WHICH DIET TO CHOOSE?
Written by Slawomir (“Slawek”) Gromadzki, MPH
All the most effective, safe, and popular normal-calorie weight-loss diets can be divided into two major groups:
I. Mostly vegetarian diets which include very small amounts of animal foods (usually not more than 10%):
Fuhrman Diet (by Dr. Joel Fuhrman) – Based on vegetables, legumes (pulses), nuts, and seeds. Allows small amounts of animal foods.
McDougall Diet (by Dr. John McDougall) – Based on starches, fruits and vegetables. Allows small amounts of animal foods. Only slim and healthy people allowed to consume limited amounts of avocados, seeds, and nuts.
Ornish Diet (by Dr. Dean Ornish) – Based on starches, vegetables and fruits. Allows low-fat dairy, fish, and fish oils.
II. Strictly vegetarian diets (no animal foods allowed):
Barnard Diet (by Dr. Neal Barnard) – Based on starches, fruits, vegetables, and moderate amounts of nuts and seeds. No animal foods allowed.
Esselstyn Diet (by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn) – Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. Very low in fat. No nuts, seeds, oils, avocados, nor other fatty plant foods are allowed.
Hallelujah Diet (by Rev. George Malkmus) – Consists of 85% raw, uncooked, and unprocessed plant-based food, and 15% cooked plant-based foods.
After careful analysis and comparison of all these approaches and their effectiveness the simple conclusion is that in spite of some differences all of these diets are excellent because all of them are based on unrefined plant foods which are rich in nutrients and fiber while providing proper amount of calories. And this is the reason why no matter which of these diets you choose you should lose weight. The fact, however, that a diet is very effective in fighting obesity, diabetes coronary heart disease, or other chronic health problems doesn’t mean that it is already perfect, optimal, and that there is no room for improvement. For example, if you carefully read all the information included in this book you should find enough arguments to draw a conclusion that today it is much safer to not consume any foods that may contain animal products including meat, dairy, and fish. And I am convinced that the diets from the first group allow some small amounts of animal products only because their authors are aware of the fact that the majority of people love animal foods and are brainwashed by meat and dairy lobby with false ideas about their nutritional values and therefore wouldn’t easily accept a strictly vegetarian diet.
However, if your desire is to get even closer to the optimal level of physical, mental, and also spiritual health and wellbeing you will be more successful by following the principles of the SaveLife diet and lifestyle described here. I am convinced that this improved approach will give even better results because it incorporates only the best elements from all the most effective diets. In addition, the SaveLife approach is unique in a sense that it includes the extremely important and repeatedly neglected spiritual aspect of human health and well-being without which it is impossible to achieve optimal results.
Another diet which I recommend for people whose expectations are higher, and which judged by its excellent and sometimes even unbelievable results should be regarded as superior, is the Hallelujah Diet described in one of the previous chapters. Tens of thousands honest followers of the Hallelujah Diet experienced dramatic improvements in their health and reported recovery from over 170 different health-related problems! One man, for example, wrote about 28 different ailments that disappeared as a result of practicing this diet and lifestyle! However, if this approach appears to you too difficult to follow, please don’t hastily give up on everything but at least try to incorporate its most important elements such as increasing consumption of raw vegetables every day and drinking one glass of cold-pressed vegetable juices mixed with one teaspoon of barley grass powder, spirulina, chlorella and alfalfa before each meal. If you include these two crucial elements into any of the above mentioned diets or any other healthy diet you will definitely get better results.
As far as other diets are concerned it should be greatly appreciated that Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Bernard do not include any amounts of animal products, but on the other hand their diets, although still excellent, are somewhat too starchy to be regarded as ideal in my opinion. Apart from that, Dr. Esselstyn puts too strong emphases on avoiding nuts which I believe is not the best idea. Careful analysis of scientific literature and studies dealing with seeds and nuts does not justify this position. I only agree that some individuals shouldn’t consume nuts or don’t need to do it for a period of time and that these foods should constitute only about 10 % or in some cases not more than 20% of our diet.
