Eat to Live

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I have just had the somewhat dubious privilege of reading yet another diet book — this one called “Eat to Live” by Joel Fuhrman, MD. The reviews on Amazon are glowing. Most of them say it is a life-changing book.

They’re right. This book will change your life — for the worse. It is absolutely impossible to follow Fuhrman’s edicts for a lifetime. Six weeks after you start, you will be thinner (bound to happen), and then, as you go back to a normal lifestyle, you’ll balloon again. Welcome back, yo-yo ma. There is just no way you can follow this forever — and this is the same criticism the good doctor levels against Barry Sears of “The Zone” fame

For anyone passionate about food and cooking, this book is pure poison. Following it will make you feel wretched, and will turn you into a thoroughly unpleasant human being — depressed, angry, distressed, stressed, curmudgeonly, cranky, irritable and a complete social retard. Imagine living like this: no wine, no drink, no soda, no chocolate, no dessert, no ice-cream, no cheese, no meat, no butter, no dried fruits, no bread, no pasta, no pizza, no popcorn, no rice, no wheat. Why live at all if you have to live like this?

Fuhrman is obsessed by aging and death but I really don’t see the point of living to be 200 if every day of those two centuries is to be spent in such misery. Better to live fully and die happy and contented than to force such deprivation on yourself. The book makes no allowance for human frailities, needs, wants, desires or the simple fact that it is now impossible to undo (let alone in six weeks) over fifty years of “bad” eating habits.

Also, I’ve learned never to trust an author who propounds his cause principally by attacking his rival theorists. Fuhrman goes for the jugular when it comes to Atkins, Sears et al. He debunks them all and, in exchange, offers his own theories, one of them being that olive oil is bad for you and raises your bad cholesterol because it is, after all, oil. To support this argument he cites an example of Crete saying that the people there are now fatter than before because they’re eating more meat, etc etc and less vegetables and fruits. There’s nothing to support this. Not a study cited to show any change in the dietary habits of the hapless denizens of Crete, nothing to show that what he says is even generally true. We’re just to take Fuhrman’s word for it. Thank you, no. You only have to look around at Italy, France, Germany and other European countries to understand why. It’s not the olive oil, stupid; it’s the refined food and the lack of exercise.

Much of what he says is blindingly obvious but is presented in pseudo-scientific fashion — that fibre is good for you (who says no?), for example. But that can’t be at the cost of protein or anything else. The rest of his argument is pure pap — imagine a life of eating salad, vegetables, restricted nuts and fruit day in and day out. What would you do? Stay at home? Get a divorce? Lose your friends?

Fuhrman misses two vital points. No amount of dieting is going to result in permanent weight loss. That can only come from regular exercise combined with a sensible diet. And a sensible diet is one you can live with, not one that forces you to live without. Avoid this book like the plague. If you do start the program, allow me to flash forward about eight weeks and say, “Sorry, but I told you so.”

And incidentally, who are these nonentities who crank out these books? Just having an MD surely doesn’t qualify you to unleash your pet theories on an unsuspecting public. These books are actually dangerous and should carry a warning by the Surgeon-General. If the books were official documents by some trusted, public agency, backed by studies and data, yes, well, we might accept that. But what is the average Joe supposed to make of this mess: Atkins says eat meat and fat, cut back on the carbs. Ditto Sears. Agatston says much the same, but eat the right carbs and don’t eat just any kind of fat, watch the glycemic index (sounds at least arguable). Along comes Fuhrman and he says no meat, no fat, just fibre. I think these guys are specially appointed to drive ordinary people mad and I wonder why; is there a glut of vacancies in lunatic asylums around the world? There's a plug in the foreword by one Mehmet Oz (who dat?) and this guy says “If you give this diet your complete commitment, there is no question in my mind that it will work for you.”. Well, golly, gee whiz, whaddya know and who could’ve guessed. But isn’t that true of any diet? The point, of course, is missed again, or probably deliberately skipped — this just is not a diet to which you could ever give your complete commitment in the first place.

Musings of a suist in mufti on books, music and film at Bibliophage; Gravity Denied – The Hidden Paw’s Blog at

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About Gautam Patel

Mumbai-based lawyer and weekly columnist for a local newspaper.
  • Nila Atkins

    I am sorry I did try to read this book. But some of the recipes call for ingredients that I cant possibly afford, it would be nice if I could afford to be a gourmet cook but sadly cannot.. I do however; get the gist of the book. I will just add more fresh fruit and vegetables as well as more Fiber into my diet. And lay off of the higher caloric items. It is that easy. And I am sure along with a bit more exercise can accomplish weight loss. Don’t need a book to tell me how to do this. It is called using common sense. Most of us know what is good for us and what is not. And people should really consult their own personal Doctor, before even considering trying something like this.

  • coop

    your an idiot…maybe u should read it again and pay more attention this time.

  • Mr. Healthy Person

    Your an idiot with an agenda…. oh, and you lack one other nutrient not mentioned….

    common sense…..

  • anit fuhrman

    As i write this my fiance is on day 9 in the hospital from religiously following Mr Fuhrmans eating plan. He is suffering from severe intestinal problems and his surgeon said it is from the “crap diet” his words not mine that my fiance has been following. This diey can and will hurt people please anyone wanting to try this plan be careful. Thanks to this plan we have both lost 2 weeks of work and are still racking up huge hospital bills that i do not know how we are going to pay. All of these people that preach the perfect diet plan everyone needs to remember they are trying to MAKE MONEY!! When i tried to contact Mr Fuhrman on his web site the only contact subjects are problems with orders, paying for memberships, basically money, money, and more money. This plan may work for some but please be careful!!!

  • Gautam Patel

    John, I’m sorry, are we reading the same book? Or an entirely different edition of the same book? Note the date of the review: it’s now *eight* years old. The one I read demanded cutting out all salt, only dates (or some such) for sweetening, prohibited dairy, meat and eggs and caffeine and was very low on grain and protein. Eat in moderation, don’t eat refined foods, exercise daily. Isn’t that altogether more do-able? So no, I don’t think I was misrepresenting the diet, either purposely or inadvertently; and I disagree with your views. On this, and pretty much on any other kind of forced diet.

  • John

    You may have read the book, but not thoroughly, or you are purposely misrepresenting the diet. As another poster noted, no foods are totally banned, although there is a quite strict 6 week start up period (same as with a number of other diet plans). I really think your comments are unfair.

  • Kary

    I do not understand why people claim that eating a healthy diet means that one cannot have a social life or must live in isolation. I think part of the issue in this country is that we are conditioned from a very young age to think of food as a social activity. It is possible to have a very full life enjoying delicious food if we change our minds about what is delicious. It also helps to surround yourself with healthy people who share a desire to live well. And, since no one would drop a friend over poor eating habits, most restaurants have salads.

  • Audrey

    I find the book is enjoyaBLE., by following the instructions. This is the second week and I feel better.
    Lost 4lbs so far. It is choice whether you want to be healthy or not. I WANT TO BE HEALTHY…I rate his book is excellent and very informative.

  • Sara James

    Shows how little you know . . . I’ve been eating this way for 10 years . . . along with thousands of other people who have found this to be a satisfying, healthy way of life.

  • Roger

    I struggled with obesity from childhood until my late 20s. I tried all the common diets (not passively, but very actively and strictly). Being 5’8″, I ranged from 236 down to 195, constantly yo-yoing being these weights. I could never get below the 190 mark or sustain my weight below 200. Not even the Zone combined with Crossfit nor the Zone combined with long-distance running could break me past my plateau. When I read Eat to Live and implemented the principles found in it, I finally broke past my 190 pound plataue and achieved healthy weight loss, dropping to 171. I’ve maintained it for over a year. Dr. Fuhrman’s book worked for me. I’m eating a spinach & fruit salad while I type this. I love eating a plant-based non-processed-food diet.

  • Dan

    Oh, and just another note on the cholesterol topic, since that was mentioned a couple of times here. It’s not the cholesterol in your food that you need to worry about – it’s the cholesterol levels in your blood. And, It’s not the total number you need to worry about, it’s the ratio of HDL / LDL. You want to turn off the LDL spigot – cut out the sugar. Meat is not the problem for this, despite having cholesterol it does not convert to high blood levels of LDL in most people unless you’re also consuming a lot of sugar. Atkin’s always made this claim, (that his diet will not make the blood lipid profile in most people worse, it makes it better – often MUCH better) and he did something pretty slick when he wrote his second book in the 1990’s that made a lot of people in the low fat crowd look silly and misinformed (and amp up the attacks on him) – He simply told the readers that wanted to try his diet recommendations to get a benchmark reading of their bloodwork BEFORE starting the diet. Then, after being true to the diet for a few months get another reading and watch your doctor’s eye’s pop out of his or her head when they see the lab report.

  • Dan

    Cindy, I’m sorry to hear that Furhman’s diet caused you to mess your pants, that must have been embarrassing, not to mention inconvenient. The last thing you need is a diet the requires you to carry an extra pair of underwear with you whenever you go out somewhere!

