Eat More, Weigh Less: The Premise
Dr. Dean Ornish is famous for his strict low-fat diet program that reduces heart disease risk and even reverses arterial damage. The findings from his now-famous "Lifestyle Heart Trial" research, which show that major lifestyle changes can significantly reduce the risk of developing atherosclerosis and heart disease, are so well accepted that participation in one of the lifestyle program's hospital sites is even covered by some health insurance companies. His program restricts fat intake to 10 percent or less of daily calories and prohibits animal products, oils, and sugar.
What's for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner? Eat More, Weigh Less provides more recipes than most diet books -- and with good reason. It's tough to buy and prepare foods with such a low fat content. In fact, more than half the book's pages are devoted to recipes. A typical day's menu might include Scrambled Mexican Tofu, salsa, whole-wheat toast, and orange juice for breakfast; Black Pepper Polenta with Bell Pepper Sauce and Shiitake Mushrooms, Italian Bean Salad, tossed green salad, and Melon Sorbet for lunch; Roasted Tomato Sandwiches, Anasazi Bean Soup with Corn and Chili, Oven-Roasted Potatoes with Fresh Herbs, green salad, fresh fruit, and Apples and Raspberries in Apple-Ginger Consommé for dinner. A table of some common foods and their nutrient content is also provided at the end of the book.
Fact or Fiction: What the Experts Say
Most experts acknowledge Ornish's body of research showing the dramatic opening of clogged arteries experienced by most people following his program. However, the biggest problem most experts have with Ornish's diet is that it's just not realistic for most people. The real test of any diet program is how easy it is to stick with over the long haul. Regardless of how healthful a diet may be, it's useless if you can't stay on it. That lack of stick-to-it-ability may be the downfall of Ornish's plan for most people.
Gains and Losses/What's the Damage?
There's no doubt that if you're able to stick with it, Ornish's diet works. The question is whether you're willing to go that far with your dietary changes -- and maintain those changes. Though exercise is encouraged, especially walking, few specifics are provided about how to get started and keep going. And because the diet is so low in fat, you'll need to do some special food preparation every day if you want to avoid meal monotony. While the diet should help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, it could be low in some fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins D and E, if you don't supplement them. The same is true of calcium. While calcium-rich, fat-free dairy products are allowed on the diet, the sample menus provide only about one serving a day -- not enough to meet your calcium needs.
Now let's consider another widely known diet plan, the South Beach Diet. It's in the next section.