Improving your diet by adding things instead of taking them away sounds amazing, doesn’t it? Well, that’s exactly how Dr. Greger’s daily dozen worked for me! You could say, it is a gamified way of living healthy and eating well. But first, let’s start with some background information for you.
Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
What is Dr. Greger’s daily dozen
Dr. Greger’s daily dozen is a list of things to eat daily. But Dr. Greger didn’t just pick those things randomly. In his New York Times Best Seller Book “How not to die”*, he investigates the fifteen leading causes of death in America. He cites masses of research that shows how nutritional and lifestyle changes can sometimes help more in preventing those causes of death than pills, surgery etc. To make his findings actionable, Dr. Greger provides a checklist of the foods we should eat every day “to not die”. For more background information check out his page nutritionfacts.org.
The how not to die Daily Dozen checklist
Notice how there are no meat, cheese or eggs on the list. Dr. Greger’s list is completely plant-based. This doesn’t mean you have to go vegan to follow it. It simply invites you to prioritise the foods on the list and then add whatever you like.
Another thing that might catch your eye is the “exercise” checkbox. Exercise is no food, but if we are planning on not to die, adding a “serving” of exercise every day is a great idea!
The vitamin checkboxes at the end might or might not be relevant to you. This depends on where you live and what you eat. If you have a vegan diet, supplementing vitamin B12 is a good idea. If you eat meat, fish, eggs and milk products you most likely don’t need any additional B12.
Vitamin D should be supplemented when you live in an area where you cannot get enough of it through sun exposure. Or if you never go outside during the day. I personally supplement Vitamin D all throughout winter and make sure to get at least 20 minutes of sun every day between April and September. A couple of years ago I had a serious vitamin D deficit and I plan on never going there again.
How does Dr. Greger’s daily dozen help you to improve your diet
So why exactly is it so easy to improve your diet with this checklist? I will give you two reasons.
The first reason is that everyone loves a good checklist. Checking items off a list is just so satisfying! The concept of gamification works in our favor with the Daily Dozen app: We want to “finish” it! By wanting to finish it, we keep eating things off the list throughout our day. And that brings me to reason two:
While you go through the list of daily foods, you will probably have to introduce some new foods. For me, berries never were on my meal plan before I started using the app. I also had to add greens and cruciferous vegetables. By doing that I had to find new recipes, centered around the daily dozen. And this automatically meant leaving out other foods, that weren’t quite as healthy.
Especially adding all that salad into my diet I often find it difficult to eat everything on the list, let alone additionally eating junk food. This healthy stuff is really filling!
Seriously, just try this for two weeks or so. I saw a difference in my skin (hormonal acne) pretty quickly. If you happen to want to lose some weight, I am very sure that this is gonna help as well! In fact, I struggled a bit, in the beginning, to get to my required daily calorie intake. If that happens to you, just top off anything with olive oil or sugar-free and additive free peanut butter.
(The best peanut butter I could find right now was this one*, but it still contains salt. At home, I have 100% pure peanut butter where the only ingredients are peanuts. I strongly recommend to look for something like that!)
Daily dozen meal plan for a day: An example
As I said, to check off all items from Dr. Greger’s daily dozen, you might have to introduce some new recipes. Michael Greger published the “How not to die cookbook”* with more than 100 recipes, but I decided to make my own meal plan. This way it is adapted to what I like and can easily find locally.
So this is what one of my typical “Daily dozen meal plans” for one day could look like:
Quinoa breakfast porridge with banana, apple, raspberries, a handful of nuts and a spoonful of linseed flour. The linseed flour makes it almost pudding like. If I did my workout before breakfast, as I usually do during my morning routine, I can already check off 8 of the 24 servings. One third by breakfast! Not bad, huh?
Adding the two glasses of water and one cup of decaf makes 11 boxes checked.
For lunch these days I like eating a mung bean salad. Adding avocado, tomatoes, bell pepper, leafy greens and a spice mix with turmeric. This allows me to check off 6 more boxes, putting me at 17 out of 24.
Now I have to mix a little more, seeing which checkboxes are still open. So I boil some lentil pasta, add some broccoli and a handful of leafy greens. Adding avocado for creaminess. Whew. By now I will also have had at least two more glasses of water throughout the day. 23 of 24.
What is left now is one whole grain checkbox. As it is evening anyways, I simply make some popcorn! Using a popcorn maker that doesn’t need oil*, to not clog my arteries unnecessarily. And that’s it! 24 out of 24!
Now tell me: Have you tried eating Dr. Greger’s daily dozen? How has it worked for you? I am absolutely convinced by the concept, but I know that experiences can vary. I would love to hear your feedback in the comments!
*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.