    Actually, I find the best diet for me is CONTROLLED carbohydrate, an omnivorous diet using quality foods from both the plant and animal categories. Just watch the sugar and starch. Made me lose weight, feel good, made my blood work look like a million bucks, fixed acid reflux and the digestive system – leaving me with very little intestinal gas and regular elimination. You get all the fiber you need from vegetables, nuts & seeds. I think Furhman’s idea of consuming an abundance of micro-nutrients is sound (on this point he is in agreement with the late, great Robert Atkins! ), but the nutrients found in animal based food products is also important. A diet that eliminates or is too restrictive in this area is not healthy either, IMHO. I have a relative that went vegan a year or so ago and she just looks ghastly – not to mention mentally unstable, which I believe is the result of a vitamin B-12 deficiency. This is especially tragic, because in her former life when she ate a healthy, balanced diet including a variety of meat, seafood, and fruits & vegetables – she was beautiful, fit, intelligent, rational, and was pleasant to be around. Now she is none of those things.

    Sure, it’s great to to have a nice fresh baked roll, bowl of spaghetti, or a cold beer now and then – but you’ll notice that none of these diets, whether Furhman, Atkins, or whoever else comes along, will recommend these things as healthy, they will wreck your health if you have too much of them. The best policy IMHO is to never say never to them (so as not to feel permanently deprived), just make them special occasion items and then move on without them when your special occasion is done.

    P.S. The last time I shit my pants was because of the horrible fake butter that is used on popcorn in movie theater’s. The popcorn was an unhealthy treat to begin with – the fake butter is not fit for human consumption and should be banned.

  • Kevin

    First of all, massive kudos to Gautam Patel for enduring so much traffic on this review! I hate that some people were just flat out nasty toward you, though…

    Well, I’m reading the book now, and I have chosen to give his plan a try, to a great extent, but perhaps not what Fuhrman calls “optimal.” Anyway, I appreciate this post for the abundance of personal testimonies for or against Fuhrman’s claims and the perspective it helped me gain on the matter.

    Maybe one day I’ll return and post my own.

    Thanks again.

  • Big Bear

    Speaking as a former 400+ pound guy who hates to exercise, I thank God I read Fuhrman’s book. When I started following it’s eating plan I immediately started losing 1/2 to 1/3 pound per DAY. I have tried every type of diet for over 40 years, with typical yo-yo results. This plan, I can live with. I eat all I want, with meat or fish 1 to 4 times per week, and wine and vodka whenever I want (usually daily). I estimate I follow it 85% of the time; I wonder how fast I would lose if I followed it 100%?! (I have cut out high fructose corn syrup, sugared drinks, and white- non-whole grain- bread and pasta 100%.) I feel better, more clear-minded, and more regular. I take fish oil, B12, D3, and iodine supplements, as he recommends (I had decided on these long before I heard of Dr. Furhman). I’m not down to my ideal weight (185?) yet, but I never thought I’d be this far along, and I’m still losing at the same rate. Wish I’d found the book in 2004!

  • Gautam Patel

    Sorry for the typo. It should be “And no,”. Missed the d.

  • Gautam Patel

    @Fomb. Yawn. Same old, same old. An no, there’s no “science” in it. See this.

    “Fuhrman recommends minimum animal protein. He also recommends less protein consumption than the RDA amount. An interesting anecdote from Eat to Live: Fuhrman always asks his new patients Which has more protein? One hundred calories of sirloin steak or one hundred calories of broccoli? According to Fuhrman, most people don’t know that “broccoli has about twice as much protein as steak” (Page 142). And Fuhrman was wrong or exaggerating! After carefully checking the USDA nutrient databases, we found no data to support Fuhrman’s claim that broccoli has twice as much protein as steak (per calorie).”

    And there’s a lot more there, and elsewhere. If you care to look. Yeah, science, sure, right.

  • Fomb

    This criticism was obviously written by someone who didn’t try the lifestyle, and it is just that, a lifestyle change. Yo-yo diets don’t work because they are nutritionally unsustainable. This works because it is a lifestyle change the asks us to abandon the things that are killing us and we absolutely don’t need in our lives. It is backed by the most exhaustive and modern science collected to date. If the critic isn’t interested in science then he/she should be quite content to eat wretchedly until early oblivion sets in.

  • Gautam Patel

    Sorry to disappoint you, reverebison. I am neither sick nor little. And if insulting someone with whom you happen to disagree is your idea of debate or dialogue, I can only admire your limitless vacuity.

  • reverebison

    P.S. Cindy, I acuse you of being Guatam Patel. Its obvious. Guatam, you are one sick little puppy.

  • Steven G – a family physician

    As a family physician, what I find most compelling about this diet is the anecdotal evidence of the reversal of allergies, asthma and automimmune diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus etc. The causes of these diseases have puzzled the medical profession for years. I find the theory that a deficit in micronutrients (particularly phyttochemicals), essentially may “short circuit” the complex functioning of our immune systems, to be compelling. I look forward to the scientific studies which may confirm this theory. Widespread acknowledgement of positive results should (in a sane health care system), revolutionize our management of these diseases. Personally, my suspicion is that the notion of optimizing micronutrient intake IS the better way to treat our modern day epidemics of diabetes, hypertension and coronary artery disease and to prevent cancer. As a type 2 diabetic who had in past reversed my own disease by regular exercise and the elimination of refined carbohydrates, I look forward to continuing on the Fuhrman diet which I started only several weeks ago. At this time I seem to be over the gastrointestinal issues, which I assume are related to higher fiber intake and changes in bowel flora. I actually feel very good,and see no reason not to continue this eating pattern. I continue to eat fish and dairy occassionally and had a small serving of turkey at Thanksgiving. I now regard the ingestion of animal based products as delicacies, not staples.
    Kudos to Dr. Fuhrman.

  • Gautam Patel

    Finally something interesting, but one that comes too late in some respects. I no longer have my 2004 edition and I can’t therefore say whether it had the notes section. I will have to presume that the 2011 edition, to which you refer, has more material. That said, I’ll get another copy and respond. I can’t imagine the core material has changed much. There certainly was no reference to the Crete study anywhere at that time. But isn’t it a little odd to use a 2011 edition to critique a 2004 critique of a 2004 edition? If there *is* new material now, I’m not going to be able to tell, am I?

  • Arun

    I understand that you wrote your review a long time ago, but since it’s still available to the world, I think it important to correct some of your criticisms. Not sure if the Notes Section was in the edition you read, but the Crete example is referenced in the 2011 edition (see endnote 22, Chapter 2 on p. 326). The particular study can be found here. Also, nowhere in the book does Dr. Fuhrman advocate entirely abstaining from meat, fish, oils or dairy. He simply advocates that these be consumed sparingly, if one chooses to eat these foods. The same goes for alcohol.

    I agree with your assessment that the advice in the book is nothing more than common sense, if one understands proper nutrition. However, many people do not. Furthermore, many who fall prey to fad diets would do well to read the book to gain an understanding of proper nutrition and also a means to lose weight, improve health and maintain the two throughout the remainder of their lives.

    On the tenor of harsh criticism that has been thrown at you, I think it goes back to the fact that your review simply was not factual and betrayed your own personal biases and/or lack of comprehension of the material in the book and its overall message. In other words, those who read the book and took away from it a positive message thought your criticisms unfair and misleading. Some examples:

    “For anyone passionate about food and cooking, this book is pure poison. Following it will make you feel wretched, and will turn you into a thoroughly unpleasant human being — depressed, angry, distressed, stressed, curmudgeonly, cranky, irritable and a complete social retard.”

    Was this based on any personal experience of yours, or was it simply rhetoric?

    “The book makes no allowance for human frailities, needs, wants, desires or the simple fact that it is now impossible to undo (let alone in six weeks) over fifty years of “bad” eating habits.”

    The book makes no such claims that you can undo improper nutrition in just six weeks. The fact is, the book advocates eating healthily for the rest of your life and includes evidence of how some persons following this lifestyle have improved their health.

    “You only have to look around at Italy, France, Germany and other European countries to understand why. It’s not the olive oil, stupid; it’s the refined food and the lack of exercise.”

    On both counts, refined food and lack of exercise, Dr. Fuhrman devotes significant space in his book.

    “Fuhrman misses two vital points. No amount of dieting is going to result in permanent weight loss. That can only come from regular exercise combined with a sensible diet.”

    I think it is you that missed these points when reading since a lot of page space is devoted to both (i.e., there are 30 entries in the Index for exercise, and well, the whole book is about eating a nutritional diet for the rest of your life).

    I think two important points can be gleaned from the book from anyone who IS passionate about food and cooking: (1) everything is on the menu and (2) it’s all a matter of proportion.

    Another important point is that if you’re going to write a critique that challenges the content of a book, you should be prepared to back up your counter-claims, which is something you neglected to do in your review.

    And lastly, I would like to express my agreement with the last line of your review, “. . . this just is not a diet to which you could ever give your complete commitment in the first place.” It is clear that this is basically a reflection of your own personal capacity and obviously not of others.

  • Gautam Patel
  • Gautam Patel

    What a terribly meaningless comment. You were expecting profundity from inanity?

  • Leslie

    What a terribly childish review.

  • Anonymous

    Any diet that requires supplements is not “the ideal” nor “healthiest” diet for humans. That’s common sense.

    On Dr. Fuhrman’s diet, the extreme version of it, what he calls the “optimal” eating plan, requires one supplements with B12 and iodine because the human body DOES require SOME salt even though he recommends zero salt in the diet. And only animal products have B12.

    So how can a diet that is missing 2 essential nutrients be healthy?

    Not to mention that plant-based nutrients such as iron and protein are poorly absorbed, if absorbed at all.

