breaking the spirit of this philosophy. My free manifesto (see the bottom of this page) explores this eating plan in more detail.
Look, I’m just a guy who likes to make deliciously healthy food. I’m not a doctor or scientist and I don’t have access to large-scale research facilities to do tests and give you empirical data. Yet, I do have one story to share with you.
My mother has type-2 diabetes and has long struggled with weight management and eating a proper diet. I invited her to try The One Ingredient Diet for a month and the results were astounding.
bloodSugarWe kept a log of her blood sugar levels in the months prior to and during the trial. In this chart, the pre-trial numbers are in orange and the One Ingredient numbers are in green. In just one month, her blood sugar levels dropped so much that she had to begin reducing her dependence on insulin.
But perhaps most notable was her hemoglobin A1c scores. This is a blood test that measures the control of diabetes over the long-term (~3 months). After trying this diet for just one of those three months, her score was 6.3 – so low that it’s nearly pre-diabetic levels.
In addition, without any changes to physical activity, she began losing about one pound per week and steadily moving towards her ideal weight.
It might be just one person, but I want you to understand how this diet can make a real impact in your life and the lives of those you care about. It has for me.
That’s When I Fell in Love with Food
Forget the health benefits. Forget the fact that this lifestyle can literally save lives. Forget that it’s better for the environment and reduces animal cruelty. I love this diet because I’m able to cook the best food of my life.
When I started preparing real, whole, natural foods, something interesting happened… I fell in love with cooking. To my surprise, the whole-food dishes I began to make were some of the most delicious meals I had ever eaten. Turning “food” back into food has profound benefits on your body, your mind, and even your enjoyment of the food itself.
These days, I just want to cook amazingly delicious and healthy food all day long and share them with you. My message is The One Ingredient Diet and my medium is the food itself. That’s why I started OneIngredientChef.com – to show you how to cook simple and delicious recipes that can change your life.