Meal Engineering 101…turning average meals into great meals

Learn how to get a truly health-promoting meal — anywhere; anytime

The "Big Picture" Guy

Being a “big picture” kind of guy, I always strive to first get my arms around the big picture myself — then do my best to make it simple enough to be easily understood by the average 8th grader.

With that thought in mind, we developed our “4-Leaf” health promotion program which is being introduced in our book later this year. The concept is very simple — work on maximizing the kinds of food that your mother probably told you to eat more of — fruits and vegetables. As Dr. Colin Campbell has often said, the closer we get to a diet consisting of whole plants, the better off we will be.” In our program, our highest “4-Leaf” level of eating begins when you consume over 80% of your calories from whole plants – in nature’s package.

This may seem excessive to some, but not if you accept the premise that whole plants are the natural diet for our species.  If you accept that premise, then arguably, the optimal diet for humankind would be 100% from whole plants. But, in the interest of reasonability and practicality, we chose 80% as our target threshold. Achieving that threshold will be a huge change for most people as the typical western diet derives far less than 10% of its calories from whole plants – in nature’s package. So, in keeping with our commitment to simplicity, our entire program can be summed up in two words and two numbers…whole plants and 80-20:

  • Whole Plants: Try to get over 80% of your calories from whole plants — in nature’s package
  • As for the 20: Try to keep the daily percent of your calories from fat (whether from animal or vegetable sources) under 20%…As Dr. Esselstyn says, the optimal is closer to 10% (average American is closer to 40% from fat).

Simple enough, right? So, why do people have trouble eating this way? For starters, it is almost impossible to order a “4-Leaf” meal off the menu in 99% of the restaurants in the western world. The same goes for 99% of the recipes. Two problems abound: too much animal-based foods and too much fat, mostly in the form of meat, eggs, oil or cheese. So, with virtually ALL of our easy-to-order meal choices deriving well over 30 % of their calories from fat (according to Dr. Esselstyn, optimal is closer to 10%), is it any wonder that we are a nation of mostly overweight or obese people?

If you like what you see here, you may wish to join our periodic mailing list. Also, for help in your own quest to take charge of your health, you might find some useful information at our 4-Leaf page. From the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

If you’d like to order our book on Amazon,  visit our BookStore now.

—J. Morris Hicks…blogging daily at

PS: Occasionally an unauthorized ad may appear beneath a blog post. It is controlled by WordPress (a totally free hosting service). I do not approve or personally benefit whatsoever from any ad that might ever appear on this site. I apologize and urge you to please disregard. 

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Healthy Eating 101, Recipes & meals. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Meal Engineering 101…turning average meals into great meals

  1. James Hicks says:

    This is a terrific article.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s