  • Cindy

    P.S. There are many people on his website who complain of digestive issues on this diet: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. How can this be healthy? And don’t give me this, “it’s your body detoxing, just like if you were detoxing from heroine.” That may be true for the first couple of weeks if someone goes from eating McDonald’s every day to suddenly eating nothing but fruits, raw veggies, and nuts. But even drug addicts take only a matter of days to detox. On the website, there are people who are months and years into the ETL plan who are still complaining of diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Again, how can anything that makes you sick be healthy?

  • Cindy

    I got all excited when I learned of Dr. Fuhrman and his eating plan. Spent a fortune on his books, the obscene cost of joining his website, and his vitamins (the only ones in the world good for you, according to him).

    So I followed his diet to the letter. Holy shit (literally) — I had severe diarrhea for days. Could not even make it to the bathroom most times. It was awful! Now, it is not like I was eating junk food and this new way of eating was a shock to my system.

    Bottom line, after doing this diet: NO THANKS! I do not want to shit my pants (literally) every day.

    I have gone back to my very healthy mediteranian diet, which is what I have been eating for years, and feeling super-healthy on it.

    To follow Dr. Fuhrman’s program, you have to turn into a rabbit, because you’ll be eating a lot of rabbit food and you have to have severely constricted bowels otherwise the outcome will be… ahem… explosive.

  • tshann

    Well, I have read MOST of the book. But I’d already lost about 40 lbs before reading the book. I made many of the changes Dr. Fuhrman suggested by other readings and research. Then I picked up his book and began to refine my dietary “experiment.”

    For my part, I’ve successfully changed my diet to the zone, and a few other diets for short periods. With the zone, I roughly followed it for a year. But they were not so sustainable – for me.

    I’ve been following the ETL principles (namely eating WAY more veggies, fruit, nuts, etc) for almost 2 years now. So far, it is working well. I had some GI distress (gas and bloating from all the beans and cruciferous veggies initially) initially, but over time, my digestion adjusted.

    If I can look back several years from now, as some posters here report, and still be mainly following etl’s recommendations – then I’ll say it’s sustainable – for me.

    But being a physician, I think ANY significant change in diet MUST be sustainable. Otherwise, it’s just another short term fix. That’s okay, but ultimately we all want a diet that is pleasurable, satisfying AND health promoting. Those are what ultimately make it sustainable.

    I think this reviewer of ETL is saying, albeit not in the most graceful way, that he has no real commitment to making this type of significant change in his life. IMHO, to really test out the diet and see if it in-fact does satisfy – that takes an initial commitment.

    I don’t know this reviewer, so I can’t say for certain. But it SOUNDS like he’s too put off by the principles to really try it out. And without trying the diet out for real, I think it’s impossible to see if it’s a fit, or if it’s viable.

    For my part, I would NEVER had imagined I could eat this way and actually enjoy it. Several years ago, my diet was completely different – much more refined food products, etc. So to see what I’m eating now, and to actually prefer it to my old diet. Well, that could not have been anticipated for me. Thus, it was necessary for me to be make the changes and give them time to see that I too could change in my preferences.

    But I gradually made the changes and am now looking at adding in even more changes – given how well it’s working out so far.

    The reviewer appears cynical that this diet is sustainable for him, thus it’s not realistic for anyone else. It’s called generalization.

    However, the great thing is that if you read all the posts here, and those on amazon, there is AMPLE evidence that this way of eating CAN be sustained, and pleasurably. That’s one of the reasons I have added it into my dietary research.

    So, reviewer repent! Just kidding! But hopefully the review you posted, and all the ensuing posts, will at least help you to be a BIT more open. Hopefully it will help others who are trying to see whether ETL is at least worth the trouble of reading and more importantly putting into practice.

    By the way, the only criticism I have of ETL is that it doesn’t really devote enough text to the option of slow going. In other words, in my patients, I’ve seen people who want to make changes. However, they often need to do it gradually like I did. True, there are some who do better with the “all or nothing” approach. But I do see many others who need to take on ETL over some time to really integrate it and not feel deprived. Therefore, I would have liked to see more text devoted to pacing oneself.

    So when I recommend the book to patients (who are actually interested in a good lifestyle and diet), I often insert my own caveat: “the book is great for it’s science and recommendations. But some find it a bit austere at first. Therefore, you MAY find it more useful to trial some of the changes slowly. For some patients, they do better with it cold turkey. So that is up to you. But please don’t be put off by all the restrictions – be kind to yourself and find YOUR pace.” So I usually recommend the book with the above caveat, and so far, people seem to be doing well with it.


  • Marita McDonough

    I’ve been on Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian diet for just a couple of weeks, so I can’t say anything about the ‘long run’. I came off the traditional meat and potatoes diet.
    What I want to say it that the food is actually very delicious and for some reason (no salt or sugar?) I can taste things in food like just vegetables that I didn’t taste before. Who knew that just steamed swiss chard was so delicious? Or a bean and veggie soup. I have been so surprised that I have absolutely enjoyed my meals. So, it’s not all deprivation, by any means. I could get used to eating and enjoying my food so much!

  • Gautam Patel

    Oh yes, sure. From you, perhaps Kali? As a criticism goes, that one is singularly uninformed. And ignorant. And unaware. And, according to you, because “most reviews” are not in my favor, therefore I am “ignorant and unaware”? Back to class, child.

  • Kali

    So sad you are so ignorant and unaware. One day you may grow up. Glad to read most reviews on your comment are not in your favor. Perhaps time to learn something?

  • katy

    I began the six-week plan a 1 1/2 years ago and have maintained the 20 pound weight loss that resulted until now. While adding some of the junk back into my diet, I have continued many of the healthy habits this plan incorporates and I have felt better than ever. My cholesterol went from 218 to 173. To see this as a way of life that promotes overall well-being rather than as a way to fit into a bikini, is a key to it’s success. It is not about vanity, but about health, and for me, even about spirituality, as I have become free from my gluttonous lifestyle.

  • Mike


    The average Joe is told that it is ok to eat meat, etc but only limit calories. Then their cholesterol goes up, they go on medication. Then they become dependent on medication and do nothing to improve their health. They then get a heart attack and other illnesses.

    Dr. Fuhrman is say that you don’t need to be on medication and you rhealth will improve. My brother weighed 260 llbs and now he lost 100 llbs. His blood pressure is 112 over 73. He used to have acid reflux and took precription drugs and now he doesn’t take any.

    Finally, why do this when you can live your life to the fullest? You don’t want to die when you are 40 and 50.

  • Gautam Patel

    That, Tonya, is a truly wonderful and moving post. That post (and that one alone) makes me want to caveat the review by saying something to the effect that while it may work for some, it is perhaps no universal panacea; and while some may find it obvious, for others it might well be of assistance. Again, thank you.

  • Tonya

    I saw Dr.Furhman on PBS and many times, ignored what he had to say and continued flipping channels. Then, I spent a week caring for my father. An extreme diabetic who believes he should take his insulin shot, then eat a Little Debbie snackcake. There is no convincing him. But for me, I had ignored my diabetes for years. Blah blah, whatever. Seeing my father, about to lose both legs, having a ramp built that week because of the severe neuropathy, brought me down to earth. I have only gotten to read a small part of the ETL book so far. Yes, I’m very interested and even though my husband and I haven’t started the 6wks, we have already began to try, at least, to eat healthier. I understand where Mr Patel is coming from, to an extent. At any point, eating healthy and exercising can improve anyone’s help. But Furhman does an amazing job of breaking down “the system” to help people understand what needs to be done and how to do it. It may seem simple to some, but for many of us, it was just frustrating and made us want to say ‘To heck with it’. I, for one, thank you, Mr. Patel, for your review. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and not everything works for everyone. But if nothing else was gained from this forum, it is HOPE. Hope that I can finally make a difference and at least I can finally understand how my body works. Yes, there are many books out there explaining many of the same things. For me, this was the book I chose and the reviews just strengthened my belief that I can make a lifestyle change. I personally have to treat my diabetes as a drug or alcohol problem. It can kill me. So yes, even if it’s the same old adage of “eat healthy and exercise”, for many of us, it’s the stepping block that we need.

  • Gautam Patel

    🙂 Thank you Dina. Much appreciated.

  • Dina

    Give Gautam Patel a break, people. This reviewer had an opinion that the dietary plan advocated in the book is impossible to follow and if he can’t eat the foods that he loves then he can’t be happy. Don’t get me wrong, I disagree with his book review completely. I think the book is valuable and informative. I believe that if Patel at some point suffers adverse health effects from eating the standard American diet, as many people do nowadays, he will find the pleasure of eating these unhealthy foods is outweighed by the misery of illness and his opinion may change and the dietary changes won’t seem so impossible. I have, however, read his later posts in response to reader comments and he has modified his earlier statements somewhat to suggest that there is value in eating more like Dr. Fuhrman advocates.

    Unfortunately, Patel still thinks that the book doesn’t offer much since he believes that what Fuhrman talks about is actually common sense/ common knowledge. Again I disagree. This book is very valuable, regardless of whether you feel it states the obvious or isn’t well referenced. The scientific evidence backing much of what Dr. Fuhrman advocates says is now available and if these ideas take hold then our modern lifestyle will not longer be in conflict with healthy eating and you won’t be “a social retard” when dining out with friends. But, enough with the “you suck Gautam,” already. Let’s stick to positive statements about the value of the book and it’s ideas and maybe more people will decide to read it despite the negative review.

