The McDougall Program

Most folks are interested in the McDougall diet, explained in The McDougall Program For Maximum Weight Loss, they want to lose weight without dieting but in truth the McDougall program was developed to improve health, with weight loss being only a side effect. McDougall believed that health os our natural state – not sickness. So this isn’t about just food but also includes exercise, fresh air, sunshine and clean water. Further, our surroundings will encourage health or sickness.

Dr. John McDougall practiced medicine and was challenged by a patient who wondered if there was a relationship between diet and disease. McDougall initially scoffed at such an idea, but after much research realized that the relationship was very direct – a fact that is considered elementary today at the time but was quite revolutionary.

McDougall’s program is low fat, as he states emphatically that "fat makes you fat" Unfortunately, many have interpreted this to me that loading up on the packaged low fat goodies that are so popular in the modern supermarket is the way to go. But McDougall would NOT agree since his program is wisely based on whole foods.

Basics Of The John McDougall Diet

First, and most important, you should eliminate fat in all forms. This doesn’t just refer to obvious fat sources like oils and butter. It also means fatty plants like nuts, seeds and avocados.

No meat is allowed. Part of the reason is the high fat present in meat but McDougall also believes that excess protein is bad for the body. I follow an alkaline diet and concur with this advice. According to McDougall, 20 grams of protein is plenty for an adult body.

When I first read this in the writings of Dr. Robert Young, author of The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health, I disagreed … until he noted that mother’s breast milk is only 3% fat. Surely if we need huge amounts of protein, the time would be when we are infants and growing faster than we will ever grow again in our lives?

Dairy products are not included in the McDougall diet. McDougall credits milk products with the creation of unpleasant allergies and excess mucus, resulting in coughs, post nasal drip, nose-blowing and other fun activities.

In addition, the hormones, steroids and other horrors that are fed to cattle are concentrated in milk, cheese, etc. and McDougall program followers won’t be eating any of those.

Seems like we’ve eliminated everything available, right? Well, that leaves all my favorite foods like fruit, veggies and whole grains. And not only that, you can eat as much as you want of these great foods! Think potatoes, brown rice, beans, corn and whole grain pasta. Sound good? Yum!

This is a very low fat (only the fat found in recommended foods), starch-based program. But it also includes some foods that aren’t familiar to most of us like passion fruit and carambola. These might be quite expensive where you live. However, there are three foods on his ‘strange’ list that I eat frequently:

Watercress …
Fava beans …
Kale …

None of these are expensive in Georgia, so I will assume that they are quite affordable elsewhere.

Watercress is an especially interesting food. When I first tried it, it seemed so bitter that I thought I would hate it. However, I use freshly squeezed lime and a bit of olive oil on my salads – and that combination totally transformed the watercress! It is now my favorite green and I use it in almost every salad I eat.

Since dairy products aren’t allowed, a follower must be careful when shopping because there are many products which have dairy products included and we might buy them accidentally. In other words, we need to get into the habit of reading labels which is something we should be doing already.

My rule of thumb: if I can’t pronounce it, I don’t eat it.

Another bright spot: there are zillions of veggie and fruit recipes on the Net that perfectly fit the McDougall diet. Here is one of my favorites … "Cherry Pie"


* 8 cups frozen pitted cherries
* 4 tablespoons apple juice concentrate
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice
* 6 tablespoons cornstarch
* 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
* 2 cups oats

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except oats. Place mixture in baking dish. Pour oats on top. Bake for 25 minutes and allow to cool.


There is also a ‘mini-diet’ within this diet for faster weight loss. You choose one type of carb, like potatoes, brown rice, etc. and eat only that carb for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, combined with various vegetables. If you have a craving for a particular starch – like potatoes – this is a way to cure that craving.

There is no calorie counting! Yeah, cheers and screams of joy!

Our Verdict On The McDougall Program

This diet is the opposite of high protein low carb diets that are quite dangerous and McDougall has science and results to back up his findings. But if you can’t bear to live without your animal products, you will be unable to stick with the Dr. John McDougall program, so don’t even start. My personal experience is that this diet gives our bodies exactly what they need and you will find yourself full of energy and feeling great. Not to mention the weight loss part. :-)

Most meat-eaters will find this diet to be a bit extreme. However, if you start to follow the diet, you’ll lose weight and find that you’re feeling full of energy. The large amount of fruits and vegetables you are encouraged to eat give you plenty of the nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. Plus, there’s no calorie counting, which many people hate doing.

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