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 Nutritional Medicine: Nutritional Programs for Weight Loss  

  • The fish-fowl-vegetable diet
  • The allergy-rotation diet
  • The high fiber-starch diet
  • The Haas plan—the Ideal Diet

The fish–fowl–green vegetable diet is a fairly healthy weight-loss diet that should be used for one or two months at the most. Several pounds a week can be lost fairly easily with this diet even with only moderate activity. It includes fresh ocean fish, tuna, shrimp, and trout, organic poultry, and green vegetables, both raw and cooked—all to be eaten in the quantity desired (within reason, of course). One piece of fresh fruit and one cooked egg daily are also suggested. This provides good balance, though it is fairly low in fiber. Some bran and/or psyllium can be used to support bowel function. Salad dressing should be limited to one or two tablespoons daily of vegetable oil, such as olive, with some fresh lemon juice or vinegar. If no oils are used, an essential fatty acid supplement should be added. Herbal teas and/or spring or distilled water are the main fluids. Some clear soup broths are acceptable. Daily fluid intake should be eight to ten glasses (8 ounces), with two glasses being drunk first thing in the morning and 30–60 minutes before each meal. A general multivitamin or the program given at the end of this section should also be used daily for health insurance.

The high fiber-starch diet is another weight loss/maintenance alternative. This is not exclusively starches—it includes some fruit, green vegetables, and protein foods—but the main foods are the whole grains, legumes, pasta, potatoes, and starchy vegetables, such as carrots and squashes. These high-fiber complex carbohydrates when eaten at the beginning of a meal will provide bulk and thus decrease the appetite and give a feeling of fullness. They are also relatively low-calorie foods because they are low in fat, but only if they do not have sauces, gravies, butter, or oil added to them. The complex carbohydrates also provide a consistent energy production and can stabilize the imbalance that some people experience. Vegetables can be consumed as desired, at least several cups daily. They are also low in calories. A couple of pieces of fruit daily are suggested. Dairy foods, red meats, and any fried, fatty, or refined foods are avoided, as are sweets. One meal, early in the day, can include a concentrated protein, such as fish, poultry, eggs, or, for strict vegetarians, some tofu, nuts, seeds, or beans. This diet can be a good weight-loss plan for overweight vegetarians, especially if they avoid excessive grains and sweets. Soups and salads are helpful. Water intake is eight to ten glasses daily for this diet also. A multivitamin product can be used, along with some extra B12. Care should be taken that iron and calcium intake are adequate; these and other minerals might be supplemented, though most should be found in sufficient amounts in this diet.

The allergy-rotation diet is becoming more popular for weight loss as well as for general health, especially when there are food allergies present. The Ideal Diet described in Chapter 13 is a modified rotation diet; also see the upcoming Allergy program. When food allergies are suspected, we should be tested or guided by a doctor or nutritionist, and any foods shown to be a possible problem should come out of the diet for one to two months, depending on the degree of sensitivity. After that time, individual foods can be tested again (this is called a "challenge"), but only one per day. If we seem to be addicted to any foods, that is, we crave them and eat them every day, sometimes even at every meal—those foods should be completely removed from the diet for at least several weeks before testing them, although avoiding them even for only four days will allow our body to be sensitive to their true effects. If we can be aware enough of our diet to know which foods are doing what, then we can know which foods to eliminate. This rotation diet can be very well balanced since it includes a wide variety of foods. To desensitize to other possible food allergies, a rotating diet means setting up a four-day rotation plan—any food eaten on one day must be excluded from the diet for the next three days. For example, if apples, corn, or peas are eaten on Monday, we would not eat them again until Friday. This diet is not very easy to initiate, but once started is not too difficult. It does, however, require limiting restaurant eating and preparing most of our own foods. Just planning foods and meals and preparing food ahead of time creates better eating habits. Eliminating allergenic foods also reduces water retention through reduced immune reactions and secondary inflammation and may allow us to feel much better while we trim.

The Ideal Diet discussed in Part Three is very good for weight reduction and maintenance for most people provided we limit the quantities of food consumed. It is a well-balanced diet that incorporates aspects of all the previous diets. It is a rotation diet, good for food allergies; it has a high fiber content from the whole grains and vegetables; it is low in fat; and it contains good-quality protein. To reduce calories further, the morning nut snack can be replaced with another fruit.

