Am I straddling the fence?


There comes a time in the journey of getting health back that it’s good to honestly evaluate progress and ask, “Do I have both feet in nutritarian eating or am I straddling the fence?” Many start the journey with the mindset of, “I’ll eat high nutrient foods during the week and splurge with family and friends on the weekends,” or “I’ll eat nutritarian at home, but eat SAD at work.”

The danger of straddling the fence is that taste buds never change and one never gets to the point of naturally desiring nutrient rich foods. Worse yet, one never gets through the withdrawal phase of crossing the threshold of overcoming toxic food addiction. Unfortunately this results in never getting free of SAD food addiction which is the root culprit of obesity and deteriorating health.

One hundred percent commitment to Eat to Live produces significant results rapidly. It’s not uncommon for many to lose 10-20 lbs a month, and for blood pressure and cholesterol to drop right along with the weight loss. This progress creates ongoing momentum that is highly motivating and begets more success. Yet, those who straddle the fence do all the work to attempt to get health back, but because they are not 100% committed, they never see results. They may lose a few pounds here and there, but repeatedly gain it back with each SAD occasion. At best, this cycle is the ultimate frustration.  

In order to get completely out of food addiction and restore health, 100% commitment is required. Both feet have to be in nutritarian eating all the way. No exceptions. No shortcuts. [100% commitment doesn’t mean 100% perfection. Occasional slip-ups happen for many; they just do. The key is to not allow a slip up to produce the dangerous mindset of, “I’ve blown it now so I’ll just throw in the towel and eat whatever for the rest of the week and start over again next Monday.” If a relapse happens, the key to success is to get up quickly, keep moving forward and don’t look back!] 

At times it’s beneficial to stop and honestly ask, “Am I 100% committed and experiencing great results, or am I straddling the fence resulting in captivity and poor health?” 

May we all choose 100% commitment. For life.     



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Comments (21) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
kat - July 14, 2010 3:21 PM

I don't consider myself to be in two camps.

I eat "nutritarian" all the time, but if I'm invited to dinner at someone's house or I'm staying with friends, I don't want to burden them with my dietary restrictions.

I simply eat some of what's on offer if it's not what I would normally eat but was prepared by the host(ess), consume massive amounts of the offered salad (and all my friends always offer plenty of salad and fruit) and return to eating my way afterward. Since I don't often eat at out, I haven't noticed a change in my preferences.

At a restaurant, I'll ask for no salt and no oil and my friends oblige as much as they can as well.

I think the week on/weekend off thing doesn't work, though. My husband is even more strict than I am (even though the highest his body fat ever got was 10% before we became fans of Dr. Fuhrman). Everyone who stays with us for several days leaves converted as I just cook our normal food and they lose weight at a shocking rate and feel so much better (even those who aren't fat to begin with). So, I don't have the problem where the rest of the family eats differently from me.

Amy - July 14, 2010 4:04 PM

I have been straddling the fence for a couple of months now and it IS miserable. My difficulties lay in overcoming my poor habit of eating at night in front of the television.Though I follow the ETL plan during the day I never feel satisfied after dinner so then I eat more than a full days worth of calories each night before bed and all of it is junk food, such as bread, fried foods and dairy based sweets. I have not been able to break this cycle for more than 3 days, it just takes the perception of a stressful day for me to count down until my comfort food time.
Any suggestions? I think I miss salt the most as a seasoning and so dinner tends to be very bland.

CACC - July 14, 2010 5:03 PM

Amy, it sounds like what you're craving even more than the food is a way to "check out" from the stresses and demands of life. So many people use or have used food in this way, myself included. You will probably need to find other ways to relax, preferably ones that keep your body and/or hands and/or mouth occupied so you can't eat while doing it. (Read, sew, talk on phone, take a bath, take a walk, get a hobby of some sort ... )

If salt is a big issue, there are some good substitutes to get you over the hump, such as the Benson's seasoning or some nutritional yeast. After a while without salt your tastes will change, but it does take time.

Johanna - July 14, 2010 6:21 PM

I have been eating all plant products for quite awhile. I have no problem maintaining my weight, but I am low-end obese and I do not seem to lose weight. I eat approx half cooked and half raw veggies, and I eat a tremendous amount of veggies daily. I also eat 3-4 sl. whole grain bread, 1/2 C brown rice, and some fruit. I do not fry anything, but I do have 2 Tbsp of oil on a mid-day salad of mostly greens and some peanut butter and shredded coconut with my morning veggies and rice. I exercise moderately almost every day (2 miles of walking or I mow the lawn or do other work.)

