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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Reading

Vegetarian Books

Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book that contributes to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we review a book that will help you shed pounds quickly and improve your health and well being at the same time.

Eat to Live

By Joel Fuhrman

Little Brown, 2003

Hardcover, $23.95

Paperback, $14.95

Give Dr. Joel Fuhrman six weeks, and he'll show you how to achieve dramatic weight loss. He may even save your life.

In those six weeks you will focus on a nutrient dense, low-calorie diet that will not include any dairy products, animal products, between meal-snacks, fruit juices, or dried fruit.

So, what's left to eat? Plenty, especially if you're a vegan. Essentially the program is a low-calorie vegan diet with an emphasis on vegetables. In fact, the goal is to eat one pound of raw and one pound of cooked vegetables every day.

Under Fuhrman's program you can eat an unlimited amount of raw vegetables (including carrots), cooked green vegetables, beans, legumes, sprouts, fresh fruit, eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

Eat to Live Limits are placed on the consumption of cooked starchy vegetables, whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, avocados, tofu, and ground flaxseed. Cooked starchy vegetables or whole grains are restricted to one cup each day. In this category he includes butternut or acorn squash, corn, potatoes, rice, cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, breads, and cereals.

Most of the fat in this six-week plan comes from raw nuts and seeds, avocado, and ground flaxseed. Fuhrman's prescribed daily maximum amounts are 1 oz. nuts and seeds, 2 oz avocado, and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed.

Under this program a patient can lose weight and not be hungry all the time. Eating this nutrient dense diet means you will be satisfied with fewer calories and will be able to shed weight effortlessly. Dr. Fuhrman has had over 10,000 patients who have been successful in losing pounds and improving their overall health. He even presents an entire page listing the names of his patients and how many pounds they have shed.

To give his program a scientific aura he has his own simple formula: H=N/C or Health equals Nutrients divided by Calories. Fortunately, he also states the information in a simpler way: "Your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by your intake of calories."

The essence of the book is summed up in his statement, "Eating large quantities of high nutrient foods is the secret to optimal health and permanent weight control. In fact, eating much larger portions of food is one of the beauties of the Eat to Live diet. You eat more, which effectively blunts your appetite, and you lose weight, permanently."

With the weight loss comes health benefits. Fuhrman says that 90% of his diabetic patients are able get off insulin in the first month. Other patients are able to discard medications for allergies, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and other ailments.

The first four chapters present research-supported information on nutrition showing how Americans are digging their graves with knives and forks. One illustration to support his view is the USDA Food Guide Pyramid that Fuhrman labels, "A Food Pyramid that Will Turn You into a Mummy." He objects to the pyramid because it includes 4 to 6 servings of animal foods that cause heart disease and cancer.

Another reason for rejecting the pyramid is its emphasis on consuming large quantities of low nutrient density foods like refined cereals, white bread, and pasta. "In spite of all the scientific data available, the USDA's recommendations are a disgrace," he writes.

In a chapter called "Are You Dying to Lose Weight?" Fuhrman dissects some of the popular diet plans bombarding the American public. Under the heading "Dangerous Weight Loss Schemes," he attacks "The Atkins Cancer Revolution" and "Barry Sears Danger Zone." His reaction to Eat Right for Your Blood Type is "4 Blood Types, 4 Diets, 4 Get It."

Fuhrman labels Atkins claims as fraudulent, citing advertising statements for the diet that make the following promises:

"Reverse heart disease with filet mignon!"
"Stop strokes with cheese!"
"Prevent breast cancer with butter."

Because the Atkins program is high in saturated fat and low in fiber and fruit consumption, the diet results in a higher cancer risk for anyone following it. Joel Fuhrman

Sears' Zone Diet is labeled pseudoscience but less dangerous than Atkins because it permits more fruit and starchy vegetables. Fuhrman says the diet is really based on "extreme calorie restriction" that no one, not even Sears, could follow for very long. Taking figures supplied by Sears, Fuhrman shows that Sears cannot follow his own diet with any success.

Peter D'Adamo' s Eat Right for Your Blood Type is characterized as mixing factual information with far-fetched assertions. To show that he is not opposed to all other weight loss literature, Fuhrman lists books that present views other than his own by others such as John McDougall, Neal Barnard, Robert Pritikin, and Dean Ornish.

Furhrman summarizes his diet by providing "Ten Easy Tips for Living with the Six-Week Plan"

  1. Remember, the salad is the main dish; eat it first at lunch and dinner.
  2. Eat as much fruit as you want, but at least four fresh fruits daily.
  3. Variety is the spice of life, particularly when it comes to greens.
  4. Beware of the starchy vegetable.
  5. Eat beans or legumes every day.
  6. Eliminate animal and dairy products.
  7. Have a tablespoon of ground flaxseed every day.
  8. Consume nuts and seeds in limited amounts, not more than one ounce per day.
  9. Eat lots of mushrooms all the time.
  10. Keep it simple.

For doubters who feel the diet may be too drastic, Fuhrman offers suggestions for those transitioning to this program. A weekly shopping list, menus, and recipes are included. The book concludes with a chapter of answers to frequently asked questions, a glossary, notes, and an index.

Eat to Live must be taken very seriously by anyone who wants to lose weight and not endanger his/her health. Dr, Fuhrman's diet does not involve any complex calculations or calorie counting. What you eat and don't eat are spelled out very simply. The author is careful to support his plan with scientific studies to bolster his position.

The book does not rely on scientific jargon but instead is a very readable work because of Fuhrman's sense of humor and his conversational writing style. Sprinkled throughout are charts and sidebars that make the information more accessible.

In a society where so many are overfed, overweight, or just plain obese, people need to be aware of Dr. Fuhrman's message and focus on how to Eat to Live.

Those desiring more information about Dr. Fuhrman or wish to consult with him should visit his website http://www.drfuhrman.com

Reviewed May 2003

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