Food-Specific Diet Plans Allow Some, Avoid Other Foods

The premise of food-specific diets is that some foods have special properties that can cause weight loss, other foods cause weight gain, and combinations of specific foods cause you to lose or gain.

Nutritionists call the human appetite for a variety of foods food-specific satiety. It’s nature’s way of assuring that you eat a diverse diet and, therefore, get the full spectrum of nutrients. You don’t have to eat only hot fudge sundaes to see the dynamic at work.

Think of last Thanksgiving’s dinner, for example. After eating a full savory, salty meal of turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, rolls, and so on, we bet that you were still tempted to have a slice of sweet pecan or pumpkin pie. That desire for dessert was because your palate was looking for the full complement of flavors.

Unless you ate plenty of marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, your desire for something sweet wasn’t satisfied. Sour, salty, and bitter — the other components of flavor in the Western diet — probably were featured in the main course. Sweet comes from dessert.

Take a look at some diet programs that focus on your relationship with specific foods:

  • Eat Right 4 Your Type: Peter J. D’Adamo, ND (naturopathic doctor) devised a diet plan that has individuals use their blood type as a genetic footprint or road map to determine which foods they should be eating. When you eat foods that “agree” with your blood type, you reduce the risk of infections, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and liver failure. For example:

    • People with type A blood have ancestors who were farmers; they should be vegetarians and avoid most meats and dairy products.

    • Type Bs can trace their predecessors to nomads and should eat red meat and fish but avoid chicken and shellfish.

    • Type Os are genetically linked to hunters and gatherers and should eat plenty of animal protein, but not much carbohydrate, especially wheat.

    • Those with type AB blood should eat a diet that’s a combination of types A and B.

      The theories advanced in this diet book are not documented in scientific literature. Research referred to in the book was performed only by the author and has not been duplicated elsewhere. Many foods are off limits, making the diet extremely inconvenient and boring.

  • Curves: Cary Heavin and Carol Colman created a plan around the same as the thinking used at Curves fitness and weight-loss centers around the country (basically a fast, 30-minute series of exercises for fitness and weight loss.) The diet is as much of a sales pitch for the franchised clubs as it is a weight-loss program. A quiz based on how much weight you have to lose, your sensitivity to calories or carbohydrates, and your body type determines the best diet plan for you.

    Body type and amount of weight you have to lose aren’t scientifically based criterion for determining dietary needs. Like it or not, no one is so unique that weight-loss success depends on specific foods. Calories in versus calories out is the bottom line and the only rationale that will help you become a shadow of your former self.

  • The Fat Flush Plan: Ann Louise Gittleman prescribes strict daily diet of essential fats, protein, and carbohydrates to detoxify the liver and increase metabolism. She claims people gain weight because they have a stagnant lymph system, sneaky food allergies, or hormone imbalance. It’s the liver that holds the key to permanent weight loss and certain foods (such as eggs and lemon juice) and avoidance of medications (such as ibuprofen, prescription cholesterol-lowering, antidiabetic, anticonvulsant, and birth control drugs) frees the liver to function more effectively as a fat burner. Many foods are banned in the plan’s first two-week protocol.

    The initial phase of the diet is a low-calorie one — 1,100 to 1,200 calories a day — and restricts grains and starchy vegetables. Phase two is a 1,500-calorie diet. Most people can lose weight when calories are so low. There’s no scientific basis for her claims. Gittleman credits her theory to the teachings of Hazel Parcells, an alternative healer, and her personal study of medical textbooks, not tested scientific principles.

  • Suzanne Somers’ Somersize: Detailed rules define which foods must be combined and which ones shouldn’t be eaten together. For example, protein-fat foods and carbohydrate foods shouldn’t be combined in the same meal nor consumed within three hours of each other. Fruits must be eaten on an empty stomach. Sugar and starches are severely limited.

    The nutrients in many foods are more available to your bodies when combined. Take a sandwich made on whole wheat bread with lean beef topped with tomatoes and lettuce. The fiber in the bread helps the meal digest at a steady rate that keeps energy stable. The vitamin C in the tomatoes helps to absorb the iron from the beef, as well as the iron from the whole grains. If you don’t eat carbs with your protein, you miss those kinds of health benefits.

  • Body for Life: Bill Phillips and Michael D’Orso provide a diet plan that recommends you eat six meals a day with six snacks, but only partake of foods from a limited list: eighteen protein foods and 18 carbohydrate foods, only 2 servings of authorized vegetables and 1 tablespoon of unsaturated fat are allowed per day. Exercise is a vital and daily component.

    The diet is overly strict and the foods on the list have no special qualities that aid weight loss.

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