Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Ornish Diet

Have you ever heard of the Ornish diet? I was watching a program about it yesterday and I have never heard of it. Here is what I could find out about it:

Dean Ornish’s Diet Outline

Meat, poultry, and fish aren’t recommended. The only dairy allowed is fat-free yogurt, milk, fat free cheeses, and egg whites.

Foods not allowed are; all fats, oils, nuts, seeds, avocados, refined carbohydrates (including sugar, white rice, and white flour).

Other than these ‘banned’ foods, the diet allows you to eat all you want without any weighting or measuring. What’s left is predominantly fruit and vegetables, and grains.

What You Can Eat

Ornish counsels that we will find success not by restricting calories, but by watching the ones we eat. He breaks this down into foods that should be eaten all of the time, some of the time, and none of the time.

The following can be eaten whenever you are hungry, until you are full:

* Beans and legumes
* Fruits -- anything from apples to watermelon, from raspberries to pineapples
* Grains
* Vegetables

These should be eaten in moderation:

* Nonfat dairy products -- skim milk, nonfat yogurt, nonfat cheeses, nonfat sour cream, and egg whites
* Nonfat or very low-fat commercially available products --from Life Choice frozen dinners to Haagen-Dazs frozen yogurt bars and Entenmann's fat-free desserts (but if sugar is among the first few ingredients listed, put it back on the shelf)

These should be avoided:

* Meat of all kinds -- red and white, fish and fowl (if we can't give up meat, we should at least eat as little as possible)
* Oils and oil-containing products, such as margarine and most salad dressings
* Avocados
* Olives
* Nuts and seeds
* Dairy products (other than the nonfat ones above)
* Sugar and simple sugar derivatives -- honey, molasses, corn syrup, and high-fructose syrup
* Alcohol
* Anything commercially prepared that has more than two grams of fat per serving

That's it. If you stick to this plan, you will meet Ornish's recommendation of less than 10% of your calories from fat, without the need to count fat grams or calories. (The Ornish diet is 10% fat, 20% protein, and 70% carbohydrates. According to his book "Eat More, Weigh Less," the typical American diet is 40% fat, 20% protein and 40% carbohydrates.) To complement the diet, Ornish advocates physical activity and meditation. Ornish suggests eating a lot of little meals because this diet makes you feel hungry more often. You will feel full faster, and you'll eat more food without increasing the number of calories.

Sample Meal Plan

Whole grain cereal with fat-free yogurt
orange juice

Baked potatoes stuffed with fat-free cheese and spinach
Potato salad with fat-free dressing
Green salad and fresh fruit

Bread with tomatoes and capers
Wholemeal pasta with vegetables
Peaches in wine

Water, tea, coffee, skim milk, juices.


Plan to eat an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes (such as beans). Small amounts of nonfat dairy products and eggs are allowed. Avoid meat, oils and simple carbohydrates such as sugar, other sweeteners, white flour products and alcohol.
Stock your pantry with plenty of fat-free foods, including canned products (beans, fruit, soups, vegetable broth and chili); snacks such as rice cakes, popcorn, chips and crackers; whole-grain cereals; pasta and pasta sauce; and fresh fruits and vegetables.
Add more herbs and spices to your pantry. This will keep your dishes flavorful and interesting. Also, keep plenty of vinegar (rice, balsamic, red and cider) on hand, as it nicely enhances the flavor of any dish.
Sauté vegetables in vegetable broth, wine or water instead of oil. Substitute broth for water in recipes. This will add more flavor to your meals.
Think about using tofu and nonfat yogurt in salad dressings (yogurt is also good for sandwiches). These work well in place of mayonnaise. Fresh herbs also make a nice addition to salads.
Rethink your lunch. Consider dried soup, chili or ramen in place of the traditional sandwich. Or try fat-free soy-based or gluten-based deli slices instead of meat for a sandwich. Also, fat-free dips with vegetables, whole-grain bread and fruit complement any lunch.
Know that you can still get a delicious meal at a restaurant. Most restaurants, upon request, will prepare fresh steamed vegetables with pasta or rice, leaving off the oil and butter.
Stock your freezer with healthy frozen meals for the times you are on the go. Life Choice frozen foods, from the makers of Healthy Choice, is an excellent line of tasty, nutritious meals.
Equip your kitchen with the essentials to make cooking less of a hassle. Be sure to have a nonstick skillet, pot, roasting pan and baking sheet. A blender is always helpful for pureeing, and a food processor is great for chopping.
Make eating a meditative experience. If you pay attention to each bite, you may find that you enjoy the meal much more, while eating less.

