Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dr. Abby Bashes "The Bead Diet"

Originally posted

Have you heard of “The Bead Diet?” According to their website,, people lose 15 pounds a month, with most people losing more.

This three part program includes applying pressure to tiny beads behind the ear (acupressure), performing “Chi Gong Breathing,” and a crazy food plan.

Acupressure is designed to trick the body into feeling full, by creating balance through the hypothalamus. This part of the brain governs fullness and the amount of food eaten.

“Chi Gong Breathing” is supposed to harness the life force, “chi,” to improve health and longevity, and increase feelings of peace and harmony. They also claim that it enhances energy levels, attention, concentration, and mental alertness.

Next comes the food. There is no specific information on the site, but I’ve been told that for two days you eat milk products, and for two days fruits and veggies. The site promotes lots of artificial sweetener.

The nutritional balance of the food, along with acupressure, supposedly tricks the body to ignore the reduction of calories. This prevents starvation mode. The body uses stored fat for energy, resulting in weight loss and amazing medical results. If you exercise and feel faint, they suggest a bit of honey in water, and a sugar-free electrolyte drink if necessary.

They encourage eating between noon and 6PM because the body needs nutrition during those hours. Eating outside those hours might cause the body “to cannibalize itself using not only fat, but muscle, organ mass and negatively affect your metabolism.” YOWZA!

Finally, after losing all the weight you want, they promise maintenance within 3-5 pounds of goal, apparently your new set point.

Does this sound too good to be true? Even if everything goes according to plan, the claim of maintaining that level of success sounds preposterous. It would be more believable if they provided some decent research confirming this. After all, they have been operating for 11+ years, yet there is not a single follow-up study on their website.

The only study cited followed 16 subjects on the plan for 13 weeks. They lost an average of 46 pounds. Since when is sixteen subjects considered strong science, especially without any follow-up???

We all know that most people can lose weight on any fad diet, but few people can keep it off without developing an eating disorder; ie. preoccupation with food and weight. I believe the two part system of dieting to lose weight, and then trying to maintain the loss, is what has failed. There needs to be one way of living, which strives towards health and fitness.

"Dr. Abby's Diet Resolutions"

Originally posted

New Years, New Years Resolutions,

Time for cleansing absolutions.

Diets, diets, everywhere,

Wash the fat from way down there!

Fat from cakes and nog and such,

Such a glutton, ate so much!

Why oh why am I so fat?

“Cuz on my ass I simply sat.

Gimme this and gimme that,

More o’ this, and more o’ that.

But is it time for deprivation?

Oh no, please, such aggravation.

Time to try out something new,

Something easy, here’s a clue.

Compensation, compensation!

Beats that ugly deprivation.

Health at every size is great!

Be your best, with no self hate.

Tweak your choices,

Mouth rejoices.

Dark chocolate bits

For antioxidant hits!

Eat when hungry, stop when enuf,

And exercise to make you buff!

Take my advice,

To deal with the vice.

Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution

Is certainly the best solution!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dr. Abby's Lessons From Summer

Lessons of Summer - Originally posted on

As summer draws to a close, I am reflecting on some weight-related episodes that captured my attention.

One little girl was absolutely tortured trying to get her skinny body into the water. She sucked her belly in tight, and ribs poked through the thin layer of skin covering her frame. Her anguish gave me a shiver.

I suggested she splash water on her arms and legs, to help adapt to the temperature change. Her mom flashed a smile, and said, “That’s what happens when you have negative body fat!” I quickly suggested that thin was not always better.

A few weeks later, a thin woman on the beach complained to me that so many people discuss dieting, exercise and weight loss with her, when she has no interest whatsoever. It seems they admired and disdained her, for being naturally thin and active. She was never weight-conscious, yet always enjoyed eating healthfully, and running. It’s the way she is wired; a very active person who needs to move.

I pondered her situation, and wondered if we might view the human species as diverse by design. Might we imagine that fat people are not flawed, but potentially useful because they store fat more effectively than thin people? Perhaps in the cave-men era, if food was over there, we might send a quick runner to get it, while fat people waited in the cave to cook it!

If food was scarce, perhaps fatter people would survive longer, since fat is stored energy. This would ensure survival of the species; survival of the fattest? Perhaps in this nuke-threatened culture, this could once again be useful.

By this time, my new friend and I were dripping with sweat, so I suggested we take a dip. She refused, saying she just likes to be hot. As I walked through the water, the coolness reminded me of the thin little girl’s anguish, and the curious remark of my new friend. I instantly realized that she must be cold all the time, due to low body fat, and it was wonderful to feel warm – whereas cold water must have been as torturous to her as the little girl.

