Frank Lipman: Running Press just released your new cookbook, The Clean Plates Cookbook — congratulations. It’s not like other cookbooks on the shelf. Can you tell me about what makes it so different?
Jared Koch: Unlike most “healthy” cookbooks, this one isn’t about reducing calories, or reducing your diet to bland proteins and steamed vegetables. First, it features my deep nutritional philosophy, expressed through gourmet recipes and more than 100 pages of nutritional advice. It’s the best of the best information I give to my own clients, from how to tell which foods are best for your body type to easy dietary fixes anyone can make, to feel better immediately. As for the recipes, I’ve been honored to receive contributions from some of the world’s most popular chefs, such as Jamie Oliver, Iron Chef winner Marc Forgione, and James Beard Award winner Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern. The recipes span every diet style, from gluten-free to raw to Paleo, because I believe there is no one “right” way to eat.
Frank Lipman: Clean Plates’ definition of what’s “healthy” isn’t the same as what a lot of people might be used to. Can you explain?
Jared Koch: Well, we all know that candy isn’t good for us. But without doing nutritional research, people probably wouldn’t guess that certain things lurking in the “health food” aisle aren’t much better. I founded Clean Plates (www.cleanplates.com) to help make it easier for everyone to figure out and find what’s good for us to eat. In a nutshell, Clean Plates’ philosophy is this: the quality of ingredients is what matters most, whether you’re a carnivore, a vegan, or somewhere in between. “Low calorie” and “low fat” foods often contain fillers and chemicals that our bodies don’t know how to process, or too much sugar and salt. Special diets might work for one person, but not for another. But when we eat whole foods that are as close as possible to their natural state—without additives, pesticides, and other toxins—we feel best, and the foods taste best, too.
Frank Lipman: You mention a few different types of diets. But some experts say the vegan diet is healthier, while others preach the Paleo diet, which emphasizes meat. Where do you stand on that?
Jared Koch: I believe that just as every person is different, no single diet fits everyone. That’s the basis for “bio-individuality,” which just means there’s more than one right way to eat. One person might thrive as a carnivore, another as a vegan. Some bodies tolerate gluten or dairy. Others don’t. Embracing healthy eating means finding the way of eating that makes your body thrive. What’s perfect for your best friend might not be perfect for you, and vice-versa.
Frank Lipman: So if someone wants to pinpoint their ideal diet, what would you recommend?
Jared Koch: Start by tuning in to how you feel. How do you feel after you eat dairy? Do you get a stomachache every time you have bread? Or do you feel great when you eat lean meats, but bloated after cheese? You could try eliminating a certain food for three to four weeks, and seeing how it affects you. Gradually, you’ll discover what works for you. Also remember that your ideal diet at age 18 could be different from what it is at age 40, and that your needs can change based on your activity level. That’s another reason why it’s important not to be rigid about diet “rules.” Listen to your body.
Frank Lipman: Are there any dietary guidelines that do apply to everyone?
Jared Koch: Try to build the overwhelming majority of your diet from natural, high-quality and whole foods—in other words, food that comes from nature, not factories. If you can picture a particular food item growing on a branch or sprouting in a field, then chances are, it’s “real.” (Caution here: many manufacturers misleadingly label products as “all-natural.” “Natural” has no legal definition, so companies use it freely…sometimes, too freely. Read the ingredients list and use your own judgment to decide whether the claim is likely to be true.)
Also, try to eat more plants. They are the most nutrient-dense food source, and everyone would be better off if they ate more of them. When possible, choose local, organic vegetables (especially leafy greens), fruits, nuts and seeds, because they suffer less nutrient loss than their long-distance counterparts, while reaping the benefits of nutrient-rich, organic soils.
If you do decide to eat meat, know its source. Aim to consume high-quality and sustainably raised animals (ideally pasture-raised and grass- fed, but at least hormone and antibiotic-free), and do so in moderation, so you’re eating smaller portions and less often.
Frank Lipman: What’s a quick way to feel better immediately?
Jared Koch: Reduce your intake of artificial, chemical-laden, processed foods as well as sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Easy. And of course, sign up to Clean Plates’ free newsletter for more tips and nutrition info at www.cleanplates.com and check out my brand new book The Clean Plates Cookbook here.