A Life Plan for The New Year

In spite of the more than $110 million consumers spend every day on diets and "reducing" programs (more than $40 billion per year), Americans are the most obese people in history. To be considered obese, more than one-third of a person's body must be made up of fat. A whopping 34 percent of all Americans are obese, and the problem is getting worse, not better.

Unfortunately, most weight-loss plans either don't work or offer minor, usually temporary, benefits. There are plenty of "rules and counting" diets, diet drugs, high-protein programs, canned shakes, and other fads that might enable you to lose some weight for a period of time. The problem is that you can't stay on these programs forever. What's worse, many are dangerous.

To achieve the results in preventing and reversing disease, and attaining permanent body weight, we must be concerned with the nutritional quality of our diet.

Based on an exhaustive look at research data from around the world over the past fifteen years, my recommendation is that your diet should contain over 90 percent of calories from unrefined plant foods. This high percentage of nutrient-dense plant foods in the diet allows us to predict freedom from cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, and excess body weight. Fruits, vegetables, and beans must be the base of your food pyramid; otherwise you will be in a heap of trouble down the road.

Most people lose weight and then stop losing when they have reached their ideal weight. You are not the judge of your ideal weight; your body is. As almost everyone is overweight, many people think they are too thin when they have reached their best weight. I have many patients who, after following my plan to reverse diabetes or heart disease, report, "Everyone tells me I look too thin now." I then measure their periumbilical fat and check their percentage of body fat, and usually show them they are still not thin enough.

Many health authorities and diet advisors recommend only small changes; they are afraid that if the change is too radical, dieters will give the whole thing up and gain nothing. I strongly disagree. My work over the past ten years has shown that those who have jumped in with full effort the first six weeks have been the individuals most likely to stick with the plan and achieve results, month after month. Those who try to get into it gradually are the ones most likely to revert back their former way of eating. Under the gradual approach, they "yo-yo" back and forth between their old bad behaviors and good ones. Change is hard. Why not do more and glean the results you have always been after quickly and permanently? Be realistic and flexible; changing your behavior is the key to success.

When you adopt the Eat to Live program as a longevity plan, a slim weight will be a by-product of your new commitment to excellent health.

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Comments (4) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Leong S C - February 21, 2006 12:04 PM

i am reading your book EAT TO LIVE.
Can you tell me briefly how you
measure periumbilical fat?


Joel Fuhrman - February 21, 2006 1:56 PM

I just take a pinch near the umbilicus and squeeze it lightly between two
fingers and measure the distance between the fingers.

Joel Fuhrman

nora manwiller - September 24, 2006 4:27 AM

Once you measure the distance between two fingers in the pinch what does that tell you? How much distance is good?

Sidra - January 28, 2010 11:03 PM

Im South Asian, I definitely believe I have much smaller bones than the average person, so my BMI is skewed lower. For example, my wrist size is just 5 inches. I weigh 95 lbs and I'm 5'3 but the amount of fat on my stomach is about 4 inches deep! I think I am insulin resistant, as I have a rate of 100% diabetes on my mom's side despite them all having low BMIs. However they have the classic indian body (skinny limbs, big stomach) which should tip off doctors to insulin resistance and possible diabetes, despite low BMI. So my point is I agree with your article :)

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