10 Elements Diet
The 10 elements diet is created around the idea that if we choose 10 healthy staple foods to make up most of our diet, we can make a healthy diet very practical. The trick is, we have to pick 10 foods that we find enjoyable, but are also healthy.
Most diets fail because they’re way too restrictive to be sustained. The 10 elements diet doesn’t put such restrictions. It respects eating foods that are generally known to be healthier and eating a balanced diet without putting strict macronutrient restrictions.
- 10 Elements Diet
- Pick Your 10 Nutritious Foods
- Extra Tip: More Recipes with Fewer Ingredients
It functions on the assumption that most people know what’s generally healthier. While individualization is important, most people know that avocado is healthier than margarine or French fries aren’t as nutritious as baked sweet potatoes.
It’s about choosing 10 healthy and nutrient-dense foods (and their alternatives) that would make up around 90% of our diet. We’re in no way restricted to only eating these foods, but they present the staple or the foundation of our diet. We have space for imagination and other foods outside our 10 chosen ones. We can enjoy desserts, wine, or other comfort foods but in moderation. The point is sustainability.
Why Dieting Is Hard (And Not Sustainable)
Most diets are hard to sustain because of the energy restrictions they impose on the body. (1) (2) Usually, the term diet has shifted its meaning to caloric restriction, while it should mean a way of life.
Many modern diets are so complex and require rigorous numerical calculations that they are completely unsustainable, and far from practical. From tracking calories or macronutrients to meal prepping and weighing your food. It can be dull to diet.
More extreme diets like the ketogenic or carnivore diet place the body under extremely hard-to-maintain physiological stressors. The shift in metabolism is too sharp and hard to sustain or adapt to in the context of our way of living.
It is no surprise that throwing the body under the physiological stressor of extreme caloric deficit or removing a full macronutrient from the diet makes dieting hard. The 10 elements 90% nutritious diet puts practicality first
The Practicality of The 10 Elements Diet
Just to make it clear it’s really not just 10 foods. It’s 10 foods plus all their alternatives. For example, if you see salmon on the list, it means the family of seafood. That can be crabs, oysters, mackerel, sardines, etc.
The reason why the 10 elements diet is very practical starts in the grocery store.
You don’t have to make shopping lists or do any fancy preparation. The ten elements diet is based on the assumption that you’ve decided which ten food families are most enjoyable to you while being practical to prepare and nutrient-dense to support your health.
Whenever you go shopping, you have the foundational foods that make up your diet as a must-buy on your list. It makes decision-making way easier, removing fatigue in the process. We call it minimalism. If I know that chicken, avocado, and rice are the staples I use for 5 different recipes, it’s a no-brainer, I’ll buy them.
Healthy eating starts at the grocery store. We cannot be surrounded by sweets and trans fats in our homes, and yet expect to live healthy. It is like swimming against the direction of the river flow. You won’t get far.
90% Nutritious Diet (Why Not 100%)
Why 90% nutritious diet, shouldn’t we aim for a 100% clean diet? Because we’re humans and we want to enjoy ourselves sometimes. Instead of judgment creeping in that we’re not eating 100% clean, and we’re slipping off our diet, leaving in a little bit of space for enjoying food can get us a long way ahead. There’s no pressure, no resistance.
Enjoyment is a big part of diet sustainability. We want to approach social events with excitement. We want to enjoy food with our family and friends, even if the foods don’tt make it on our list. Packing half an avocado in a plastic travel bag to fit your macros till’ midnight isn’t an enjoyable way to live, it’s a daunting task.
Leaving a bit of room for unpredictable food and excitement releases the pressure that builds up when we start a diet. Instead of feeling we’re out of the diet loop, it’s better to greatly appreciate and enjoy that food, knowing that the foundation of your diet is set to support your health.
How healthy a diet is, has to do with how we feel when we’re on it. The net effect takes into account our satisfaction along with how “healthy” or nutrient-dense the foods are. In other words, making your healthy diet more fun and enjoyable can set you up on a path to a more sustainable, healthy, and enjoyable diet.
