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Editor’s note: This is Article 6 in the new Meridian series, “The Half-Diet” wherein Richard Eyre lays out the basics of the most simple and logical method of losing weight and keeping it off. New installments in the series run every Wednesday. Most of the concepts are taken from Richard’s latest book THE HALF DIET DIET. Meridian readers who comment on all articles in this series will be put into a drawing for free copies of the book when the series concludes. Readers may still comment on articles 1 through 5.
As I was first writing the Half Diet Diet I was so concerned about my lack of medical credentials that I decided to do it under the pseudonym or pen name of “Dr. Bridell” (and of course I also wanted to use the name to suggest the great metaphor for the diet—of bridling our appetites.
Years later, when I decided to publish the book under my own name and to excerpt it here at Meridian, I felt that it needed a medical preface, so I asked my old friend, Dr. Noell E.Wolff to write it. What he wrote serves as a good overview of the diet so I thought I would pass parts of it on to you as today’s article. So here is part of what Dr. Wolff had to say:
“First of all, you should know that my friendship with Richard Eyre goes back 40 years. He calls me “Cub” and I call him ‘Rick.’ We ride horses together, we scuba dive together, and mostly we talk a lot together, particularly about the maintenance and the connections of the bodies, minds, and spirits we are trying to preserve. You should also know that I love the way Rick’s logical and conceptual mind works. His “how-to” advice has been a constant source of practical information to me throughout my life, but more; it’s frequently given me a sense of “Ah-ha!” Joy.
“About me: I’m nothing more than an average country doctor. Way back in the last century I started my medical practice in a little country town in Alberta, Canada. I could immediately see that obesity was a universal problem and a bane to most of my patients. A friend of mine from medical school had a diametrically opposite experience. He went directly to Nigeria with his new wife and stayed there for 16 years as a medical missionary. He was one of two doctors that spoke the Tieve language, a tribe of a million and a half people in which obesity is non existent.
“On one of his rare trips back home we got together and discussed the differences in our medical experiences. I found that for him there were no Sundays and no holidays and that on a typical day he and his partner would see 500 outpatients. Now when I say ‘outpatient’, I mean “out”. There is no possible way to funnel that many patients through a typical doctor’s office. These patients would literally lineup in an almost endless line and Dr. Reedyk would run down the line giving instructions to his Nigerian nurses. “You know what to do with this one, this one is routine, oh! This one needs immediate surgery, take her to the OR, she needs a cesarean section immediately.” During his stay in Nigeria his surgical schedule would include seven or eight major cases each day. Obviously, this kind of crushing schedule can only be maintained by an individual with unusual physical stamina. During all these years he and his family lived on a typical Nigerian diet: millet, yams, and a chicken every couple of weeks.
“Now imagine the kind of woman that could be the wife to such a doctor; bearing and raising children, and sticking with that man and being his active partner. That couple, the doctor and his wife, not only had unusual physical stamina, but a deep well of spiritual, social, and intellectual durability. They would have loved Rick’s “diet book” because it raises the bar of all the diet books that have previously been written, because it includes advice not only on how to live but on how to serve with heart, might, mind, and strength.
“Dr. Reedyk says that he thinks he may have seen a “heart attack” once in his 16 years in the Nigerian villiage. Imagine a typical American doctor who had only seen one heart attack in 16 years! Try to imagine that American of western doctor never having seen a case of adult onset diabetes. Imagine that doctor having ‘seen hemorrhoids only in a book’. Imagine a scenario where cancer of the colon is almost unknown.
“As we compared notes, my friend from Nigeria and I realized he was spending most of his time treating diseases that had been eradicated in the West. He averaged one cesarean section a day because of rickets. I have not seen as much vitamin D deficiency in my fifty-year medical career as he saw in one day. We came to the conclusion that I was treating “civilized diseases” that he never encountered in Nigeria.– arteriosclerosis, type II diabetes, cancers of the bowel, fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndromes, osteoporosis, and so one. Every one of the deseases I constantly treated (and he never treated) were related in large part to diet.
“In my own early practice, I became something of a “bariatric specialist” before the specialty was invented. This because I realized that if I could just get my ubiquitously overweight patient population on a good diet, I could prevent most of the diseases I was treating. I knew how the chemistry worked, I had a minor in biochemistry and knew every step of the tri-carboxylic acid cycle with its associated enzymes, coenzymes; sidechains allowing the metabolism of protein and fat, all for the production of high-energy phosphate bonds needed for muscular contraction..
