What Is the Meaning of Nutritarian? Food List, Guidelines

Nutritarian means being a person whose food choices are based on nutritional value, which means treating food as both preventive and therapeutic.

The term nutritarian means being a person whose food choices are based on nutritional value. The term was introduced in 2003 in Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s (an American family physician’s) book entitled Eat to live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss.

Dr. Fuhrman explains that a nutritarian treats their food as medicine: both preventive and therapeutic. Such a person avoids food that may harm their health and chooses the ones that have a high nutrient content.

What is the nutritarian diet?

The nutritarian diet, also called the “Eat to live” diet or Dr. Fuhrman’s diet, is a nutrient-dense and largely plant-based diet. Besides limiting the type of foods to eat, the nutritarian diet advises avoiding snacking.

A nutritarian diet emphasizes eating nutrient-rich and minimally processed foods based on these four basic principles:

  1. Predominantly plant-based foods:
    • Although animal products are allowed for a nutritarian, they have to be limited to a small amount.
    • Their major calories come from plant-based foods such as greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds.
  2. Preferring nutrient-rich foods:
    • This means choosing foods that have a higher nutritional value (including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants).
    • Such foods nourish and heal the body, fight diseases, slow the aging process, and help maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Choosing whole foods:
    • Whole foods mean food items that have been minimally processed.
    • The nutritarian diet avoids packaged or fast foods and encourages including whole foods such as whole grains, seeds, fruits, and vegetables.
  4. No salt, oil, and sugar:
    • This means avoiding salt, oil, and sugar for preparing food since these three ingredients can hamper one’s health.
    • It means eating the nut rather than using its oil for making food.
    • The nut, as opposed to the oil, provides rich fiber content, and micronutrients that are lost in the process of making oil.
    • Sugar may lead to unhealthy weight gain and various chronic diseases including obesity and diabetes.
    • Similarly, excess salt in your diet can put you at risk of hypertension (high blood pressure).

What foods can you eat in a nutritarian diet?

The nutritarian diet promotes the consumption of certain foods while limiting certain food groups and eliminating the others.

Food that you eat every day on a nutritarian diet include:

  • Vegetables: The nutritarian diet encourages the consumption of vegetables in large quantities. Vegetables must contribute to about 30 to 60 percent of your total calorie intake. Raw vegetables, such as lettuce, can be included in unlimited quantities. Vegetables that need to be cooked must be prepared through steaming or boiling without using any oil.
  • Fresh fruits: About 10 to 40 percent of your daily calorie consumption must come from fresh fruits. This roughly equals about three to five servings of fresh fruits each day.
  • Beans and legumes: About 10 to 40 percent of your daily calorie consumption must come from beans and legumes. This means eating about a cup of beans or legumes each day.
  • Seeds, nuts, and avocados: They can contribute to 10 to 40 percent of your total daily calories. This roughly equals 28 grams or an ounce each day.
  • Whole grains and potatoes: Calories from these foods should be no more than 20 percent of the total calories each day.

Foods you need to limit

The nutritarian diet advises limiting certain foods so that they contribute to less than 10 percent of your total daily calories:

Foods to avoid on a nutritarian diet include:

  • Sugar
  • Processed foods including processed meat
  • Cheese
  • Alcohol (although you can include up to one drink a day)
  • Salt (no more than 1,000 mg a day)


The Best Diet Tips: How to Lose Weight the Healthy Way
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Medically Reviewed on 1/11/2022


Image Source: iStock Images

Fuhrman, J. Eat to Live, Little, Brown and Co., 2011.


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