  • gautam patel

    Excuse me? This was a review of the BOOK, not the field of health and nutrition. And what you say proves my point: stating the obvious and then citing studies to reinforce that isn’t any kind of breakthrough.

  • Robert

    Oh it sounds like the same argument you would expect from a smoker, explaining how the menthol helps his breathing. Why did an independent study clearly show a 33% reduction in bad cholesterol when they followed his diet. Statins only do 25% while it makes your arms feel weak. And is hard on your liver. Now the drug that raises good cholesterol recently was shown not to help your health. You cant fool mother nature with all those chemicals.

    I guess Dr Fuhrman should point out his side affects. Weight lose, better cholesterol, being denied the opportunity to become a type 2 diabetic.

    And as new science studies come out, the doctor will adapted and apply to his diet.

  • Annie

    The positive reviews of this book both here and on Amazon sound suspiciously similar in the way they defend the book, always acting like it was so so easy to adopt the diet for 2 year or 3 years and solve medical issues comma medical issue. I suspect something other than real people are finding this diet so darn easy. To me, I’ve been trying, but find it extremely restrictive.

  • Amber

    I’m pretty outraged by this review. I’ve been following Dr. Fuhrman’s “diet” for over a year now, and it is definitely a life changing book. It is certainly not impossible to commit to and stick with it. If you read the entire book you would have read that it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. It’s not something you do for 6 weeks and then go back to your old ways. The 6 week plan is obviously more strict because you want to rid your body of toxins and toxic hunger. I don’t feel that my diet is restricted at all. In fact I am very passionate about food and cooking and I cook delicious food for me and my family everyday. In a little over a year I have lost 100 pounds and am at my ideal body weight. I will NEVER go back to eating like I did before. I have more energy now at 30 years old than I have had in my whole life. All thanks to Dr. Fuhrman. I seriously hope that this review does not discourage people from making this wonderful lifestyle change. It can only improve your life, not worsen it. At my heaviest, 235 pounds, my life was pretty sad. I would have done anything to lose weight and feel better about myself. Eat To Live was the best thing that ever happened to me.

  • Gautam Patel

    Seven years on, and they’re still chanting the same old mantra. Good for you gipfelspitze, if it works. But you didn’t need this book to tell you what’s stark, staring obvious, did you? And no, it’s not “very well referenced”, not by a very long shot. He makes such a to-do about Crete; did you see a single reference? There wasn’t one seven years ago, for sure. Feel free to trash the review as much you like, but know that you’re just being b-o-r-i-n-g if you’re just repeating the same old comments.

    Finally, try this diet and you’ll lose 20 pounds in 4 weeks and keep it down. Exercise. Eat less. Eat better. Sleep enough. Binge every now and then, sure, but just use common sense. Capice?

  • gipfelspitze

    what a passive agressive review with a total disregard for the fact that fuhrman’s statements are not only very well referenced but also easily followed. at no point does furhman say there cannot be a less strict version of his diet. I have followed my own interpretation (the odd refined sugar, some fish, some animal protein on occasion) and I am doingt fantastic. Even on this less strict version of his nutritional plan (let’s not call this a diet as it does not limit caloric intake at all) I have lost 10 pounds in 4 weeks and counting. His point is to make anything known to be problematic an exception instead of it being the bulk of your eating.

    that is how I look at it and it has worked great for me. I think the advice given in the review that it is impossible to avoid, wine, soda, sugar, meats, etc may simply apply to his own inability or unwillingness to do so. drinking soda does not equate nutritional heaven for all other people and avoiding it may be quite a simple and enjoyable thing to do for a lot of people.

  • Tassar

    My body intuitively told me to eat this way to heal a disease. Later I found this book (and others). It’s hard for sure. But my body is through eating s$it for socializing or feel good. It wants to look and feel good.

  • Beertruck

    Yipper, they call me the Beertruck. I am 47 years old and 7 Weeks ago I weighed 297 lbs. I have played ice hockey 2 times a week for at least 5 years now and didn’t really eat snack foods (Doritoes, etc). I was in the office of teammate at work and I saw a picture of myself and thought, I look like a whale.

    I have heard Dr Furhman speak on the Allan Handleman radio show many times and always thought what he said made sense. I got the book and read it before I started in on my lifestyle change (He says make sure you read the WHOLE BOOK before starting in on the program).

    I am now at 257.5 ibs (lost 39.5 pounds in 7 weeks) and have not been perfect. I am perfect for Breakfast and Lunch, but dinner sometimes I have a little piece of chicken. I even had a burger one day because everyone wanted to go to 5 guys for a co-workers last day at work. I have coffee on the weekends and none during the week. My dentist asked me what I was doing because my coffee stains on my teeth were WELL below what they used to be.

    I feel great, I am looking better, and I will make it to my healthy body weight because I am never hungry and have learned a better way to eat. Just goes to show you that even without perfection, it can be done.

    It helps me to think that Food is just fuel for the body like gas is for a car. I have learned to change highlights of life from foods that I consume to watching my son play baseball, exercise 6 days a week, talking with friends, doing things with people. I have heard “You are what you eat”, I am pretty sure that is one of the truest statement ever made.

    Good Luck if you choose to follow this healthier way of living.


  • Jacob F

    Hey, Gautam Patel! I AGREE WITH YOU! Why live at all if one has to give up EVERYTHING GOOD TO EAT! Who the heck WANTS to live to be 150 and be depressed because you have to eat carrot sticks !!!!? If Jack LaLanne couldn’t make it to 100 as careful as HE was, who CAN?! (Besides the odd one with quirky but helpful genetics.)
    I completely agree. Your review was excellent. Yes, the world has turned a few times since you wrote this, but you’re still correct!

  • lisabt

    I enjoyed reading all the comments – wow, 4 years worth – and while I don’t agree with you on your opinion of the book, I do agree that the prospect of following the advice within for a lifetime is daunting & can be off-putting. I also don’t agree that the book overstates the obvious – at least, not to me. It has offered me a different perspective, one that I appreciate & have learned from. I am convinced that ETL is a better way to eat, and that meat/dairy is not necessary in a healthy diet. That being said I plan to keep on enjoying a cheeseburger & fries every now & then 🙂 Thanks for providing an interesting 20 minute work break!

  • Realist

    By eating healthy I mean beyond the conventional ‘common sense approach’ which you’ve dreadfully oversimplified here in an attempt to bludgeon the book and its author (I also don’t understand why you seem to devote so much energy to disliking it so much, given that you’re dead-set in your way of thinking). It’s pretty much well known nowadays in much of the West that many people struggle to maintain their weight even while on various programs, following what’s thought to be “healthy” but knowing nothing of real nutrition. If you need to exercise to keep your weight down (at your current levels of everyday activity) you’re simply doing it wrong, yet your average American seems to need to do this because of excessive intake. While one needs some exercise to maintain muscle tone and bone thickness, the fact that even rather fit people do the above indicates that they are simply taking in too much, and likely of the wrong foods. These are not Big Mac eaters by any means.

    There are also women who can’t seem to lose or maintain their weight even while eating “healthy” by “conventional” standards AND exercise. Yet you act as if such cases like this don’t exist when it’s fairly common. As far as this review goes, what I found most insightful were the comments, rather than your statements that bordered on outright dishonesty (e.g. not being able to enjoy certain foods or being miserable eating this way). Rather than “going around in circles” as you like to pretend they do, some present very good points. I would expect a lot of commentary having posted such a review, anyway. It borders on flamebaiting.

  • Gautam Patel

    Ah. Sorry about that. Didn’t realize it was intended for /that/ kind of audience. It didn’t say so, you see. And none of the others who commented here thought so either, by the looks of it. So. Let’s understand it. A book that overstates the obvious and, according to some, is meant for those who don’t know that living off BigMacs and fries isn’t exactly the road to longevity is by definition a good book? Somehow, I think not.

  • Realist

    Can’t you come up with a better counter-argument than that? The book is obviously meant to help those who have no idea -how- to eat healthily. You sir are being contrary for the sake of being contrary.

  • Gautam Patel

    Um, Mr/Ms Realist. Read your post again. You’ve answered your own diatribe, and proved my point. The book states (read: overstates) the obvious. Junk food isn’t healthy. Healthy food is healthy. You need a book to tell you that eating badly isn’t good for you? Tsk, tsk. I stand by everything I wrote. And its supporters have been going around madly in circles for the last two years saying the same thing. Yawn.

  • Realist

    This is not a quick fix diet book. People nowadays tend to fixate on the “can’ts” of healthy eating “omg I can’t eat pizza anymore my life is ruined!” This seems too much like a reaction from an individual in today’s instant-gratification, spoiled society that wants its cake and to eat it too and gorge themselves to death. It’s been scientifically proven that eating nutrient dense, low-calorie foods improves your biomarkers for aging and health across the board; this is not some fad diet. The research is sound and I can’t believe that a reviewer would post such a thing without bothering to understand what the doctor actually wrote. I follow a milder version of Calorie Restriction without strict calorie counts and am thin and healthy (great blood pressure, clean bill of health from doctor) without feeling the least bit deprived and have been the SAME weight for nearly five years (even while going on vacation, so much for “unsustainable”). This is a lifestyle, not a diet. I eat with relish and love my food. If you’re a junk food lover, this is bad news for you. If you like REAL food – delicious, fresh healthy food like that eaten in the Mediterranean before the advent of processed food – this sort of eating is near effortless.

