Dean Ornish diet/lifestyle

Anyone a follower of Dean Ornish?

I need to lose weight, get my diabetes under greater control and get healthier in general. Dean Ornish’s diet (basically vegan) seems to make sense, especially in the context of the lifestyle he prescribes. He also believes that you can gradually modify your diet, rather than making the entire change all at once. So I’m wondering if anyone has followed this path with any measure of success.

I think that gradually modifying your diet is an excellent idea.

I also think that different people’s bodies do better on different amounts of animal protein; some on none at all, some on it almost exclusively. I bet rhubarbarin will be in here to plump for us animal-eaters :slight_smile: . You need to find what balance works best for you… but whoever you are, I’m sure you’ll feel better with fewer refined carbohydrates, preservatives, and trans fats in your diet.

I’ve already reduced my protein, because it was having an adverse effect on my kidneys . . . something diabetics have to watch out for. I’m pretty much down to small portions of poultry or fish, so it won’t be much of a stretch to eliminate it altogether. Eliminating dairy, too, will be a big change. I can’t imagine life without eggs or cheese. But a gradual change seems more realistic.

Yeah, agreeing with Sattua…it’s such a contentious issue; I won’t say that the Ornish regimen doesn’t work for some people but, having learned what I have learned in the past couple of years or so about the necessity and benefits of eating whole foods and (gasp!) cholesterol in the diet, I wouldn’t personally recommend it, but do your own research. Animal and saturated fat has been much demonized and recent research is contradicting the “common knowledge” of late. Whatever you do, avoid simple carbs, trans fats, and try to limit grains. Mentally calling rhubarbarin too, to help out here! Hope you don’t mind the (mild) voice of dissent here. BTW I think Bill Clinton is following this regimen, but for heart disease reasons, I think.

I used to be a near-vegan and it made me really, really sick (and I am a young and generally healthy person with no serious health problems before that disaster). YMMV. I have a crapload of vegetarian and vegan friends and most of them didn’t have such a severe and immediate bad reaction. A lot of them have some health issues, though, and similar to me it’s mostly auto-immune stuff. We’re a young crowd yet and they are dedicated to their lifestyle, so we’ll see how things go as we age…

Personally I think it’s impossible to achieve optimal health with vegetarianism, much less veganism. And a low-fat diet is terrible for everyone.

My mother in law was diagnosed diabetic a couple years ago. On the advice of her doctor (thank goodness, someone who is informed on the practical treatment of diabetes) she is following a way of eating somewhat similar to the one I am thriving on. Very limited sugar, grains, beans, potatoes, and fruits. As much meat, fish, eggs, cheese, and low-carb vegetables as she wants. She also eats a lot of nuts, which aren’t the best thing, but she’s still too wary of saturated fat (IMO) so she prefers them to animal products. She has normal blood sugars now, and she lost 50 lbs without even trying (she just eats to satisfy hunger, doesn’t count calories or grams of carbs, the weight came off within the first year), so it’s been a rousing success.

ETA: This is a low blow I suppose, but have you ever seen Dean Ornish? I don’t know if he follows his own advice, but the big belly he’s developed isn’t generally considered to be heart-healthy.

As another diabetic, I can attest to the benefits of a low-carb diet. I’ve been doing it for about 1.5 years now - no sugars, very very little bread (I can’t remember the last time I had a sandwich), lots of veggies. My blood sugar dropped dramatically and stayed there. My cholesterol dropped by more than 50 points in the first 3 months. My every-night heartburn went away instantly.

I eat a ton of nuts and cheese, though, and only occasionally lament the ill-timed return of the McRib.

Pretty healthy vegetarian here; aside from inherited migraines which have (knocking wood) not been bothering me for a couple months after changing treatments, all I’m dealing with at age 40 is a few extra pounds from the holidays. (I’m also regularly mistaken for being in my early 30s, but we can probably credit genetics to that as well.) I also know a (male) vegan who’s an ultra-marathon runner and just insanely athletic.

I’m a bit disturbed about such a low-fat diet without serious medical considerations - last I’d read, Ornish’s diet may have value for those with severe heart issues, but I personally wouldn’t try it without.

Me, I don’t proselytize for a vegetarian diet. Try it if you like. Really, what I’d suggest is reading Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food and go from there.

I’ve heard people complain about how (insert any way of eating or diet plan here) has done terrible things to them, but (other plan) is wonderful and more people should try it, and someone else turn around and say the exact opposite.

Talk to your doctor about suggestions and if following the glycemic index of food is worthwhile, and take time to really consider your eating habits and what you’re putting in your body.

People really do vary. For example, many people find fat sating, so a low-fat diet leaves them starving but a high-fat diet fills them right up. I am the opposite: I only vaguely understand what someone means when they say “That’s so rich”. I can eat fat all day and never fill up. The big thing is to keep experimenting, and be honest with yourself when something isn’t working: too many people beat themselves up because they get stuck on one plan and are either on that or eating their heads off.

This is roughly how I eat when I’m feeling my best. My problem is that all of those vegetables, which I adore, throw my IBS into overdrive. But when I eat to calm my IBS (low fat, low fiber, bland and blah), I feel awful.

Anyway, I don’t worry about carbs, I just try to avoid foods that I know make me feel awful, and that’s pretty much all grains and sugar. I do eat fruits, and I eat a daily yogurt or two, plus a lot of chicken and an astonishing amount of broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots.
Oops, I meant to address the OP directly:

My husband had severe heart issues plus diabetes and he tried the Ornish plan. He ended up not getting enough calories and feeling awful, with sky-high blood sugars. I don’t remember exactly what he was eating, but he was following the plan closely. But like others have said, everyone is different when it comes to food.

Try reading this. It’s similar to what rhubarbarin is talking about. is great. If you’d like a book by one of the best diabetes docs out there (IMO) I recommend Dr. Berstein’s Diabetes Solution.

One of the many ways my body rebelled against my high-calorie, high-carb, mostly vegan+eggs diet was by developing IBS. :eek: Have you tried a high-fat, highish-protein, low-carb but also fairly low-fiber diet? Because that is what keeps mine almost totally asymptomatic these days.

Grains and fruits give me the most digestive issues, so does too much fibrous veg. I’m okay with up to 3 servings of non-starchy veggies daily, but more than that I start having problems.

High fat can cause me trouble, too. I have to hit a mid-point with fats. At least it’s not like onions, which I can barely eat or peppers which I can’t eat at all.

It’s not vegan at all, but just very low-fat vegetarian. You can have very lean fish or chicken once a week or so, grilled, no skin, if you simply cannot go full-on veg. I was already mostly a vegetarian when I started. I found the recipes in his books are delicious, but have long ingredient lists and were time consuming to make, even if the recipes were simple, just because there were so damn many things that needed to be chopped.

It did help to lower my cholesterol. I do not have high blood pressure, so that was not a concern. What helped me to lose weight was aerobic/cardiac exercise. I also strongly encourage making the transition gradually.

Even Ornish acknowledges in his books that eating that diet is very difficult to sustain. Not everyone can do it. I don’t follow it anymore, but sort of modified my approach based on Ornish’s low-fat principles. Still try to keep to whole grains, and mostly fresh veggies and fresh fruits. (Which is pretty much what Pollan advocates–Ornish just takes things a step or two further.) It doesn’t work at all without regular exercise and some form of spiritual life: meditation, religion, whatever blows your skirt up. It’s very much a holistic approach and if you can live without meat, you might be totally cool with it.