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Dr. Andrew Weil’s Eating Well Plan

Overview

In his book, "Eating Well for Optimum Health", Andrew Weil, MD advocates eating what he considers “the optimum diet.” He emphasizes the importance of eating not only to promote health and well-being, but also for pleasure and comfort. While his plan is not specifically designed to promote weight loss, he offers suggestions on how to lose weight while eating for optimum health. Dr. Weil stresses that there is no one right way to eat. Instead, he provides you with the knowledge you need to make well-informed decisions when it comes to how and what to eat.

How Is This Diet Supposed to Work?

Dr. Andrew Weil’s eating well plan educates you on well-established healthful eating practices from around the world. He encourages you to apply this to designing your own optimum diet. The plan doesn’t advocate one specific way of eating as being the key to weight loss or better nutrition.

What’s Involved?

This diet is about becoming informed on nutrition so that you can incorporate the principles of healthful eating into a plan that works for you. According to Dr. Weil, the diet you create should:
  • Meet all your nutritional needs
  • Promote general health and maximize longevity
  • Provide pleasure
  • Promote social interaction and reinforce social and cultural identity
He emphasizes that an optimum diet should be based on a variety of food, as much fresh food as possible, mostly unprocessed food, and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Here are some of Dr. Weil’s additional suggestions for eating an optimum diet:
  • Reduce your intake of foods made with wheat flour and sugar
  • Increase your intake of legumes
  • Reduce your intake of saturated fats (the fat found in butter, full-fat dairy products, and fatty meats)
  • Consume less polyunsaturated vegetable oil and increase your intake of fatty fish, omega-3-fatty acid fortified eggs, walnuts, soybeans, and flax seeds
  • Avoid margarine, vegetable shortening, all products made with partially hydrogenated oils, and fried foods
  • Eat more vegetable protein and less animal protein—except for fish and low-fat dairy
  • Consume at least 40 grams of fiber per day
  • Take certain vitamin supplements, including vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, mixed carotenoids, a B-complex vitamin, and calcium
  • Drink plenty of water every day
In a society where more than half of us are overweight, it is not surprising that so many popular diets are focused on weight loss. Dr. Weil’s plan, on the other hand, is more about the big picture—promoting overall health, preventing disease, and getting pleasure from food and eating. If you take his advice, you may gradually achieve a weight that is healthy for you. However, it should also be noted that Dr. Weil believes our society is too focused on weight. He feels that, while it’s not healthy to be morbidly obese, not all of us are meant to be thin either.

What Does the Research Say?

Overall, this eating plan is based on nutritionally sound principles of healthful eating that are either well-established or supported by scientific studies. The recommendation that everyone take vitamin supplements, however, is not backed by research.

Are There Any Concerns With This Diet?

While Dr. Weil supplies you with all of the information you need to design your optimum diet, there is a lot of content to get through. Figuring out how to use the principles in your life might prove challenging without some additional support and guidance. Additionally, you should consult with your doctor before taking any of the supplements that Dr. Weil recommends.

Bottom Line

Rather than a quick weight-loss diet, this plan is to help you develop a lifelong healthful way of eating. The idea of designing your own plan might work well if you are self-motivated and are interested in food and nutrition. But, you may also need extra support. If you are interested in following Dr. Weil’s advice, consider meeting with a registered dietitian for help with designing your eating plan and making it a part of your life.

RESOURCES

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics http://www.eatright.org

Weight-Control Information Network http://win.niddk.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canada's Food Guide http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca

Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca

References

How Dr. Weil eats. Andrew Weil, MD website. Available at: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/ART02945/How-Dr-Weil-Eats.html. Accessed February 19, 2014.

Weil A. Eating well for optimum health: the essential guide to food, diet, and nutrition. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, NY; 2000.

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