  • sparrow

    Like Tom, I’ve found this an interesting read regardless of the review.

    I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis (for which I take strong medication) in my teens and have also been plagued by years of eating disorders.

    As I was approaching 80 kilos, a colleague who was raving about the Dukan Diet suggested I give it a go to drop some excess weight. I tried it for a period of about 10 days and at the end of it was in BLINDING pain. I have never had such an extreme reaction to food (high protein) and I questioned then whether I’d be able to continue working full time.

    Feeling very depressed about not being able to walk properly and having such bad pain in my hands, I Googled “anti arthritis” and discovered Dr Furhman’s ETL.

    I must say, something just suddenly clicked. After just a week on ETL, I could walk normally again. Although I still have the arthritis, it is much much more bearable than it has been in a very long time and I know that my eating issues (bulimia) are now gone for good.

    If you are reading these comments, have serious health issues and are considering whether to give it a go, why don’t you get the book from your local library and see if it’s for you.

    Indeed, weight falls off, which is a wonderful benefit, but you will undoubtedly feel a lot better than you have in years.


  • Renee

    I follow the eat to live plan and couldn’t be happier. I have to comment on your one paragraph: Imagine living like this: no wine, no drink, no soda, no chocolate, no dessert, no ice-cream, no cheese, no meat, no butter, no dried fruits, no bread, no pasta, no pizza, no popcorn, no rice, no wheat. Why live at all if you have to live like this?

    I’d like you to imagine living like that 5 out of 7 days a week. And then the other two days, you can put on your skinny jeans, look and feel fabulous and go out and have your wine, chocolate, meat etc. Furman states in the book that its normal and ok to go off the plan once in a while. If you’re smart about it, you can have your cake and eat it too.

  • Mattie

    “… imagine a life of eating salad, vegetables, restricted nuts and fruit day in and day out. What would you do? Stay at home? Get a divorce? Lose your friends?”

    My mother reveres this quack, and the above statement describes her life these days to a “T,” she rarely leaves the house, and has lost friends. Luckily she has a very tolerant husband. Oh, and her weight has ballooned and she can’t lose it.

  • LT

    I loved “Eat to Live”. I’ve been following it 90% of the time and feel better and have way more energy. Just because some people are addicted to eating unhealthy foods and can’t cut the habit is no reason to attack the book. This book is very well researched and it only makes sense that eating more fruits and vegetables will make you healthier.

  • b hooves

    I think that you missed the point of the book by Dr. Furhman. It is more book on good nutrition–his edict is to get the most nutrients per calorie consumed. He allows for human frailty. The wise reader of this book learns to monitor his diet and retreat into Furhman meals when the burgers and fries add up, and stamina and strength go down. It is a book on nutrition.

  • Elise

    Hi there. It isn’t really a diet, its more of a lifestyle change.

  • Gretchen

    Somewhere in the comments a person mentioned concern about cholesterol levels that might be considered to be too low. I thought that a fair question and did a little research. The Directory of Cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic – an internationally known hospital for its cardiac programs – addressed this issue. Their official perspective on a cholesterol level that is too low is 25mg/DL. (yes, 25mg/DL – no typo). Although there was, at one point, some concern that 150 mg/dl levels were too low due to a particular research study, that information has since been corrected to say that a 150mg/dl level does not cause any untoward problems.
    As a matter of interest, the 200mg/dl cut off for “healthy cholesterol level” has, in fact, no research/fact basis behind that number at all. In fact, the 200 mg/dl number is simply the average cholesterol number of the American public – it has no health-associated value at all. It is simply the average. When we look at the average cholesterol numbers of other countries and cultures, we see that even our 200 mg/dl number is very high compared to the rest of the world – and so it our rate of heart disease, cancer, stroke. Seventy-five percent of the American population will die prematurely of cardiovascular related disease and cancer – all diet related – rather than old age.
    People and the books reviewer can be caustic and make fun of Fuhrman, Esselstyn, Barnard, et. al. if they choose to. And each is entitled to choose whatever diet they find satisfying even if it does shorten their life while living with the disability of obesity and pharmaceutical drug-taking with all of their nasty side effects. The beauty of Fuhrman’s book is that he give those of us who want another option for our lives that choice and the “how to” to get there. I simply wish the reviewer had said, in essence, “I understand the premise of this book but it’s not for me” and said it with polite respect.

  • Kevin

    That should have been “I’m squatting just under 330 pounds at a weight of 165 pounds.” I get a little excited about the big numbers and jumped the gun.

  • Kevin

    I have been following the ETL guidelines since early 2005. I am 35 years old. I ran a 10K with my sister this weekend. Tomorrow is heavy weights day. I’m squatting just over 340 pounds at a weight of 165 pounds. I’ll be squatting over twice my body weight by this summer. My blood work is phenomenal. The only supplement I take is a little B12 a couple of times a week. ETL works and it works well.

    This review is unfortunate, but it still seems to be helping to spread the good word about ETL, so thanks Gautam Patel.

  • Tom Conolly

    I enjoyed the comments much more than the review. A couple of things I have not seen. At the top of this review I see a competitors advertisement and I wonder about that. I just finished reading the book and enjoyed it more than any other book I have read. I learned so much about nutrition that I never knew before. I read it after seeing a friend of mine for 30 years lose over 60lbs using this diet in 6 months. He does occasionlly eat wings or steak for a treat but likes the new food better and feels much better. He was 300lbs for years. He asked me to read the book because he was worried about me. I committed to reading it but told him I don’t plan on eating rabbit food the rest of my life. After reading it I thanked him. I was shocked at what I learned. I am going shopping tomorrow and starting a 6 week committment the following day. I know what I have been doing for 51 years is not working. I am also 300lbs. I can see doing this for whatever time I have left. My thanks also to the doctor who wrote this book and included his contact information so that readers can contact him if they need any help for their particular needs. If money was the motive why would he do that? The book cost less than a pizza. He is not selling any products. He is saving lives for those who need help badly enough to break bad addictions and to be open minded enough to use common sense based on results.

  • Matt Bartolone

    I think it’s important to let everyone know that the author of this article clearly didn’t read the book. This is an irresponsible review that should have some sort of warning on it that the book wasn’t fully read before fully reviewed.

    Side note:
    We all know we’re supposed to eat more fruits, veggies, beans, nuts and seeds, eat less dairy, and eat less fats and refined food. However, it’s clear that just knowing these things isn’t nearly enough. We need to know why. We need to know to implement these ideas. We need much more information about this. Knowledge, more so than will power, is the key to success with weight loss. A book like “Eat to Live” or more scientifically, “the China Study”, will provide anyone with much needed knowledge about nutrition.

    Turning into a depressed person while Eating to Live?
    I think the author is talking about food detoxification. When starting Eat to Live you will go through an unpleasant detox period because of the years and years of processed garbage in your system. This is inevitable when you first start eating this healthy. This normally lasts for 1-2 weeks and is, of course, more than worth it and is completely normal. The fact that one detoxes shows how bad the stuff we were putting in our bodies was beforehand (like nicotine addiction). After detox the mind emerges more clear, happy, revitalized and not imprisoned by food addiction. I’ve seen many people come off anti-depressants and mood disorder pills thanks to Eat to Live, because many ( certainly not all) of our mood problems can stem from our diets.

  • Gautam Patel

    Eric. As last advised, just above the comment box is a line in boldface that says “Personal attacks are NOT allowed.” What would you say this is?

    @Harold. “Disgrace to the human race”? “Severe psychological disorder”? Because I didn’t like a book you liked, and said so? Tsk, tsk. So much angst, so much irritability. Been on the diet long, have we?

    But thank you very much. I believe you just made my point.

    By the way, I doubt anyone could ever have a “physcological” disorder, severe or otherwise. No such thing.

  • Harold O’Conner

    I’m sorry, Gautam Patel, that you came away with these impressions after reading this book. Your words are a disgrace to the human race, and may even cause harm to those who believe you. Why, I must ask, do authors like you intentionally wish to harm others? Were you paid for this review? What incentive can you possibly justify for this? People, this author must have a severe phsycological disorder. Avoid this piece of trash.

  • Gautam Patel

    @Mcas76: best of luck, truly!!

  • Mcas76

    I just started Monday. Monday was rough, but the rest of the week hasn’t been that bad. The recipe’s are awful, but I am adjusting and plan on sticking with it for the 6 weeks. I only have 20 pounds to lose, so I’m thinking of adding some lean protein into the diet next week. Wish me luck!

  • Gautam Patel

    @Gretchen. If you publish a book, you should be prepared for the caustic. I was addressing the content of the book — a point you seem to have missed entirely — not the person. I would have been wrong, and you right, had I attacked the individual. You are, of course, entitled to your views on my review. But nothing gives you the right to attack *me* rather than the review itself. I could deliver homilies, too, because that’s extremely easy to do.

    This is really wearying now. I don’t know how else to say this (sigh): *Don’t shoot the messenger*.

    And Cindy, many thanks. 🙂

  • “The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” – Julia Child


    I appreciate your spirited review. I also like the entertaining commentary it inspired. I think there are some points I can agree with on both sides.

    I doubt I could live on a diet like this. But I must say trying out something radical has, on occasion helped me break out of old ways of imagining myself and I have been surprised by what changes I could adapt to and enjoy. I recall my stay at Mother Earth News years ago. At mealtime there was a wealth of whole grains, peanut butter, salad, and other things that made me frown. (Bread and peanut butter offered at dinner!)

