The Longevity Diet

Photography by: Mark Viker
The Longevity Diet
Diary of a (Reluctant) Restrictor
As a nutritionist, writer, and diet guinea pig, I have tried lots of diets in the name of hands-on journalism. I've tried veganism (not bad), macrobiotics (a little confusing), and raw food (sometimes tough to digest). But when I was asked to go on the CR diet, my first reaction was: "No way, Jose."

I imagined measuring cupfuls of lettuce and lying on my bed, too exhausted to care for my two young daughters. And since no one would really know the benefits of my going on the diet until the year 2074--at which point I would probably wish I had died years earlier--the whole thing just seemed like a bad idea. But after interviewing the CR folks and determining the diet did not mean certain starvation, I figured I was game to try it...for one day. Here's how it went.

Breakfast (220 calories)
Two eggs and a cup of fresh blueberries
Getting protein from eggs and antioxidants from blueberries seems like a good way to start the day. My daughters are happy with this breakfast, but they get to eat pancakes and cereal, too, something I would normally do.

Snack (190 calories)
1 energy bar
After the gym, I usually indulge in a New York-style bagel with cream cheese while I watch my girls at the playground. But since those bagels are as big as softballs, I know they're caloric minefields. So I decided to stick with something that has the calorie count right on the label.

Lunch (420 calories)
Salad at home: 2 cups mixed greens, 1/2 medium yellow pepper, 1 large carrot, 1 stalk celery, 1/2 cup sprouts, 1 ounce nuts, 4 ounces sliced turkey, 1 tablespoon low-fat dressing
I love salad for lunch, so this is easy, although I usually add more nuts and turkey and have fewer veggies. I'm afraid I might be hungrier than usual this afternoon.

Snack (80 calories)
1 medium apple
By 4 p.m., I'm always hungry, so I usually have a snack. I would love to top this apple with some peanut butter, but I want to save calories and have a normal dinner.

Dinner (840 calories)
6 ounces cooked salmon; 1 cup steamed cauliflower with 1 teaspoon butter and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese; 1 cup low-fat yogurt; 1 cup blueberries; 2 cups mixed greens with 1 tablespoon low-fat dressing
I usually eat something just like this for dinner, but with pasta or rice.

Total: 1,750 calories and 100% RDA for all vitamins and minerals (except calcium, but I took my supplement)
Wow! Not too bad. I feel pretty full and not all that deprived. But I'm not sure I could maintain this at family events, on vacation, or even on the weekends.


The Calorie Restriction Society website contains a link to a U.S. Department of Agriculture database that contains complete nutrient information for 5,900 foods. The direct address for that link is http://yarrow.best.vwh.net/usda_data/foods_db.html.