The moral? Let us not judge ourselves or others, but simply appreciate our differences, while striving to become our personal best.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dr. Oz's 16 Tips for Summer Weight Loss

An article about Dr. Oz's summer weight loss plan was featured on AOL on May 3rd: 
Dr. Oz's 16 Tips for Summer Weight Loss
by Norine Dworkin-McDaniel 

His main points were: 
- See yourself looking fabulous.
- Take a "before" picture in your swimsuit.
- Hang your favorite summer outfit where you'll see it every day.
- Let your family in on what you're up to.
- Kick off your efforts with a token gift to yourself. (i.e. walking shoes or pedometer)
- Take advantage of longer days. (physical activity)
- Skip the elevator.
- Have sex.
- Eat breakfast.
- Cut 100 calories a day.
- Have a drink.
- Snack before you eat your meals.
- Fill your plate with summer fruits and vegetables.
- Eat dessert in the afternoon.
- Have wine with dinner.
- Dine outside.

Abby's comment:

Dr. Oz’s inexperience in the field of weight management is glaring to any professionals who have been in the trenches for years.  Perhaps when the devastating stories of people regaining weight lost from his plan start pouring in, it will reshape his understanding about the biology and psychology of this issue.

Nearly 100% of people who lose weight gain it back, and many of those who keep it off develop eating disorders to maintain an unnaturally thin weight. Research suggests that yo-yo dieting can adversely affect blood pressure, lipids and insulin sensitivity.

A hundred years ago, as a psychologist specializing in weight loss, I often suggested that people imagine themselves looking thinner.  Regardless of its motivating factor, it did not help people to keep weight off, and for many people it is a biologically unattainable image.  Yes, the same strategies that work for sports psychologists work for weight management, but focus must be on the “process” not the goal.

Imagining crossing the finish line is not as empowering as imagining yourself performing excellently.  So, it is better to imagine living a healthy lifestyle, than imagining your body at a certain weight.  Your body will land at it’s healthiest place, which may not be thin, if your 7000 fat genes do not direct it to be thin.

Those fat pictures and summer outfits begin taunting people at some point, since weight gain is much faster than weight loss.  Been there, done that, with thousands of patients, regardless of what diet they did to lose weight.  Going public insures greater humiliation and shame when weight is inevitably regained.

If you follow many of Dr. Oz’s other suggestions, without an eye on weight loss, you may actually become healthier – regardless if weight is lost.  But if weight loss is the goal, it taints everything, and sets you up for failure.  I also advocate exercise, chocolate, wine, skipping the elevator, having sex, fruits and veggies, and snacking before meals.  Most were discussed in my book, Your Final Diet, back in 2004.  These add pleasure, health and control, regardless if weight is lost.

Dr. Oz is a great showman, and probably a great surgeon.  Perhaps he should stick with what he knows!

Dr. Abby Aronowitz

Saturday, May 8, 2010

New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer

The New York Times ran an op-ed called:
New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF on May 6, 2010

"The President’s Cancer Panel is the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream, so it is astonishing to learn that it is poised to join ranks with the organic food movement and declare: chemicals threaten our bodies. The cancer panel is releasing a landmark 200-page report on Thursday, warning that our lackadaisical approach to regulation may have far-reaching consequences for our health. "  Read more here:

Abby posted the following comment:

I am a psychologist specializing in weight management, and my work encourages “health at every size, naturally.”  We are bombarded with messages about getting healthy by losing weight, but if the focus was truly on health, then we would be encouraging nutrient-dense foods, free of chemicals, instead of “diet food.”   For instance, artificial sweeteners and artificial fats seem to disrupt the body’s natural mechanisms of hunger and satiation – which are key to maintaining a healthy weight.

Thinking more broadly about health - and what enters our bodies -  would lead to creative thinking, such as tax rebates to homeowners who refrain from using chemical fertilizers, pesticides and other toxins.  What about giving rebates to homeowners and townships that stop mowing lawns, stop cutting down trees, and allow natural local diversity to reclaim the land?  We have interfered with the earth’s natural filters, and cancer is probably the result.  Losing weight does not help with any of this, but getting back to nature seems to help.

In fact, cancer and weight have an interesting connection, but not what we have been led to believe.  Weight gain in our country is correlated with relative food abundance, which has allowed us to reach maximum heights, weights and IQs.  Higher weights were correlated with more cancer, but so were higher heights!

Higher weights and heights suggest that more “robust” people live long enough for deadly cancers to develop, whereas lowest incidents of cancer were found in countries with lower heights and weights – and much earlier death rates.  Cancer simply did not have time to develop, ostensibly because of worse nutrition, health, and early death!  The idea that being overweight leads to most types of cancers is simply not true.

Furthermore, having some weight on your body seems to protect the body from many illnesses, and assure better recoveries.  Not only does fat offer some reserves during times of stress, but it may also contribute towards certain immunities and protect against bone fractures.   Population studies around the world consistently find highest death rates for extremely thin and extremely fat people, with lowest death rates for the overweight.

Environmental impact on health is an essential consideration.  I was thrilled to read about the President’s Cancer Panel supporting organics.  Organic food tends to be much more nutritious than inorganic foods, and focusing on health instead of weight loss is the way to go!

