Book Report: The Pegan Diet

Book Report: The Pegan Diet

Dear Kosterina Family,

Have you ever heard of the Pegan Diet? If you haven't, don't feel like you're out of the loop.

The term ‘pegan’ was coined by Dr. Mark Hyman, a well-known functional medicine doctor, who is a favorite in the Kosterina household.
 I’ve been a long-time disciple of Dr. Hyman and one of his earlier books (Eat Fat, Get Thin) played a significant role in inspiring me to launch Kosterina.

The story of 'Pegan' goes like this: one day, Dr. Hyman was sitting on a panel with other well-known health experts when those on either side of him -- one paleo and one vegan -- were arguing about which lifestyle was better.

It seems like this is an all-too common argument today, whether it's between experts at a conference or between friends around a dinner table. Diets, or food lifestyles, today don't just encompass a way of eating - it represents the way that we prioritize sustainability, our community's health and even how we exercise. But, what's the answer to this debate?

Hyman believes the ideal lifestyle is a mix of the two. In his latest book, The Pegan Diet, Dr. Hyman provides guidance on how to live healthy in a nutritionally confusing world. His 21 principles and recipe ideas in this book are sure to keep you well informed and on track in your health journey.

Do you remember Cliff Notes? Here's my very quick Cheat Sheet of The Pegan Diet for you - I'll share half of them this week, and half next so you have some time to digest (get it?):


  1.  Use food as medicine – Take a functional medicine approach to your diet and find out what if anything inflames you, even if you don’t present with GI symptoms. Then, you can eliminate those foods. For example, common inflammatory foods are gluten and dairy.
  2.  Eat the Rainbow – This is an easy one! Eats lots of colorful fruits and vegetables – think: papayas, brussel sprouts, blueberries, figs, purple carrots and beets. You’ll get the benefit of both fiber and phytonutrients. Veggies roasted with high-quality EVOO and salt are what I like to call veggie candy.
  3. The 75% Rule - 75% of your plate should be non-starchy vegetables.
  4.  Eat Beans, Whole Grains, Nuts and Seeds, but make sure they're the right ones - This one can be a bit complicated, so here are a few quick tips: Soak raw nuts overnight and lightly toast them to get the most nutrients. Choose non-starchy beans like lentils, lupini beans, snow peas, black-eyed peas - remember that kidney beans, lima beans and baked beans are starchier. Also, when using rice whole grain is the way to go!
  5. Meat can be a health food if it’s grass-fed, organic, and regeneratively raised - We have to reframe how we think about meat; instead of the star of the show, think of it as a side dish. 
  6. Be picky about chicken, eggs and fish - Make sure to eat only pasture-raised chicken and eggs. For seafood, stick to wild salmon, sardines, clams, shrimp and oysters.
  7. Eat good fats at every meal – Think: Extra virgin olive oil (first one on his list!), avocados, nuts and seeds. Dr. Hyman writes, “Polyphenols play a significant role in creating optimal health and disease prevention.” He also says in the book that taste & quality go together. (We think Kosterina is the perfect example of this).
  8. Avoid or limit most dairy - I’ve always loved a whole milk latte but Dr. Hyman says “Most cows today have high levels of the protein A1 casein, which causes inflammation, allergies, acne, eczema and more”. No thanks.
  9.  Shop only foods that are sustainably sourced and limit plastics - Regenerative agriculture is critical to saving our food system.
  10. Treat sugar like a recreational drug - We all know sugar is really bad for us but we all keep eating it because it’s biologically addictive. Dr. Hyman also says that if we eat sugar at the end of a nutrient-dense meal, it will blunt the harmful effect. Win! No high fructose corn syrup, ever. 
  11. Don’t rely on coffee or alcohol – BUT Dr. Hyman does say “Caffeinated tea and coffee are okay if you don’t get the jitters or adverse reactions. Green tea has the most benefits.” BIG win for coffee lovers like me.

We'll share more about the Pegan lifestyle with you next week!

Peace, Love & EVOO,