5 Foods to Avoid on the Ornish Diet

The Ornish Diet was created by Dr. Dean Ornish, a well-respected doctor and author of #1 New York Times bestselling book, Eat More, Weigh Less. Ornish advocates a low-fat diet and his decades of research have proven that individuals who cut out oils and fat not only lose weight, but recover from health conditions such as high cholesterol and cardiovascular problems. This is done without drugs or surgery.

On the Ornish Diet, you can eat as much as you would like (without feeling stuffed) of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and legumes. Other foods that can be eaten in moderation are non-fat dairy products and very low-fat products that are commercially available. This includes examples like non-fat mayonnaise, whole-grain breakfast cereals, and fat-free desserts.

The Ornish Diet warns dieters against certain categories of foods that are high in fat and/or create processes in the body that lead to weight gain. The following are five major categories of foods that are to be avoided on the Ornish Diet.


The Ornish Diet is a low-fat, vegetarian diet. All meats are to be avoided because even with lower fat varieties such as fish and chicken, there is still some fat. Additionally, most meat dishes involve using oils or fats in the cooking process, which increases the fat content of even the leanest types of meat.


Dr. Ornish refers to all oils as liquid fat. On his diet, you are to avoid oils of all kinds, even olive oil, which is often considered a healthy oil. Consuming oil of any kind leads to weight gain and so, on this diet, even olive oil, safflower oil and canola oil are to be avoided.

Dairy Products

All high-fat and low-fat dairy products are to be avoided. This includes whole milk, yogurt, butter, cheese, egg yolks, cream, etc. Whole milk is close to meat in its saturated fat content and is better avoided for this reason. Even low-fat milk is to be avoided because it contains 5 grams of fat per cup. There is a big difference between low-fat milk and non-fat. Non-fat milk contains less than ½ gram of fat per cup.

Sugar and Simple Sugar Derivatives

Sugar is considered a simple carbohydrate. It has no fiber and is not bulky. With refined sugar, there are no signals to the brain that you are full. This makes it easy to eat large numbers of calories without feeling full. Sugar is not as important as fat in this diet, but it is still considered a food better avoided.


Alcohol is a simple carbohydrate. The body absorbs simple sugars quickly, raising the blood sugar level. In response, the pancreas pumps out insulin to lower the blood sugar level. When this happens, it makes you feel tired and very hungry.

During times of elevated insulin level, the body is also more apt to convert calories into body fat. When you drink alcohol, your body burns up fat much more slowly than it usually does. In one study, for example, it was found that 3 ounces of alcohol reduced the body’s ability to burn fat by about one-third.


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