Pick Your 10 Nutritious Foods
The first step to start the 10 elements 90% nutritious diet is to pick your 10 favorite, but healthy foods. You’d be surprised by how many foods in your diet currently have healthy, yet delicious-tasting alternatives.
It’s important to mention that these ten foods are actually food families. And, they don’t have to be static, you can change them up. For example, if broccoli is one of your choices, you can switch it up with cauliflower or Brussel sprouts, it’s your appetite, your call.
The 10 Elements 90% Nutritious diet isn’t a specific diet. It’s a general guideline for making dieting more practical, healthy, and sustainable. It can be adapted to people already on a specific diet because it’s not restricted to certain foods, macronutrient ratios, or caloric restrictions.
If you’re a keto fan, you can swap the carb-heavy foods on this list with grass-fed butter, eggs, nuts, seafood, etc. If you’re a vegan, fill your list with veggies, nuts, beans, and legumes. Here’s an example of 10 nutrient-dense foods.
The 10 Foods on the list are just an example, everyone gets to pick theirs
Avocado is a versatile fruit rich in fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. Around 240 calories, 21 grams of fat, and 10 grams of fiber are in one medium avocado. Moreover, it is a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and other vitamins and minerals. Make sure you pick the brown and soft ones!
Alternatives: Hummus, Homemade Pesto, Cashew Butter, Cashew Fruit
- Avocado and poached egg whole grain toast
- Whole wheat pasta with olive oil, pesto, and avocado
- Avocado smoothie with oat milk, spinach, banana, and cashews
- Avocado, beef, carrots, and onion with nacho sauce
Lean protein sources like chicken are high in vital amino acids while being low in fat. Around 26 grams of protein and fewer than 2 grams of fat are present in a 3-ounce serving of chicken breast. In addition, it is a good source of phosphorus, niacin, and vitamin B6, among other vitamins and minerals.
Plant-Based Alternatives: Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan
- Slow cooker chicken chili with avocado and cornbread
- Chicken Caesar salad, yogurt dressing, and whole-grain croutons
- Creamy pasta with chicken, mushrooms, and Bechamel sauce
One of the most common staple foods, rice is a good source of carbs, which are necessary for energy. Due to its higher fiber and vitamin content, brown rice is a better option than white rice. Around 215 calories, 5 grams of protein, and 3.5 grams of fiber are to be found in one cup of cooked brown rice.
Alternatives: Barley, Quinoa, Polenta, Couscous
- Rice and vegetable stir-fry with tofu and teriyaki sauce
- Stuffed bell peppers with ground turkey, brown rice, and diced tomatoes
- Mexican Taco (avocado, chili, pork) with chickpeas and rice
The numerous vital components found in eggs make them a very nutrient-dense food. Around 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of good fats, and less than 1 gram of carbs can be found in one big egg. Moreover, eggs are a high source of choline, a nutrient that is vital for the growth and health of the brain. Eggs also include several vitamins and minerals, such as phosphorus, selenium, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.
Alternatives: it’s very unique, try thinking of one.
- Breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs, avocado, and salsa
- Scrambled eggs with bacon, pepper, and whole wheat toast
- Whole grain bagel with avocado and poached egg
A cruciferous vegetable that is rich in vitamins and antioxidants. It’s also one of the lowest calories (per volume) at around 55 calories, 4 grams of protein, and high fiber, hovering over 2.5 grams in one cup of chopped broccoli. Moreover, it is a good source of potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, and other vitamins and minerals.
Alternatives: Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Green beans, Asparagus
- Creamy broccoli soup with croutons and a side salad
- Roasted broccoli and cauliflower with cheddar cheese
- Broccoli (tiny-cuts) and peppers egg omelette + garlic powder
Blueberries are a highly nutritious food that is rich in several essential nutrients. One cup of blueberries contains around 84 calories, 21 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of fiber. They are also high in vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese. Blueberries are an excellent source of antioxidants, which may help protect against chronic diseases.