Comparing all these healthy and effective diets I also like certain principles described by Dr. Fuhrman in his superb book Eat to Live. The reason for this is that unlike the other popular diets, which are mostly based on starches, Dr. Fuhrman stresses the importance of eating more vegetables and still allows moderate consumption of nuts and seeds. According to Dr. Fuhrman the optimal diet should consists of 30 to 60% of half cooked and half raw vegetables while grains and potatoes (starches) are limited to only 20% of the total calorie intake. The only two elements I would change in order to farther improve this diet is reducing cooked foods by at least 10 % while adding more raw vegetables, excluding the small amounts of very risky animal foods it allows, and adding cold-pressed vegetable juices before meals. Also the amount of seeds, nuts, and avocados (which is 10 to even 40%) might be regarded as too high so I would reduce it to not more than 10 to 20%. But even without these changes Dr. Fuhrman diet still gives excellent results in improving health and fighting with obesity. As a proof let me present to you a testimony by Scott who after realizing that bariatric surgery was too risky, decided to follow Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live diet and as a result lost 333 pounds!:
“Starting in puberty, I put on weight. Even though I was a competitive swimmer, rode my bike everywhere, and played pickup games of football and baseball, I still packed on the pounds. Eventually I got married and became a stay-at-home dad, which was a privilege but also very isolating and lonely. My weight increased dramatically, yet I denied the seriousness of the problem. One day I woke up and admitted that I had fallen directly into a huge, black pit. In November 2005, I weighed 501 pounds. I was unable to walk more than a few feet. My knees, lower back, and feet suffered greatly, causing my independence of movement to be completely gone. My wife, who is a nurse, had to help me shower, dress, walk, etc., and consequently I had no self-esteem. She also noticed that I had developed serious sleep apnea. Life was intolerable. Weighing as much as I did, I couldn’t move without a lot of pain and exhaustion. I stepped outside my house at the most four to six times a year. I went to three different surgeons for bariatric surgery consultations but couldn’t and wouldn’t commit to it. It seemed as though I would be handing my problem over to someone else to fix. This was my problem, and I had to solve it or live with the negative consequences. I chose to solve it. I discovered Eat to Live and decided to commit to it. After years of trying fad diets to lose weight, I was no longer interested in the D word. Eat to Live was not about a goal weight. It was about doing what was healthy for my body. I thought the results would follow—and they did! By February of 2009, I had lost 333 pounds and had my health and my life back. I started exercising again. For me, biking made complete sense, as it was a way to move around without further destroying what was left of my body. It also reconnected me with all the best parts of my childhood—that sense of adventure and freedom. It was, is, and always will be great for me. That first year I rode approximately 1,400 miles. Last year I rode 19,700 miles, and this year I’m shooting for 25,000. Now, as a family, we do almost all our errands on our bikes. Anywhere we used to go by car, we now take a bike. When I was morbidly obese, I felt worthless, unclean, stupid, unacceptable, and rejected. Eat to Live gave me a new life. Physically I feel great. My wife even admits that she can’t keep up with me now. Make a sacred pact to commit to this new lifestyle. Do it at any and all costs. This is the only way out”.
Finally, before you choose which diet is the best for you, please remember that each human organism is in a sense unique and may differently react to certain foods. Also our nutritional needs are not always exactly the same. Because of this, apart from practicing all the rules of healthy diet and lifestyle, always try to be sensitive to how your body responds to various foods and try to provide it with what it really needs. From my own experience I can tell you that the best way to figure it out is through asking our Maker who knows everything, loves us and is always willing to empower and inspire us with His strength, love, and wisdom thus leading us to the optimal health.
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David S. Martin, “From omnivore to vegan: The dietary education of Bill Clinton”, CNN, August 18, 2011.
John McDougall, MD. The Diet Wars: The Time for Unification Is Now. August 2012:
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