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
It all started with a banana pepper…
It is now clear that food (i.e. a poor diet) is killing more Americans than all other sources. This isn’t just a vague statistic, it’s a personal crisis that is already affecting your friends and family. But why is this happening? What, specifically, is causing this crisis?
The simple answer is over-processing and industrialization of our food.
In May of 2012, I became disgusted with the way our society approaches food. Most of the stuff available on grocery store shelves or restaurant menus can hardly be called food. It is more like industrialized products that give us the calories we need to survive, but not the nutrients we need to thrive.
I began looking at something as simple as a Subway sandwich and was horrified to discover that it had over 100 distinct ingredients in one simple meal. Just the freakin’ banana pepper itself was processed with 10 ingredients (Banana peppers, water, distilled vinegar, salt, calcium chloride, sodium benzoate, sodium metabisulfite, yellow #5, natural flavors, polysorbate 80)! I looked at that slimy luminescent green ring and realized that humanity had no hope if something as simple as a pepper could no longer be just a pepper.
“Could that actually work?”
I began to wonder how I could “fix” 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 or a grocery store and pick up a meal from only whole foods. Everything is processed with dozens or hundreds of ingredients that are making people sick.
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: Stop eating any foods that contain more than one, whole ingredient that you can hold in your hand. Cut out the ingredients and you cut out the processing.
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? It sounds way too simple and way too crazy. But the truth is, it absolutely works. The nutrition, the cooking, the taste – everything about this diet just makes sense. This crazy idea I had in May 2012, and the following experiments I did, changed my life for the better and I know it can work for you too.
The One Ingredient Diet: Explained
The One Ingredient Diet has just two guidelines that are simple enough for a first-grader to understand, but powerful enough to save lives.
Rule #1: Eat Only Plants
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.
However, simply eating a vegan diet is 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 bodies. There are too many ways to “cheat” on a vegan diet by eating junk food that is no healthier than most animal products. Thus, Rule #2 takes us to the heart of The One Ingredient Diet:
Rule #2: Eat One-Ingredient Foods
Everything you eat should 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.
Of course, you can then combine ingredients (i.e. cook) to form delicious meals – I’m here to help with that! Each item does not need to be eaten by itself. The rule is simply that, when you buy the products, they must start out as one whole and natural ingredient.
As I already mentioned, this rule cuts out processed and refined foods that are so dangerous to our bodies. It is simple, automatic, and foolproof.
There are several exceptions. The diet does allow two-ingredient items if the other ingredient is water or sea salt, and a few more exceptions that make life easier without breaking the spirit of the rule. My free manifesto (see the bottom of this page) has more details on the specifics.
Look, I’m just a kid who likes to make 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.
We 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 - anything under 6.4 is not even considered diabetic.
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 hardcore 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 foods 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.
You can get started by browsing the Recipe Archive for dozens of delicious recipes that are easy to make. Also, I could encourage you to download my free manifesto that describes this diet in more detail:
For a more detailed look at the problems with our current food system and how The One Ingredient Diet can help get your health back on track, download my free manifesto. It includes a full description of the diet, sample menu plans, and more:
Get the Manifesto
Get free access to the One Ingredient Chef Manifesto eBook with resources, recipes, and menu plans that show you how to improve your health by cooking with only *real* ingredients. You’ll also get free email updates with my latest recipes: