Today is the Kick-Off!

Today is the official kick-off for Dr. Fuhrman’s 2012 Holiday Challenge! Hopefully you’ve already committed to the challenge and have prepared your kitchen and schedule to begin. 

Here are a few expectations while you go through the next six weeks:


You may experience what we call, “detox” or “toxic hunger”.

Depending on how dramatic of a shift you are making from what you were eating prior to this challenge and how many addictive foods you may have been eating, or if you had been drinking caffeinated drinks or using tobacco, you may experience symptoms that are unpleasant; related mostly to the withdrawal effect of discontinuing them. You may even think the best way to take away these symptoms is to go back to what you had eaten before to feel better, but don’t let yourself! That will only prolong the detoxification phase. Don’t let these unpleasant symptoms stop you from pushing through! Some of these symptoms are listed below and may last up to 2 weeks for some, but most will only feel them for 3-5 days.

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • Mental confusion
  • Irritability
  • Stomach and/or intestinal fluttering or cramping

You will feel much better once this initial phase is over, and most likely much better than how you felt prior to the challenge.

[Important Note: These dietary changes may quickly drop your blood sugar and/or your blood pressure lower than is safe if taking medications that lower blood sugar or blood pressure, so be aware. If you are taking any medications that would be affected by a dramatic shift in your diet (diabetes medications, blood pressure medications, Coumadin, and others), then use careful daily monitoring and stay in close contact with your doctor so that adjustments can be made to match your body’s response to the dietary changes.]


The taste of food will change over time.

Your taste buds may be used to a high sodium (high salt) diet and so dropping this excess sodium out of the equation can create a feeling that this new eating routine is a little bland. This also will improve over a few weeks, but you should learn as quickly as possible how to flavor your food without using salt, oils, sweeteners, or cheeses. Use lemon or lime juice, flavored vinegars, herbs and spices, whole-food based dressings and sauces made from avocado, nuts or seeds, etc.) so that from day #1 you will have flavorful, healthy food each day.

Also, if after the challenge you find yourself trying some of your old unhealthy food choices again, they may actually taste very different, even unpleasant, and possibly cause discomfort. But with delicious healthy foods in your routine, you’ll be fine without the need for those foods anyway. You’ll see. Just give it some time.


People may say that you are losing too much weight or getting too thin.

First of all, as long as you are following the challenge the way we describe it, losing weight quickly and reaching your ideal weight will be a good thing as well as safe. This comment may come from those who are used to seeing an overweight population (perhaps even themselves included) and this contrast of being thinner and fit may be misjudged as being unhealthy, but it is just the opposite, so don’t be swayed by this mentality (plus, they may be just jealous anyway). But just to know if you are in the healthy range for weight, you can measure your body mass index (BMI) which is a rough estimate of a healthy weight. A healthy BMI for most people is between 19 and 22, from my experience, so if your BMI is greater than 22, you likely have more weight to lose.

BMI = (weight in pounds X 703) ÷ (height in inches X height in inches)


Expect to improve your health!

I want you to know that this time of year, around the holidays, is a particularly risky time for many. There are medical studies that document the fact that every year there is a surge in the number of heart attack deaths that occur in the winter after the holidays when people eat poorly and stop exercising. Here is one of those studies where researchers saw this trend.

But, with each day you practice healthy eating, especially during the holidays, you are reducing your overall risk of future disease instead of increasing it, and you’ll be forming habits that will continue to help you for years to come, so expect to be proud of yourself each day you are successful with this challenge.

Please let us know how you did after the challenge so we can congratulate you on your success!

Ok, are you ready?

Get set……..



Dr. Benson sees the majority of patients at Dr. Fuhrman’s office in Flemington, and is well versed in modern high-tech medicine and the nutritional and natural methods utilized by Dr. Fuhrman. He also works side-by-side with Dr. Fuhrman on nutritional research, gives lectures, and answers questions on Dr. Fuhrman’s Ask the Doctor forums.




image credit:  flickr by terren in Virginia

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Comments (22) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Gail Selkirk - November 19, 2012 6:30 AM

My husband, Nick, and I are ready to go. Good luck to everyone.


Cindy Chandler - November 19, 2012 6:42 AM

I'm husband won't even consider trying to join me until after our family has all left, because he knows he will fail. I am just thrilled that he will even consider joining me after they leave! Much success to everyone!

Emily Boller - November 19, 2012 6:53 AM

The following comment was written by a participant named Janey from a previous Holiday Challenge and was published under another post. I thought it would be beneficial to copy and paste it here for today's kick-off also. This reader's description of the Holiday Challenge is right on!