Thank you.

Dr. Abby Aronowitz

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Originally posted
My good friend, Chef Devin Alexander has done it again! This Best Selling Author of The Biggest Loser Cookbook has created over 150 deliciously easy recipes for the super-busy, decadent-craving, yet health-conscious person in her new cookbook: I Can't Believe It's not fattening!!

These mouthwatering, home-cooked, and absolutely guilt-free favorites can be ready in mere minutes! After telling her that I have never actually followed a recipe, she challenged me to break the spell, and try out one of her treats.

After drooling over more than 50 beautiful color photographs, I was stunned by something so simple, so creative, sooo... funny! Ya gotta see her chocolate chip banana boat. This looks like a treat we might dig up when raiding the house for something yummy, and putting together two odd ingredients. Create a long slit down the middle of a banana, and stuff in dark chocolate mini chips. After 5 minutes in the oven, you are left with a divine mix of melted dark chocolate, slathered over a warm banana, in it’s own boat – that has charred, but not caught fire! It is delicious, adorable, and EEEEZZZZ!

There are recipes for caramelized apple butter-topped pork chops, asian grilled london broil, and parmesan garlic soft pretzels, Squeal with delight at her 351 calorie bacon cheeseburger, and enjoy digging down into her comforting mexican mac and cheese. The diversity of tastes blows my mind, as it seems every country and food group is represented through creative, imaginative, low calorie dishes.

At times she offers options between using “regular” and “light” ingredients, which embraces my penchant for using natural products, for those willing to finally ditch artificial ingredients.

Chef Devin is a gift for our culture by helping us towards healthy food that actually tastes delicious. This is what I mean by living a healthy lifestyle; it’s a plan that can last for life. Incorporating these charming recipes and sweet delicacies will surely help us to become fitter and happier. Thanks, Devin!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Dr. Abby Hearts 'Dr. South Beach'

Originally posted

Lifestyle Management for Cardiac and Diabetic Concerns

Welcome to our fourth installment of “Face-Off: Dr. Abby Vs. Dr. South Beach!” In this piece, we discuss hearts and sugar – appropriate metaphors for love and sweets during this Valentine week!

Dr. Agatston's profession as a cardiologist originally led him to investigate dietary changes that positively affected heart problems. His discoveries led to some important conclusions and recommendations about preventing cardiac sumptoms as well as diabetic concerns.

Dr. Abby: Dr. Agatston, can you please comment on the connection between diabetes and cardiac problems, and the best prevention for both?

Dr. Agatston: One thing you can say about diabetes that is not recognized enough, is that Type 2 adult onset diabetes was considered a problem of blood sugar, primarily because of the technology available for testing. Now we appreciate that insulin clears fats after a meal, not just sugar. The clearing of fats is probably more important. When fats are hanging around because of insulin resistance, they are definitely making differences in lipid particles that produce atherosclerosis. The main message is that adult onset diabetes is more of a cholesterol/lipid problem than a sugar problem, and of course a weight issue. One bad thing I see in my practice occurs when adults with high blood sugar/ Type 2 diabetes are put on insulin. They tend to gain weight, and tend towards dislipidemias. Some endocrinologists unfortunately concentrate on the blood sugars instead of dislipidemias.

Dr. Abby: So the way to get rid of the lipids hanging around is not through insulin, but through...

Dr. Agatston: Diet and exercise!

Dr. Abby: OK, that’s what I thought you were going to say. So it’s not all medication based, it’s more lifestyle.

Dr. Agatston: Yes, lifestyle. There are situations where it is not lifestyle at all and it’s inherited, but insulin resistance and adult onset Type 2 diabetes is primarily lifestyle. If you just give medications you’re just papering over. There’s a place for medication, but it’s primarily lifestyle.

Dr. Abby: Right, it’s not instead of a healthy lifestyle. I would agree 100%!

Commentary: Once again, Dr. Agatston and I found an area of agreement! I find this information fascinating, since general knowledge typically assumes that blood sugar imbalances are the main culprit in adult onset Type 2 diabetes. The fact that insulin clears dietary fats as well as sugars is an important discovery, ostensibly due to innovative technology. How unfortunate that insulin treatment often causes weight gain. Yet, it is encouraging that a healthy lifestyle can create significant improvements in this condition, as well as improvement in cardiac concerns. Thanks for enlightening us, Dr. Agatston!

This is part 4 of the Dr. Abby vs. "Dr. South Beach" interviews. Check out the first three installments here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Dr. Abby

NOTE: A more complete version of this interview will be found in my next book, Dr. Abby’s Diet Revolution! This is a small excerpt from a rather extensive interview. To obtain a free PDF of my current book, Your Final Diet, please click here. Some editorial license was used to edit Dr. Agatston’s lengthy answers to my questions. Every effort was made to preserve the integrity of content.