    By the time we got home, I was longing for their food buffet. And I occasionally still do, 30 years later. I only wish I could remember what else was on it.

    Anyway, it is surely fun reading the debate. Thanks for coming back to join in!!

  • Gretchen

    A comment to Natalie in regrdes to Jackie Kennedy’s cancer and cholesterol.
    Our liver’s are able to make all the cholesterol we need – we can manufacture our own cholesterol needed for cell structure, hormone synthesis, enzymes, etc. We don’t require extra cholesterol in our diets – it is not an essential nutrient on any level (ask any nutritionst or dietitian you know).
    Jackie Kennedy died of Hodgkins Lymphoma – well associated with smoking of cigarettes which she did all of her adult life – including up to her death. Careful of her public image, she hid this from the public/media, but this fact is well known.

  • Gretchen

    I must add my support to the proponents of Mark Fuhrman’s Eat To Live book. As a physiologst and nutritionist myself,I must say that Dr. Fuhrman offers excellent health/nutritional advice in this book. If everyone followed this advise – which allows some meat eating for those who choose – we would no longer have heart disease, stroke, and diabetes in this country. His explanation of nutrition for the layperson is excellent.
    Other excellent books to read which actually explain the research which makes a nutritional truth-teller out of Dr. Fuhrman are: The China Project by T. Colin Campbell (of Cornell University) and Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D. (The Cleveland Clinic – internationally known cardiology hospital)as well as The Rave Diet by Mike Anderson and his documentry “Eating”, which can be found on If you are sick of being sick, the above books will help you get well.
    My final comment concerns the demeanor and tone of the original review by the author which I found to be despicably and unnecessarily caustic beyond any reasonable need. It is one thing to disagree with the content of a book one is reviewing . . .it is quite another to intentionally contribute to the degredation of polite and respectful discourse. My suggestion to the author on this point is to enroll in a course on manners and polite conversation.
    PS – Mehmet OZ, M.D., who wrote a supporting comment in the front pages of Eat To Live is not only a cardiac surgeon but also follows Dr. Fuhrman’s diet – he is a vegetarian himself.
    PPS – I, too, have followed the diets recommended by Fuhrman, Esselstyn, Campbell and Anderson (all similar) and I find it convenient, easy, and full of flavor and good things to eat that, until I made the changes, did not realize were out there. I, at first, chose this diet “for a while” to iron out some health concerns. I have since decided it will become my permanent lifestyle. I don’t feel the least bit “deprived”.Thank goodness for Fuhrman and the above-mentioned authors who have the courage to get the word out there.

  • Gautam Patel

    Are we having fun yet? Because I for one find this b-o-r-i-n-g.

    It would be nice if someone approached the review with a more open mind. Here, everyone seems to think that having a contrary opinion is a Bad Thing and somehow entitles you to be infernally rude to the reviewer.

    Every single one of the comments that extols the virtues of this classic of the dieting genre proves my point: what the good doctor tells us is (a) blindingly obvious to absolutely anyone, or should be; or (b) is entirely unsubstantiated (the Crete example being the one mentioned in the review).

    It’s not rocket science and needs no PhD or an endorsement from a cardiac surgeon to know that a steady diet of pizza, burgers, fries and soda, with no exercise, is going to make you look like the Goodyear blimp. And it’s a really screwy society that thinks there’s nothing odd about ordering a Big Mac, double fries and then a diet Coke.

    Here’s a formula that works for anyone.
    1. Eat less. Drink less alcohol.
    2. Don’t eat junk food all the time.
    3. Drinks lots of water
    4. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables.
    5. Exercise daily, within your limits
    6. Be sure to get enough sleep.
    7. Cut out the late-night snacking.

    Basically, give your stomach a rest. Many “less civilized” societies have a culture of a once-a-week fast. You’d be amazed how well these people eat when they have a meal, and how little they eat between meals.

    Binge by all means, but not all the time, and after you binge, go back to your “normal” lifestyle (see above).

    This is not from the book. It’s what any physician will tell you. It’s what common sense tells you. So if the book *also* tells you that, what’s the big deal about it? What’s this great revelation from Dr F? How is this being misinformed, sadly or otherwise?

    On second thoughts, I take it all back. This is a brilliant book. It’s the book of the decade. It’s the book of the century. It’s the best book ever written. It’s outstanding. It’s staggering. Whatever froths your cappuccino.

    Time to move along, yes?

  • Kathy

    I am a 50-yr-old female diagnosed with Type II diabetes ten yrs ago. I let my weight creep up to 207. I’m 5’3″ and was taking five glucophage a day for the diabetes. My dr told me insulin was the next step. It scared the crap out of me. A colleague told me about Dr. Fuhrman’s book, “Eat to Live.”

    I’m one of many Americans addicted to food, four-star restaurants around the globe all the way down to Big Macs. I’ve done Atkins, NutriSystem, WeightWatchers (three times), and countless other ‘diets.’ I felt motivated to read and try Dr. Furhman’s “eat to live” as a way of life.

    I’ve been following it for the past nine months. I’ve lost almost 30 lbs and am off ALL DIABETES medication. I’m not perfect. I still dine out at expensive, fabulous restaurants. I just get RIGHT BACK ON THE PLAN the very next day. That’s what’s so great and realistic about what Dr. Fuhrman says in the book. It’s not about judging or being perfect. He says specifically “any change you make towards being more healthy” is a positive step. The book reviewer is simply way off base. I’m a diehard “foodie.” I DO still have chocolate, wine, lobster, oysters, mussels, rice bran pasta, and glutenous desserts made with butter, wheat flour, and fondant, BUT ONLY VERY SELDOM. I try to follow this “eat to live” plan at least 90 percent of the time. I do NOT feel deprived. I feel energetic and DO feel I could do this for a lifetime. I eat SO MUCH spinach, mushrooms, oranges, apples, beans, cashews, almonds, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, bananas, and smoothies made with almond milk it’s freaky. I don’t weigh anything. My mantra is “vegetables, fruit, beans, and nuts.” If it ain’t a friggin’ vegetable, fruit, bean, or nut KIBOSH! I tell myself to go drink a glass of water and chill out. It’s wonderful to feel in control and like I am the caretaker of my body.

    I feel like I know a big secret that only a few folks know about. It’s that great.

    I send love, peace, and all good things to the book reviewer. I feel he is sadly misinformed.

  • Addie Jane

    Gautam Patel seems to miss the point entirely. Amazing all the positive comments about this book. Good nutrition is not rocket science; Dr. Furhman simply compares the fad diets to good nutrition and some simply don’t measure up. Why wouldn’t we want to learn about this? Also what is nutrient dense food? And don’t we want the best food to defend us against disease? That’s what Dr. Furhman tells us in his book.

  • Gautam Patel

    @Charlotte: “Screw you”? Because I have a view that doesn’t accord with yours? Thanks for the offer, but no thanks. The very least you can do is keep it civil.

    The last few comments (Amane, Casey, Natalie, Lewis) make sense. What I genuinely dislike in many of these books (not this one in particular; I’ve long since contrived to lose my copy) is their direct or indirect trashing of other approaches. Eat carbs. Don’t eat carbs. Eat proteins. Don’t eat proteins. And on and on. Simple mantra maybe: skip the processed foods, the junk food, the alcohol binges, load up on the fruits, vegetables and salads, drinks lots of water and exercise regularly. Then it doesn’t matter if you splurge on that gooey chocolate cake on Sunday. Isn’t that about it?

  • The name of the game is “Practicality”. If you can follow the book advice to the last letter, then you’re extremely determined. In that case, you deserve to be living better.

    The sad truth is that a majority of people simply cannot follow this plan. It has to do with life obligations (jobs, kids, etc). Not to mention, even if half the population switched to this there’d be economic hell to pay.

    Extremes in life are bad. Eating donuts for breakfast and snacking on bacon is bad. People out there do that. Eating a pounds of veggies a day, sorry to say, I think is bad too. Not from a health stand point. The sustainability stand point is what I’m talking about.

    Also I can’t let go of the fact that having a good source of lean protein in the diet is essential. Lean meats (chicken, fish) are almost pure protein. This is how I feel about it and not a jab at anyone who wants to do this diet.

    I know the review is 4 years old but my wife and I researched this plan and I wanted to say something. We concluded that we’d have to change our lifestyle around the diet instead of integrating a better diet into our lifestyle. We are creatures of habit and some, in particular, are very moody when habit is disturbed. So a gradual change to a sensible sustainable diet is key for us. I say diet as in what we’re eating, not a “diet plan” such as Atkins, Zone or whatever.

    We’re not going to buy tons of books and use their plan. We’re going to research nutrition and what our bodies need. We’ll then eat accordingly to both lose some body fat and also gain lean mass.

    So, if you can do it, do it! If you can’t, there are other things out there for you.

  • Charlotte

    Uh.. you said it doesnt allow dried fruits? — it does. Desserts — it does.

    you can do the “nonvegetarian” diet.

  • karla

    Fuhrman’s book is basically a rehash of the McDougall and Pritikin books of the 80s and 90s. Nothing new. Since its publications, a lot has been written on the benefit of health fats such as olive oil, coconut, flax, avocado, etc. Still, anybody is going to be better off by incorporating more fruits and veggies and less refined food and meat in their diet. I think while Fuhrman’s book may inspire some, a more livable plan is to follow what the American Cancer Society recommends. Fill 1/2 to 1/3 of your plate with fruits and veggies. Eat that first… then have the rest filled with what you normally like. Easy to implement anywhere.

