The Beverly Hills Diet was introduced to the world by author Judy Mazel in 1981 in her book of the same name. Though she had no formal training in either medicine or nutrition, Mazel advocated not mixing different types of foods when eating. Judy Mazel died at a hospital in Santa Monica, California, of complications of peripheral vascular disease on October 12, 2007.
The Premise: Mazel’s theory was based on the enzymatic action of foods during the digestive process. Her contention was that some foods prevented the body from digesting other foods, and this resulted in the body storing these undigested foods as fat. It did not matter what foods were eaten or how much, but rather when it was eaten and in what combination it was eaten with. For example, dieters should never eat carbohydrates and proteins in the same meal. This diet also banned eating fruit after the first 10 days of the diet. Mazel claimed to have lost 72 pounds herself by using this diet. Many celebrities including Maria Shriver, Engelbert Humperdinck, Linda Gray, and Sally Kellerman embraced this diet, which began the craze of fad diets in the 1980s.
The Diet: The Beverly Hills Diet regimen began with dieters eating nothing but designated fruits in a specific order for the first 10 days. Finally on Day 11, dieters could indulge themselves by eating bread, two tablespoons of butter, and three cobs of corn. After another week of restrictions, the dieter could consume steak, lobster, or some other source of protein on Day 19. Mazel opened a clinic in Beverly Hills after the success of her book, often counseling more than 200 clients a week. However, critics stated that this regimen was not a balanced weekly diet and could lead to harming the dieter. Furthermore, exercise was not addressed.
What to get excited over: The diet has worked for many clients despite its difficult regimen. Maria Shriver, for example, needed to lose weight in order to be selected for a job position. She lost the weight using this diet and beat the competition for the job. This diet is definitely a lifestyle change.
Things to consider: The medical world was critical of the diet and published an article in The Journal of the American Medical Association stating that the book was full of medical “inaccuracies” that could harm people. They specifically claimed that it was not the diet’s success that enabled people to shed pounds, but rather the fact that dieters were only consuming 800 calories a day. The authors of the article, Dr. Gabe Mirkin of the University of Maryland and Dr. Ronald Shore of Johns Hopkins University, criticized the theory that fruit enzymes made hard-to-digest foods less fattening. They stated that science shows that enzymes in fruit do not help break down food in the stomach and intestines. Actually, eating great amounts of fruit and little salt, they said, could lead to diarrhea, fever, muscle weakness, and circulation problems.
Verdict: Weight loss is rapid, however, it is difficult and requires fortitude. The medical world is not fond of this diet because of the “non-scientific” notion that different foods should not be eaten together. They also state that this is not a well-balanced diet.