Obesity, Diabetes and Nutrition — Dietary Guidelines by John McDougall, MD

Source: McDougall Newsletter – Feb 2004


… A low-fat vegetarian diet has been shown to reverse heart disease (arteriosclerosis), the number one killer of diabetics. Many other researchers have praised a low-fat vegetarian diet as the best approach to prevent and treat most diseases that plague people in modern societies, including people with diabetes. Possibly the most important effect of this dietary approach (combined with exercise) is the scientifically established fact that this is the easiest and most effective way to lose weight permanently. Obesity is the underlying cause of diabetes. (my emphasis)


Source: McDougall Newsletter – January 2005

Dr McDougall lists and discusses these suggestions to emphasize weight loss:

  • Thrive on Unrefined Starch:
  • Avoid Refined Foods and Flours:
  • Eat Green and Yellow Vegetables:
  • Eat More Raw Foods:
  • Avoid All High Fat Plant Foods:
  • Avoid Sugar:
  • Minimize Fruits:
  • Eat Slowly and Frequently:
  • Keep Your Meal Simple (Monotonous):
  • Lower Salt Intake:
  • It’s Okay to be Hungry:
  • Avoid Alcohol:

Thrive on Unrefined Starch:
Starches like beans, peas, and lentils slow the emptying of the stomach, keeping you feeling satisfied longer, and thereby encouraging last weight loss, and providing an emotionally rewarding dining experience.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
You need to find one starch-based dish, that you enjoy for each meal (this can be the same starch for every meal – like potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). If you fail to make this choice, and instead focus on mostly green and yellow vegetables, you will become ravenously hungry, out of control, and soon off your new nutritional program – and there you will be, fat again.

Avoid Refined Foods and Flours:
Those interested in the utmost efficiency for weight loss should eat their starches in unprocessed and unrefined condition. In practical terms, this means you minimize your intake of flour products. Flours are more rapidly absorbed and then are the whole grains, causing a greater rise in insulin levels.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
Most of you will still in easily lose weight and become healthy if you include some flour products – even whole grain breads – in your diet – but, don’t over-consume them. For best results, these processed food should be kept for special occasions, and eliminated entirely if weight loss is difficult for you.

Eat Green and Yellow Vegetables:
Typically, popular diets recommended that you eat large amounts of green and yellow vegetables, which are looked very low in calories, thus filling your stomach with low energy bulk (they are high in nutrients, however). I suggest about one-third of the meal should be from these low-calorie vegetables for accelerating weight loss. If you’re desperate, then you may push that amount to one-half of your plate (measured roughly by your eyes).

However, be careful that you do not eat so many these low-calorie vegetable foods that your meals are no longer enjoyable and satisfying for your hunger drive. You need the starchy selections for sustaining satisfaction. No population of people has ever lived a diet based on low-calorie green and yellow vegetables. All successful societies have centered their diets on starches (rice, potatoes, beans, corn, etc.) – and you must do the same for long-term victory.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
Begin your main meals with a full ball of mixed salad leaves and oil free bottled dressing. Supermarkets and natural food stores sell bags of washed lettuce leaves and a large variety of bottled, oil free dressings. Make yourself a boiled or steamed vegetable dish, like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and/or peapods. Have you starchy entrée last.

Eat More Raw Foods:
Raw vegetables are less digestible, providing fewer calories. Cooking begins the digestion process of foods and breaks complex carbohydrates into simpler (sweeter tasting) sugars – and more calories. Therefore, eat uncooked foods, when you have the chance and order to accelerate weight loss.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
One easy way to have raw vegetables handy for snacking any time at home is to slice up carrots, celery, green onions (scallions), bell peppers, and radishes, and then put them in a bowl and cover them with water (change water daily). Keep them at eye-level on the shelf and refrigerators and they will be easily available and always fresh.

Avoid All High Fat Plant Foods:
Nuts, seeds, olives, avocados, and soy products (unless they re manufactured to be fat-free) are high in fat … Vegetable oils, like olive, oil, safflower, canola and flaxseed oil are 100% fat … Avoid these as if they were poisons …

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
These richer foods should be kept for holidays, and then, only after you have lost her unwanted body fat.