Jean - July 14, 2010 6:53 PM

Hi, Amy,
Just a few suggestions - get all SAD food out of the house so it is not available at night. Spice up dinner with condiments like Mrs. Dash, vinegars, lemon juice, curry, chili powder, etc. End your meals with a healthy dessert like chocolate cherry "ice cream" blended from frozen cherries, frozen bananas, cocoa powder, and a little nondairy milk - very satisfying!

Still expect your taste buds to take 3 - 4 weeks to reset to a lower salt intake so you do have to get through those first few weeks of "bland" food. But trust me, after 3 - 4 weeks, you will love this food and your former foods will taste way too salty! You will enjoy having a more sensitive palate, too.

Find different ways to relax at night since TV is equated with eating - take a walk, take up a craft like knitting, sewing, or art to keep your hands busy, call a friend, write letters, etc. Make a list of everything you find relaxing that does not involve eating and post it by the TV. Another way to deal with stress is through meditation or yoga - find a class and learn how - it will change your life!

Figure out fun ways to treat yourself as a reward for a week of not eating after dinner - a manicure or a new book or a new exercise outfit. Put 3 or 4 of those together and you are on your way to building habits that will yield fantastic health. Good luck!

Steve - July 14, 2010 8:24 PM

I guess it's a little like being a Christian.

I too often eat between meals although not often a bedtime. I don't think this is so terrible as long as you eat the foods that are part of the ETL regime. No junk food, no bread, nothing processed, etc.

Patricia - July 14, 2010 9:16 PM

I am fairly sure now that nuts are driving me crazy or my insides crazy....and I still crave bread, but other than that I am doing well and enjoying all the flavor of my food.

My body seems to hold on to weight....I am losing but nothing that would look good in the book. I am recovering from Adrenal Fatigue which may make a difference.

Getting off the blood pressure medication was exciting, still working on the weight and knocking down the morning blood sugar levels so am still concerned that 5 pieces of fruit is too much for me.

Not sure any one responds to any of the comments on this blog?

I don't think anyone has signed on to the program from my blog - no checks rolling in :) but I do know 3 of my college friends are having phenomenal results..

Molly - July 14, 2010 11:11 PM

You may consider the need for additional emotional support beyond what Dr. Fuhrman's brilliant team can offer. A support group, such as Overeaters Anonymous, can provide vital emotional and spiritual "sustenance" that food cannot – it can fill that hole inside. They have helped millions around the world deal with emotional eating and food addiction. (Dr. Fuhrman even mentions them in his literature!) When I found that I was unable to stop overeating on my own, OA is what helped me.

barbara - July 15, 2010 4:42 AM

I was 100% for several months and developed colon problems of daily diahrea. So I have backed off and am now eating more cooked food and some white rice and bread/ I'm down abuot it but I have to slow my gut down.

Deb - July 15, 2010 11:41 AM

I have been straddling the fence. I have not given up the salt and heavy seasonings. I have been eating things that are below 100 on the andi scale like homemade whole wheat wheat bread, olives, brown rice, and white potatoes and having it more than once a day. I am diving in totally. I will not take a bite of something that I am making for my kids. As a matter of fact, I am not going to make them food that I can't eat myself. If I go over someone else' s house I am not going to eat something that will put my health at risk just to make someone comfortable. I have suffered too many ill effects from a poor diet. When I go to Maine next month, I have already told my friends that I will be bringing my own food. I am even bringing my bend-tech! They were not offended in the least. If anyone has a problem with what I eat then that is their problem not mine It is a matter of life and death to me.

Eric - July 15, 2010 7:28 PM

Reading _Eat To Live_ changed my life for the better. But one of the things that made the plan approachable for me is the realism and flexibility that Dr. Fuhrman displays.

Pg 192 of my copy:

"...follow the 90% rule. The 90% rule allows you some leeway for imperfection and special occasions or to have a treat once in a while."

Pg 228:

"You can eat anything you desire on occasion, but just don't make a habit of it."

Pg 246:

"This is not an all-or nothing plan."

It stands in stark contrast to the creepy quasi-religious absolutism on display in this post.

Amy - July 15, 2010 8:55 PM

I have 2 successful days in a row under my belt yet again but this time I have decided to commit.
CCAC - You have hit the nail on the head...I look to control stress with the small calming feeling I get briefly after overeating. I have to relearn how to relax. Just getting through the day drains me mentally and physically...toxic life!
Jean - I appreciate the information about how long it takes to adjust my sense of taste to salt. Also, the dessert idea sounds yummy I will have to try that.
Molly - Thank you for the links. I definitely need to find a good support network.

Thank you all for the responses to my question!