All the best to everyone and keep us updated on your progress!

Janey wrote: "Two years ago, I was at my highest weight ever and mired in a hopeless spiral of addictive eating behaviors. Inspired by the Holiday Challenge, I made a commitment to myself that I would eat all nutritarian foods for 6 weeks. (I decided to eat all nutritarian foods and drop the SAD foods from the beginning, which I thought would work best for me. Some people prefer to ease into it in stages.) The few first days took some discipline, but since I had made the commitment, and meant it, I didn't struggle over what to eat and didn't worry too much about how much I ate, as long as it was nutritarian. My goal was to replace my old destructive eating habits with a new pattern of healthy eating. (I figured I could tweak and fine-tune later.) Each day, as I flooded my cells with high nutrient foods, my new routine became the norm and the old way of eating got left further and further behind.

By New Year's Day, I was several pounds lighter and felt absolutely fantastic. It was the first year I didn't make a New Year's Resolution, because I didn't need to! I felt so great, and it had become such a habit, that I just kept eating this way. It's been two years now, and I feel more energetic, more vibrant, and more alive than I ever have in my life. And I am much, much healthier. PLUS (and this is the secret that people never realize unless they've been there), I absolutely LOVE the food and eating this way. And this comes from someone who ate tons of disease-promoting "gourmet" foods in the past.

The Holiday Challenge was the jump-start I needed to begin my journey to health. I hope anyone thinking about joining will set aside all of their worries and fears and just take the plunge. Make the commitment to eat nutritarian foods for 6 weeks, use the resources on the member center and ask questions and receive support from the generous members who are happy to help. And then wake up on New Year's Day feeling like a completely new person!"

Stacey Stokes - November 19, 2012 7:45 AM

I'm pumped and excited to go 100% nutritarian. This weekend's immersion filled in some vital points I was missing -- to get the full restorative and healing benefit of nutritarian eating, I have to dive in wholeheartedly and be 100% committed. For me that means losing *all* the excess weight, not overeating even on nutritious foods and amping up exercise intensity and frequency during the day.

Angela Sams - November 19, 2012 10:33 AM

I am starting my Holiday Kickoff right now! Heady to the market to stock up on good for me foods.

Chris - November 19, 2012 10:37 AM

You write in the article above "if you had been drinking caffeinated drinks ... you may experience symptoms that are unpleasant; related mostly to the withdrawal effect of discontinuing them." I have read and agreed to join the holiday challenge. Today as I'm reading this article and drinking a cup of coffee, I'm wondering if I've already broken the pledge I made! But after re-reading the pledge, I don't see anything about stopping caffeine, although I realize Dr. Fuhrman recommends doing so in his book, "Eat to Live." Is that really part of the holiday pledge?

StephenAlbers - November 19, 2012 10:49 AM

Dear Dr. Benson,

Your "kick off" post was right on the mark.

I was particularly pleased with your suggested desirable target BMI range. So many aspiring dieters fail because they have no specific goal. After all, how do you know when you have reached your goal if you don't have one? Your suggested BMI goal range addresses that nicely.

I suggest you post links to one or more public web sites that calculate BMI automatically so participants won't have to wade through the math.

Marielle Cousineau - November 19, 2012 11:06 AM

Hello Dr. Furhman;
I am ready to start the 6 week challenge. I now weigh 226.8 pounds. I will be 57 years old on November 29th. I am about 5 feet 5 or 5 feet 6 inches. What do I have to do to register for this? Do I need to register for this challenge? Is there a free holiday prize for the person who loses the most? I want to live for a long time. I don' t want to catch cancer, diabetes etc... and I don' t want to end up in the nursing home so I want to do this challenge. Sincerely; Marielle Cousineau

Suzanne Goldberg - November 19, 2012 11:12 AM

On the Holiday Challenge Promise in the Member Center it makes no mention of avoiding or limited animal products/dairy. Is that intentional? As the promise reads now, you just eat more nutrient dense foods, the GBOMBS and avoid white flour, oils and sugars.

Ginger Smith - November 19, 2012 11:39 AM

After reading the Eat To Live book on Nov.9,2012, and starting the 6 week plan I'm ready for this next step to commit to nutritarian eating. I have already lost 10 pounds and my blood pressure is improving after 10 days so I know this is the plan for me.

Emily Boller - November 19, 2012 12:15 PM


Here's a link to the Holiday Challenge.

