Dr. Neal Barnard Shares a Winning Weight Loss Strategy
Dr. Neal Barnard, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), noticed his conversations on airplanes have taken a new direction recently. In the days when airlines routinely served meals, he would get his vegetarian choice before the other dinners were brought out. When other passengers found out he was vegetarian, they questioned his health and motives. Not eating meat was a strange concept to them.
Now, when he tells fellow passengers – or just about anyone else – that he is vegan, people respond with excuses about why they are not. They confess how infrequently they eat red meat, with chicken and fish “sometimes.” But Dr. Barnard’s goal is to provide information, not dispensation. Most already understand that a plant-based diet is the gold standard. Laying out an effective game plan to get onto and maintain that diet is the most critical education he can accomplish.
Dr. Barnard is an engaging speaker. He ignites his audience without yelling, preaching, or incendiary language. His funny stories and tales of healing charmed the crowd at San Diego’s Compassion Bash. This party capped a successful Veg Pledge Week, during which 800 health seekers promised to eat more plant-based meals for seven days.
Dr. Barnard’s theme for this talk was the transition to a plant-based diet. How is this best accomplished? He shared that he does not tell people to make the change all at once or to just “do the best you can.”
Instead, his multi-step strategy paves the way for long-term success. First, you need to be motivated. Hearing about others who have achieved spectacular results from a plant-based diet is inspiring. He shared stories of permanent weight loss for people who had failed every other diet. His study participants have seen maladies such as rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, digestive disorders, type 2 diabetes, and erectile dysfunction vanish along with their fat on a plant-based diet.
Dr. Barnard noted “We are buying tickets in the disease lottery every day. We need to do everything we can to keep tickets out of our hands. So many people start dying at 30. They are still alive, but they can’t do what they used to. By age 50 they can’t get down on the floor with their dog or grandkids.”
So Dr. Barnard’s strategy is encouragement mixed with practicality. He tells you to take a week or two to figure out what you would eat on a plant-based diet. You think about what you are currently eating, and plan ahead about what to substitute for animal foods. That way, when you do change your diet, you are not left feeling stranded with nothing they can eat. If you like to cook, you can look up new recipes. If you have what Dr. Barnard calls “the room service gene,” you can scope out restaurant or take-out alternatives.
After planning, you then make a three-week commitment to a totally plant-based diet. Dr. Barnard calls this short-term commitment a “test drive.” Your diet will be based on PCRM’s Power Plate of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes (beans
and peas) with oil and other manufactured foods held to a minimum. There is no artificial portion control.
At first, the eating plan feels strange, but by the end, your tastes will have changed. At that point, your former animal-based diet will feel a bit foreign and a lot less desirable than it used to. You will have found healthier foods that you like. Any chronic pain or other symptoms of chronic illness may have vastly improved. Your cholesterol will have fallen so much that your doctor may be incredulous. You will be spoiled by eating until you are full instead of leaving the table hungry in order to lose weight.
Want to test Dr. Barnard’s 21-days-to-health strategy? Go for it, and never look back. If you are like the participants in PCRM’s studies, you will be very glad you changed your diet.
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet, the smart person’s nutrition book built on sustainable food choices. Enjoy six kinds of whole foods for permanent, hunger-free weight loss and health.