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Book Review: No-Grain Diet

by Randall Neustaedter OMD

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The No-Grain Diet by Joseph Mercola, D.O., Dutton (Penguin) retail price $24.95, at Amazon.com $15.99

Release date April 28, 2003

We knew it was coming. Only a matter of time until the awful demons of our aberrant agrarian civilization were all stripped away. Back to Planet of the Apes for us deluded humans. Dr. Mercola would have us go back, way back, to an era that precedes such modern habits as sowing seeds of grains and planting rice paddies. His simple solution for good health – stop eating grains, starches, and sweets. Throw away those high tech protein bars and embrace the hidden hunter-gatherer within. Oh for those Paleolithic days of yore. Haven’t we all been waiting for the diet that allows all the kale and kohlrabi we can eat? Just imagine your diet as a combination of T-Rex and Tricerotops, or lion and elephant. You’ve got it.

This could be the next big thing, following close on the heels of the Sears/Atkins revolution advocating high protein diets. Dr. Mercola has evolved a new system, light years beyond the Zone and avoiding the dangers of the Atkins meat program. In order to enter Mercola’s universe, you must give up grains for life, or at least for two months. After that time you may eat a few tablespoons of oats or rice. Grains and other starchy foods, like potatoes, stimulate way too much insulin production, which we all know by now is like poison to the notion of staying slim. Mercola has the answer to the obesity plague of the Western world – forget wheat, and live on meat and vegetables. He prefers his vegetables raw thank you, or lightly steamed if you prefer. And don’t try to sneak in any carrots – way too much sugar. By the way, no sweets, added sugar, fruit juice, or alcohol.

Mercola offers three possible eating plans depending on how sick, obese, or Spartan you are. Take your health quiz from the book and then take your pick of the levels of deprivation, from the fairly lenient (you can still eat fruit) to the absolutely pure, ostrich, buffalo, and vegetable juices. The common denominator? You guessed it, no grains.

He recommends the strict regimen for anyone with high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated cholesterol, autoimmune disease, or a lot of extra pounds to shed. If you want to lose weight, I suspect this plan will work where fad diets and diluted compromises like Weight Watchers fail. This is the hard-core, real thing, if you can do it. Mercola insists that other diets do not work long-term to maintain weight loss because they still allow grains.

The book includes menu plans, recipes, and loads of encouraging examples of Mercola’s patients who have recovered their health on the No-Grain program. It’s an easy read because there is not much to do. No calorie counting, no fat gram calculations, no carbohydrate to protein ratios, just meat, veges, and fruit. Mercola’s diet involves a lot of food preparation, especially because he wants you to eat organic chickens, turkey, and beef. You won’t find these at your company’s cafeteria, or the Mexican or Chinese restaurants you usually frequent.

The good news is that this eating plan works. Starches and grains do seem to be the nemesis of any weight loss regimen. Try the diet. You will lose some weight, and you too could return to those thrilling days of yesteryear when organic meat roamed the plains and green leafy vegetables called to us with their scrumptious message of pleasure.

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