Emily Boller - July 18, 2010 3:29 PM

The key to success is not HABITUALLY eating treats, etc. Yes, occasional treats ARE permitted; however, and a big however, use much caution; especially when overcoming toxic cravings.

Dr. Fuhrman highly recommends little to no deviation from the plan during the initial detox phase of getting out of toxic food cravings. That threshold must be successfully overcome. No shortcuts.

Just like a person overcoming a nicotine addiction would have difficulty in smoking 2 cigarettes a day - it is just as difficult for a food addict to overcome toxic food cravings if he/she repeatedly deviates from the plan.

It's not about "all or nothing."

It's aboug ALL . . .

- being ALL that we can be . . . .

- living in the BEST optimal health possible . . .

- enjoying life to the FULLEST . . . .

- every day

-for the rest of our lives!!

All the best of optimal health to all!


Kevin - July 20, 2010 3:21 AM

I was introduced to Dr. Fuhrman through Christian Care Ministries - MediShare and Restore programs.

I have been following the plan for 1.5 weeks at about 80% compliance. I am making different things for my kids. Part of the reason is that I still have many foods still in the house and I feel I need to use them because I paid money for them. Like salt. I have enough salt to last for five years. Should I just dump things like that and get new spices?

My kids (and I) love cheese. Should I just throw it out? Is there some sort of tofu that might replace it? I am on a tight budget and I feel trapped right now about foods I had already stocked up on before I started. Some frozen foods also.

BTW, I have lost about 4 pounds and each of my two kids has lost a couple.

Emily Boller - July 20, 2010 9:32 AM

Hi Kevin,

If you were on the path to get free from alcohol or heroin addiction, you would keep some beer and heroin in the house because you had already purchased them? Toxic food addiction, including addiction to salt and cheese, is just as damaging to the body; it's just that it's an "acceptable" form of addiction in our culture.

You have five years worth of salt stored in your house? So you will continue to damage your health for five more years until the salt is gone?

Eating for health is much, much, much cheaper than bypass surgery, insulin, blood pressure meds, and all the doctor bills and lost work and productivity that will incur as a result of eating for disease.

As your taste buds change you will no longer desire salt, fatty cheeses, and all the toxic, disease promoting foods that continually surround us. Eventually you will naturally desire all kinds of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds; and most importantly you will feel great which will motivate you to eat for health for the rest of your life! It's such an exciting and permanent change!!! Don't miss out on a new life!!! Purge the toxic foods and choose freedom!!!

All the best to you and your children as you get your health back! You will never regret living in freedom and a new body!

Margie - July 20, 2010 12:25 PM

I totally agree with Eric who quoted Dr Fuhrman's book (90% rule; don't make a habit of poor choices). I have lost 10 lbs so far but I do allow myself the occasional "cheat" meal and it feels great, and that means having a piece of meat or chicken not going nuts with processed foods or sugary treats. Those foods are definitely addictive and that's where the problem starts again because your body starts to crave them and bingo you are back to your old ways. If you keep at it the right way, you will crave fruits and nice big salad!!! Good luck to all.

StephenMarkTurner - July 20, 2010 5:33 PM

Margie, don't forget that even the strictest Fuhrman plan allows for a couple of animal food servings a week. That is not cheating.

Cheers, Steve

Michael - July 20, 2010 5:42 PM

I think there is a difference between an occasional cheat and 5-6 meals per week that are off plan as noted in Emily's writing. SAD foods can be very addictive and easy to fall back into consuming too many unless you are really serious about committing to eat healthy. I found total abstinance from certain foods has been the only acceptable method to dealing with these foods to have successful, long-term weight-loss.

Emily Boller - July 21, 2010 8:52 PM

It all boils down to "know thyself."

A wise sage once told me that it is a sign of maturity to know one's limitations, accept them, and be content to live within the limitations with gratitude.

Someone could put bowls of avocados in front of me and I won't touch one of them; even if I'm hungry.

However, put a bowl of raw cashews in front of me, and oh boy, watch out! That's why I do without cashews in my eating plan. I'd rather not even have to wrestle with the choice. Period.

Yes, some doors do open up to addictive cravings for more, and what's addictive to me may not be addictive to someone else.

Freedom is making daily choices to live within the boundaries that keep us safe and healthy.

Freedom to all ~


StephenMarkTurner - July 22, 2010 10:36 AM


Ditto for me and cashews! Walnuts, almonds, brazils, even pistachios do not have the same effect at all.


Sandi - August 15, 2010 12:04 PM

Kevin, a pound of salt costs about $2.99. You are willing to risk your health for the next 5 years to save $3? (which is spent already anyway.)

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