You may not know who Ocean Robbins is, but you certainly have heard his name: his grandfather was one of the founders of Baskin-Robbins, and his father John walked away from the family business (and fortune) and became a renowned health advocate. Ocean’s latest book, 31-Day Food Revolution – Heal your Body, Feel Great and Transform your World, has been described as “lighting the way for the future of your health and that of the planet” by Paul McCartney. I followed the program to see what all the hype is about.
The book is broken up into 4 weeks, each consecutive one adding another aspect of health (detoxify, nourish, gather and transform). At the end of each chapter you have 3 ‘Action Steps’ (of which you can do 1, 2, or all three), which are designed to help you put into practice what you’ve learned.
Ocean Robbins has a way of keeping the reader chained to the book, unable to put it down. At times it felt like I was reading a fictional story, and not just because of the scary stats that he includes (which most of us vegans probably already know about, but it’s good to remind oneself why we choose to live this lifestyle every now and then), but also because of his humor. I respect him immensely for being willing to share personal family stories (which at times must surely have been embarrassing) to make the journey to a healthier lifestyle so much more relatable to his readers (and fun to learn about!).
So how did this book change how I view food?
Honestly, I was already doing a lot of the things Ocean mentions in the book—but that’s because I love learning about nutrition and health. Here are my main takeaways:
- With every purchase you make, every dollar you spend, you are helping shape the future of our world, for good or bad. Spend your money on things you want to promote and truly believe in!
- Let go. You messed up? No problem, you can pick yourself back up and get back to where you were. I am so grateful for the wakeup call this book gave me. Be compassionate with yourself, you don’t have to have a perfect diet ALL the time. Allow yourself to LIVE a little and have fun! If you’re at a special event, or a family member baked you something special you’ve been craving, let yourself have it! And enjoy the experience, enjoy every single bite of it. It’s about what you do 90% percent of the time.
- The secret to a healthy diet? “Eat real food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” It’s really that simple – real foods means minimally (or ideally non-processed) food, the rest is pretty self- explanatory!
- Labels, labels, labels. Read the ingredient lists. I have found things like palm oil and sugar in foods I never even knew contained them, so make a habit to check the labels of everything before you buy them!
- Listen to your body. Slow down and notice how different foods make you feel. Maybe even write it down and start a food journal. Our bodies hold so much wisdom, we just need to stop and pay attention to understand what they’re trying to tell us!
- Careful how you prepare and store your food—grains and beans should always be soaked and rinsed before cooking to remove phytic acid for example, and even paying attention to your cookware is important: cast iron and ceramic-coated cookware are the best, others (eg non-stick) could be leaching toxins into your food. For storage, glass and stainless steel are best.
- Love thy gut. Ocean states that “every time you eat, you are feeding somebody,” so make sure you’re promoting the health of the good guys, not the bad guys, and they will help you stay healthy in return! How to?
Well, for starters, don’t kill the good guys by steering clear of unnecessary antibiotics and glyphosate (organic food!). Don’t feed the bad guys (they love sugar, unhealthy fat and all kinds of processed products). Eat lots of whole foods to feed the good guys, and also eat the good ones in the form of (raw!) fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, vegan yogurt and cultured cheeses, tempeh…) or probiotics (Ocean provides tips on how to choose the best quality supplements).
- Buy organic. I know, it’s expensive. But how much is your health worth to you? Maybe start small, by always buying ‘The Dirty Dozen’ (Strawberries, Spinach, …) organic, and then, over time, expand.
If you don’t buy organic, ALWAYS wash your produce before eating it to remove chemical residues! If you want to go a step further, here’s a tip that Ocean gives: “Fold in 1 ounce of bicarbonate of soda for every 100 ounces of water…Soak produce in this solution for 15 minutes, most pesticide residues will be removed.”
At first, it was HARD to convince myself to spend that extra money on organic produce, but I can tell you, it’s worth it. Not only will you treasure every bite you eat and reduce food waste (because you’ll be less tempted to buy huge amounts of food every time you go shopping…organic gets pricey!), but you’ll also feel accomplished and happy living in line with your values, knowing you are contributing to the change you want to see in the world.
One of my favorite quotes from the book is “we have a health care system that often acts as if food doesn’t matter. And of course, at the same time, we have a food system that often acts as if health doesn’t matter.” In establishing that link between food and health, “you step outside the status quo and take a stand for the health and the world that you want.”
Photo: Ocean Robbins; Kelsey Curtis on Unsplash