For those of you familiar with my site, you may be wondering what’s up with my review this week? I get it. You’re expecting a cookbook and this week I’ll be exploring a title, while related to cooking, is not really a cookbook. When the publisher sent me a copy of this book I was really intrigued because I’d neverheard of The Thrive Diet before even though this is the book’s 10th Anniversary (a best seller warranting an updated anniversary printing with 25 brand new recipes ). Maybe I am more open to the Thrive Diet program because last fall I decided (upon prompting from a neighbour) to take a 40-day Challenge at my local yoga studio. Over the 40-days I would commit to diet and exercise changes along with focusing on making positive life goals.
That first meeting was a bit brutal. The diet change I committed to was an elimination-style diet (eliminating refined sugars, flours, caffeine, processed food, etc) and I can tell you firsthand it was a challenge. Giving up caffeine was the most difficult for me — I live for my morning coffee. The other stuff — sugars and processed foods/ingredients wasn’t too bad because I don’t eat a lot of that stuff anyways. The exercise component of the program consisted of a daily yoga/mediation practice — also a challenge for me because I haven’t exercised (on purpose) in over 5 years. After we moved and my daughter was born I wasn’t very concerned with any type of personal care — I just tried to get through my days as best I could with a newborn. So last fall I think I was finally at a point where I knew I needed to change. I wasn’t feeling at my best and this challenge seemed like a good way to kick start myself into a healthier mindset. The diet didn’t really stick with me but I think if you look at my Instagram you can see that I eat fairly well and I’ve been trying to make exercise a priority (although sometimes I have to get past my own laziness).
My point is, anytime you get to a place where you need to make a drastic change for the good of your health, it helps to have something to hang you hat on (dietarily speaking). The Thrive Diet might be a good way to structure change for yourself. Before reading this book, to be completely honest, I had never heard of Brendan Brazier. As soon as I posted to my Facebook that I’d be reviewing his book I had so many comments! It seems that all my friends are familiar with him through his Vega food products and supplements. And, truly, I should have recognized his name because he wrote the forward for Heather Crosby‘s Yum Universe cookbook.
He is an professional endurance athlete (Ironman!) who decided that in order for him to perform at his highest level he would adopt a plant-based diet. To be clear, for him, plant-based means vegan. No animal products of any kind. I wondered how attractive this diet would be to people? Hugh Jackman wrote the forward to the book (he looked to the diet to help him get in shape for Wolverine). While I was contemplating this something interesting happened. We had several massive snow storms here in the Maritimes and my very Albertan, non-vegan dad (who had the misfortune/fortune to be visiting and stranded by the storm) picked up this book and read it while we were snowed in. Knowing how my dad feels about veganism, I was really surprised that he was into the book. “You know, he’s a vegan? Right?” and my dad’s response was “Yeah, but he really makes a lot of sense.” Huh. If Brendan Brazier could make sense to my dad, I think that this points to a bigger idea that The Thrive Diet, while drastic (to some) isn’t impossible or crazy. Which is not to say that my dad’s a vegan now but he did appreciate what Brazier was saying.
While Brazier is not a nutritionist or a health care professional he has designed his diet in accordance with his own training needs. Clearly this diet has worked for him and many people who have subscribed to his Thrive program. I think his holistic approach to health and physical performance is interesting — everything is connected. He argues that energy, mental clarity, sleep quality, immune function can be connected to diet. The book is organized in a way to help the reader understand the benefits of the diet, how the diet positively impacts the environment, what part exercise plays, staple foods, kitchen equipment needed, the 12-week meal plans, and (my favourite) the recipes.
While I decided not to participate in the 12-week diet as part of my review, I thought it would be interesting to “cook” up all of the dishes from day 1, week 1 of the diet. One of the things I appreciate most about the diet plan is that you’re preparing the majority of the meals yourself. Lots of whole foods that are meant to nourish your body and make you feel your best.
On day 1, here is what your meals would look like:
- Breakfast: Wild Rice Yam Pancakes w/ agave nectar and fruit
- Morning Snack: energy bar (your choice)
- Lunch: Cucumber Pesto Salad w/ Tomato Basil Dressing
- Afternoon Snack: Smoothie (your choice)
- Dinner: Almond Flaxseed Burger w/ Mixed Greens and Sweet Pepper Hemp Pesto
- After-dinner Snack: Zucchini Chips
As you can see from my photos that the food looks pretty appetizing. Everything was very easy to make and requires no special skill or training to execute. I used my food processor and blender for most of the recipes. Honestly, the pancake recipe gave me a heck-of-a-time — I couldn’t get them to cook properly. I’m not sure what I did wrong but I felt frustrated (I can be a perfectionist at times). I managed to get that little, wee pancake that was photo-suitable. The rest of the day’s fare was prepared without problem. Both the dressing and the pesto made extra, so some of the food you can prepare in batches ahead of time. Somethings like the energy bar and smoothie are less prescribed so you have freedom to choose what you’d like. Everything I made, without question, was incredibly delicious. Incredibly. I think the object of the Thrive Diet meal plan is that after 12 weeks you’ll have already committed to a different diet so that afterward you’ll continue to progress with your new way of eating. Since I’m not a doctor or even a nutritionist I won’t speculate on whether or not this diet is appropriate (I’ll let you do that!) I will say that if you’re looking to change your eating this book may be worth a read (especially if you need something that has structure).
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with a free copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. Also this should go without saying but just in case: I am not a medical or nutrition expert. The information presented showcases my opinion on any given cookbook and personal dietary experiences, and is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide entertainment and to give information on cookbooks that may support your healthy lifestyle practices.