Avoid Sugar:
Minimize sugar intake. Sugar raises insulin levels, preventing fat from coming out of your fat cells. Simple sugar foods like table sugar (even brown sugar), maple syrup, molasses, and honey are also very concentrated with calories.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
Keep the refined sugars out of the house, if you are an “addict”. … some people deal with these sweeteners as if they were tobacco to a smoker, alcohol to a drunk, heroine to a junkie. You know who you are, so act appropriately.

Minimize Fruits:
Keep fruits to one or two a day. Fruit is largely simple sugar and people can easily eat 10 to 20 servings a day without a guilty thought – after all, fruit is healthy. In truth fruit should be thought of as healthy desserts, made largely of sugar and water (but with lots of nutrients). Vegetable juices (carrot, celery, tomato, etc.) are only slightly less detrimental to your weight loss than fruit juices. Dried fruits are even bigger “calorie bombs”. They are concentrated into a small volume by the dehydration process, so you can eat 20 dried apples in the time it would take eat to eat 2 whole fresh apples.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
For maximum weight loss you should avoid all juices and dried fruits and keep the fresh fruits to a minimum. Fill your refrigerator baldly your kitchen counter with vegetable treats like baby peppers, green peapods, jicama, broccoli, and/or carrot sticks. Readily available boiled potatoes are also helpful and very filling – make them even more inviting with your favorite oil-free dressings or salsa.

Eat Slowly and Frequently:
Eat many smaller meals (8 to 14 times a day), rather than a few large ones (1 to 3 a day). The advantages of frequent small meals are: 1) Less dependency on your body’s storage mechanisms (there is no reason to store food, because it is always available); 2) Lower total daily insulin production which occurs with small frequent meals (same number of calories). 3) Improved awareness. This is most important, because when he slowly and frequently, your brain and body have more time to receive the “I’m full” messages from your intestines that you have eaten. Gorging on a large meal generally means that you’ll take in more food than you need a long before your mind registers that you have eaten sufficient food to meet your needs.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
Divide all your meals into smaller portions. For example, even a medium-sized plate of food, leave the table for half an hour, and if you’re still hungry, return for another similarly sized plate. Plan on many meals and snacking throughout the day on healthy choices.

Keep Your Meal Simple (Monotonous):
Variety causes you to eat more. So, if you like something, eat it over and over again. You don’t have to worry about adequate nutrition with a simple meal plan, as long as the foods you eat are unrefined and based around a starch with a fruit and/or green and yellow vegetable.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
Find three and nine dishes you have time to prepare daily and enjoy – and make these over and over again. Make large batches of these items – put some in the refrigerator and package some for the freezer. However, if monotony bores you, and instead, you like variety, we (Dr. McDougall and staff) have over 2,000 published recipes and a thousand of them fit the Maximal Weight Loss program – so enjoy!

Lower Salt Intake:
Saltiness is a taste enjoyed naturally by sensitive buds on the tip of your tongue. We seek salt. As result saltiness of the foods increases the amount we consume. Eating can be driven by the desire of for salt rather than a real hunger.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
Learn to enjoy her foods with little or no added salt. Scientific research shows it takes about 7 to 14 days to make the adjustment to less saltiness. If you must use salt, then add it to the surface of the foods at the table, not during cooking.

It’s Okay to be Hungry:
Sometimes you will find yourself in a situation where there is no healthy food available – like when you are out shopping, at a party, or dining with friends. You don’t have to eat. No harm will be done. You won’t starve to death by waiting a few hours until something healthy is available. Delaying gratification is the smart thing to do and when you do finally eat the right foods, they will taste extra delicious.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
… people will not have multiple course meals served to them 3 times a day with snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon … If you get stuck with nothing healthy to eat, the best choice in most cases is to go hungry – when you finally do eat, the foods will be even more delicious than usual.

Avoid Alcohol:
Alcohol provides calories. Alcohol lowers inhibitions so you “can’t just eat one”.

Practical Tips for Home Compliance:
You know if you have a problem with alcohol. If so, then life will go better for you after this problem is solved.

Dr McDougall has two weight loss programs – his Maximum Weight Loss Program and his Regular McDougall Program. The guidelines listed here are part of his Maximum Weight Loss Program. The most significant difference between the two is – the regular program includes whole grain flour products, like breads, bagels, and muffins, and more fruits, juices and other simple sugars. More information about these guidelines can be found in his book, The McDougall Program for Maximum Weight loss, and his newsletters – all available through his web site www.drmcdougall.com.