Alternatives: Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries
- Blueberry snack with black coffee, almonds, and dark chocolate
- Blueberry smoothie with banana, yogurt, and maca powder
- Blueberry oat bars made with whole grains and nuts
A tasty indulgence, dark chocolate also has several health advantages. Flavanols, one type of antioxidant found in it, may reduce blood pressure and enhance blood flow. Furthermore, it contains minerals like iron, magnesium, and copper important for health. Definitely makes up a healthy dessert!
Alternatives: Cocoa Nibs, Cacao Powder, Organic Honey
- Dark chocolate and cashew butter smoothie with banana and flax seeds
- Protein bars made with milk, oats, chia, cocoa, and dark chocolate pieces
- Dark chocolate snack with banana and peanut butter
Nuts packed in fiber, protein, and healthy fats like almonds are very nourishing. Around 160 calories, 6 grams of protein, and 14 grams of good fats are found in one ounce of almonds. Vitamin E, magnesium, and calcium are just a few of the vitamins and minerals that are abundant in almonds.
Alternatives: Cashews, Walnuts, Hazelnuts
- Swedish Almond cake + Apple on the side
- Almond butter and banana sandwich on whole wheat bread
- Almond and cacao smoothie with coconut milk and dates
Salmon is a fatty fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for heart health and brain function. One 3-ounce serving of salmon contains around 121 calories, 17 grams of protein, and 5 grams of healthy fats. It is also a good source of several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, and selenium.
Alternatives: Oysters, Sardines, Mackerel, Crabs, Octopus
- Baked salmon with sweet potatoes, garlic powder, and sauteed spinach with lemon juice
- Grilled salmon with lemon and herb butter served with roasted asparagus and quinoa
- Baked salmon with garlic and rosemary served with steamed broccoli and brown rice
Whole Wheat Pasta
Because it has more fiber and minerals than standard white pasta, whole wheat pasta is a healthier option. Cooked whole wheat pasta has about 174 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber per cup. Moreover, it is a good source of iron and B vitamins, as well as a number of other vitamins and minerals.
Alternatives: Zucchini Noodles, Squat Noodles, Spinach Pasta, Lentil Pasta, Chickpea Pasta, Black Bean Pasta
- Whole wheat pasta with Bechamel sauce, onion, and mushrooms cooked in olive oil
- Whole wheat pasta with tomato and basil sauce, topped with grated parmesan cheese
- Creamy avocado and pesto pasta topped with olive oil and flax seeds
Extra Tip: More Recipes with Fewer Ingredients
To add to the practicality this diet promotes, it can be beneficial to outline a few basic and delicious recipes you can do with these 10 ingredients. You can cross-link and combine them to cook some of your favorite meals.
For example, if oats, blueberries, and dark chocolate make your list you can think of making:
- protein oatmeal with oat milk, a few almonds, dark chocolate pieces, and 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries
- chocolate powered blueberry muffins (oats, grass-fed butter, milk, cocoa, blueberries)
- dark chocolate protein bars with oats, almonds, cocoa, and peanut butter
- creamy vanilla protein smoothie with blueberries, banana, Greek yogurt, and protein powder
The point is to find recipes you’d enjoy and can be made with most of your staple foods. If needed, you add certain ingredients as you go, and to make it more nutritious, delicious, and satisfy your taste buds.
To discover the fundamental foods with which you can make multiple different healthy and delicious recipes. It’s the staple foods you’ll always need to cook your food, one recipe or another.
The 10 Elements 90% Nutritious diet is based on the idea of picking your 10 foundational foods that make up the bulk of your diet. These are nutritional foods or alternatives from the same food family.
It’s not exactly a diet, but rather a practical method for eating a healthy diet in a sustainable way. It’s not macronutrient restrictive, nor does it aim at a caloric deficit. It’s simply about picking healthy, nutrient-dense foods that make up most of our diet.
It’s practical as it makes shopping convenient and easy, with no planning or fancy recipes and preparations. It functions on the assumption that the individual has a general knowledge of which foods are healthier and more nutritious.