Basics of the Ideal Diet

Early morningone or two pieces of fruit
Breakfaststarch, such as a cereal grain or potatoes
Midmorning snackfruit
Lunchprotein and green and other vegetables
Midafternoon snackvegetable or fruit
Dinnerstarch or protein with vegetable
Evening snackvegetable or fruit, if needed

Water should be consumed as usual—eight to ten glasses per day, mainly drunk about one hour before meals—and a basic multivitamin/mineral supplement could be used, including essential fatty acids or some fresh vegetable oil, one or two teaspoons daily. (Refer to the Seasonal Menu Plans and Recipes in Chapter 14 for more ideas.) More water and fiber and more filling low-calorie foods will help in decreasing the appetite. Water and fiber are the two most useful and inexpensive nutrients for weight reduction and maintenance. They will also support good colon function, which is helpful to detoxification and reducing food cravings. Lowering fat intake and absorption (fiber also does that) and increasing foods high in vitamins and minerals as well as supplemental nutrients will also support optimum metabolism and aid in weight loss.

Exercise is also crucial. Few weight-loss programs are effective without increasing physical activity. To lose weight or mass, we need to reduce intake and increase output. Reducing fat stores and adding muscle improves energy utilization by using more calories for active metabolic tissues. Exercise also improves general metabolism and vitality and lowers that important "set point," allowing us to maintain lower weight and body fat with the same food intake. At a good level of exercise, the body will burn more calories than usual, even 12 hours afterward. Regular exercise is clearly needed to keep fat off.

Daily exercise is essential. If we are just starting out, we should first begin slowly and build to a regular daily program. If we make it a habit, we will really see the benefit. Then, at most we might skip it for one day a week, but only if we must, and then we should stretch and walk anyway. Some aerobics activity is ideal, even 20–30 minutes a day, five or six days a week. Our body stores energy, not as calories, but mainly as fat. Aerobic-type exercises will burn and reduce fat stores, without reducing muscle tissue (weight-loss programs without exercise can cause muscle loss). One to two hours daily of activity is fine; we must make the time to do it. We can add brisk walks to the more strenuous activity as we get into shape. A 30-minute walk about a half hour after meals is just the thing to further help digestion and assimilation. With more exercise, our vitality, endurance, and ability to handle stress and life all improve. Try it!

I want to say more about those two previously mentioned factors that are very important to healthy and easy weight loss—water and fiber. Water works in a variety of ways to promote both weight reduction and general well-being. In his article "Water: How 8 Glasses a Day Keeps Fat Away," taken from The Snowbird Diet, Donald S. Robertson, M.D. (co-authored by Carol Robertson) states that "incredible as it may seem, water is quite possibly the single most important catalyst in losing weight and keeping it off. Although most of us take it for granted, water may be the only true ‘magic potion for permanent weight loss.’ " Dr. Robertson also suggests that "water suppresses the appetite and helps the body metabolize stored fat, helps maintain proper muscle tone, clears wastes and may help relieve constipation." More water is needed by overweight people; for those who tend to retain fluid, drinking plenty of water will help rebalance the improperly distributed body fluids. During weight loss, Dr. Robertson suggests about three quarts a day, each drunk over a 30-minute period—one quart in the morning, another at noon, and a third between 5 and 6 p.m. or thereabouts, depending on dinnertime. The water should be consumed about 30 minutes before meals to help hydrate us and reduce the appetite. The water should be cool to cold, because extra calories will then be burned to warm it. This can become a lifetime habit.

Sufficient fiber in the diet supports good colon function and helps to eliminate wastes that are released during weight loss. Especially if the diet is low in fiber foods, we may add supplemental fiber as psyllium seed husks and bran. Psyllium is a soluble fiber that will increase bulk and reduce the appetite. It has also been shown to reduce fat absorption by coating the intestinal tract. When olive oil is also used, it will help mobilize some of the toxins in the intestines and carry them out, while the psyllium will reduce the oil absorption and thus calorie intake. Insoluble wheat or oat bran fiber can also help in detoxification as well as in stimulating the colon function.

Other digestive supporters include liquid chlorophyll. A teaspoon or so added to water twice daily will help nourish the intestinal lining and improve digestion. With better assimilation, our tissues and cells are more nourished and there may be fewer cravings and less desire for food. Ginger-lemon water can help with circulation and diuresis, as well as support liver and gallbladder function. Even just lemon water—half a small lemon squeezed into water—drunk 15–30 minutes before meals will help digestion and utilization of fats. The new flavored mineral waters (no calories) can be used as a beverage, up to two or three cups daily. These drinks, because of the carbonation, are somewhat filling. Common flavors include lemon, lime, orange, cola, root beer, cherry, and cherry-chocolate.

Many other supplements can be helpful during and after weight loss. A general vitamin/mineral supplement is very important, especially when we are on special diets that may not be perfectly balanced (very few are) or if we take in fewer than 1,500 calories daily. Extra minerals are essential to prevent deficiency, especially with high fiber intake, which may reduce mineral absorption. Amounts over the RDAs are needed for iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and molybdenum. Calcium is especially important to prevent bone loss, as less calcium is also absorbed with the fiber. Magnesium is also cleared in the gut as well as through the kidneys, and so a good intake is needed. Vitamin B6 will help provide a diuretic effect during weight release.

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
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