The Spectrum Diet

The Spectrum Diet was created by Dr. Dean Ornish, who was among the first to prove that a low fat vegetarian diet can reverse heart disease. The Spectrum Diet is a long term wellness plan designed to help you learn to make healthy eating and exercise choices without forsaking your individual needs, personal tastes and genetic makeup.

The Premise

Dr. Ornish believes that traditional diets don’t work. This is because they don’t help people learn how to make healthy lifestyle choices that still allow for personal tastes and individual needs. Dr. Ornish’s Spectrum Diet teaches you to think of diet and exercise as existing along a spectrum. Those at the unhealthy end of the spectrum eat mostly unhealthy foods and do little physical exercise, while those at the healthier end of the spectrum eat mostly healthy foods and perform regular physical exercise. Dr. Ornish’s Spectrum Diet helps you gradually change your habits to move toward the healthier end of the spectrum at your own pace, and achieve long term weight loss and better health.

The Diet

The Spectrum Diet provides the groundwork for a healthy lifestyle, and allows you the freedom to tailor that lifestyle to your individual needs. The Spectrum Diet allows you to control the pace as you work towards a healthier lifestyle. It doesn’t restrict you to eating certain foods; you’re allowed to eat whatever you want, but you’ll enjoy greater weight loss and better health as you move gradually toward the healthier end of Dr. Ornish’s spectrum.

The Spectrum Diet puts foods into five categories. They are:

  1. Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, egg whites, nonfat dairy products, legumes and soy foods.
  2. Avocados, seeds, oils, nuts, low fat dairy products, canned vegetables and decaffeinated drinks.
  3. Seafood, refined sugars and carbs, margarine and plant oils that are high in saturated fats.
  4. Whole fat dairy and high fat animal products, mayonnaise, pastries and other desserts.
  5. Red meat, fried foods, organ meats, butter, cream, tropical plant oils and egg yolks.

The Spectrum Diet asks that you base your diet mostly on foods from the first two groups, and minimize your intake of foods from that last three groups.

No Restrictions

Because you’re allowed to eat whatever you want on the Spectrum Diet, you won’t feel deprived of your favorite foods. The Spectrum Diet teaches you how to tailor diet, fitness and stress management programs to meet your own individual needs and preferences.

The Spectrum Diet is a medically sound plan for long term weight loss. It recommends a regular fitness program of aerobic exercise, flexibility exercises and strength training to help you maintain your weight loss over the long term. The Spectrum Diet also recommends yoga for stress management.

This diet is low in fats and emphasizes a flexitarian (consuming meats of a limited basis) approach to food, something that might not appeal to heavy meat eaters. You might experience blood sugar problems if you’re not careful to eat mostly foods that are low on the glycemic index. The Spectrum Diet is very low in omega-3 fatty acids. It is a healthy and safe diet that can help you achieve long term weight loss.


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