  • Natalie

    I am reading the Furman diet also and have to admit that I am a bit disturbed about cutting out dairy, eggs, etc. People have been eating eggs for centuries. The other problem is that high cholesterol is bad, but I heard that a cholesterol below 150 makes you more susceptible to cancer. Cells need cholesterol for normal functioning. Cells can become cancerous when they don’t have enough cholesterol to protect them. I read that anything below 150 is a concern for a greater risk of cancer.
    I can’t help but think of Jackie Kennedy O. She was very thin, ate a lot of veggies and fruits, was basically starved. She died of cancer. I wonder what her cholesterol level was? We have to be careful about all this stuff. Frankly, the stress of a toxic system and stress from everyday life can cause heart problems also.
    Some people eat a lot of stuff but they’re happy and live longer. There is a mind and body connection to consider as well.

  • Casey

    Guatam – you seem to be.. annoyed(?) that people are still talking on here about it more than four years after your original post – but this is a good place to talk about it, and as long as it’s still up and comment-on-able, people will still talk.

    Personally, I’ve had success with ETL, I modified it slightly to allow for my personal tastes, so my 10% is more like 15-20% sometimes, and the foods are my old favorites; pasta, ice cream, etc.

    It’s a diet, and they take willpower. If you’re not willing to make some sacrifices for the greater good – your health – that’s fine! People make a bigger deal out of this than is necessary, I think. If you want to be healthy, okay. If you don’t, okay.

    I choose to be healthy, but don’t judge those who don’t. We all like what we like and no one’s the same. Also, different plans work for different people. This happens to work for a lot of people, other things work for others.

    Yay for variety and availability!

  • Amane

    I have been following the recommendations in this book and feel great. I have lost 50 pounds in 6 months and feel stronger and healthier. Dr. Fuhrman both sees very sick patients who have turned their lives around by following his plan (at least with 90% adherence) and also has numerous reserach citations to back up his theory. REad “The China Project” by T. Colin Campbell – this is the way we should be eating!

  • Sorry to hear you find eating as many fruits and vegetables as you want every day a hard plan to follow. Personally, I’d rather eat this way than try to fit in with the rest of society and eat Standard American Diet fare that makes you feel lethargic and ill short term and ruins your health long term. I’ve been following his plan and recommending it for the past three years. I’ve regained my health after suffering with thyroid disease and high cholesterol and helped friends who were struggling with weight to lose the weight permanently.

    Some people may treat this program as diet rather than a long term change of eating habits. Those are the people that will struggle with the plan and possibly worsen their health. Reading Fuhrman’s new book, “Eat for Health”, will help anyone transition slowly from Standard American Diet to Nutritarian. It is less extreme than “Eat to Live” and helps people transition in gradual steps.

  • dohdoh

    I haven’t read the book. I’ve been trying to decide if its worth it. So far, it sounds like the same common sense diet that has been proclaimed for over 100yrs: lots of fruits and green veggies, low carbs and refined foods, cut back on meats and sweets. Sounds like nothing new to me. The extremes that this reviewer claims the book proposes are, as he says, his understanding of it. And he sounds like he gives an accurate description that the author, Furhman, does indeed suggest an extreme form of the common sense diet. So as for sticking to this diet, to me, it doesn’t seem necessary. I think suggesting the extreme is the author’s way of trying to shift your diet in the continuum of extremes (extremely “bad”/delicious to extremely “good”/misery). Somewhere in the middle should do well for most people with some regular exercise. Hmmmm…balanced diet and exercise? I’m sure I’ve heard that somewhere before. I guess I dont need to read this book.

  • Indygal

    What plan would you advocate, if not Furman? I am a dropout of Fat Flush, Rosedale, Zone, etc. I believe I need to seriously limit animal fats, and to reduce regular fat (olive oil, avocados, etc). It wasn’t that I could not live with them, I could. Each of them. But after a while health issues would come up. If I perservered, they got worse. If I gave up the plan, they usually got better.

    I’m uncertain of how much/what type of carbs to consume. I want something that I can live with, darn it. I’m TIRED of beling misled by people who seem to want only to sell books. BTW, I was a vegetarian for about 18 mo back in the 90’s and I really destroyed my health trying that. Some people can get all the aminos they need from plant sources. I didn’t seem to be one of them.
    In spite of a library full of nutrition tables and many books on vegetarianism, I could not find a formula that worked for me.

  • bokononanon

    I’ve been trying to find intelligent arguments against Eat to Live, and haven’t found one yet.

    For those who think it is an impossible diet to keep up, it is not. There are many, many people who do. It is challenging at first and takes discipline. But it is my strong opinion that it is the best study I’ve seen on the diet humans most likely have evolved to respond best to (health, energy, happiness, etc.).

    Even if you can’t stick to it 100%, if you incorporate most of the basics you’ll notice dramatic benefits (eat small amounts of meat, eat more fruits and vegetables, stay away from processed sugars, flour, etc.).

    Einstein was a strong proponent of the Vegetarian diet. Smart guy. I am too and it cracks me up when people think that makes you new age and soft. I don’t think it is wrong to eat lots of meat. Tigers eat meat and they are not “immoral.” That is what they were designed to eat. Look at the diets of our closest relatives (chimps, bonobos). Carnivores have claws and sharp teeth for killing. We have fingernails and opposable thumbs for pealing fruit….

    But, I eat meat. Just not much at all. Think anyone who hasn’t tried this lifestyle should give it 3 months and see how you feel. What do you have to lose besides cancer and heart disease?

  • Stephanie

    It sounds like the author of this post thinks that a good diet book would tell you some magical secret that would make you lose weight and improve your health without changing your eating habits. It also sounds like he didn’t read the whole book.

  • Skeptic

    This “NUTRIENT DENSE” idea is all just speculation. Whether you like it or not, you are going to have to derive a good portion of your calories from non-nutrient dense foods if you plan on maintaining weight. What does whole grains have to offer besides calories and fiber? Can the “nutrient density” of fruits make up for the fact that it is 50% sugar and 50% sucrose? Fuhrman’s diet is simply the equivalent of a Calorie Restrictive type diet or a Paleo diet without the meat (which is ridiculous because the Paleo is supposed to be a low-carb diet).

  • Natalie

    This review is not only off base, the reader clearly did not read the book thoroughly.

    On one of the first pages, there is a clear statement that if you are not willing to make extreme changes to your diet, then this book is not for you.

    NOTHING is restricted in the diet, on numeous pages he suggests that you eat veggies for 90% of your meals and give yourself sensible treats for the other 10%.

    Bottom line, if you’re not willing to give up a diet that is 90% meat, fat and alcohol, why would one read a diet book in the first place.

    The whole concept of pure diets is that one prioritizes health over taste. If you prioritize taste, don’t read the book!

  • Ryan

    I’ve followed Fuhrman’s plan about 80% for the last year with wonderful results. I don’t really feel deprived but I understand how someone might feel that way (a smoker that quits may feel “deprived” too, I guess) and I find that people really enjoy the way I eat. I recently purchased his new books “Eat For Health.” I think the review above is way off base. Eat to Live is the most annotated, comprehensive overview of nutrition I’ve ever read and it changed my way of thinking completely. I don’t believe Fuhrman is 100% on target but he’s pretty close. I highly recommend the book.

  • Gautam Patel

    Okay, people, I get it. You were right and I was wrong. The book is brilliant. Marvellous. Stunning. Life-changing. But the review is four years old now. The world has turned since. Time to move along, maybe?

  • It’s been almost 4 years since this reviewer reviewed Dr. Fuhrman’s book. I wonder how healthy he is today? I know how healthy he would have been if he had even implemented half of the great info the book contains.

    I work with cardiac rehab patients and so get to see first hand how attached people are to the very foods that are destroying their health.

    Studies show that diet and exercise are every bit as powerful as medications. Dr. Fuhrman’s book sites the studies.

    Thankfully the info that seemed so hard to -forgive the pun – swallow in 2004 is receiving a warmer reception in 2008.

    Green smoothies rule!


  • Matt

    Just started this diet 2 days ago. It’s quite a shock to the digestive system. Bathroom runs happen more frequent.

    Only reason I am doing this diet, is my girlfriend did it for 6 weeks strict, and looks great! She always worked out alot and watched what she ate(mostly), but this diet fixed her constipation issues, and she dropped body fat quick.

    6 Months of weight watchers and working out did not touch what this diet(plus excercise) has done for her in 6 weeks.

    She also has learned to appreciate fruits as a cure for the sweet tooth, and understands more what her body needs to be healthy.

  • Johann

    Just to put my voice in with the other people that have commented on this review: many of the the statements that the author makes are flat out untrue. Dr. Furhman does allow for any food, but only in very very limited quantities. He allows for animal proteins and fats on a limited weekly basis. Moreover, he says pretty straight-up that after the first 6 weeks you should do what you feel is right. Many people have followed this diet for years and years (including the good doctor himself), and although I’ve only been on it a few weeks so far, I intend to continue with the less strict version for the rest of my life. You say that you wouldn’t want to live to 200 if you couldn’t have all the unhealthy food and drink that you desire, but this is about living past 70. More than just that, it’s about *feeling* more healthy every day of your life, even when you’re younger. I’m willing to give up a certain amount of hedonistic pleasure in food to feel as good as I have for the past two weeks for the rest of my life. It’s honestly worth it.
    Finally, there are over 25 pages of footnotes, the book is VERY heavily cited, choosing a single example out of the middle of the book and claiming that the book is pseudoscience is very intellectually dishonest. You even lie about what he says concerning olive oil! He says it *is* ok to have it (in fairly limited quantities, to be fair, but he still says it’s ok to have it every day), that olive oil *isn’t* all that bad for you, and that the people of Crete were healthy before due to high nutrient vegetables and fruits, and unhealthy afterwards due to refined goods and animal products. The olive oil doesn’t even come into his argument, in fact that’s the whole point!

