Did You Know?
It is believed that the concept of vegetarianism was first introduced by the people of ancient India. Even today, Indians make up more than 70 percent of the world's vegetarian population.
According to Dr. McDougall, the human body is meant to be healthy. But what we see in society is exactly the opposite. Health disorders like obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart diseases, joint pain, etc., are quite common, and people cannot live without medicines. In fact, the human body does not need any drugs and surgeries. It just needs a healthy diet and regular exercise.
Dr. John A. McDougall suffered a massive stroke when he was 18. After completing his studies, when he noticed that most of his senior patients from South-east Asia who consumed rice and vegetables were thin and fit as compared to their children and grandchildren who followed modern an American diet, he started following a vegan diet (avoiding animal products). As he realized that there exists a strong connection between the health of a patient and his dietary choices, he developed a new theory and designed a new diet, which is now known as the 'McDougall Diet'.
Basic Dietary Principles
✦ The human body is designed to digest natural foods. So, modified or concentrated foods should be avoided. For example, corn on cob is a natural food, but corn oil is a concentrated food (taking into consideration the number of corn ears that we would have to eat to get one tablespoon of oil). According to Dr. McDougall, animal products also belong to the category of concentrated food.
✦ Our body can store food for future use. It can withstand the times of famine when there is scarcity of food. But it cannot handle the stress generated by overeating. Constant feasting is a characteristic feature of Western culture. It leads to excessive consumption of food and excess food storage. This eventually results in excess weight and various diseases. So, diet control is crucial for a healthy life.
The McDougall Program
Dr. McDougall launched his first diet program in 2002. Since then, his diet programs are gaining popularity all over the world. During a 10-day live-in program, patients get valuable information on how to change their diet and lifestyle through lectures by Dr. McDougall and other health professionals. There, they follow a vegetarian diet (food is unlimited). Importance of regular exercise is also conveyed to them. The program called 'McDougall Program for Maximum Weight Loss' is quite popular. There is a 3-day Advanced Study Weekend Program and a 3-day Intensive Program as well. You can choose one from the variety of programs available.
Several patients have been benefited by these programs. Some have tried the McDougall Diet for maximum weight loss, while others have tried it for fast recovery from chronic diseases. Heart disease researcher Dean Ornish also has recommended the diet. Many people who have attended the programs say that they help regain control of the health and appearance. Most of the information is available free on Dr. McDougall's website, for example, the list of foods to avoid and possible substitutes, list of easily available fruits and vegetables, list of starch staples, how to track your progress, etc.
The Secret of the Program
✦ According to Dr. McDougall, starches such as potatoes, rice, and corn should be the main part of our diet, as they provide us with energy and quality nutrition. They also keep us satiated and help prevent overeating.
✦ You can add various fruits, vegetables, plant-based whole foods, and your favorite sauces and seasonings to the main dish. Plant foods contain numerous health-promoting nutrients, like antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals.
✦ When on the diet, you are not allowed to consume high-fat plant foods like avocado, nuts, nut butters, olives, seeds, and soybean products. But afterward, you may consume them occasionally.
✦ Do not add any vegetable oil to your food. Use Teflon, Silverstone, or silicone-coated pots and pans. You can add water, mashed banana, or applesauce for moisture.
✦ Avoid all animal foods like milk, butter, yogurt, ice cream (all dairy products), eggs, meat, mayonnaise, fish, etc., as they provide an excessive amount of harmful fats. Consumption of excess fat leads to elevated blood cholesterol levels which damages the arteries. Eventually, this results in heart disease and stroke.
✦ Do not consume white (refined) flour, white rice, coconut, chocolate, refined and sugar-coated cereals.
✦ You should consume brown rice, whole grains, and whole grain products (cereals and flours).
✦ Avoid coffee, decaffeinated coffee, colas, alcoholic drinks, aerated drinks, and black teas. Drink plenty of mineral water or seltzer (flavored or plain).
You might think that you are left with limited variety of food. But you will be surprised to see that McDougall books, newsletters, and website contains over 2,000 recipes! The website presents a 10-day meal plan with recipes and a grocery list too. They claim that a low-fat vegan diet helps treat and prevent degenerative diseases.
✦ The program is so designed that it helps eliminate the root cause of a disease. It promotes both prevention and healing.
✦ You don't have to count the calories or limit portions. There are no limits on the amount of food you can eat. In fact, you are encouraged to eat until you feel satiated.
✦ The low-fat, high-fiber foods that are incorporated in the diet promote easy weight loss.
✦ Although the program focuses on diet, it also lays emphasis on the fact that exercise is an equally important part of a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise not only helps maintain health, but it also helps alleviate depression.
✦ Most of the information is available free. It is an easy-to-follow diet. Getting an individualized plan is also possible and affordable.
✦ It doesn't have any side effects.
Although many people recommend this diet, there are some who criticize it badly.
✦ It could be very challenging for those who consume meat regularly, or for those who can't avoid meat completely.
✦ Dietitians say that good fat plays an important role in metabolic functions. So, consuming very low amount of fat can prove to be harmful for health.
✦ Those who follow a vegan diet need to take vitamin B12 supplements, as plant foods do not provide this vitamin. B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, weakness, and various other health problems.
✦ The diet cannot help build strong muscles. It does not provide enough protein.
✦ Dieters may find it difficult to avoid dairy products, chocolate, coffee, etc.
✦ According to some researchers, fossil records show a decline in human health and stature at the start of agriculture. They say that when there was no agriculture, human beings who ate meat and fish were quite healthy. The history of human evolution throws light on the fact that there were no vegan cultures at all. Therefore, more research is needed to prove the benefits of a vegan diet.
So now you would ask does the McDougall Diet work? Well, regular exercise, stress-free lifestyle, sound sleep, good eating and sleeping habits (for example, avoiding late night parties and heavy dinners, not skipping breakfast, fixed timings for lunch and dinner, etc.), and a low-calorie healthy diet are all essential if you want to lead a healthy life. Diet is just a part of a healthy lifestyle. The McDougall Diet, designed by a doctor himself, can definitely help lose weight and regain health, provided you lead a healthy lifestyle. Within 10 days, you will feel the difference. You will emerge with a new positive and healthy self-image. You will understand what it means to be full of life and spirit. There is no harm trying it out.
Whether you can follow a vegan diet throughout your life depends upon you, because following a strict diet and exercise program requires willpower effort.
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