My weight loss plan journey.
Discovering my unique weight loss plan and detox philosophy started over three decades ago in the month of October.
That is why this time of year is always very special to me. It marks the anniversary of a monumental watershed moment in my career—second only to my meeting Dr. Hazel Parcells. As fate would have it, my path began around the dinner table in September of 1980. I was at a family gathering where my uncle Jack, a pharmacist, asked for my help in locating hoop cheese and apple butter for a special diet plan.
Knowing how conservative and traditional Uncle Jack was in terms of diet, I was surprised and intrigued by his interest in these unusual foods. When I questioned him, he told me he had placed himself on the Pritikin diet—the ultimate low-to-no fat, high carb diet of the day. The purpose was to help balance his blood sugar, and it was working as he was having excellent results controlling his adult-onset diabetes. He felt better than he had felt in the previous twenty years!
I was familiar with the diet because several years earlier I had read Nathan Pritikin’s first book, Live Longer Now. I was impressed with the positive results Pritikin reported that his diet and exercise plan had on the management of coronary disease. At that time I was staff nutritionist at a healthcare facility in Connecticut. It was ironic that Jack’s inquiry would rekindle my interest in the diet/disease connection and ultimately lead me from Connecticut to California, where I would begin working with Nathan Pritikin.
After reading Live Longer Now, I compiled a new resume, and sent it off to California in hopes of affiliating with the Pritikin organization. I meditated and prayed daily for a new career opportunity with the Pritikin organization. In less than a week I received a call from the Center’s personnel director, who wanted to arrange an interview with me. In October 1980 I flew to Los Angeles and two months later became the Director of Nutrition at the main Pritikin Longevity Center in Santa Monica.
As the director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Center, I was very much a part of the growing self-help health movement that was sweeping the country. My formal education was basic and traditional: After receiving an undergraduate degree in English from Connecticut College in New London, I later enrolled in the New York Institute of Dietetics as part of the Dietetic Technician Program. After completing the institute’s courses in menu planning, human physiology, nutritional pathology, biochemistry, microbiology, food sanitation, restaurant operation, and therapeutic nutrition, I went on to receive a master’s degree in nutrition from Columbia University.
Both the New York Institute of Dietetics and Columbia offered extensive field-world experience in local hospitals, where I observed food service activity, patients’ food tray preparation, and actively took part in dietary counseling. My first position after receiving my master’s degree was chief nutritionist of the pediatric clinic at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. I later served as a bilingual nutritionist for the USDA’s Women, Infants, and Children Food Program (WIC) at Hill Health Center in New Haven, Connecticut.
Besides my academic nutrition courses and experience, an important part of my education was studying and working with nutritionally oriented medical practitioners in the Connecticut area. In 1979 I became the staff nutritionist with Deepbrook Associates in Newtown, Connecticut, a progressive group of healthcare professionals. Reading everything available on health—from clinical journals to health food store booklets—broadened my views on both traditional and alternative approaches to health. With my conventional background as a foundation for healthy skepticism, my mind was open to alternatives that worked.
As I more and more saw the need to educate the public in self-care and to make the diet/health connection integrated as a practical part of busy lifestyles, I lectured widely and appeared on radio and television.
My appointment as the Director of Nutrition at the Pritikin Longevity Center seemed a challenge worthy of focusing all my prior education, experience, and creativity. The Pritikin Center proved to be a refreshing professional and personal challenge. After three years in the public health field, I was growing frustrated with the apathy toward change regarding the highly saturated fat, high sugar, and low fiber content of the hospital and federal food programs.
In contrast, developing and coordinating the entire nutrition education program at the Center was challenging and demanding. I enjoyed teaching people how to alleviate their diet-related health problems, specifically heart disease, diabetes, circulatory disorders. Because taking personal responsibility was a primary tenet of the Pritikin principles, my audience was receptive and eager at my lectures. Our patients, or the “participants” as we called them, couldn’t get enough information, restaurant tips, and recipe ideas. Optimism was generated from the experience of being a “participant” in one’s health rather than a passive observer or victim.
And, too, Nathan Pritikin was always gracious and helpful. I will always remember the special favor he did for me soon after I arrived, when he rearranged a busy East Coast touring schedule to give a health lecture at my mother’s women’s group. Her organization recorded their largest turnout and Pritikin was acknowledged by a long-standing ovation.
Several years later I left my position as Director of Nutrition to pursue a wider field of clinical and research interests regarding the underlying causes of degenerative illness. The diet/disease connection was just beginning to explode. There was a whole new world of research findings, which were coming to light about essential fatty acids, food allergies, and Candida albicans (and increasingly prevalent yeast infection) that raised nutritional concerns not covered by the Pritikin prescription.
After leaving the Center I met J. Maxwell Desgrey, who further expanded my knowledge about nutrition. He had a deep interest in and knowledge of anti-aging and life-extension techniques both here and abroad. Through Jack I was introduced to alternative healing therapies such as fasting, detoxification, and full-spectrum light. He shared his personal experiences and volumes of research. Before resuming my private nutritional practice once again, we traveled together to visit state-of-the-art health programs throughout the world. Jack’s journalism skills and investigative research have been invaluable in consolidating our findings.
Five years later at a dinner table once evening in New York Friars Club, I was the guest of a former Pritikin patient, clothing manufacturer Harry Oliphant and his wife, Ann. After hearing all of the new information I had been gathering over the years, Harry said to me, “You’ve gone Beyond Pritikin. You’ve got to write your book now.” So, I wrote my first book naturally titled Beyond Pritikin—and then over 30 more on diet, detox, weight loss, women’s health, men’s health, anti-aging, and the environment.
I went from low fat to high fat and now am proud to call my Fat Flush Plan “Paleo Plus.”
Every October around this time I am reminded of that fateful day when I flew to California and stepped into the Pritikin Longevity Center.
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”
—L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables
I have to agree.