Click on the "Promise" button at the end of the page, and it will take you directly to the specific instructions. You will never regret accepting the challnege! I lost 100 lbs relatively quickly four years ago by committing to Eat to Live, and I absolutely LOVE having my health back ~ it's priceless!

Kathleen Holland - November 19, 2012 1:36 PM

I am ready to do the Holiday Challenge after being on ETL very close to 100% since July 3, 2012 and losing to date 42 pounds it will really be a reaffirming of my commitment to better health.

Deana Ferreri, Ph.D. - November 19, 2012 2:20 PM


Caffeine is not specifically mentioned in the promise, but it is something Dr. Fuhrman recommends against. The promise is a starting point, and we hope that after the holiday season those who have made the promise will continue to improve their diets based on Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations.

Penny - November 19, 2012 2:59 PM

I've started! Our time-zone means that the 19th was yesterday. I love ETL, not only because it has helped me to lose weight, but also because I like large helpings and not feeling hungry or thinking about food all the time. Although calorie-counting works and is sometimes necessary, I know I couldn't maintain that over a lifetime so an eating plan that is basically calorie self-limiting suits me fine. Good luck to everyone, and to US participants have a great Thanksgiving holiday.

Shahenaz - November 19, 2012 3:45 PM

I know Dr. Fuhrman always says to include cruciferous vegetables in our diet. I read that these vegetables are not good for people with Hypothyroidism. What is your answer as I am hypothyroid patient and my doctor said that I have Hashimotos -auto immune disease and is same with my daughter. I am 45yrs old and my daughter is 19yrs old. I read about auto immune section of disease proof but didn't see any mention about thyroid problems. Please let me know as I have started eating lots of cruciferous vegetables already. Should I continue or stop? Thanks for your time.


Terry Czyz - November 19, 2012 7:01 PM

I have been following the Nutritarian life style for 2 months now. I have loads more energy,and don.t need a afternoon nap. I lost 12 lbs.more to go yet. However I am most happy about being in control and understanding what I am eating. The Andi guide is very help full. Now that we are approaching the silly season I am confident to not gain any more weight,and be on the road to a healthy lifestyle. Am going skiing this winter! Ya hoo !!

Johanna - November 20, 2012 9:45 PM

I don't understand why a credit card is required if the holiday challenge is free. Can someone fill me in about that?

Patricia Harte - November 20, 2012 11:37 PM

I know I need to loose at least 10 pounds. I know we can do it! Good health to everyone

Deana Ferreri, Ph.D. - November 21, 2012 9:26 AM

When you join the holiday challenge, we set you up with an account on the Dr. Fuhrman Member Center that will be free for the first 2 months; if you want to keep the membership, it will continue uninterrupted and you will be billed after the 2-month trial period. If you want to discontinue the membership after the 2-month trial, simply call our Customer Service to cancel.

Maureen - November 21, 2012 10:26 AM

I have started and am fully committing to the challenge

LindaLLK - November 21, 2012 2:13 PM

I started the challenge today. I have over a hundred lbs to lose and prior to this I had one meat meal a day. Now I am going meatless and I hope I can make it through the withdrawal period. I have already given up dairy, now I need to give up all caffeine. I weigh 245 at 5 feet 9 inches tall. I wish everyone success in the challenge!

StephenAlbers - November 23, 2012 6:45 AM

Dear Dr Fuhrman,

Your "Killer Kale" Nutri-Bite has truly shocked me - I am shocked I tell you - in the way it denigrates a truly tasty and nutritious food - KALE STEMS! Properly cooked and seasoned, they are an excellent dish and can also be mixed with a host of other vegetables for variety like carrots, parsnips or fingerling potatoes. To prove this for yourself just make your creamed Kale dish again, only this time use just the diced kale STEMS steamed or pressure cooked al dente.

Remember that, for hundreds of years tomatoes were thought poisonous. And now humans consume these nutritious fruits in truly industrial quantities. So it can be with kale STEMS if you'll engage your culinary talents with an open mind to exploit them.

Note: I frequent a soul-food store on weekends where staff strip and bag kale for customers. When I asked the owner what she did with the barrels or leftover stems she said she gave them to her brother who fed them to his hogs. When I asked what she charged for the stems she said I could have as much as I wanted FOR FREE! So now I eat nutritious FREE kale stems in nearly all my soups, stews, veggie side dishes and casseroles.

I think you owe kale stems an apology by creating a healthy Fuhrman dish with them.

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