“So as a young doctor, I educated myself on every diet available. I studied the diets celebrities use, the South Beach diet, the Atkins high-protein modified fast, hypnosis and self-hypnosis, pins in the earlobe which you pull when you’re hungry, daily shots of human chorionic gonadotropin and a 400 calorie diet, etc. etc. etc. Over the years I have caused tons of weight to be lost. Over all those years I have come to realize that permanent weight loss will require not only dietary changes but fundamental changes in brain chemistry. One must literally become a thin person in the mind. One must learn how to charge the reticular activating system with mild exercise; how to change the pleasure centers in the brain from the cortisol whirlpool to the endorphin cascade. A whole new mindset will require the same gradual changes in brain chemistry and brain morphology that occurs in a recovering alcoholic.
“Rick has captured this new mindset, and he has done soin a clear and simple way that would have been impossible for me with my medical terminology and scientific baggage!
“In the past I’ve told my patients not to try and make changes in behavior until they were really ready to make those changes; this is exactly wrong advice. Change now, change today, change this instant, make plans to use the tools you have right now, and, if you fail, start again and again and again. Ask questions, learn from your mistakes, and start again. The more often you try to change, the more certain you can be that, eventually, you will. And it is this very book that will make it all possible.
“Years ago, when Rick told me that he was tired of “fad diets,” I agreed with him. When he told me he was about ready to write a diet book of his own, I encouraged him. And when he told me he wasn’t sure he had the medical or dietary credentials, I said “Rick, your freedom from the narrowed perspective of ever changing nutritional and medical science is the very reason you should write the book.”
“Frankly, we’ve got too many scientists and pseudo scientists pumping our incomplete and illogical dieting theories that ignore things like the joy of eating and the need for balance and moderation and simple common sense.
“What this world needs is a straightforward program for turning our appetites into our friends rather than our enemies and for exercising simple discipline—not to curtail but to enhance our joy of the physical world, including the parts of it that we eat!
“A true and useful lifetime diet must involve the health of the mind and spirit as well as the body and must increase the joy we get from eating, not diminish it.
“And that is exactly what the Half Diet does!
“Based on correct principles rather than passing theories, this diet legitimately guarantees weight loss, but it also promises more energy, higher awareness levels, and a carry-over talent for controlling all the other appetites that threaten our happiness.
“One thing I’ve learned over the course of my 50 years of practicing medicine is that patients will not keep doing things that they don’t enjoy and that don’t make sense to them. The promises some diets make will “hook” people for a while, and some immediate results will keep them going a little longer, but without clarity on why they are doing what they do, and without any noticeable improvement in how they feel emotionally as well as physically, they won’t stick with it, and their weight will go up and down like a yo-yo as they flit from one diet fad to another.
“The Half Diet is the antithesis of all that. It will work AND you will enjoy your food more and enjoy your life more.
“I was honored to be asked to write the preface to this book, because I endorse and believe all that Richard has said herein. In fact, I like to think that I have contributed somewhat to it.
“The most unique thing about the dietary approach that Rick suggests is that it works with the body and with the natural appetite rather than against them. It suggests that appetite is, like a strong and beautiful horse, something that can work to our benefit and to the enhanced pleasure of life IF it is controlled, or “bridled.”
“During all the years of my medical practice, I have tried to simplify the ideas of what to eat and what not to eat so that my patients could remember and implement rather than become discouraged and intimidated. The simplification went as far as “green food is good, eat it in abundance; brown food is OK, eat it moderately, and white food is bad, try to eat it not at all.
“But Rick, in this book, has created an even more useful simplification. “Worry only about disciplining the quantity of what you eat, and over time your appetite will become your ally and attract you to a higher quality of food.”
“I agree with and endorse this concept: I agree that it is both simpler and more effective to focus on controlling how much you eat than on complex combinations and fastidious formulas for exactly what you should eat.
“Hold in check the quantity, and your appetite will gradually stop demanding more and start demanding better. And the bonus is that while you are cutting in half the amount of food you eat, you will, counter-intuitively, double the enjoyment you get in eating that half!
“The problem, of course, is the transition. Your appetite will fight you—hard—when you start giving it less. So the real value of this book is the tips and ideas it lays out for “holding to half.” You will like the “water habit” and the “move habit” and the “slow habit” because they will make your job of “quantity control” easier.
“This book, long before it was published for the general public, was serialized in an on line publication and met with huge acclaim. Those who tried it, who made the commitment to develop and follow the habits it suggests, met with real success. They lost weight, and they felt better about their bodies and about themselves. And they experienced few if any negative side effects other than the slight edge of hunger that actually quickens the wits and raises the levels of awareness and perspective.
“I’ll make you a little promise here at the outset. If you have the faith and the discipline to implement the Half Diet, full force, for a full month, you will develop the positive dietary habits that can last a lifetime.
“Enjoy the process,”
Dr. Noell E. Wolff, MD