The following are examples of foods that may be eaten as part of the Ornish diet. For a complete listing, consult a qualified healthcare professional or nutritionist.
Beans and legumes: Lentils, kidney beans, peas, black beans, red beans, split peas, soybeans, black-eyed peas, garbanzos, navy beans, etc.
Fruits: Apples, apricots, bananas, strawberries, cherries, blueberries, oranges, peaches, raspberries, cantaloupes, watermelons, pears, honeydew melons, pineapples, tomatoes, etc.
Grains: Corn, rice, oats, wheat, millet, barley, buckwheat, etc.
Vegetables: Potatoes, zucchini, broccoli, carrots, lettuce, mushrooms, eggplant, celery, asparagus, onions, sweet potatoes, spinach, etc.
The following foods are examples that may be eaten in moderation:
Nonfat dairy products: Including skim milk, nonfat yogurt, nonfat cheeses, nonfat sour cream, and egg whites.
Nonfat or very low-fat commercially available products: Including whole grain breakfast cereals, Health Valley chili (and many other Health Valley products), Kraft Free nonfat mayonnaise and salad dressings, Guiltless Gourmet tortilla chips, Quaker Oats oatmeal, Nabisco fat-free crackers, Fleishmann's Egg Beaters, Pritikin soups.
The Ornish diet recommends that less than 10% of a person's calories be from fat. The following foods are examples that should be avoided:
Foods to avoid: Meats (all kinds, including chicken and fish); oils (all kinds) and oil-containing products (including margarines and most salad dressings); avocados, olives, nuts and seeds, high-fat or "low-fat" dairy (including whole milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, egg yolks, cream, etc.); sugar and simple sugar derivatives (honey, molasses, corn syrup, high fructose syrup, etc.); alcohol; and any commercially available products with more than two grams of fat per serving.

The Ornish diet is slightly lower in protein than the American average, and lower protein intake has been shown by research to have potential health benefits for Americans. For those worried about the lack of protein in a vegetarian diet, the Ornish program teaches ways to ensure an adequate supply of complete proteins in the diet. Proteins are said to be complete when the body can fully utilize them. They can be obtained by combining grains with legumes (beans) or grains with nonfat dairy products. For instance, complete proteins in the Ornish diet are obtained by combining rice and beans, tofu and rice, pasta and beans, baked beans and wheat bread, or oatmeal with nonfat yogurt over the course of a day. Egg whites are another source of protein on the Ornish diet.


Dr. Ornish provides those who attend his retreats with a wallet card to show to waiters and chefs. Most actually will not bother to read it and a few cannot. It is better to know what it says and to tell your waiter directly.

Dear chef,

This person is following a special low-fat vegetarian diet. May I have your help in preparing a meal? I have listed the basic cooking guidelines on the reverse side of this card. The diet is based on whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, soy products, beans and peas and nonfat (not low fat) dairy products. Thank you very much.

Dean Ornish, M.D.

Dr. Dean Ornish's Program
Meal Preparation Guidelines

NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS. May use nonfat milk and egg whites. May use nonfat cheese sparingly.

NO ADDED FAT. No oil, butter, margerine. No nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut. May lightly spray with canola oil non stick spray.

NO CAFFEINE. No regular coffee or tea. No chocolate or cocoa. May use herbal teas or coffee substitute.

Here are two daily sample menus from the Ornish Diet’s Advantage Ten program.

BREAKFAST Oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins, nonfat yogurt, whole-wheat toast with preserves, orange juice, warm beverage

LUNCH Whole-wheat burrito with vegetarian red beans and seven-grain rice, salsa or chutney, chopped fresh cilantro, tossed green salad

DINNER Spinach Ravioli*, lentil soup with celery, croutons, tossed green salad, poached fruits

BREAKFAST Spice muffins, nonfat cottage cheese, cantaloupe, fruit preserves, warm beverage

LUNCH Lentil, celery and ginger salad with cucumber vinaigrette, eggplant with pita chips, Gazpacho, tossed green salad

DINNER Vegetarian red beans and seven-grain rice, okra and tomatoes, asparagus, green salad, bananas

Spinach Ravioli (8 servings)
  • 1 cup tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
  • One small onion, oven roasted and chopped
  • One clove minced garlic
  • ½ lb. spinach leaves, blanched and chopped
  • ½ cup nonfat cottage cheese
  • 2 T. minced fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 48 eggless potsticker skins
  1. Combine tomatoes, onion, mushrooms and garlic in saucepan.
  2. Cook until mixture is somewhat dry, set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine tomato mixture, spinach, cottage cheese, and basil.
  4. Lay out a single layer of potsticker skins and moisten edges with water.
  5. Place 1 tablespoon of the spinach mixture into the center of each skin.
  6. Cover with a second skin and press edges with a fork to seal. Cook ravioli in boiling water for three minutes.

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Come on in for a nice cup of coffee and a chat about my weight loss journey as well as all the healthy recipes I have found, including WW points and/or nutritional information if available. I am eating a vegetarian diet and concentrating on getting healthy and hopefully weight loss will follow. Thank to all my readers for their ongoing support.