The first time I felt a connection to what I ate with how I felt was when I had just finished drinking a cup of coffee and then went upstairs and took a nap. When I researched the effects of sugar on the body I realized I was eating about 1/4 cups of sugar a day just in coffee. I also ate hard candy all afternoon and drank Cokes. I was on a dangerous cycle of sugar highs and lows and it was hard to come off of it. In fact, fifteen years later I’m still working at it. Recently, I realized that white refined starches like bread and rice are sugar foods too. This is because the refinement of flour and rice originally produced to cut down on food-born illnesses at the turn of the previous century, actually reduces the work it takes our bodies to break down these carbs into sugar. The effect of eating white refined starches is an instant sugar rush to the body similar to the refined sugar in sweets and candy.
It is difficult to sift through the misinformation available on nutrition, so several nutritarian sites will provide nutrition scores applied to foods on a scale of 1-1000 with 1000 being the best score. Greens like kale and collards have a 1000 score while honey scores a 1. Refined and processed foods are not on the chart and should be avoided. The ANDI score is based on the amount of nutrients present in the food calorie count. The more nutrients per calorie, the higher the score, the higher the score, the more valuable the food is to our bodies. One exception–and there’s always at least one, is that our bodies also need macronutrients like fat and protein. Don’t think meat here; I’m talking nuts and beans :). Eating only high nutrition-scoring foods would not allow for the consumption of foods high in good fats and protein that our bodies need, and we would become much too thin.
The ANDI score described by Dr. Fuhrman in his Eat for Health book, takes into account the cancer-fighting qualities of food based on the ORAC score–Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. The ANDI scoring system takes a food’s ORAC score and combines it with its nutritional count when applying an ANDI score for any given food. As a breast cancer survivor, including the ORAC score in the final count is important to me, and even if you aren’t a cancer survivor, you can appreciate cancer-fighting foods.
Dr. Fuhrman and Eat Right America made the ANDI scoring system easy to use. After a while, you won’t even need the chart. Basically, eat a lot of cooked and raw greens (kale, collards, spinach, arugula, lettuce, etc.). Add lots of colorful vegetables and a large variety of them. Choose organic and local if you can. Eat some type of good cholesterol fat with them (that’s another blog) like nuts, avocado, olives, anchovies, flaxseed oil, etc. Then, add protein with lots of beans and a couple of handfuls of nuts. For desserts–and you know I am solidly into desserts–eat fruits. Frozen bananas power blended with soymilk and tahini make an awesome healthy ice cream. Dates are megadelicious. Papya has enough sugar to satisfy the sweetest sweet tooth–and that would be me!
For more information about Dr. Fuhrman and his nutritarian style of eating, go to: