Eating a near optimal “4-Leaf” diet…in a toxic world

It all goes back to the natural diet for our species…whole plants.

J. Morris Hicks, eating 4-Leaf for health, hope and harmony on planet Earth

As Dr. T. Colin Campbell has often said, “the closer we get to a diet of whole plant foods, the better off we will be.” So, let’s assume that you have accepted that premise and are going to strive to greatly increase your consumption of those whole plant foods.

  • How will you keep up with your progress?
  • How will you know how close you’re coming to the optimal diet of eating nothing but whole plants, like our nearest relatives in the wild?

First of all, we’re not necessarily talking about a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. Many people who use those labels to describe their diet-style are eating very unhealthy diets. That’s because they are not getting the majority of their calories from whole plants; in fact, many vegans don’t even get 20% of their calories from whole plants.

  • We must remember that it’s not just the avoiding of animal foods that makes us healthy, it is the maximization of the percentage of our calories from whole plants — in nature’s package.
  • With that thought in mind, we came up with a simple concept that we call the 4Leaf Program in our book.

Starches like potatoes, legumes, and grains are good choices for maximizing calories from whole plants while minimizing calories from fat.

Here’s how that program works. The 1-Leaf level begins at over 20% of one’s calories from whole plants. With the average American getting far less than 10% of their calories from those nutritious foods, just moving to that first level is a big improvement.

As the percentage of calories from whole plant goes up, so do the “leaves.” From 20% to 40% to 60% to 80%…1, 2, 3 and 4 leaves. And what does that do for your health? Unlike those who consume the typical western diet, we have observed that people eating at the 4-Leaf level…

tend to have trim bodies, vibrant health, lots of energy, take no medications, almost never have ANY disease and will very likely live a long & healthy life.

Why not shoot for 100%? That would be great, but for practical reasons, we chose 80% as our threshold of excellence in terms of the percentage of calories from whole plants…and that doesn’t mean counting calories for every meal for the rest of your life. It starts with learning what a single “4-Leaf” meal looks like. We are all creatures of habit and tend to eat the same kinds of things every day. So, all we need to do is analyze what we typically eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Just take each meal that you eat regularly and look at it carefully. By using, you can determine the percentage of calories from the whole plants and the percentage of calories from fat.  You may be surprised to discover that those “healthy looking” salads you’ve been having for lunch every day derive 80% of their calories from oil, cheese, egg and bread. After a few adjustments, you will quickly learn how to turn that greasy salad into a “4-Leaf” meal…maybe adding some legumes, rice, squash, and avocado to replace those other non whole plant items.

Ordering a 4-Leaf meal on the River Walk in San Antonio. While avocados are healthy whole plants, just remember that they are over 70% fat.

The key to achieving a consistent 4-Leaf level day in and day out, is gaining a feel for what it’s like to eat at that level and enjoying the many healthy benefits that it delivers. A 4-Leaf weekly score is comprised of lots of 4-Leaf meals.

Want to find out how healthy your family is eating? Take our free 4Leaf Diagnostic Survey. It takes less than five minutes and you can score it yourself. After taking the survey, please give me your feedback as it will be helpful in the development of our future 4Leaf app for smartphones. Send feedback to

International. We’re now reaching people in over 150 countries. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter or get daily blog notices by “following” us in the top of the right-hand column. For occasional updates, join our periodic mailing list.

We encourage you to visit our daily blog website at and if you like what 4Leaf eating is doing for you and your family, you might enjoy visiting our “4Leaf Gear” store. Finally, click here to order our book, Healthy Eating, Healthy World from Amazon.

J. Morris Hicks


Got a question? Let me hear from you at Or give me a call on my cell at 917-399-9700.

Blogging daily at…from the seaside village of Stonington, Connecticut – Be well and have a great day.

—J. Morris Hicks

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.
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