    Overall, very very disappointed with this review. You should read the book again and pay closer attention to the details of his ideas.

  • Sara

    Wow, a whole-foods, plant-based diet with no portion control, but limited amounts of junk, and starch and fat amounts based on personal needs–this is an unsustainable way of eating? Please go back and read the book more carefully. There are *extensive* citations in the book and none to back up the refutations in this review.

    This way of eating has changed my life. I am *so* much healthier. Allergies, acne, menstrual cramps, headaches are gone. Nutritional excellence isn’t just for your life span, but quality of life.

  • Jenni

    I can understand why this reviewer doesn’t like the book. After all, it requires the will power and determination to change your diet from being unhealthy to super healthy. The average meat eating american probably looks at the diet and feels threatened and angry, because it makes him/ her see how terrible their diet is. I think the book is excellent, and even if you don’t follow the diet 100%, it gives you REAL information about what is healthy. He doesn’t say you have to follow it exactly for the rest of your life, just that you should try it for 6 weeks, or at least read the book and get the facts.

  • Todd Cesere

    I just wanted to add to the list of people who can attest that this way of eating can be followed, and in fact it can be followed indefinitely! And that, as respectfully as this can be said, this summary of Fuhrman’s diet is really pretty bad and makes it appear as though you didn’t read the book (which, incidentally, I didn’t either, but my wife did, I’m mostly concerned about the diet itself). That being said, I believe you when you say that you did read it, I just don’t think you read it with much interest. I’ve followed pretty close to this diet – which I don’t really consider a diet so much as a way of eating – for about three years. I feel great, I love what I eat (I went straight from McDonald’s to Fuhrman’s, no kidding) and I didn’t do it to lose weight. I overcame severe stress while on this diet, I ran my first two marathons (in the first I qualified for the second; the Boston Marathon), and I became a much happier person than I used to be. I used to love meat and cheese and all forms of refined foods, but as Fuhrman points out, once you break the addiction, you stop craving these things.

    As for research, I’ve listened to Fuhrman talk and I’ve read his blog, where he constantly sites research. It’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black when you complain about lack of footnotes and then make vague references to Europeans as a counter argument. Whereas he at least appears to have done his homework and simply not made a footnote, what you have written is openly speculative.

  • Linda Louise

    Ummm. This review is WAY off base. This is not a “fiber” diet. How silly. Read it again. It is NUTRIENT DENSE oriented. You will flood your body with nutrition — that’s first, the side effect is you lose weight.
    You will lose your cravings for junk and binge eating.
    And, of course, processed food is the main culprit. The book says as much IF one reads it before bashing it.

  • Desert Rose

    I’ve been following dr furhman’s diet/advice for the last 3 weeks. I have, over the years, realised that for some people there is no such thing as going back to eating ‘normally’ once a diet is over. Some of us will have to watch what we eat for the rest of our lives. I feel sorry for friends who I see clogging their arteries with high protein high fat diets (I almost fainted when I saw someone ‘snacking’ on bacon) or obssesively weighing foods before eating them..this diet is for people with serious health concerns (it says so on the back cover). This is the diet people with heart/diabetes problems are put on when their lives are at risk – this according to Mehmet Oz, probably the most famous/high profile cardiologist world wide (he now has his own series of books out that are a less strict version of this diet) who was introduced with that title on oprah a few weeks ago (I know, it’s on oprah so it must be true! 😉
    Modifications can be made to the diet, which are recommended once you lose your weight, and there’s the vegetarian diet and the protein included diet. My point is, some people need the discipline and to lose weight immediately in a healthy way. I cant think off any healthier way to do it than by starting your day with fruit/protein, and every meall with a plate full of salad and veggies. Yes, it’s hard somethimes, but sometimes the easy way out (3 eggs, bacon, ham, and mayonaise for dinner anyone?), just doesnt cut it.

  • Amber

    Actually, Robin, Dr. Furhman does not reccommend exactly the same diet for everyone. He does say that some people can eat more of the less nutrient-dense starch, but for those with a weight problem due to stubborn metabolism you really do need to cut back even if you go through a detox period. Sometimes you’ll feel worse before feeling better.
    Just my $.02. Not attacking anybody’s point of view. Namaste 🙂

  • robin

    it’s true (and sad) that modern society makes it supremely difficult to follow an ideal diet on a regular basis. you would have to isolate yourself completely (not healthy) and have superhuman will-power. that said, there is nothing wrong with educating yourself so that you can eat as healthy as possible given your particular life-style and goals. offering us this information was fuhrman’s job, and i think he succeeded pretty well.

    my only issue is that he prescribes the same diet for everyone, instead of addressing the issue of different metabolic types. this is where i think dr. mercola’s work surpasses furhman’s. i personally could not live without a moderate amount of healthy fats and animal proteins in my diet. trust me, i tried many times, and i did it the right way (no refined anything, plenty of fiber, etc.). i felt healthy but somehow unstable, ungrounded inside (and the feeling increased until i finally went and ate a huge piece of meat). also, i do not do well on abundant fresh fruits. this makes my blood-sugar unstable.

    overall, i think this diet is probably very good for many people, but i do believe that there is still a significant percentage of us who need more fat and animal protein than furhman prescribes

    Read this book and also dr. mercola’s “total health.” it will give you a better sense of the range of healthy eating. after experimenting a bit, you can discover what makes YOU healthy and happy. We all have a different genetic makeup, so it makes sense to assume that there is no one solution which perfectly pertains to all of us.

  • Ari

    Sadly, this review reads like a child’s tantrum about eating their vegetables. The claims (yo-yo dieting, being impossible to follow) are delivered as speculation and without any evidence. If the author had actually tried the diet, perhaps there would be some credence, but the author does not mention actually trying the diet for any period of time.

    The point about Crete is interesting. Nevertheless, much of the review appears to be a grasp to justify what seems to be an emotional reaction to the idea of giving up favorite foods.

    Summing up this review: “No candy? Have to eat veggies? Yuk!”

  • Dave

    This review is off base. Dr. Fuhrman’s book contains a wealth of well-researched information. I read the book several years ago, and I still continue to recommend it highly.

  • anet

    Hi, I have been eating complying about 80-90% w/ Eat To Live ‘diet’ for two years now. Once I broke my daily chocolate addiction I really didn’t find it so difficult at all. If someone is really into meat or dairy they will have a hard time though, I just never was.

  • Gautam Patel

    I thought personal attacks weren’t allowed? What happened, Droghit? Or did you not see that? So much for the “never read” part. And, for your general edification, I *did* read the book. My review is *my* understanding of it. You may or may not agree; and that’s your prerogative, as it is mine to criticize or appreciate a book as I think fit. But nothing excuses a lack of civility. The BC site is about discourse; and without civility there is no discourse. I notice, too, that you do not trouble to answer a single specific point. Now why is that, I wonder? In direct contrast, see the comment by Sum Guy — precise, concise, specific and civil.

  • Droghit

    the author of this “review” had never read the book..
    he don’t know anything about Fuhrman and nutrition, so it’s better to shut up.

  • Sum Guy

    I don’t know what book you read but the book does not tell you you can never again eat any particular foods. The author does want you to strictly follow his manner of eating for the first 6 weeks. The author formost tells you the consequences of eating as Americans have been taught since birth and what the dangers of eating various fats, franken-foods and over-processed foods are. He does not tell you you cannot eat meat, only that meat should be restricted to no more than two servings per week and/or that it should not be the main course. He does not say you cannot eat rice or wheat only that it should not be white rice or white flour, only whole grains. Basically the idea is to eat everything is as unrefined form as possible and to eat lots of green leafy vegetables raw. He wants you to get your sweets from fruits (complex carbohydrates that spread out the stress on the liver) rather than white sugar. You eat A LOT of high nutritional value, high fiber food and less high calorie, high fat, low nutritional food (or non-food stuff).

  • Mark

    Actually I have followed Dr. Fuhrman’s advice from “Eat to Live” for about a year, so it is not impossible. After reaching my desired weight I began eating a less restricted version which the author refers to in the book. I am at my ideal weight, feeling as good as ever, and my blood work at my last physical was phenomenal (despite the damage I caused years ago following Atkins’ nightmare diet). This book can hardly be mentioned in the same company as the other diet books – this is not a quick fix that sacrifices health for immediate results with a yoyo-ing waistline. It sounds like the reviewer had a closed mind to it from the very beginning and never gave it a fair chance.

  • Me

    You may be right about the book, I haven’t read it but just so you know, in answer to your comment about the guy who wrote a foreword in it, Mehmet Oz (who dat?)- uh Dat’s just the world’s foremost cardiologist/surgeon!!!

  • Eric Olsen

    Love that excerpt on the front page! another very fine review, even if the book sucks eggs. Thanks G!